Dispatches from Across the System

Department of History, WSU Vancouver 

2021–2022 was a big transitional year, as we all moved back into the classroom after more than a year of online instruction. Students, faculty, and staff showed remarkable strength and flexibility, learning to navigate new learning technologies (the Canvas platform, hybrid teaching with Zoom connections in every classroom), teaching and learning with masks, uncertainty and illness—all while trying to remember how to facilitate and participate in classroom discussions. By the end of the year, things felt almost “normal”! 

The WSU Vancouver History Club, ably advised by Assistant Professor Andra Chastain, participated as judges for the annual History Day contest and organized a very successful alumni career panel in April, with participation by: Megan DeMoss (2018) Communications Coordinator for the City of Ridgefield; Geoff Lopez (2018) Administrative Assistant, Jury Administration, Clark County Superior Court; Anne Marggraf (2016) Attorney at McKean Smith; Jordan Boldt (2006) Executive Director, Vancouver Farmers Market; Robert Schimelpfenig (1998) Archivist for the WSU Vancouver Library, Archives, and Special Collections; and Donna Sinclair (1995), PhD, Public Historian and Adjunct Professor. Annelise Gonzalez created a pop-up exhibit on the changing influence of agriculture in Clark County History through her internship with the Clark County Historical Museum. 

The WSU Vancouver History program graduated nine History majors in 2023, including several award-winners. Gilbert Morales received the Achievement Award for Outstanding History Major; Tina Starks and Alex Brothers were recognized as Outstanding Seniors in History; and Thomas Stimson won the History Leadership Award for his work in the WSU Vancouver History Club. Five History majors participated in the campus-wide Research Showcase, based on their senior seminar papers: Thomas Stimson (“Washington’s Disenfranchisement: The Suffrage Struggle to Regain Women’s Voting Rights”); Samuel Edmundson (“Urban Renewal: A Study of Vancouver’s Esther Short Industrial Project”); Dillon Griffon (“Anti-suffragism in the Pacific Northwest”); Diane Irby (“The Popularity of Hairwork in the Victorian Era: A Representation of Feminine Identity and Female Agency”); and Sarah Johnson (“‘To Preach Jesus as a Mediator’: Count Zinzendorf and 18th Century Missions”). Samuel Edgerton’s presentation won second-place in all undergraduate presentations across all disciplines. We bid fond farewell to two award-winning graduate students who worked as adjuncts at WSU Vancouver: Karl Krotke-Crandall and Ryan Booth, both of whom will be missed! 

Department of History, WSU Tri-Cities 

In 2021–2022, the History faculty and students at WSU Tri-Cities moved back to (at least mostly) in-person courses. Although at times a challenge, all made the transition successfully. The WSUTC History program graduated five history majors this year. Nathaly Mendoza was recognized as the Outstanding Senior in History at the WSUTC College of Arts and Sciences Awards Reception. Nathaly also received the WSUTC Chancellor’s Leadership Excellence Award for her work as the Associated Students of Washington State University Tri-Cities President (ASWSUTC). Our colleague, Tracey Hanshew, is leaving WSUTC for an opportunity elsewhere. She will be greatly missed! 

Department of History, Global Campus 

The Global degree program in history, which we launched in 2018, continues to grow rapidly. Our goal with this degree is to expand WSU’s land-grant mission by putting a world-class education within reach of students regardless of their particular life circumstances. Online, asynchronous degree programs like ours serve place-bound students, working students, and students with care responsibilities. History students on the Global Campus have access to the same high-level, rigorous courses as their peers on any of WSU’s physical campuses.  

Currently, we have just under 100 students seeking their history degree via the Global Campus. Thirty-five students have earned their bachelor’s since 2019. The program’s growth has exceeded even our own high expectations: we continue to plan and prepare for additional growth in the coming year to keep pace with students’ demand for a rigorous online degree experience. In the past year, we have continued to revise our existing courses and have added several new ones, including—among others—“The History of the Cold War” and “Women in the Ancient World.” Additionally, we have expanded our areas of concentration to include both a “War and Peace” and “Gender and Sexuality” focus.  

Our Global Campus students—many of them returning or “non-traditional” students—bring a special enthusiasm and seriousness of purpose to their studies. In the past year, our students have won awards for their scholarly writing in their history courses. Henry Kokkler won the 2021 Payne Award for his paper, “Phyllis Schlafly and the Equal Rights Amendment.” This prize is given to the best paper written in a senior writing seminar. In that same year, Julie Harrington won the Stephen L. Thigpen Award for her paper “The Mothers of Gynecology.” The Thigpen prize is awarded to the best paper in a junior-level writing seminar. These highly competitive prizes are available to history students from across the Pullman, Tri-Cities, Vancouver, and Global campuses. Truly, our Global Campus students are performing at the very highest levels.  

Each year, the Global Campus identifies an Outstanding Senior in each of its degree programs. The process of selecting just one Outstanding Senior is both a delight and a challenge: we have so many wonderfully talented and deserving students that it is often difficult to choose just one. This year’s Outstanding Senior in History is Lisa Muong, who graduated in fall 2021. Muong completed her degree with a concentration in European history and an American Indian Studies minor. As a mother of young children, Muong had taken many breaks away from school; because of this, she expressed concern at the start of her program that she wouldn’t be able to perform at the same level as her peers. Clearly, Muong’s worries were unfounded. She was nominated by four of her faculty for this award. All noted her thoughtful approach to course materials and to her “sophisticated and nuanced” approach to historical thinking and writing. More, they noted that Muong acted as a generous peer to her classmates, offering insightful points for discussion and providing her own, alternative perspectives in a respectful and supportive way. As one faculty member observed, “Lisa truly raised the bar for our classroom interactions… An exceptional student, she was also a pleasure to have in class.” Congratulations, Lisa! 

Our Global Campus faculty continue to set the highest standards for instruction in an online environment. This past year, nine of our faculty were nominated by their students for the Excellence in Online Instruction award. This is quite a feat and speaks to the quality of instruction they offer. Students responded not only to their faculty’s level of expertise but to their enthusiasm for their subject matter and their deep engagement with students. This year’s Academic Outreach and Innovation’s Excellence in Online Instruction Award went to Karl Krotke-Crandall, who earned his PhD in Russian History at WSU in 2021. History faculty have taken this honor in three of the six years that the prize has been offered.