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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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).


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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)


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

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?


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?


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.


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.


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

Central Washington University, Central Washington University Orchestra, Collaboration, College of Arts and Humanities, Department of music, Mentorship, Uncategorized

How to Inspire and Mentor – Without Saying A Word

By Dr. Stacey Robertson

As the dean of the Central Washington University College of Arts and Humanities, I am reminded every day about all the different ways our faculty, students, alumni, and staff interact and positively influence each other.

Let’s call it: The Art of Collaboration.

We are particularly committed to collaborative mentorship. It is lifelong learning at its best. But what happens when the mentor can’t utter one word to the mentees … in this case about 75 talented musicians?

That is the challenge our Director of Orchestras and Associate Department of Music chair, Dr. Nik Caoile, faces on a daily basis. Through his non-verbal facial expressions, the movement of his body and baton, Dr. Caoile can bring out the best in an orchestra, fully engaging each devoted student musician.


Dr. Caoile, 38, describes the process of conducting as a dynamic “conversation” in which he calls for a “dialogue,” “pauses,” and “restarts,” all without uttering a single word. He is the conductor our CWU Orchestra, but also serves as the director and conductor of the Wenatchee Valley Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Caoile has come a long way from first touching a piano key when he was six years old, growing up in Tualatin, Oregon.

Like other energetic children, he wanted to go out and play with his friends rather than practice the piano. As he grew up, his parents had high hopes that Nik would become a medical doctor. He initially explored Pre-Med at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, but soon realized that music was his true love.

Through his dedication and hard work, Dr. Caoile received his bachelor’s degree in Music Composition from Willamette University (2000), his master’s in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Washington (2003) and his doctorate in Musical Arts in Orchestral Conducting from the University of Michigan (2013).

Dr. Caoile has been an instrumental – pardon the pun – part of our Department of Music Faculty for a decade plus.

“A Microcosm of the Diversity of the World”

Dr. Caoile describes the interaction of string, wind, and percussion instruments as a “microcosm of the diversity of the world.” He encourages each orchestra to embrace its unique character and deliver its own interpretation of the music, including Ludwig van Beethoven’s 5th Symphony.


Dr. Caoile venerates the work of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, which he describes as “clarity of motion and melody.” He also admires the renowned composer Gustav Mahler. Professor Caoile delights in conducting the work of both of these distinguished composers and many others, to the gratification and enjoyment of thousands in his audiences.

There is at least one time that Dr. Caoile directed an “orchestra” without any instruments. He served as the inspirational speaker to the CWU Freshmen Convocation at the beginning of the 2015-2016 academic year. He brilliantly displayed his skills by conducting incoming freshmen in performing the “wave” with the same precision and attention to detail as he does with strings, winds, and percussion. Energized and motivated, these new students were more than ready to start their exciting and challenging college careers.


What gives Dr. Caoile particular joy in his job? It comes when former students return to Ellensburg, often exhausted from the “grind” of performing for a major orchestra with 100 concerts or more per year, and they reminisce about the superb education and good times they experienced at Central Washington University.

What is next for Dr. Caoile?

The answer is a well-earned sabbatical in the spring term followed by the establishment of the Northwest Orchestra Institute with our own musicologist, Dr. Mark Samples, this coming summer. The institute is designed to provide intensive training to young outstanding orchestra musicians, taking their skills to the next level. The institute will also teach students how to manage orchestras, with special focus on entrepreneurial and marketing skills.

Dr. Caoile has come a long way since finding middle C for the first time at the age of six. From his frenetic pace and energy, one can safely surmise that he will continue to lead and inspire — many times without saying a single word — for those students fortunate enough to play in the Central Washington University Orchestra and others throughout the Pacific Northwest.

21st Century Life, Arts and Humanities, College of Arts and Humanities, Higher Education, History, Liberal Arts, Lifelong Learning, Mentorship, Music, Out of the Box Thinking

The Power of a Brand

By Stacey Robertson

Central Washington University Music students are already benefitting from the expertise of one of our newest assistant professors, Dr. Mark Samples.

A musicologist, Dr. Samples examines how branding and promotion influenced the careers of some of the most familiar names in music history.

“Every composer or performer, who has gained wide attention and recognition, has either been a great self-promoter or had a champion,” Dr. Samples said. “Musicians have long been successful as entrepreneurs in a field that has historically been suspicious or even outright hostile to commercialism. In my scholarship, I provide a fuller account of how musicians have navigated this minefield both in the past and today.”

Jenny Lind was a Swedish vocalist, who captivated American audiences during her 1850 tour, thanks to the machinations of legendary promoter P.T. Barnum. Although the “Swedish Nightingale” was already an European star, she was relatively unknown in America, prior to her first tour. Thanks to Barnum’s public relations expertise, her first concert alone brought in $10,000 (1850-era valued dollars).


“Barnum’s pre-promotional campaign prepared the American public for Lind’s arrival by creating a clearly defined brand persona based upon three qualities: celebrity, artistry and charity,” said Dr. Samples.

Lind’s success involved more than Barnum and his hype machine. It certainly did not hurt that she was a talented singer, and many European musicians including renowned composer and pianist Frédéric Chopin were also in her corner.


Showman and businessman Barnum was not the first to become very successful in the entertainment business (e.g., “The Greatest Show on Earth) and certainly was not the last. Samples’ points to Richard Wagner and Igor Stravinsky as not only great composers, but reputable self-promoters in their own right.

What is a Musicologist?

Dr. Samples considers himself a cultural historian of music. The linkage to Communication and History is obvious, but keep in mind that he is also an accomplished musician in his own right. Though his main performance venue today is the classroom, he is adept at both the piano and the saxophone, and has played both instruments in school, jazz, pop and folk-rock bands as he grew up.

He received his undergraduate degree in Music Theory and Composition from Pt. Loma Nazarene University and his Ph.D in Musicology from the University of Oregon in 2011. He joined our faculty here at Central Washington University in 2015.

blog3Photo by Erin Zysett

Can a musician succeed on marketing alone?

Dr. Samples acknowledges that plenty of “shallow music,” succeeded because of excellent promotion. Conversely, there were undoubtedly many talented musicians who failed to develop a following because they did not have champions.

Dr. Samples hopes to provide our skilled musicians at Central with expertise in branding and promotion.

Teaching Today’s Musicians To Be Their Own Advocates

Technological breakthroughs from Gutenberg’s printing press to the digital world of the Internet have repeatedly transformed our world. All of these “disruptive technologies” made it infinitely easier to communicate, but also harder to break through the competing “noise.”

Dr. Samples is concerned that young musicians enter the job market with high levels of musical skill and experience, but a lack a complete set of complementary professional skills.

“Talent is essential, but talent alone is not enough to make a career in music,” said Dr. Samples. “It also takes diligent practice, great networking, the ability to know yourself as an artist and to tell your story effectively. These qualities are not only true for performers, but for music teachers as well.”

That’s why Dr. Samples uses his research to create workshops for student and professional musicians called, “Branding for Musicians.” The workshop teaches musicians how to discover their core artistic values, and has been presented at music schools across the country including SMU’s Meadows School for the Arts and most recently at the School of Music and Dance at the University of Oregon.

The workshop is also drawing interdisciplinary attention, demonstrating how the CWU College of Arts and Humanities mission can resonate outwards. At the University of Oregon, Dr. Samples’ workshop attracted a diverse audience.

“In addition to musicians, I had people from the School of Business, the Journalism school, two music festival administrators, and even one from the Department of Interior Architecture, all gathered in one place discussing music,” said Dr. Samples. “It was exhilarating.

“The real goal in my mind is not teaching musicians how to become famous. Instead I want to teach them smarter ways to organize their careers so they can get back to doing what they love, making music.”

With Dr. Samples’ expertise, CWU music students will be better equipped to advocate for their artistry, tell their own stories, and ultimately bring tremendous value to their audiences, students and communities.

To learn more about Dr. Samples’ work, please visit