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

Alumni, Alumni Engagement, Central Washington University, College of Arts and Humanities, CWU, CWU Alumni, Liberal Arts, Lifelong Learning, Personal Branding, Uncategorized

The Proven Flexibility of Liberal Arts Degrees

What can you do with a Liberal Arts degree?

How about transforming a bachelor’s degree in History into becoming a successful systems planner for Boeing?

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How about a successful career as a principal software engineering manager for Microsoft after earning a degree in Music?

Turning an English degree into a lucrative career as a marketing manager of music textbooks?

Or a Philosophy major vaults into the role of a licensed mental health counselor?

Closer to our campus, an Art degree is utilized for a fulfilling career as a professional rodeo photographer?

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Maybe a World Languages degree results in exciting assignments overseas, serving as an interpreter/translator in Japan?

And can a Theatre Arts degree allow a promising and talented student to overcome her fear of public speaking and finally realize her dream of performing as an actress in Seattle?

Liberal arts degrees are clearly in demand. Just ask our eight successful College of Arts and Humanities honorees, who gathered earlier this month to share their experiences and wisdom with our students, faculty, and staff.

These outstanding graduates and career overachievers took quality time out of their busy lives to return to Ellensburg and spend a day with us. They also agreed to mentor fortunate students from each of our eight departments, establishing what will hopefully be a meaningful lifelong friendship.

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Top (left to right): Gretchen Beyer, Molly Morrow, Micaiah Davis, Alex Worland, Alan Page, Dane Madsen, Nuno Fernandes, Trevor Penland, Caroleigh Lawrence
Bottom (left to right): Amy Danneker, Karli Reinbold, Tristan Gorringe, Derek Forsell, Lori Bohn, Garrett Swatzina, Donny Anderson, Stephan Simes

The lineup for our April 11 Wellington Events Center panel:

  • Molly Morrow, Department of Art, Class of 1974, Professional Cowboys Association PhotographerPic4
  • Tristan Gorringe, Department of Communication, Class of 2009, Microsoft Audience Marketing Manager and Events Lead
  • Trevor Penland, Department of English, Class of 2011, W.W. Norton Marketing Manager for Music Textbooks
  • Lori Bohn, Department of History, Class of 1988, Boeing Systems Planner
  • Alan Page, Department of Music, Class of 1988, Microsoft Principal Software Manager
  • Nuno Fernandes, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Class of 2007, Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, Licensed Mental Health Counselor
  • Amy Danneker, Department of Theatre Arts, Class of 2005, Seattle Market Professional Actress
  • Donald Anderson, Jr., Department of World Languages and Cultures, Class of 2008, Japanese Language Translator and Interpreter and Instructor for English Language Acquisition (ELA)Pic5

If you carefully review the occupations of this list of alums, each hailing respectively from our eight dynamic departments, only two are directly engaged in their field of study.

The gratifying message is that a liberal arts degree from our college leads to fulfilling careers and flexible, marketable skills.

As several panel members emphatically stated: Our College of Arts and Humanities is “not a vocational school.” Instead, our college embraces, celebrates, and champions lifelong learning and produces creative, smart, and skilled problem-solvers.

Trevor Penland asserted that questions such as, “What are you going to do with an English degree?” need to be promptly vanquished. The reality is that Liberal Arts majors have the talent and the ability to quickly glean vital information and to effectively speak, write, and problem solve.

Tristan Gorringe encouraged students to nurture an authentic personal story, be proactive and intentional in their networking efforts, and most of all, project and promote a unique personal brand.

CWU History alum and now Boeing Systems Planner Lori Bohn advised students to keep changing, learning, and moving – characteristics that are nurtured by their liberal arts backgrounds.

As we head toward our June 10th commencement, seniors are wondering about their next step and how to secure a meaningful job.

Nuno Fernandes counseled students to first and foremost avoid panic, and to stay grounded. Amy Danneker championed “Networking 101” and staying in touch with college colleagues as sometimes it takes only that one special lead to reach full employment.

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Perhaps most important, all of our panelists used their personal success stories to highlight the real power of a liberal arts degree in securing a meaningful career and life. Each projected energy and optimism based upon their proven success and their lifelong commitment to learning how to learn.

Inspiring, generous, and thoughtful, these honorees gave our students superb advice as they embark on their own personal career journeys.

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.

Central Washington University, College of Arts and Humanities, CWU, Historicans Against Slavery, Not In Our Kittco, NOTINOURKITTCO, Uncategorized

Not in Our Kittco, Not Today, Not Tomorrow

By Stacey Robertson

As a Civil War-era historian, the co-director of Historians Against Slavery, and as the dean of the Central Washington University College of Arts and Humanities, I take the recent reports of KKK fliers in Ellensburg and across Kittitas County very seriously.

I applaud the categorical response in the last few weeks from President James Gaudino and many others, including the Twitter hashtag #notinourkittco, and I join with them in working to create a safe and respectful campus environment for all of our students, faculty, and staff.

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And yet, I know from extensive research and writing that history is the context for understanding present-day challenges. Slavery and its troubled aftermath is a national wound that we are unable to heal.

We must not delude ourselves into thinking racial discrimination and bias ended with the 13th Amendment in 1865. In the decades following the Civil War, legalized slavery continued in the form of convict leasing with black men and women arrested for spurious crimes, sentenced to long prison terms, and leased out to plantations and mines to experience a life that was often worse than slavery. Lynchings increased, blacks were prevented from voting, and Jim Crow (legalized segregation) permeated in the South.

We have come a long way. The historic 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education, ended segregation in public schools. The landmark ruling helped lead to the 1960s freedom marches, and the signing of the Civil Rights Act in 1964 and Voting Rights Act the following year. In 2008, America elected its first black president in Barack Obama.

Yes, we have made tremendous progress, but we still must be vigilant. None of these changes happened without concerted effort on the part of social justice activists. Abolitionists challenged slavery and the racist laws of the North, collaborated with courageous freedom seekers to create a strong underground railroad, and protested time-and-time again across the North.

Civil rights activists continued the battle throughout the 20th Century even when it meant risking life and limb, leading to major changes. The flow of history is not always toward increased equality and rights. The fight must persist. Racial discrimination and bias continue as evidenced by KKK materials recently distributed right here in Ellensburg.

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The College of Arts and Humanities has a critical role to play in educating our students and the general public. All of our departments contribute to a strong ethical and global education about injustice, discrimination, and inequality.

Whether through an exploration of ethics in our Philosophy and Religious Studies Department or an eye-opening, heartfelt Art exhibition that raises questions about human trafficking, we must build strong-and-ethical global citizenship.

 

http://www.cwu.edu/cwu-students-and-staff-take-stand-against-racism

http://www.cwu.edu/thousands-ellensburg-participate-peace-march

http://www.cwu.edu/peace-march-planned-monday

http://cwuobserver.com/8578/student-life/president-gaudino-releases-statement-addresses-concerns-of-kkk-and-hate-speech/

http://www.dailyrecordnews.com/news/hate-group-activity-sparks-concern-in-ellensburg/article_5dbfea65-dddc-5e73-8ca8-5c3272447715.html

http://www.yakimaherald.com/news/local/ellensburg-officials-downplay-kkk-fliers/article_9ac4d68c-8543-11e6-99fd-c7d248c895a7.html

http://www.historiansagainstslavery.org/main/our-volunteers/robertson/

http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=4868

http://www.civilrights.org/education/brown/

http://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/book/?GCOI=80140100900520

https://www.cwu.edu/diversity/state-inclusion-central-washington-university-2013

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