Alumni, Central Washington University, Creative Writing, Department of English, Fiction, Horror Genre, Literature, Uncategorized

What Do You Expect From a CWU Alum Born on Halloween?

By Katharine Whitcomb

T.J. Tranchell saw his first horror movie at age five.

His hero is Stephen King. His favorite King novel is “Bag of Bones.”

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Tranchell, 37, met his Blysster Press publisher at Crypticon in Seattle in 2014. He was encouraged to attend this gathering by his professors/instructors at our Department of English.

He has published two macabre books: Cry Down Dark (novella) and Asleep in the Nightmare Room (short stories), and has two more in the offing. These tales are not for the weak of heart.

Tranchell received his B.A. degree in English with a Writing Specialization from the College of Arts and Humanities’ English Department in 2013. Two years later, he earned his CWU M.A. degree in Literature.

Thumbing through Tranchell’s newly published Asleep in the Nightmare Room in which he vividly recounts his nightmares about creepy, crawly spiders; he immediately acknowledges the contributions of his teachers including: Laila Abdalla, Liahna Armstrong, Xavier Cavazos, George Drake, Lisa Norris, myself, and others.

Tranchell recalled his first meeting with me, and how the English Department was a great place to ‘do your own thing.’ He also bonded with Professor Armstrong over all things, Alfred Hitchcock. Tranchell told LaunchPad that he would not have reached his level of literary accomplishment without his teachers.

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After a budding career in journalism came to an end, when his wife was selected for a job in Yakima, Tranchell decided the time had come to earn his degree in English with an emphasis on writing fiction.

Tranchell recognizes that journalism and creative writing both require story telling skills, but said that fiction is far more satisfying.

When asked if he worked on horror writing following a full-work week as a reporter covering stories, he demonstrated his love for metaphors: “The last thing a dish washer wants to do is go home and wash his own dishes.” Point made.

Tranchell said his professors and instructors at Central gave him the “freedom” to pursue his love of horror writing, but still made sure he was making “progress” toward his undergraduate degree in English, and later his graduate degree in Literature. He said his teachers made him better as a writer.

“I enjoy hearing people scream.” – T.J. Tranchell

He contends that horror books are scarier than movies of the same genre. Tranchell said that humans crave an emotional reaction in confronting their own worst fears in a safe environment. He questions why some will happily board the scariest roller coaster, but will cringe and cower at the thought of watching a Vincent Price or Jack Nicholson movie based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe or Stephen King respectively.

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Tranchell said his CWU professors and instructors encouraged him to capitalize on his vivid imagination and pursue his fascination of horror. He said the collective philosophy of his teachers was: “Whatever the genre, good writing is good writing.”

Does Tranchell ever have to overcome the dreaded and scary, “writer’s block?” He replied that when he is “actively writing” that he is in a zone. His biggest impediments to writing are the demands of daily life.

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Most recently he directed student media at the University of Idaho for two years, a position that ended on the last day of June. Today, he is a full-time “stay-at-home dad” and a novelist focusing on all things scary.

And instead of being the second-coming of Stephen King, he wants to the first iteration of T.J. Tranchell. Congratulations to T.J. and his readers.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

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.

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/

Central Washington University, College of Arts and Humanities, Department of English, Faculty, Faculty Mentoring, Higher Education, Multimodal Learning, Online Education, Out of the Box Thinking, Uncategorized

Great Online Teachers Are Made

By Stacey Robertson

Now that spring term is over and diplomas have been earned and distributed, one could easily conclude that all must be quiet at the College of Arts and Humanities at Central Washington University.

That assumption is far from the truth. The arrival of the solstice also harkens the beginning of our outstanding and cost-effective summer-school sessions. These intensive six-and-nine week sessions offer students the opportunity to continue to make progress toward their degrees throughout the summer.

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At our Ellensburg campus, summer school also provides new challenges for our talented faculty. Because the vast majority of our students depart the Kittitas Valley during the summer, we offer most of our courses online. In response, more of our faculty are converting their ten-week, in-person courses into online offerings for the summer.

For those instructors who already incorporate online technologies and digital materials into their face-to-face courses, this transition is straightforward and comfortable. For others, the move to online can be intimidating. Thankfully, all CWU faculty can rely on the wisdom and expertise of Dr. Chris Schedler and his team at the CWU Office of Multimodal Learning.

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An award-winning teacher-scholar, Dr. Schedler earned his Ph.D in English from University of California Santa Barbara in 1999 and has been teaching American and multicultural literature at CWU for 13 years. His passion for different methods of teaching made him the perfect candidate for Executive Director of Multimodal Learning.

While the onset and spread of online learning has generated controversy on campuses throughout the U.S. and the world, Dr. Schedler believes online education is here to stay because it provides educational access for place-bound and non-traditional learners as well as offering course-scheduling flexibility and accelerating time-to-degree for on-campus students. By gaining fluency in instructional technologies and digital pedagogy, faculty can provide our students with a quality education and at the same time fulfill our mission and core values.

Dr. Schedler and his outstanding Multimodal Learning team – including instructional technologists, media technicians, librarians and faculty fellows – assist faculty members with all aspects of the online experience including Canvas (our online learning management system), Panopto (for voice over PowerPoint lectures), streaming media, online tests, discussion boards, group projects and virtual office hours.

Dr. Schedler notes that some aspects of online teaching can enrich the educational experience in unique ways. For example, an online discussion may empower those who are shy or reticent to find their voice. It may also lead to more nuanced discussion thanks to additional time and distance.
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The CWU College of Arts and Humanities, already renowned for its dynamic on-campus programs and faculty expertise, has gained national recognition for its new Online Professional and Creative Writing degree. We will continue to seek new instructional methods and technologies (such as augmented and virtual reality), which can expand our ability to spread liberal arts education throughout the Pacific Northwest and around the world.

https://www.cwu.edu/english/chris-schedler

https://www.cwu.edu/online-learning/office-multimodal-learning