October 12, 2005

Three win prestigious Morris Fellowships

by K.C. Jaehnig


Nicholas J. Zaunbrecher

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Steve A. Nenninger of Jackson, Mo., Charles M. Stapleton of Ashland, Ky., and Nicholas J. Zaunbrecher of Baton Rouge, La., each will receive a $15,000 Morris Fellowship and free tuition for doctoral study at Southern Illinois University Carbondale in the coming academic year.

Administered by SIUC's Graduate School, Morris Fellowships support promising scholars with strong potential for academic research and may be renewed to fund a total of three years' study. They honor the late Delyte W. Morris, who headed the University from 1948 to 1970, and his widow, Dorothy.

Applicants must have undergraduate grade-point averages of at least 3.25 (3.7 for graduate students) on a 4.0 scale. They also must score in the top 25 percent of those taking a national standardized test for prospective graduate students.

Here's a closer look at this year's winners.

• Nenninger, 34, earned both a bachelor's degree in finance in 1993 and a master of business administration degree in 1999 from Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau with 3.8 and 4.0 grade point averages. He will enroll in the College of Business and Administration's doctoral program in finance.

During his undergraduate career, he participated in a program for emerging leaders, helped found a fraternity aimed at encouraging scholarly excellence and served as vice president of student government.

A full-time instructor at his alma mater for the last three years, Nenninger plans to focus on developing his research skills so he can add to his field's knowledge base in such areas as investments, retirement planning, corporate finance, and banking efficiencies and profitability when he returns to teaching.

• Stapleton, 26, earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy in 2003 at Marshall University in Huntington, W.Va., with a 3.81 GPA. He finished his master's in philosophy this spring at the University of Memphis with a 4.0 GPA and will enroll in SIUC's Department of Philosophy.

Stapleton, who blends a focus on 19th- and 20th-century continental philosophy with interests in classical American philosophy and the philosophy of religion, chose SIUC because of faculty strengths in those areas. He also hopes to deepen his understanding of the philosophy of history.

After completing his degree, Stapleton plans on a university teaching career in his field.

• Zaunbrecher, 24, earned his bachelor's degree in English and philosophy in 2003 from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a 3.90 GPA. He will enroll in the Department of Speech Communication, where he will focus on performance studies

Interested in drama since high school, Zaunbrecher joined the Cult of the Stage Monkey, an improvisational theater ensemble, shortly after enrolling at UL. There he worked as a performer, designed show formats, organized workshops and assisted in training new performers. He has continued his connection with the troupe since graduating

Zaunbrecher hopes to combine his interests in philosophy, aesthetics, performance methods, human culture, communication and language into a set of skills and knowledge that will allow him to teach at the university level and work with performance groups.

Recruiting and retaining a diverse group of the best students for graduate and professional programs are among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.


Charles M. Stapleton


Steve A. Nenninger