2019-2020 Faculty Awards
Associate Professor Ashley Wright selected to receive Summer Stipend from the National Endowment for the Humanities
This spring, Ashley Wright was selected to receive a summer stipend to support further research for her project, “Gender, Law and Colonial Rule in British India and Burma, 1858–1915.” The research funded by this stipend is intended to support the development of her book which analyzes legal conflicts in colonial India and Burma that involved women displaced by the expansion of British imperial power between 1858 and World War I.
Department Chair Matthew Sutton receives the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Faculty award
The nation’s foremost expert on the history of American evangelicalism and its relationship to politics, Matthew Avery Sutton is expanding critical understanding of the country’s political past and present. Through five acclaimed books and hundreds of articles in scholarly publications and popular media, Sutton chronicles the influence of key religious leaders in U.S. history and makes historical information about religion, politics, and culture accessible to academics and the wider public.
Internationally renowned for his research, he co-edits a top journal in his field and has garnered fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowments for the Humanities, among others. He has served as a visiting professor at universities in Germany and Ireland and presented invited lectures at leading institutions worldwide.
Sutton’s commitment to education is evident in his exemplary teaching and service at all levels. He has long been a leader in shaping the Department of History’s curricula. Now, as chair of the department, he continues to instill a passion for learning among students from freshman to doctoral levels. He also contributed to establishing WSU’s NextGen PhD program and the new interdisciplinary Center for Arts and Humanities.
Firmly aligned with the University’s land grant mission, his work promises to continue strengthening the discipline, the department, and the college.
Assistant Professor Andra Chastain awarded College of Arts and Sciences Students’ Award for Teaching Excellence
The Students’ Award for Teaching Excellence recognizes a faculty member who commits time outside of the classroom to help prevent students from falling behind, demonstrates an enthusiasm for the subject matter, and instills enthusiasm and passion in students.
Andra Chastain may ask a lot of her students, but she gives even more than she asks. In nominating her for the teaching award, a student praised her “desire and commitment to help students succeed” and her willingness to be available whenever a student needs her. “She inspires and helps encourage me as a researcher to dig deeper, think harder and aim beyond what I thought possible,” the nominator added.
Chastain teaches introductory and advanced history classes. Her research and teaching interests include modern Latin America with a focus on Chile in a global context; the transnational history of aid and development; the global Cold War; urban and environmental history; and the history of science and technology. Her broad curiosity lends excitement in the classroom and an uncommon ability to make students fall in love with history. “I want students to see how knowledge about the past is dynamic and contested—and has serious implications for the present,” she said.
She encourages students to speak up, and her classes are lively with discussion. “I love the opportunity to build a sense of community in my classroom,” she said. “We establish a culture of respectful dialogue from the start.”
Chastain believes in setting high expectations, communicating them clearly, and then showing how they are attainable. She is honest about the challenges of the research and writing process. “I know from experience that if a goal seems impossible, procrastination and guilt take over,” she said. “But if a seemingly insurmountable project is broken down into small tasks, and you have the support from peers and your professors to achieve these tasks, you can go farther than you had imagined.”
Chastain earned her bachelor’s degree in 2008 from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, and earned a master’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2012. She also earned both an M.A. and an M.Phil. from Yale University in 2014; and a Ph.D. from Yale in 2018. She has been teaching at WSU Vancouver ever since. She is currently revising her dissertation into a book about the history of the metro system in Santiago, Chile.
While she loves sharing her passions with students, she gains a lot from them too. “I guide the ship, but we are all learning together,” she said. “Their questions provide a foundation for a lively conversation in class—and the process of creating knowledge is all about keeping that conversation going.”
Clinical Associate Professor Clif Stratton receives award for College of Arts and Sciences Mid-Career Achievement
Clif Stratton has established himself as a leader in all major areas of academic life. His career reflects a balanced approach of high-quality instruction, sound mentorship, strong service, and innovative scholarship.
His path-breaking research explores issues of race, ethnicity, imperialism, education, citizenship, capitalism, gentrification, urbanization, and sports—and has distinguished him nationally. His first book, Education for Empire: American Schools, Race and Paths of Good Citizenship, is regarded as a powerful model of comparative approach to studying imperialism and race. Winner of five WSU teaching awards and the American Historical Association’s highest honor for postsecondary instruction, Stratton prioritizes student success and embraces and promotes new ways to improve education. He pioneered use of digital humanities tools to equip students with more generalized technology skills. Other revisions he championed led to a five percent rise in course completion rates.
Director of the University Common Requirements program, he is a member of the Student Success Council, chair of the WSU Teaching Academy, an alumnus of the President’s Leadership Academy, and actively engaged in numerous departmental committees. Stratton’s invaluable insight, thoughtful leadership, and emphasis on learning make WSU a better place for students and colleagues alike.
3 History faculty recognized for teaching excellence join President’s Teaching Academy
- Theresa Jordan
- Matthew Sutton
- Aaron Whelchel
Members of the WSU President’s Teaching Academy are “committed to delivering outstanding teaching experiences to our students and advancing the practice of great teaching,” said Clif Stratton, chair of the WSU Teaching Academy.