Aug. 31, 2021
English prof named Grace Ruth Endowed Professor
Laura Beadling, associate professor of English and Film Studies at Youngstown State University, has been named the inaugural Grace Ruth Memorial Endowed Professor of English at YSU.
The professorship was bestowed at a ceremony today at DeBartolo Hall on the YSU campus.
“Dr. Beadling’s growing reputation in the scholarly examination of film makes her a perfect match for this prestigious appointment,” said Charles Howell, dean of the YSU College of Liberal Arts, Social Sciences and Education. “The research and outreach she will produce as a result of this professorship will help enhance her teaching and add to the body of academic work on filmmaking.”
Robert Reeder III, a 1981 YSU graduate and now a partner in a New York law firm, donated $1 million to YSU’s “We See Tomorrow” campaign to create the professorship in honor of his grandmother, Grace Ruth, and a second professorship in honor of his grandfather, Robert W. Reeder I.
The position is among 17 endowed chairs or professorships on the YSU campus, funded through private donations.
“Endowed professors have a lasting impact on the university and our students, increasing the institution’s academic excellence and providing educational and scholarly opportunities across the campus,” YSU President Jim Tressel said.
Grace Ruth was a life-long resident of Youngstown whose dream to attend college and ultimately become a lawyer was cut short by her father’s untimely death. An avid reader and skilled writer, she graduated from high school in just two years. She tutored underprivileged students, taught Sunday School at John Knox Presbyterian Church, was the president of the PTA at Garfield and Williamson elementary schools and was a Cub Scout den mother. She supported civil rights long before the protests of the 1960’s, and she gave generously to charities aimed at helping the poor.
Reeder III’s gift also established an endowed faculty position for his grandfather - the Robert W. Reeder I Memorial Endowed Professor of History. Amy Laurel Fluker, YSU assistant professor of History who specializes in the study of Civil War memory, was named to that position a year ago.
“Our family could not be more pleased with Professor Beadling being awarded the inaugural Grace Ruth Professorship in English,” Reeder said. “Her scholarship and vision for the award are both exceptional; we look forward to her accomplishments over the next three years.”
Beadling, who earned a PhD in American Studies from Purdue University, joined the YSU faculty in 2013 after six years as a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. She boasts a lengthy list of scholarly articles and local, regional and national presentations, as well as several teaching and research awards.
“Grace Ruth sounds like an amazing woman,” Beadling said. “I am honored to be chosen as the first endowed professor in her memory.”
In her application for the position, Beadling proposes using the professorship position to work on a book-length project focused on award-winning director and screenwriter Alexander Payne. Beadling said Payne has been largely overlooked in the academic world despite winning the Academy Award twice for Best Adapted Screenplay and garnering seven Oscar nominations in all.
“Very few articles have been written about him, and no monographs have focused on his work,” she said. “In this respect, my project to write the first book on Payne’s work would represent significant advancement of our understanding of contemporary American film.”