Dean's Newsletter

CLASS Directions

A Newsletter for Faculty & Staff in the
College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences

Volume 11, Issue 1

Welcome to the 2016-17 academic year! For those of you who are new to the college, this newsletter, written specifically for CLASS faculty and staff, is published about six times a year. It is my attempt to keep the CLASS community abreast of important college issues, events, and successes. Your comments are always appreciated.

As endings are always a time of reflection on past accomplishments, beginnings offer a chance to look ahead to what we will accomplish over a given period. Newsletters like this one often highlight special events and accomplishments, but the everyday grind of meeting one’s classes regularly and helping CSU students succeed on a day–to-day basis—which is at the heart of what most faculty and staff do—often goes unnoticed. I was reminded of this when I read John Williams’ novel Stoner over the summer. William Stoner, the son of poor farmers, is sent to the university to study agriculture, but he ends up falling in love with literature and stays in college long enough to earn his Ph.D. in English. He goes on to a career that starts with great promise—the publication of his first and only book—but is hobbled by marriage problems and campus politics. Through it all, however, he continues to teach and mentor his students—often in first-year classes—successfully. By the time of his retirement and untimely death, he rises in stature to attain a quiet dignity. Although some may read the novel and conclude that Stoner’s life was a sad, tragic affair, John Williams wrote that Stoner was “a real hero.” “He was doing what he wanted to do, he had some feeling for what he was doing, he had some sense of the importance of the job he was doing,” Williams continued. “He was a witness to values that are important.” And, indeed, so are we.

As we begin a new academic year, we must not lose sight of academic heroism in everyday achievement—those large and small classroom successes that are made possible through the dedication of our hard-working faculty. Although these successes are often not recognized in newsletters or press releases, they stand at the core of our mission. Let us start the year, then, by rededicating ourselves to the tasks at hand, particularly to building student success over the course of the coming year.

The college begins the year with 24 new colleagues, 18 full-time faculty, one new Visiting Assistant Professor, and five new international scholars. Last year was our best year for number of faculty recruited in a long time. We were also joined by seven new CLASS staff members. Although lists are tedious, I think it is important to recognize and welcome each of our new colleagues. Our new full-time faculty are:

Department of Art:

  • Asst. Professor Anne Berry (M.F.A. Kent State)

School of Communication:

  • Asst. Professor Cigdem Slankard (M.F.A. University of Ohio)
  • Asst. College Lecturer Ramune Braziunaite (Ph.D. Bowling Green)

Department of Criminology, Anthropology, and Sociology:

  • Asst. Professor Meghan Novisky (Ph.D. Kent State)

Department of Economics:

  • Asst. Professor Maksim Isakin (Ph.D. University of Calgary)
  • Asst. Professor Kuzey Yilmaz (Ph.D. University of Rochester)

Department of History:

  • Asst. Professor Stephanie Hinnershitz (Ph.D. University of Maryland, College Park)

Department of Music:

  • Asst. Professor Carol Olszewski (M.A. University of Iowa)
  • Asst. Professor of Practice Lori Lundeen-Smith (M.S. East Carolina University)

Department of Philosophy and Comparative Religion:

  • Asst. College Lecturer Michael Wiitala (Ph.D. University of Kentucky)

Department of Political Science:

  • Asst. College Lecturer David Stack (Ph.D. Stony Brook University)
  • Asst. Professor Jonathan Ring (Ph.D. University of Iowa)

School of Social Work:

  • Asst. Professor Cyleste Collins (Ph.D. University of Alabama)
  • Asst. College Lecturer Rosemary Frech (M.S.W. Ohio University)
  • Asst. Professor Kimberly Fuller (Ph.D. Widener University)
  • Visiting Asst. Professor Victoria Winbush (Ph.D. Smith College)

Department of Theatre and Dance:

  • Asst. Professor Kathleen Diehl (M.F.A. SUNY Brockport)
  • Asst. College Lecturer Lisa Bernd (Ph.D. University of Wisconsin Madison)

Department of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures:

  • Asst. Professor Ana Capanegra (Ph.D. University of Alabama)

Our new international scholars are:

Department of Art:

  • Isabella Nardi (Ph.D. University of London). Dr. Nardi is our Visiting India Scholar.

School of Communication:

  • Leslaw Tetla (Academy of Fine Arts, Krakow). Dr. Tetla is our Visiting Kosciuszko Scholar in Polish Studies.
  • Ting Liu (Ph.D. Jilin University)

Department of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures:

  • Peter Müller (Ph.D. Hungarian Academy of Sciences). Dr. Müller is our Visiting Fulbright Scholar in Hungarian Studies.

Department of English:

  • Shen Lidi (M.A. Nanjing University)

Finally, we added several new staff members over the past year. These include:

Department of Art:

  • Jessica McRitchie, Administrative Coordinator

Department of English:

  • Patti Leach, Secretary 1

Department of History:

  • Carolyn Kinkoph, Secretary 2

Department of Music:

  • Michael Solema, Facilities Coord. & Stage Production Mgr.

Department of Philosophy and Comparative Religion:

  • Yolanda Sullins, Administrative Secretary

School of Social Work:

  • Derrick Hopperton, Field Education Program Director

Department of Theatre and Dance:

  • Cameron Michalak, Technical Director

Welcome to all these new colleagues! We’re very glad you’re here, and I think that you’ll find us a warm and vibrant community in which to thrive.

Now to a few notable items of interest. There is a beautiful exhibition of the paintings, inspired by the Torah and painted by Archie Rand, that just opened up in the CSU Galleries. The exhibit was curated by Samantha Baskind, who also wrote the insightful introductory essay for the exhibition catalog. The catalog was beautifully designed by Sarah Rutherford. Mr. Rand, who is Presidential Professor at Brooklyn College, opened the exhibition with a lively gallery talk. He was pleased and impressed by both the exhibition and the catalog. It’s well worth a visit.

Also related to the Galleries is news that Director Rob Thurmer just won a $13,889 grant from the Ohio Arts Council. In addition, Cynthia Hovland-Scafe’s large grant with NIH and Case Western Reserve University just received another installment to complete the grant totaling $443,543.

The CSU Poetry Center has just moved to the fourth floor of Michael Schwartz Library. What used to be the old Poetry Room has been nicely refurbished and is now home to the Poetry Center. The Poetry Center continues to run its nation-wide poetry contest and to publish the books of its winners. Recently, two of the Center’s winners, Philip Metres and Dimitri Psurtsev, were listed as finalists for the Read Russia Translation Prize. Their translation is entitled I Burned at the Feast: Selected Poems of Arseny Tarkovsky. In addition, one of the Center’s staff and a student in our NEOMFA program, Ali McClain, was recently featured in Scene Magazine. Ms. McClain recently ran the Summer of Sisterhood Program for West Side Community Center and is working on her own book of poetry.

A recent CLASS alum, Shannon Sharkey, a dual major in Theatre and Communication, is the first CSU theatre graduate to be selected for the apprentice program at the Cleveland Play House. This past summer she also worked as an administrative assistant for Cleveland Public Theatre’s STEP program, a highly praised theatre arts job training program for inner-city students.

Patty Stoddard-Dare, Coordinator of our MSW Program, recently published a study in Health Affairs regarding the impact of paid sick leave. As a result, she was invited to testify before the House Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions last summer.

I also note that Mark Souther, Director of our Center for Public History and Digital Humanities, was chosen to receive the first Technology Commercialization Award granted by the Ohio Faculty Council. This award recognizes Dr. Souther’s work with Curatescape, a program that allows multimedia access to site or artifact information and makes use of geolocation capabilities. This software forms the basis for the Center’s Cleveland Historical app., and it has been used in dozens of sites across the United States and in Africa.

Finally, please mark your calendars and plan to join us at the CLASS annual Welcome Back Reception on September 22nd from 3 to 5 p.m. in Waetjen Lobby (of the Music and Communication Building). All CLASS faculty, full-time and part-time, as well as all CLASS staff members are invited. We will have live music, food, drinks, and door prizes. We will also award our annual CLASS Engaged Service Award. I look forward to meeting you all there!

Best wishes for a great fall semester,

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