CORVALLIS - Michael Oriard, a professor of English at Oregon State University, and Art Sleight, a professor of chemistry, have been awarded the title of "Distinguished Professor" by OSU - the highest honor the university bestows upon its faculty.

The honors are awarded to faculty who have demonstrated the highest level of excellence and achievement in teaching, research or scholarly pursuit, according to Roy Arnold, OSU provost and executive vice president.

Oriard is a highly regarded teacher and one of the nation's leading scholars of sports in American culture. He has written a series of books that look at the cultural impact of sports and play. His book, "Sporting With the Gods: The Rhetoric of Play and Game in American Culture," integrated concepts of play and games with literary narrative from Melville and Faulkner, and works from theology, the news media and social commentary. Oriard has written three other books, including "Reading Football: How the Popular Press Created an American Spectacle."

Oriard played both collegiate and professional football. After graduating from Notre Dame, he played with the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League before continuing his education, earning a Ph.D. in American literature from Stanford University.

An Oregon State faculty member since 1976, Oriard is a former president of the OSU Faculty Senate. His title will be Distinguished Professor of American Literature and Culture.

Sleight, holder of the Milton Harris Professor of Material Sciences endowed chair at OSU, is one of the nation's leading experts in solid-state chemistry. During the last six years, he has received more than $2.7 million in research grants and support.

A specialist in the field of superconductivity, Sleight was a pioneer in exploring new and different combinations of elements for their superconductivity potential, setting the stage for the discovery of high-temperature, superconducting copper oxides. His most recent work has been the development of new materials that contract rather than expand when heated. This surprising find was called one of the top 100 scientific discoveries of 1996 by Discover magazine.

Sleight has a Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from the University of Connecticut.

A former research chemist and supervisor with Du Pont, Sleight has been at Oregon State since 1989. He will hold the title of Distinguished Professor of Chemistry.

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Roy Arnold, 541-737-2111