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

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.

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

Alumni, Central Washington University, College of Arts and Humanities, Department of History, Lifelong Learning

Celebrating CWU College of Arts and Humanities Alumni

By Stacey Robertson 

Among the first actions that I took as the new dean of the College of Arts and Humanities was to appoint adjunct professor for Choral Studies Scott Peterson as the faculty alumni outreach liaison.

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The reason was simple: A college is much more than its current students, faculty and staff. Our alumni are an integral part of who we are and who we want to be. They are the best and most poignant evidence of our success

In the weeks leading up to our Alumni Day on April 21, we have frequently contemplated what our alums mean to our college – past, present and future.

Just as important, we have pondered how we can team up with our alums to enhance our present programs and increase opportunities for our students to experience success in life and in the global marketplace. Our alums are a wealth of knowledge and real-world experience.

Are we doing enough to collaborate with them, and to listen to their advice? They want to help. They appreciate how CWU contributed to their respective careers.

We believe our alumni can enrich and improve us in multiple ways. Yes, we will always appreciate those who assist us financially in providing the best education possible to the thousands of students we educate in our robust eight departments — Art, Communication, English, History, Music, Philosophy and Religious Studies, Theatre Arts, World Languages — and related interdisciplinary programs.

Our alums are more – much more — to the College of Arts and Humanities. They are our legacy. They know what CWU means in terms of their respective careers and the well-being of their families. More importantly, they can be vital mentors for our present students and our graduates.

We recognize and value the wisdom, sage counsel, networking opportunities, and friendship our alumni provide to our current students. It’s a challenge in today’s competitive marketplace to

find meaningful careers. We believe that having well-placed alums is vital. These alums hold prominent positions in key industries, located in desirable venues and in growing fields, which are critical to students building their careers.

We are dedicated to helping our students graduate and succeed. In turn as they experience fulfillment in life and work, we hope that they, as CWU alumni, will offer guidance, mentorship and assistance to the next wave of graduates, and thus continue this affirmative cycle for the benefit of all.

Two Generations of Wildcats

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Jack and Crystal Widman (both of the CWU Class of 2000) and their daughter, Jacki. Jacki will be entering Central this fall as a junior, having already earned both her associate’s degree. She hopes to be a member of the CWU graduating class of 2018 or 2019.

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Her father, Jack, is the principal of Glacier View Junior High in Puyallup. Crystal is a junior high teacher at Stahl Junior High School also in Puyallup.

Jack received his B.A. degree in Social Studies and History (taking African American and Russian Studies) and a minor in Elementary Education. He also earned his teaching certificate from Central. Crystal earned her B.A. in Elementary Education with a minor in Science.

Jacki intends to follow in her parents’ footsteps and pursue a CWU College of Arts and Sciences degree in Social Studies/History with an eye toward becoming a teacher.

Jack and Crystal’s son, Bryan, is a ninth grader at Stahl Junior High School. Will he become the sixth member of the Widman family to attend and graduate from Central Washington University? We hope so.

One thing is certain: The Widmans are teaching important skills to the next generation of students. They embody the mission of the College of Arts and Humanities – ethically minded leadership, creativity, and intelligence. They are using the skills they developed and honed during their days at Central to educate and inspire their students.

College Arts and Humanities Alumni Day

We will be celebrating an alumni honoree from each of our eight departments on Alumni Day, April 21.

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I am looking forward to welcoming our alums back to Ellensburg and learning about their experiences at Central and in the years that followed. We will also be inaugurating our first Alumni Mentorship Program. This program will partner each of our alumni honorees with a lucky student in every department.

The highlight of the day will be our afternoon Alumni Panel discussion at the Milo Smith Tower Theatre during which our alums will share their wisdom and life lessons with students, faculty and staff.

We are confident that our Alumni Day will be successful and productive, but we hope to do so much more. Let me assure you the College of Arts and Humanities will always prioritize our alumni as valued friends and respected collaborators in the future of our beloved university.