VALPARAISO, Ind. A Valparaiso University political scientist who has led students in conducting numerous community research projects in Northwest Indiana has been named the Richard P. Baepler Distinguished Professor in the Humanities.

Dr. Larry Baas, a professor of political science and director of Valparaiso's Community Research and Service Center, joined the faculty in 1974. During the past decade, hundreds of Valparaiso students working for the CRSC have conducted dozens of research projects for not-for-profit organizations and governmental bodies in Northwest Indiana.

The Baepler professorship honors outstanding teachers in the Universitys general education program and aims to enhance student interest in the humanities and encourage the interdisciplinary and integrative study of the humanities.

Through Dr. Baas leadership of the CRSC, undergraduate students gain practical experience in applied research and familiarity with government, non-profit and other organizations. The CRSC has been cited by the Pew Partnership for Civic Change as a model for how universities can organize and establish partnerships to impact the surrounding community. Dr. Baas and his students have completed research projects for the city of Valparaiso, Hoosier Environmental Council, Portage Parks and Recreation Department, Hilltop Neighborhood House, Porter County Juvenile Detention Center, Family and Youth Services Bureau of Porter County and numerous other organizations.

Dr. Baas teaches courses in Constitutional law, the judicial process, the presidency, research methods and political behavior. His recent research projects have explored public perceptions of Sen. Hillary Clinton and civil-religious ideation and American exceptionalism, his scholarly papers have been published in Political Psychology, Journal of Politics and Operant Subjectivity.

He earned a bachelors degree at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and his masters degree and Ph.D at Kent State University.

Work of the Baepler professor is supported by an endowment fund honoring Dr. Richard Baepler, a professor emeritus of theology and law who taught at the University for 40 years and served as dean of Christ College and vice president of academic affairs.