Alumni, Award Winner, CAH, Central Washington University, College of Arts and Humanities, Department of Theatre Arts, Successful Alumni, Uncategorized

From CWU Theatre Arts to the Tony Awards Stage

“I love teenagers. I love everything they’re going through. The drama that they experience. The roller-coaster ride. They come in as basically kids, and they leave as adults.” – Tony Award winning teacher, CWU alum Rachel Harry

We couldn’t be more proud of our alumnus, Rachel Harry.

Her students still affectionately call her “Krum,” a reflection of her former married surname, Krummel.

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We call her the winning Tony Awards and Carnegie Mellon recipient for Teachers with the Excellence in Theatre Education Award. Rachel received her award at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, a June 11 event broadcast nationally on CBS.

Rachel also brought back a check for $10,000 from the Big Apple, benefitting the theatre department at Hood River Valley High School in Oregon. And it was her high school theatre students, who nominated Rachel for the Tony Award for excellence in teaching.

Rachel is more than an outstanding teacher of theatre arts. She is a role model. She overcame an emotional divorce and a stunning breast cancer diagnosis both in 2006, and yet she did not miss a day teaching her students or mentoring her children.

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Rachel, who graduated from the University of Utah with a major in English and a minor in Theatre Arts, was first introduced to CWU at a 10-day summer theatre program. She was “blown away” by how much instruction could be packed into 12-14 hour instructional days, including sessions on movement, lighting design and methodology.

She later made the decision to make Ellensburg her summer home as she pursued her advanced degree from our Department of Theatre Arts.

“I Will Not Get a Degree, Just to Have a Degree” – Rachel Harry

Rachel’s tenacity was exhibited during the course of four consecutive summers between 2000– 2003, earning her master’s degree in theatre production. She didn’t strive for a master’s degree just to have an advanced degree on her wall. She sought our degree because it would enrich her ability to teach theatre, change the structure of her classes and refine/build the theatre curriculum at Hood River Valley High School.

Rachel is clear that she does not just focus on those who are the leading and supporting actors and actresses, but also on what she calls “theatre tech”, including lighting, sound, sets, direction and production.

She mixes a focus on professionalism for those who may pursue a career in theatre, either in front of the audience or behind the scenes in technology areas as well as choreographing and staging a Broadway show. She also takes a maternal approach to their students, caring for each and every one of them to help them succeed in life.

Rachel totally disagrees with the perception that a degree in Theatre Arts is a one-way ticket to back to mom and dad’s house. She points to a wide variety of job opportunities that come from an emphasis on theatre, particularly the logistics associated with staging at first-rate performance. Our graduates continue to prove her point year after year. We see graduates pursuing a broad range of industries: Entertainment, high-tech, education, and management..

As prior LaunchPad posts have emphasized, an undergraduate or graduate degree in liberal arts – including theatre – is in great demand because our students learn how to learn. Lifelong learning is not just in vogue, it is in great demand in our always-on, data-driven, digital world.

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Our degrees produce successful alums. They also generate well-compensated professionals, who give back their communities. And in Rachel Harry’s case, they lead to the highest award in her industry, The Tony Award in Theatre Arts.

Well done “Krum,” well done.

By Scott Robinson

Arts and Humanities, CAH, CAH Alumni, CAH Faculty, CAH Staff, CAH Students, Central Washington University, College of Arts and Humanities, CWU, CWU Alumni, Liberal Arts, Marketing, Owened Media, Uncategorized

Liberal Arts are Relevant: Now and Forever

Looking back upon the last two-plus years at CWU’s College of Arts and Humanities, I am more convinced than ever that our college cannot be beat when it comes to mentoring and preparing our immensely confident and talented students for the careers of tomorrow.

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Our disciplines have long histories, but their relevancy has only increased, especially when it comes to our digital world of discovery.

In many cases across our college and the entire university, we prepare students to employ specific applied skills, honed through classroom study and practiced through internships, research, and other forms of outside applied learning. But in the College of Arts and Humanities, we also see it as our enduring job to teach our students to take joy in the lifelong process of learning, regardless of the subject or discipline.

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When I was recently asked, “What was the biggest surprise of my tenure as dean of the College of Arts and Humanities,” I replied that it was the combined grit and modesty of our successful alums and future-oriented students.

Our alums and our students instinctively know that grit and determination are essential for sustained success. And our faculty regularly exemplify these values as they interact with students inside and outside the classroom – as educators, mentors, and friends.

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College of Arts and Humanities alums and students do not expect to be given anything. They understand the value of deep work, focus, and determination. When they earn hard-fought rewards, they realize that the journey has not ended. They recognize their college education as a great privilege.

Telling The Story of the CWU College of Arts and Humanities

During the past two-plus years, we embraced the process of marketing our college through the effective use of owned media. This communication platform is primarily digital in nature. We have used digital technology to tell the story of our exciting college and dynamic departments/interdisciplinary programs through our revamped website, this LaunchPad blog, social media (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram …), a viral college video, and updated college icons to present a new and fresh image to the university, community, region, and the world.

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Events planning is an integral component of the Owned Media Platform, and we never rested in supporting our departments and programs as they organized a multitude of events on campus, in downtown Ellensburg, and in Seattle – including alumni days, year-end celebrations, the Seattle Showcase, lectures and readings, college days, musical concerts, and art fairs. Amidst this whirlwind of activity, we occasionally needed to take a breath, and appreciate our accomplishments.

We are especially grateful for Ellensburg, our bucolic college town located in a picturesque valley at the base of the Cascades. This lovely small town offers everyone, including students, staff, and faculty, a sense of belonging, warmth, friendship, and community. Moreover, Ellensburg exemplifies the promise of the Pacific Northwest, slow enough to enjoy and appreciate life, but fast enough to compete with the growing economies of the Pacific Rim.

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Our graduation ceremonies this coming weekend will be my last official events as the dean of the College of Arts and Humanities. These coming days will be difficult as I say goodbye to so many lifelong friends and colleagues that I have come to know during the past 30 months.

I will always remember Central Washington University as a place in which the unlikely becomes possible. Consider that 40 percent of our students are first-generation college graduates, half are transfers, and many are non-traditional. The success of our students represents so much more than a degree. It means transforming families. It means hope for new generations of immigrants. It means achievements beyond one’s dreams.

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Central Washington University’s College of Arts and Humanities is better than ever, and most of all, more relevant than ever. We stand ready to meet every new challenge posed by our increasingly complex data-driven, digital society.

Bring it on!

By Stacey Roberson

Awards, CAH, CAH Social Media, Central Washington University, College of Arts and Humanities, Department of Art, Department of Communication, Department of English, Department of History, Department of music, Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies, Department of Theatre Arts, Department of World Languages and Cultures, Uncategorized

We Are #CAHProud: Celebrating Our 2017 Year-End Celebration Winners

How can a future-oriented liberal arts college celebrate and recognize the talent and achievements of its undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, chairs, and staff from its eight dynamic departments and four diverse interdisciplinary programs?

One way is to take quality time near the conclusion of each academic year to honor those with extraordinary achievements, making our college better as a result of their impressive contributions.

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Another way is to salute our eight departments through a cavalcade of unique posters, leading from the SURC Ballroom entrance to our college’s 2017 Year-End Celebration right up to the podium.

And let’s not forget that each one of these theatre-style posters included our hashtag: #CAHProud.

We are indeed, #CAHProud.

Who is better at telling our story of overachievement than each of our departments? Consider the contributions of our Department of Art in nurturing the skills of students dreaming of painting, sculpting, and designing the next masterpiece.

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How about our Department of Communication, offering degrees in Communication Studies, Digital Journalism, and Public Relations, thus preparing the next generation of story tellers to advocate and report the news, stories, and information that society needs.

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Our Department of English aims to develop scholars in the world’s Lingua Franca, and recently received the state’s only “Big Read” grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

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Our Department of History prepares our students to succeed as evidenced by alumnus Lori Bohn, a Boeing Systems Planner. The department emphasizes both historical knowledge and historical modes of understanding.

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Our recent “Community Day of Music” was the centerpiece for our poster presenting our Department of Music. The department prepares students for careers in music, providing them with the skills to become knowledgeable and confident music educators, performers, and practitioners.

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There are three primary reasons to major in philosophy or religious studies: Earn more, score higher, love what you do. Philosophy majors are paid well because employers want talented people who can think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems.

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The Department of Theatre Arts produces fabulous shows each season (e.g., Chicago, The Musical and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream), both on the main stage and in studio (workshop) settings. These opportunities and many others allow students to put classroom theory into practice as part of the regular season of Central Theatre Ensemble, the department’s production wing.

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Study abroad (e.g., Spanish Professor Dr. Eric Mayer’s student hike along Spain’s legendary Camino de Santiago de Compostela) are among the opportunities provided by our Department of World Languages and Cultures. The department offers majors in five languages, and minors in eight more.

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Besides extolling our eight dynamic departments, the main purpose of the College of Arts and Humanities Year-End Celebration was to recognize the accomplishments of our award winners:

Undergraduate Awards:

Thomas Gause Award for Achievement in Music: Composition, Taylor Griffin

Betty E. Evans Award for Achievement in Creative Writing: Poetry, Jason Days

CAH Award for Achievement in Non-Fiction Writing: Creative Writing: Joshua Swainston

The George Stillman Award for Achievement in Art, Austin Harris

CAH Award for Achievement in Performance: Live Performance, Joshua Johnson

Raymond Smith Award for Achievement in Scholarship, Sophia Andarovna

Marji Morgan Outstanding Student Award, Omar Manza

Marji Morgan Outstanding Student Award, McKenzie Lakey

Graduate Awards:

Outstanding Graduate Student Scholarship Award, Lexi Renfro

Outstanding Graduate Student Artistic Achievement Award, Brock Jensen

Faculty Awards:

Outstanding Faculty Teaching Award, Gary Bartlett (Philosophy and Religious Studies)

Outstanding Faculty Research Award, Cesar Garcia (Communication)

Outstanding Faculty Artistic Achievement Award, Vijay Singh (Music)

Outstanding Faculty Service Award, Michael Johnson (World Languages)

Outstanding Non-Tenure Track Faculty Teaching Award, Kirsten Boldt-Neurohr (Music)

Achievement Award for Inclusivity and Diversity, Cynthia Coe (Philosophy and Religious Studies)

Outstanding Employee Award, Sara Carroll (Music)

Outstanding Department Chair Award, Marji Morgan (Communication)

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Most of all, our Year-End Celebration provided all of us an opportunity to thank Dr. Marji Morgan for her leadership, her track record as college dean for nearly a decade, and for her willingness to serve as the interim chair of our Department of Communication for the past two years.

Starting this coming fall, Marji will return to teaching History. She will always be a great mentor, advisor, confident and most of all a wonderful friend.

Now, that calls for a Year-End Celebration!

By Stacey Robertson

Associate Dean, CAH, Central Washington University, College of Arts and Humanities, CWU, Department of English, Uncategorized, Writing, Editing, and Poetry

Kathy Whitcomb: Our Innovative and Collaborative Associate Dean

The study and writing of poetry requires imagination and careful attention to details.

And this rigorous devotion and creativity are among the many qualities that made Kathy Whitcomb a superb choice to serve as the permanent Associate Dean of Central Washington’s College of Arts and Humanities.

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As readers of LaunchPad know, our college encompasses many different groups and stakeholders. We knew that we needed a leader, who would build a strong, united, integrated community.

As CWU’s former Faculty Senate Chair, it was clear that Kathy Whitcomb had the skills, knowledge, experience, and wisdom to help us achieve this goal.

It is with great pleasure that I removed the “interim” tag from Kathy’s title this past February.  She has been a wonderful and critical addition to the CAH leadership team.

During the past 13 years at Central Washington University, Kathy has taught poetry, creative writing, multi-genre writing, poetics, genre studies, and professional writing. Her skills in the classroom merited her selection as the 2016 Distinguished University Professor of Teaching.

Kathy received her terminal degree, an MFA in writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, in 1995. Even more impressive, she was one of five poets selected to receive a two-year post-degree Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Poetry at Stanford University from 1996-1998.

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The Appleton, Wisconsin native didn’t immediately start her professional endeavors in academia. She began her career in publishing for Penguin Books and Simon & Schuster, keeping her ties to the written word, especially fine writing and editing.

Not surprisingly, Kathy is an accomplished author. Her books include: The Daughter’s Almanac: Poems in 2015, The Art Courage Program in 2014, and Saints of South Dakota and Other Poems in 2001. She has also dozens of other publications and presentations during her impressive scholarly career.

Kathy knows that liberal arts skills are in constant demand by corporate leaders, who are on the lookout for lifelong-learners adept at creativity and problem-solving. These required skills are exactly our focus in the College of Arts and Humanities.

For example, Kathy pioneered our nationally ranked online undergraduate degree in Professional and Creative Writing. And now for the first time this coming fall, the College of Arts and Humanities and the Department of English will debut an online Master’s degree in Professional and Creative Writing.

Kathy’s innovative skills will be very important as she continues to foster teamwork, collaboration, and mentorship within, between, and among our departments and programs. Her respect for teamwork, deep knowledge of the university, and commitment to excellence will help raise the College of Arts and Humanities to an even higher level of achievement.

We are delighted to make Kathy a permanent member of our leadership team. Her accomplishments, creativity, wisdom, and experience make her the perfect addition.

Please join me in welcoming Kathy Whitcomb as our associate dean.

CAH, Central Washington University, College of Arts and Humanities, Costume Making, Department of Theatre Arts, Theatre Arts, Uncategorized, Wig Making

The Dazzle Behind the Scenes in Theatre Arts: Cat McMillen

By Stacey Robertson

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Located on the first floor of McConnell Hall, our Department of Theatre Arts is never quiet, even in the summer. Regardless of the hour, students traverse the halls rehearsing lines, practicing choreography, and endlessly preparing for their next audition or role.

As with many disciplines, those working behind the scenes can be just as vital as those performing on stage.

Reflecting on the many talented students and faculty in our Department of Theatre Arts, perhaps one of the most influential is Cat McMillen. She is both a costume-shop manager and lecturer. Her office is located on the second floor of McConnell, tucked in the back of the costume shop.

Against one wall of her office is a large blow up mattress, which Cat says she occasionally uses to nap during especially long days.  These long days start in the early hours of the morning, and often stretch into the late evening.

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“Every once in a while, I have to stay in the evenings for dress rehearsal,” Cat said. “I’m here from 6 a.m. to 11 or 12 at night.”

She and her students provide the costumes, wigs, and many of the hand props used for productions.

“I am in charge of the entire shop, and when I say the entire shop I mean I am in charge of purchasing all the supplies, training all the students, repairing all of the equipment, and cleaning everything,” Cat said. “I also teach a makeup class, a wig class, and sometimes a mask class.”

The Department of Theatre Arts produces highly acclaimed musicals and dramas throughout the year. Every one of these productions has its own unique demands and challenges.

The creative process begins long before opening night. A typical production from start to finish takes anywhere from five-to-ten weeks, depending on the complexity of the show. One of the very first steps is for the costume team to meet and determine how to “sell” the play to audience members.

Cat and her team collaborate closely with members of the design team, discussing everything from employing specific colors to create desired moods, to building props for each character to carry during the play.

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“Is it sexy? Is it passionate? Is it uncomfortable? What is the key word that’s going to help us sell this (production) to our audiences?” she said.

From there, as Cat describes it, the team conducts inspirational research on the time period, prepares silhouette drawings, and develops item lists for each character.

Often Cat and her team will create every item of clothing or accessory worn or carried by all the characters.

“With this being an educational facility, students learn and build in a safe environment where if they screw up, we can still fix it,” Cat said.  “It’s quite fun, watching students have that little lightbulb go off.”

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Cat, who considers wig making her specialty, started performing at a young age, and was bitten by the “theatre bug” in college.

Her formal training began studying costuming with Susan Tsu at the University of Texas at Austin. Later, she earned her Bachelor of Arts from Auburn University-Montgomery, while working as an assistant wig master at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival.

Since her arrival at Central Washington University, Cat has mentored hundreds of theatre students from fledgling artists into masters of their craft.

“In theatre, we are all collaborators,” Cat said. “We get to transform people.”

Credit to ‘Making Mary Poppins‘ and the CWU Theatre Arts website for images.

21st Century Life, Arts and Humanities, CAH, Central Washington University, College of Arts and Humanities, CWU, CWU Department of Communications, CWU Film Program, Department of Art, Department of English, Department of History, Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies, Department of Theatre Arts, Faculty, Higher Education, LaunchPad, Liberal Arts, Stacey Robertson, Uncategorized

Showcasing Our Talented Students and Faculty to the World

By Stacey Robertson

Film has the power to inspire, enlighten, and excite – and our new college video certainly does all of this and so much more.

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Please take a moment to enjoy the virtuosity and creativity that our new video showcases. Our very own Film Program co-leader Jon Ward carefully directed and expertly produced this video in collaboration with two recent CWU grads Dara Hall and Jobe Layton.

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The scene begins with a bird’s eye view of our campus from historic Barge Hall to modernistic McIntyre Music Building Concert Hall on a gorgeous Ellensburg day, beautifully filmed by a drone-mounted camera.

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From Music Professor Nikolas Caoile conducting our orchestra to musical-theatre-produced Mary Poppins flying through the air, the video is a cornucopia of images documenting our incredibly innovative and skillful students and their ardent and dedicated faculty.

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There are dancers floating across the stage, pottery taking shape, piano keys expertly played, theatre productions magnificently choreographed, broadcast productions carefully digitized, newspapers meticulously printed, and graphic designs precisely created.

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Our video highlights the talent and commitment of our students and faculty in dozens of different ways. You can experience the energy in our English, History, Philosophy and Religious Studies classrooms as students reach into the past to try to fully comprehend the challenges of the future.

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This video is refreshing and illuminating because it offers a compelling glimpse into what we do best: Create a culture of excellence that enhances and builds on every bit of talent and potential from our students and faculty for the benefit of our region and the world.

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The new college video also highlights an exciting truth: We are educating and mentoring the creative leaders of the future.

If you have not yet had the opportunity to experience our new college video, the link can be found immediately below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hu93R9nL7Fo

http://www.cwu.edu/arts/

http://www.cwu.edu/film-video/

Arts and Humanities, CAH, Central Washington University, College of Arts and Humanities, CWU, Dan Herman, Department of History, Gary Weidenaar, Higher Education, History, Jason Dormady, LaunchPad, Liberal Arts, Lifelong Learning, Marji Morgan, Out of the Box Thinking, Poetry, Speaker Series, Stacey Robertson, Third Thursday Thinks, Uncategorized, Wicked Smaht, Xavier Cavazos

Bringing Arts and Humanities into the Community with Porters, Stouts and Amber Ales

By Stacey Robertson

When my predecessor, Dr. Marji Morgan, issued a summons for greater interaction between the College of Arts and Humanities and the Ellensburg community, Associate Professor Jason Dormady of the our Department of History was one of the first to reply.

His response led to the creation of the “Wicked Smaht; Third Thursday Thinks” speaker series.

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As described by Dr. Dormady, the Wicked Smaht talks are a partnership between the College of Arts and Humanities and Iron Horse Brewery, and serve as a conduit between the university and the City of Ellensburg.

Held in the back room of the craft brewery on Main Street, the talks are informal and most have participatory elements, and a little IPA, too.

“Getting off campus and going out into the community is something that’s beneficial for both the university and the Ellensburg community,” Dormady said.

According to Dr. Dormady, the name of the series, ‘Wicked Smaht’ was inspired by a line of dialogue from the film, Good Will Hunting.

In the film, the main character participates in an intellectual discussion in a bar, and is described by one of his friends as ‘wicked smaht.’

“This idea of people from the community and from the university (e.g. Town and Gown) getting together and having an intellectual exchange in a local craft brewery was our response,” Dormady said.

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Free and open to everyone 21 or older, the talks have covered a wide range of subjects including subversive knitting, Irish World War I veterans, and music advocacy.

Last June as part of the series, I presented on the historic roots about the global phenomenon of modern-day slavery, a global crisis affecting 30 million people today.

The only requirement for speakers is they hail from the College of Arts and Humanities. Beyond that, faculty members may choose their topics.

“There is really no single theme… and I think that’s what the fun part of this is,” Dormady said. “The faculty speakers can talk about anything they want.

“For example, Xavier Cavazos from our Department of English led a fantastic participatory performance poetry. We had 20 people up, dancing around, while chanting poems.”

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Each talk is an hour long with presenting faculty members usually taking the first half hour for a topic overview, leaving second half for Q&A. If it’s a workshop, then the hands-on portion takes the full hour with the faculty member moving throughout the room.

“We really discourage the use of Power Point … this program is not designed for lectures,” Dormady said. “It’s intended as ‘here are some ideas, now let’s talk about them.’ We generally say people have to rely on their own wit and wisdom to make things happen.”

The series is unique on campus, primarily because of its informal nature and its craft-brew and bar-food setting.

“I think the informality really sets it apart from formal classroom lecture,” Dormady said.

This month, Dr. Marji Morgan will lead a discussion about wine and champagne. Next January, the series will host Dr. Gary Weidenaar, our director of Choral Studies, as he leads a ‘beer choir.’

Prost!

CAH faculty who are interested in presenting at Wicked Smaht are encouraged to contact Dr. Dormady at Jason.Dormady@cwu.edu

http://www.cwu.edu/history/node/2531