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 Relations, Citizenship, Marketing, Mentoring, Scholarship, Teaching, Technology, Uncategorized

Throwing the Spotlight on CWU’s College of Arts and Humanities

By Stacey Robertson

Two years ago, I was privileged to become the Dean of the Central Washington University College of Arts and Humanities. I began with exuberance, diving into the process of learning about our strengths and honing our priorities. It is with joy and pride that I share my thoughts on our progress.

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Reflecting on the record of success by my predecessor, Dr. Marji Morgan, we have confidently built on these achievements – looking toward a bright future for our eight dynamic departments and our four interdisciplinary programs.

My confidence is grounded in a clear recognition that domestic and international competition is permanent. We must always bring the highest level of commitment to excellence to all aspects of our mission on behalf of our students, faculty, alumni, staff, and other stakeholders.

We must continue to improve on what we are already doing – empowering our students with an education that fosters valuable skills – ethical learning, engaged citizenship, active tolerance, cultural awareness, sharp analytical abilities, and outstanding oral and written communication. These skills ensure our students of meaningful lives and satisfying careers with opportunities for advancement.

Our faculty members are committed to nurturing this learning process inside and outside the classroom. Indeed, a passion for mentorship is part of our college’s DNA. We understand that mentorship is most successful when it is lifelong – and we hope to create such meaningful relationships across boundaries in the College of Arts and Humanities. Our alumni are eager to share their wisdom and experience with our current students and with each other. Our staff members provide students and faculty with helpful skills, and our faculty offer much appreciated career-and-life advice to students.

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Our outstanding faculty members are also renowned for their scholarly and artistic achievements. Such expertise enriches the intellectual life of the university and the community, and offers our students superb exemplars of meaningful academic engagement. We are a college that embraces the teacher-scholar model – consistently bringing our intellectual and creative accomplishments into the classroom, and encouraging our students to produce and share their own original scholarship and creative expression.

Our students come to our college with obvious potential, and it is our job to nurture and encourage their capabilities. We embrace applied learning, collaboration and teamwork. There is no substitute for doing through hours of practical hands-on experience.

We empower our students to compete for career-building jobs and internships, and to thrive for years to come through their commitment to hard work and lifelong learning. Our flourishing alumni are the best proof of our success.

With special expertise in creativity and innovation, we take in pride in our celebration of imagination. We know this is a critical skill for jobs of the future. We are preparing our students for 21st-century careers with the understanding that human creativity cannot be mechanized, outsourced or digitized.

Our home campus of Ellensburg in the Kittitas Valley sits immediately east of the dynamic Seattle metropolitan area, a gateway to the Pacific Rim. We must share our story more widely. We have ramped up our marketing efforts to ensure that our success is no longer a well-kept secret.

For example, this coming April 11th we will invite some of our marvelous alumni to campus to interact with our students, faculty, and staff – building on our culture of mentorship and initiating many new enduring friendships. Equally exciting, we will showcase our talented Art and Performing Arts students at the Seattle Art Museum on May 9th and YOU are invited to attend. More on this event soon!

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Throughout 2017, we will continue to tell our story. We have upgraded our college website, designed a new logo, initiated this LaunchPad blog, enhanced our Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter social media presence, and produced a dynamic, award-winning, fast-moving college video.

As an historian, I am trained to look back and to analyze how the past applies to the present and the future. As the Dean of the CWU College of Arts and Humanities, I am invigorated by the everyday challenges of the present, but even more excited about the opportunities for a brighter future.

Our tomorrow begins today.

Alumni Engagement, College of Arts and Humanities, Liberal Arts, Marketing, Mentorship, Strategic Priorities, Uncategorized, Vision Statement

Looking Back, Looking Forward

By Stacey Robertson

Reflecting on my nearly 18 months as the Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, I am proud of our progress. We have raised our profile, reconnected with our alumni, and initiated new events – such as our Celebrating the Arts and Humanities Series – and new programs – such as our nationally ranked Online Professional and Creative Writing degree.

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Even as we ponder the past, we continue to look forward. We are never complacent. We do not rest on our laurels. There is still so much that needs to be done. We unabashedly contend that a liberal arts education prepares our students for success in a fast-changing, always-on, lifelong-learning digital society. Just as important a liberal arts education guides students toward wholehearted living.

We embrace the upward-to-the-right design of our futuristic Department of Music building to market our college as the “LaunchPad to Your Future.” Our vision is to prepare our students for future challenges, nurturing their creativity and stimulating their talent.

Our Vision:

Internationally recognized for its dynamic and innovative departments and programs, the Central Washington University College of Arts and Humanities offers meaningful, personalized mentorship, an inclusive curriculum, and a strong blend of hands-on classroom, and professional opportunities, intended to prepare our students for success in the global marketplace and life.”

Just as market equities are forward-looking indicators of anticipated performance, we believe that our 1,400 undergraduate and 80 graduate students — guided by our 150 outstanding faculty and assisted by our well-networked alumni – will be key barometers of our success.

Last April, we invited a small group of CAH alums – several were either first-generation graduates or non-traditional students — to come back and spend a day with us on campus. They all expressed a profound appreciation for their CWU education, reminiscing about lifelong friendships, mesmerizing mentors, and transformative challenges.

I was immediately struck by the grit and resilience each alum exhibited. It occurred to me these two characteristics continue to exemplify our students. Familiar with hard work and high achievement, our students understand the value of education. They do not take it for granted.

Each of our visiting alums volunteered to participate in our pilot Mentorship program, providing guidance, advice and support to a current student. We aim to expand this program to include many more alums, partnering them with our eager students. Mentorship is one of our highest priorities as a college.

Our Strategic Priorities

  1. Mentorship is prioritized across our college, assisting students in making the transition from student life to the professional world. Our well-placed alums play a decisive role in helping students attain entry-level positions and build a prosperous careers.
  2. We are strategically promoting and enhancing our curriculum, including interdisciplinary collaboration.
  3. Looking westward across the Pacific and around the world, we recognize that our curriculum must be inclusive and diverse.
  4. A never-ending task is to improve our visibility: locally, regionally, nationally and even internationally.
  5. Our alumni are not just our past – familiar faces that proudly marched up to the podium in their caps and gowns, eventually moving their tassels from right-to-left. They are our present, and most important, our future.
  6. Our scholarship and creative expression are central to who we are as a community. They foster our intellectual and aesthetic understanding of the world and enhance our teaching.

My Predecessor, My Mentor, My Friend

I would like to conclude this final blog of the 2015-16 academic year with a “shout-out” to my predecessor Marji Morgan, who served as our dean for nine years.

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Just as my door is always open for those interested in the future of our college, Marji has always been there to assist me, our faculty, and our 20 dedicated staff members. Besides both of us serving as dean, we hail from the same discipline, History. There is literally no subject that we can’t talk about with full candor and refreshing humor.

Marji once again exhibited her team-player attitude by serving as the interim chair of our Communication Department. She will continue in this role next year.

We are absolutely delighted about the coming year. It will feature a new Celebrating the Arts and Humanities Series, a dynamic fresh logo, a strategic marketing approach, innovative programs, and of course, a new contingent of outstanding Arts and Humanities students.

Upwards and onwards to the future!

Arts and Humanities, Central Washington University, CWU Department of Communications, Department of History, Marketing, Uncategorized, Washington Wine

Linking the College of Arts and Humanities to Wonderful Washington Wine

By Stacey Robertson

When that cork pops, an interdisciplinary world is unleashed that connects us with agriculture, science, history, philosophy and religion, literature, poetry, art, business and marketing, world languages, tourism and leisure, culinary studies and more. Let’s pop some corks and enjoy!” – Marji Morgan, Department of Communication interim chair, historian and wine enthusiast.

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My predecessor, mentor, and good friend, Marji Morgan, brilliantly connected all eight departments of the CWU College of Arts and Humanities – Art, Communication, English, History, Music, Philosophy and Religious Studies, Theatre Arts, and World Languages – in an enchanting bottle of Washington wine.

Morgan is more than qualified to discuss this linkage, not only as the former dean of the CWU College of Arts and Humanities for nine years, but also as a renowned historian and a wine enthusiast, hosting her weekly radio show, “Lines on Wines.”

Class was in session earlier this month as Morgan served as the final 2015-2016 academic year presenter for the Celebrating the College of Arts and Humanities Series. Many would not be inclined to consider Washington as a prime wine region — Au Contraire!

In her “Sagebrush to Vineyards: Washington’s Route to the World Wine Map” Morgan introduced the audience of faculty, students, staff, alums and community members to the pioneers of the Evergreen State’s wine industry. These intrepid souls explored fields of high-desert sagebrush and rattlesnakes. More importantly, they found the vision to transform the arid land into row-after-row of Vitis Vinifera (grapes for making wine).

Washington’s terroir, the complete natural and biological environment for producing wine, eventually resulted in the designation of 13 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) in the state, all but one east of the Cascades. The very first was established in 1983 in Yakima Valley about 30 miles away from Central Washington University’s main Ellensburg campus.

Morgan explained that Washington’s terroir is one of the most ideal natural environments for producing wine. She opined that France makes wine despite its growing conditions; Washington makes wine because of its ideal growing conditions.

Geography takes a bow as the Cascades to the west and the Rocky Mountains to the north and east, block the respective temperate rain and the Artic air masses. The result is the young Washington vines are repeatedly “stressed” by lack of rainfall, putting their energy into the sweet fruit and making their roots deeper. During a single 24-hour period of time during the summer, the temperature may shift up to 40 degrees, helping to preserve a nice balance between grape sugar and acid.

From an historical point of view, a series of massive-high floods 13,000-to-15,000 years ago (e.g., Missoula Floods) created soil ideal for drainage, low in nutrients, which forces wine vines to reach deeper to find vital minerals.

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Morgan introduced us to a series of Washington wine-making visionaries, each with a unique story that has been featured in her every Wednesday “Lines on Wines” radio show on Ellensburg Community Radio. One of the most successful is Allen Shoup, the former chief executive officer of Chateau Ste. Michelle. During his tenure, he grew the winery’s business from $5 million to a $175 million venture.

Jack of All Trades; Master of None?

Shoup told Morgan that Washington can reach the pinnacle of the wine world, as the state is the only wine region not missing any of the geographical ingredients necessary to grow Vinifera vines and to bottle great wines.

Marji said Washington is adept at growing many red and white varietals, but is not known for any particular varietal. Other wine areas are known for a grape varietal or blend. For example, Oregon is renowned for its pinot noirs; California for its cabernets, Australia for its Shiraz, Germany for its Rieslings and Bordeaux for its blends.

Washington poses a marketing and communication challenge – who are we as a region? The Evergreen State’s wine business is also challenged by low production, compared to its giant competitor to the south, California.

“People don’t learn about wine and become wine drinkers on $30 and $40 bottles,” Morgan told our Speaker Series’ audience. She went on to say that Washington needs more affordable wines, and enough premium wine production to export more bottles out of the state and the country.

There is also the lack of tourist infrastructure (e.g., cozy B&Bs, nice restaurants, art galleries, boutiques), which accompany competing wine regions, such as Oregon’s Willamette Valley, California’s Sonoma and Napa Counties, let alone the legendary vineyards of France, Italy, Spain and Germany.

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Morgan said that following Prohibition, Americans tended to produce and drink primarily sweet, highly fortified wines. This trend did not change until 1969 when the state Legislature eliminated the state tariffs protecting Washington’s fortified wine industry, and allowed competition to thrive and the state’s wines to improve.

Morgan radiates with confidence that Washington’s best wine making and marketing days are yet to come. And with them are opportunities for our art students to design bottle labels, our music students to compose songs about wine, our English students to romance about wine with stories and poems, our World Language students to spread the Washington wine word in many tongues – quite frankly every one of our departments can participate in telling the Evergreen State wine story, and telling it well.

Just like “Lines of Wines” at www.linesonwines.com