‘Genius grant' awarded to Miami University professor

Posted at 12:29 PM, Sep 22, 2016

OXFORD, Ohio -- A Miami University professor is among the 23 people named a 2016 MacArthur Fellow — recipients of the so-called “genius grants.”

Daryl Baldwin is director of the Myaamia Center at Miami University and a leader in Native American language and cultural revitalization, according to the university.

Baldwin is also co-author on a study showing that tribal students at Miami University, where they learn the language and culture of their heritage among other studies, graduate at much higher rates than Native American students across the U.S.

“I feel very humbled others would think so much of our work and efforts to revitalize our language,” said Baldwin, 53, a member of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, in a press release. “It is hard to put my reaction into words.”

Selections for MacArthur Fellows are made based primarily on “exceptional creativity, as demonstrated through a track record of significant achievement, and manifest promise for important future advances,” according to the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The foundation says it looks for individuals “on the precipice of great discovery or a game-changing idea.”

The fellowship comes with a stipend of $625,000.

Baldwin came to Miami in 2001 to run the Myaamia Center (“Myaamia” is “Miami” in the Miami language), a joint venture between the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma and the university. It was then called the Myaamia Project.

“It was just me; I was the only staff,” he said.

Fifteen years later, the center has a staff of seven, according to the university.

“It’s a work of passion. It’s also a work of identity for me and for other tribal members. This is about discovery of self,” he said in a press release. “This is a wonderful recognition of what the community has been able to do and it’s a direct outcome of the collaboration of the Miami Tribe and Miami University.”

Baldwin said it’s too early to say how he intends to use the funding.

“This is a 20-year effort involving the tribe and university and several full-time staff. I have some consulting to do to generate options before I make a determination,” said Baldwin, who received the “surreal” phone call telling him about the award while walking on campus.

Born in northwest Ohio, Baldwin’s forefathers were active in the affairs of the Miami Nation dating back to the 18th century, and he continues this dedication through his work in language and cultural revitalization.

It’s the latest national honor ranked up for Miami this year.

Earlier this month Miami University’s undergraduate teachers were recognized as among the top in the nation, according to a new national survey.

U.S. News & World Report ranks Miami University the top public university in the nation for its faculty members’ commitment to undergraduate teaching.

The Butler County university was ranked second on the specialty list following only Princeton — a private university — with Yale University at third and Brown University fourth in the of in U.S. News’ Best Colleges rankings.

In June, Money magazine listed the school among the top 10 in the nation for producing chief executive officers of Fortune 500 companies.

Miami earned the third spot nationally with four CEOs and was the only one of the 10 universities ranked to have two women alumni now holding such top corporate leadership jobs.

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