$500K For Graduate Fellowships - Linguistics & Second Language Studies

July 6, 2011

Honolulu — UH Mānoa's graduate students in the Department of Linguistics and the Department of Second Language Studies (SLS) have more fellowship opportunities thanks to a $500,000 award from the Bilinski Educational Foundation. The Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Fellowship Fund will support qualified doctoral students in the College of Language, Linguistics and Literature (LLL), one of the four Arts and Sciences colleges of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. This new fellowship fund will provide valuable support for top graduate students as they complete course work, conduct field research, and complete their doctoral dissertations.

"UH Mānoa's Department of Linguistics and Department of Second Language Studies are each recognized as leaders in their fields. We are extremely pleased with this recognition by the Bilinski Educational Foundation and their support in developing graduate students who in turn will become leaders in their fields," said Gary K. Ostrander, Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education.

The Department of Linguistics at UH Mānoa has strengths in two particular areas: the documentation and conservation of endangered languages (particularly those of the Pacific) and in the experimental study of language. The Department of Second Language Studies at UH Mānoa brings a diversity of expertise to bear on the field of second language studies, with a broad focus on the areas of second language acquisition, second language learning, second language use, and second language teaching.

The Bilinskis were strong believers in the power of education as a tool to help others become self-sufficient. Together, they sought ways to make a quality higher education accessible for promising students. The Bilinski Educational Foundation, established with their estate gift, perpetuates their legacy and provides fellowship funds for post-secondary education for students who lack the financial resources to pay for the highest caliber post-secondary education. Russell was a researcher, academic and an entrepreneur. Dorothy was an accomplished artist and patron of the arts. Both were intellectuals, adventurous, independent and driven.

Announcing the first Bilinski Fellows for the Dept. of Linguistics:

  • Jason Lobel's research is on the endangered languages of the Pacific, with a special emphasis on the Philippines. His dissertation meticulously documents dozens of under- or un-documented languages of various Pacific islands, and will undoubtedly be one of the most important dissertations in the area of language documentation and conservation in decades.
  • Carl Polley's research is on the relationship between language and other aspects of human cognition, with a special emphasis on Chinese. His dissertation is on the cross-linguistic differences in metaphoric language of emotion, and how this impacts Chinese vs. American views of the world. This is particularly important given the growing stature of China and its relationships with the U.S.

Announcing the first Bilinski Fellows for the Dept. of Second Language Studies:

  • John Davis' dissertation is examining the effect of accountability testing and assessment on U.S. foreign language education. This study focuses on tertiary level accreditation-mandated outcomes assessment. The research project will try to discover whether accreditation dictates are facilitating, enabling, or requiring foreign language educators to address educational quality through outcomes-based assessment practices. This research will provide valuable insight into how such mandates affect public higher education.
  • Larry Davis' dissertation research looks at how evaluators of language test production make their rating decisions. He looks at the cognition and behavior of raters within the context of speaking performance tests. This study will illuminate how decision-making changes with training and experience. Such understanding is necessary to fully capture what test scores mean. In clarifying this rating process, interpretations of the test score results on students and prospective students can be improved.

Please contact Lori Admiral at (808) 956-5747 or Lori.Admiral@uhfoundation.org to learn how you can support the Colleges of Arts and Sciences. To make a gift www.uhfoundation.org/GiveToLLL.