Students Give More Than $14,000 to Local Nonprofits

Nonprofit Leadership class gives more than $14,000 to four Kalamazoo nonprofit organizations

Nonprofit Leadership class gives nearly $15,000 to four local nonprofit organizations.

On April 15, Western Michigan University’s School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA) held their yearly Nonprofit Banquet. Nearly 200 students, faculty, staff, and members of the community gathered as grant funding was presented to worthy nonprofit organizations in the Kalamazoo area. After months of research, site visits and deliberations, twenty-one WMU students selected four organizations to award more than $14,000 in grant funding. While giving is rewarding, deciding which organizations to award funding to was more challenging than anticipated.

The spring 2013 PADM 4000 Seminar in Nonprofit Leadership class knew what they were facing. They knew that by the end of the semester they would be able to give real financial support to organizations in need and were excited to use all of the skills they’d learned in their previous classes to review proposals and impact lives of Kalamazoo citizens. From the start, the class determined its priorities utilizing a consensus method. They wanted to support organizations with a focus on education and arts for children and help individuals and/or families get or sustain housing. The remainder of their decision-making stemmed from their established priorities while building upon their leadership readings and assignments.

Led by Janice Maatman, the class went through the tedious and sometimes emotionally charged process of reviewing grant proposals and financial statements in order to determine which organizations should receive the limited amount of funds that were available. Twenty-five organizations made requests totaling $117,000 and students grappled because they saw great potential in all of them. Even when trying to reduce the number of qualified organizations based on their established priorities, the class struggled with issues like the age group the organizations served and which programs would impact the most individuals.

Using a ranking system, the class narrowed down their list to six organizations based on criteria and prioritization established earlier in the semester. The deliberations that took place between the last six organizations resulted in visceral reactions. As a class, though, they showed maturity and understood the importance of building consensus throughout the process. Maatman stated, “After five years of teaching this class, this was the first year of no tears. This class had a good sense of when they needed to let go.” In order for the class to reach a consensus, all had to release a personal bias or initial favorite.

When asked what is the most influential part of teaching such a unique class, Maatman replied, “I’ve had these students in the intro class and in this seminar class. Seeing the growth, the maturity, the ability to use non-profit language and their internship experience as they do their analysis is rewarding.” Another benefit of leading students in a seminar is seeing the students’ “development in analysis, writing, and the ability to work with others critical to a career in non-profit management. They are able to give away real money and not deal in a hypothetical situation. It’s a culmination of their work.” Maatman said, “When they read the proposals it feel like an exercise, but after site visits it connects to real life and real people, especially if they can see programs in action. It becomes really motivating. Different things in different proposals resonate with individuals.”

Maatman’s impression of the class is shared by those directly influenced by her leadership. While attending a national education conference WMU recent graduate Kierstin Nall shared her experiences in PADM 4000 with students from institutions across the country and received the same response—students from other institutions were fascinated. Nall’s appreciation for the class stems from “diving into an organization’s records will help my life following graduation. I feel prepared to enter the working field. Consensus building is tough and challenging, but it is a vital life skill in the nonprofit leadership field.”

In addition to students who completed the most recent semester, former students were also a part of the Nonprofit Banquet. Elisse Rivert completed PADM 4000 during the spring semester of 2012 and remains appreciative of the lessons learned. Rivert states, “I had never heard of or been in a class like [PADM] 4000. It teaches prioritization and you learn what you believe in. Initially, we look at the numbers, but eventually, you are led by a desire to give to kids. You learn so much about yourself that you don’t intend to.” The impact was so great on Rivert that she recently applied for a job that would enable her to facilitate grant decision-making much like she did during her class experience for high school programs. Rivert went on to say, “A lot of kids can get through college. Not everyone can get this [Nonprofit Leadership Alliance] certificate and get life skills.”

This year’s seminar awarded grants to Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Community Homeworks, Crescendo Academy of Music, and the Irving S. Gilmore International Keyboard Festival. PADM 4000 could be one of the most impactful educational experiences in a nonprofit leadership student’s career at Western Michigan University. Having the opportunity to evaluate actual grant proposals, provide tangible resources to Kalamazoo organizations and follow-up with the organizations and individuals their decisions directly benefit, SPAA students are left with a permanent sense of accomplishment and a lesson in philanthropy that far exceeds their time at WMU.

Janice Maatman

Janice Maatman addressing attendees during the 2013 Nonprofit Banquet

PADM 4000 students ranking remaining nonprofit organizations

PADM 4000 students ranking the remaining nonprofit organizations.

PADM 4000 class

PADM 4000 class deliberations.

For more information on WMU’s School of Public Affairs and Administration please visit For details on the Nonprofit Leadership Student Association please visit

CAS Professors Named Top 25 Women Professors in Michigan

Drs. Obare and Tarbox

Top 25 Women Professors in Michigan, Drs. Obare and Tarbox

Two of Western Michigan University’s College of Arts and Sciences professors have recently been named Top 25 Women Professors in Michigan.

Dr. Sherine Obare (Associate Professor, Inorganic Chemistry) has recently been named one of WMU’s Emerging Scholars for 2012. She earned her doctorate from the University of South Carolina in 2002 and now teaches and serves as the director of Bridges to the Baccalaureate Program.

Dr. Gwen Tarbox, who teaches Gender and Women Studies in the WMU’s English department, has been awarded the 2012-2013 College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Achievement Award for Teaching. Her research focuses on the effects of children’s literature on the lives of readers, with an emphasis on females.

For a full listing of the Top 25 Women Professors in Michigan please visit the Online Schools Michigan site.

2013 Faculty and Staff Achievement Award Winners

CAS Faculty and Staff Achievement Awards logo

The College of Arts and Sciences is delighted to announce this year’s winners of the 2013 Faculty and Staff Achievement Awards. All honorees are extremely deserving for their dedication, innovation and wonderful ways that they serve WMU. They will be recognized on Thursday, March 21, at 3:30 p.m. in the Humanities Center. All are welcome to attend.

Staff Excellence Awards
Laura Decker, Department of English
Lauretta Eisenbach, Department of Anthropology
Andrew Phelps, Information Technology
Sue Simons, Department of Mathematics
Yumi Takahashi-Ede, CAS Advising Office
Kathy Wright, Department of Geosciences

Faculty Achievement Awards

Diversity and Inclusion Recognition Award
Dr. Mariam Konaté, Gender and Women’s Studies
Dr. Timothy Ready, Department of Sociology and Director of Lewis Walker Institute

Gender Scholar Award
Dr. Ann Miles, Department of Sociology

Global Engagement
Dr. Sisay Asefa, Department of Economics
Dr. Nora Berrah, Department of Physics
Dr. Mercedes Tasende, Department of Spanish

Professional and Community Service
Dr. Dwayne Channell, Department of Mathematics
Dr. Lisa DeChano-Cook, Department of Geography
Dr. Alan Kehew, Department of Geosciences

Research and Creative Activity
Dr. Steven Lipkin, School of Communication
Dr. Susan Pozo, Department of Economics
Dr. Allen Webb, Department of English

Dr. Lynne Heasley, Environmental Studies Program and Department of History
Dr. Carla Koretsky, Department of Geosciences, Environmental Studies Program and Lee Honors College
Dr. Gwen Tarbox, Department of English

One of the Year’s Most Notable Translations Published by WMU’s Jeffrey Angles

Jeffrey Angles, an associate professor of Japanese in the WMU Department of World Languages and Literatures and director of the Soga Japan Center, recently published Twelve Views from the Distance,  a translation of the memoirs of Mr. Mutsuo Takahashi, one of Japan’s most important contemporary poets and writers. World Literature Today named Angles’ work as one of the year’s 75 notable translations and it is also a finalist for the 2013 Lamba Literary Award in the Gay Memoir/Biography category.

Twelve Views from the Distance is the story of a boy in a poor, rural family in southwestern Japan living through the worst years of the Japanese empire, World War II, and the postwar era.  Angles commented that when he read Takahashi’s memoirs for the first time as a graduate student, they haunted him.  “Not only is the book populated by beautiful and tragic characters, the descriptions of life in the countryside are so rich and vivid that it feels like the scenes are unrolling right before the reader’s eyes.”

Angles is planning to bring Takahashi to WMU in September 2013 as part of a larger book tour to promote the new translation.  He said, “I am excited to bring such a dynamic and brilliant writer to Michigan.  I promise that readers who hear his stories of war, depravation, and self-discovery will find them utterly unforgettable.”

Read a short excerpt from Angles’ translation of Twelve Views from the Distance.


Service Leads to Global Engagement in Ghana

Sean and Connie Bashaw in Ghana

Sean and Connie Bashaw at Okyeso Primary and Junior High School in Ghana

WMU staff members Sean ‘86 and Connie Bashaw have made a personal commitment to being globally engaged by volunteering their time and talents in Ghana. Sean, electronics shop supervisor in the Chemistry Department, and Connie, scholarship assistant in the Office of Financial Aid are members of Global Host Project, an organization dedicated to completing charitable projects in Ghana. Most recently, Sean and Connie were recognized for improving technology education at Okyeso Primary and Junior High School by donating five laptops. Not only did they purchase the laptops, they also traveled more than 5,500 miles to personally ensure that the laptops were installed and ready for use.

Global Host Project’s executive director, Nicole Michelle Beauchamp, and country director, Kwesi Sampson expressed great appreciation for the generosity of the Bashaws. It is clear that an ongoing relationship has been established between the Bashaws and Global Host Project. Sean plans to return to Ghana this summer to do more volunteer work and both Bashaws will spend the last two weeks of 2013 in Ghana.

Ghanaian students from Okyeso Primary and Junior High School

Ghanaian students from Okyeso Primary and Junior High School

Strategic Plan Six-Month Progress Report

Dean Alex Enyedi

Dean Alex Enyedi

As the fall semester has come to a close, I wish to draw your attention to the truly impressive progress we have made on the implementation of the new College of Arts and Sciences Strategic Plan—just six short months since its adoption. Last spring, staff, students and faculty shared honest feedback and insightful guidance to the CAS Strategic Planning Committee to help craft our plan. This document has come to serve as a touchstone for me – a blueprint for much of the work I do each day.

I hope you will have the opportunity to review the attached progress report in detail – below are just a few highlights. Over the past six months we have:

• Begun to incorporate language that celebrates the liberal arts into College publications whenever possible
• Contracted a design consultant to produce a comprehensive conceptual plan to distinctively brand CAS space
• Created a new “global engagement” category of our $1000 faculty achievement award
• Begun to develop new risk assessment tool for incoming first-year students to improve retention
• Held multiple productive meetings between the senior leadership of CAS and EUP to better coordinate curriculum planning and renegotiate revenue sharing
• Created a new, comprehensive, searchable CAS Faculty Proposals and Awards Database
• Formed a new CAS Research, Scholarly, and Creative Activities (RSCA) Committee to advance discovery and dissemination in the College
• Initiated a comprehensive review of the Summer I and II budget model and its relationship to revenue generated by on-line course offerings
• Begun a grant program to support CAS staff who wish to take advantage of the HIGE staff and faculty study abroad program
• Begun holding regular meetings between me, WMU Development, and the CAS Marketing Director to invigorate College development efforts
• Begun to implement a university-wide imaging initiative that will include the digitization of most CAS records
• Developed a comprehensive College technology support center, providing effective on-going individual and departmental support
• Allocated 12 new faculty lines for AY 2013-14 with significant input from directors and chairs

I have every confidence that, together, we can continue to make great strides in the upcoming months and years. These are challenging times to be sure, but with a willingness to embrace change and with our sleeves rolled up, the College of Arts and Sciences will continue to lead this great university and serve as the firm foundation for the three pillars that have come to symbolize WMU’s mission.

I want to sincerely thank you for your dedication to your students, colleagues, and scholarship. I am grateful for your support and tremendously proud to serve as your dean.

Best wishes,

Core Math Tools Project Featured by the National Science Foundation

Christian Hirsch


The National Science Foundation is featuring a mathematics software design and development effort based at Western Michigan University. The Core Math Tools Project is a transformative tool that levels the playing field for all students by providing ready access to mathematical and statistical software. After almost 10 years of cycles of research, development and classroom testing, the effort is being featured as an NSF Highlight. Information regarding the software will be distributed to the media, other federal agencies, Congress and will be promoted in NSF publications and other outlets.

Dr. Christian Hirsch, WMU professor of mathematics and math curriculum innovator, is the principal investigator on the project. His former doctoral student, Dr. Brin Keller, associate professor at Michigan State University, coded the software and is the co-principal investigator. Other significant contributors to the design of Core Math Tools included WMU doctoral student, Nicole Fonger, and two WMU staff members of the Core-Plus Mathematics Project, James Laser and Beth Ritsema.

According to Hirsch the outcome of the work enables school districts to overcome long-standing financial constraints and provides equitable access to state-of-the art mathematics learning tools. Teachers and students can access the software in any location with internet access, including mathematics classrooms, school and local libraries, and in private homes. The software can be downloaded at no cost to a school or home computer and is self-updating whenever connected to the internet.

“The tools are already influencing the nature of mathematics teaching and learning and mathematics teacher preparation nationally,” Hirsch says. Core Math Tools is a suite of Java-based software tools that include general purpose tools—a spreadsheet, a computer algebra system (CAS), interactive (dynamic) geometry, data analysis, and simulation tools—together with more topic-focused Custom Apps and Advanced Apps for triangle congruence and similarity, data modeling, linear programming, 3D visualization, contour mapping, and more. Core Math Tools is unique in providing a single linked tool set that supports the full range of contemporary high school mathematics. The design promotes the important mathematical and scientific practice of selecting and strategically using software tools.

The project has produced a suite of interactive mathematical and statistical software tools that are now freely available at the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics website. The free software and accompanying website content are designed to help high school teachers and their students meet the new Common Core State Standards for Mathematics.

Core Math Tools

Students use Core Math Tools

Core Math Tools evolved from decades of ongoing mathematics education innovation at WMU. Hirsch and his multi-university team of mathematics curriculum specialists have been developing and refining a problem-based, inquiry-oriented mathematics curriculum, Core-Plus Mathematics, since 1992. Their goal has been to develop and support implementation of an international-caliber high school mathematics program that will meet the nation’s current and future needs. The four-year textbook series is published by McGraw-Hill Education.

The Core-Plus Mathematics Project was also funded by the NSF. It has been designated by the U.S. Department of Education as an exemplary program and singled out by the Business Higher Ed Forum as “one that works and can make a difference in U.S. schools and can enhance U.S. competitiveness.”

Journalism 3100 Meets Real World

WMU alumnus, Chris Killian with students from Journalism 3100

Students from WMU's Journalism 3100 class with alumnus Chris Killian

Presidential elections provide countless opportunities to engage in meaningful classroom discussions. WMU journalism associate professor Sue Ellen Christian took a unique approach to providing real-world experience to her Journalism 3100: News reporting using new media class by reaching out to WMU alumnus, Chris Killian. Freelance writer Killian made it his mission to show the election from the perspective of those who matter most—the people impacted by the results. Killian wanted to tell people’s stories in hopes that we’d learn from one another. Knowing that he couldn’t visit all 50 states, he decided to focus on stories from the swing states, places deemed equally divided in the political debate. He wanted to give everyone, from every side, a voice.

Killian’s plan to travel to swing states and use social media to share stories gave Christian the unique opportunity to provide her students with a memorable, real-life experience. As Killian traveled thousands of miles to nine swing states, students in Christian’s class used social media to connect with him. Christian noted that Killian “showed the entrepreneurship that I try to teach in my classes. In class, we talked about how in the current digital media landscape students have to think creatively and market their skills using social media. [Killian] was a wonderful example of that.”

When Killian’s adventure ended, he returned to WMU to meet the students he’d been contacting via Skype during his travels. “It made the textbooks and teaching come alive for students to see journalism in action—especially by someone young and from WMU,” said Christian. Journalism student, Elisia Alonso says that her interactions with Killian “gave me reassurance that the journalism field is where I’d like to be. His ambition to take on the world, one story at a time, encouraged me to never stop pursuing my dreams.”

Explorations of China Reception

CAS faculty and visiting scholars interact during the Explorations of China Reception.

CAS faculty and visiting scholars interact during the Explorations of China Reception.

More than thirty College of Arts and Sciences faculty and visiting scholars joined together in the International Room of Friedmann Hall to share their research, stories, and travel experiences in China. Explorations of China, a reception for CAS scholars with a focus on China, was designed to encourage interdepartmental discussions between faculty to create opportunities for collaboration and support. This inaugural reception was sponsored by the CAS International Committee and the CAS Research, Scholarly and Creative Activities Committee.


For more pictures please visit the CAS Explorations of China Facebook photo album.

Mallinson Institute for Science Education’s Visiting Scholars

Drs. Hasiloglu, Aydin and Tatar, visiting scholars from Turkey

Drs. Hasiloglu, Aydin and Tatar, visiting scholars from Turkey

If you have been to WMU’s Waldo Library recently you may have seen Drs. Süleyman Aydin, Mehmet Akif Haşiloğlu, and Nilgun Tatar, visiting scholars to the Mallinson Institute for Science Education (MISE). In addition to engaging in research discussions with graduate students, Aydin, Haşiloğlu, and Tatar also frequent the library to meet with MISE professors to plan collaborative research projects and to improve their English language skills.

Drs. Aydin and Haşiloğlu are both from the city of Erzurum, in eastern Turkey, and are faculty members in Science Education at the Ağrı İbrahim Çeçen Üniversitesi in Ağrı, Turkey. They heard about MISE at WMU from a Turkish colleague. After learning that MISE had nationally ranked faculty in Science Education, a large graduate program and robust research activities, Aydin and Haşiloğlu were interested highly interested in attending.

Dr. Tatar is a Science Education professor at Cumhuriyet Üniversitesi, in Sevas, Turkey. She learned about MISE while attending lectures by Dr. Bill Cobern, director of MISE, while he was a Fulbright Scholar in Turkey. Dr. Tatar was encouraged to pursue MISE as a visiting scholar by her former student, Gunkut Mesci, who is a in the doctoral program at MISE.

All three visiting scholars would like the WMU community to know that Turkey has much to offer visitors. Its breathtaking natural beauty, unique historical and archaeological sites, steadily improving hotel and touristic infrastructures and a tradition of hospitality and competitive prices has made Turkey one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. Due to Turkey’s diverse geography, one can experience four different climates in any one day. The country is surrounded on three sides by three different seas and its shores are laced with beaches, bays, coves, ports, islands and peninsulas.

For centuries, Turkey has also been a crossroad for religions, not only of Islam and Christianity, but also of many others now forgotten by history. Many religious devotees can find sites, shrines, monuments, tombs and ruins that connect with their faith or beliefs.

Since arriving at WMU, all three scholars have been pleased with the welcome they have received and are happy to be at WMU. If you see Aydin, Haşiloğlu, or Tatar walking around campus or in the library feel free to say hello.