Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tuition, participation called top issues

     This year’s race for ASWSU-Online president pits incumbent Larry Lawrence against newcomer Joseph Nutting.
For bios of the two candidates, please go to the website. Voting is held online and runs from March 4-12.

     Lawrence was previously a senator, then vice president. He’s been president of the online student body for 14 months. The biggest challenges facing ASWSU-Online are tuition increases and budget cuts, he said.
     “The more tuition increases, the fewer students we have, and the fewer programs become available,” he said during an online chat session with students on Tuesday. “Coug Day at the Capitol was yesterday and leaders from the branch campuses met individually with legislators to express their concerns. We have representation in Olympia that is fighting for WSU students.”
     Nutting said his top priority will be promoting awareness of ASWSU-Online and increasing participation.      “Getting anyone involved ever is an uphill battle. Look at political elections,” he said in a Wednesday chat session with students. More...“WSU Online has been extremely rewarding, but I think there’s some work that can be done.”
     Nutting hasn’t attended any ASWSU-Online events or committee meetings, and said that he hadn’t been aware of the student government until recently. To increase the visibility of ASWSU-Online, Nutting suggested revising the website, adding different topics to the one-credit in-person academic seminars, and emphasizing financial issues.
     “Students have to realize that by being involved they may be protecting future generations from paying an extreme amount for their education.”
     Nutting also suggested making the ASWSU-Online scholarship application easier to fill out and offering more giveaways on the Facebook page.
     Lawrence said he’s seeking re-election because he’s enjoyed interacting with students, staff, fellow student government leaders, leaders from the other campuses, and being able to make a difference. “I was surprised by the amount of work that the position entails,” he said. “But I wouldn't trade it for anything.”
     Nutting said he gets great satisfaction out of motivating others.
     “All through high school, I was active in student government,” he said. “I was extremely excited when I found out there was an ASWSU-Online team. I hope I can lead this team and over the next school year make some positive change.”

She’s the ringleader of her own circus


Kathy Halfacre lives in a Walla Walla firehouse converted into a dance studio.
Video: Kathy and troupe dance to a Lady Gaga song.
A skateboard ramp sits at each end, a drum kit waits in the back, and a black cat named Girlfriend lounges wherever she likes.
     “It’s like a circus,” Kathy said from the living quarters of Substance Dance Center. “Middle-school kids with skateboards, kids coming in for dance class, their moms – with all their problems – and then the band comes in to rehearse. It’s crazy. But it’s never boring.”
     “Never boring” sums up Kathy’s life so far. Besides teaching dance, she’s been a waitress at Denny’s, owned the Waitsburg (Wash.) Inn and an espresso bar, done office work, written 30 songs and sung in a rock band, and was a code enforcement officer for Benton City, where she tried to recall the mayor after he allegedly shoved her during a parade. (The recall failed but Bryan Robinson got only 40 votes in the next election.)
     “My life’s been a patchwork,” Kathy said. “I don’t think there’s anything I haven’t done.” That includes things she shouldn’t have done, like falling into drugs and alcohol as a teenager in Sarasota, Fla. More...     “I like to say that I went to a party when I was 13 and didn’t leave until I was 26,” she said. “I was a wreck.” Now, after 27 years of clean living, she sees the positive aspects of having an addictive personality.
     “We are driven,” she said. “Once we make a decision to do something, it’s ‘Katie, bar the door.’ Nothing will stop us. When I got clean and sober, all that energy channeled in a positive direction. That’s why I’ve been able to do so many things.”
    Kathy discovered dance at Walla Walla Community College in the early 1980s. Friends asked her to participate in a modern dance event: “We were running down the aisles throwing popcorn.” The teacher invited her to join the dance program. After earning her associate’s degree in liberal arts, she got a job at Whitman College teaching modern jazz dance.
     “I decided dance was what I was going do,” she said. “Dance keeps me emotionally balanced. All my emotions come out in the movement.”
     Kathy once taught creative dance to an autistic 5-year-old, who didn’t speak. “Three months into the class, I got a call from her teacher,” she said. “They couldn’t shut her up. Dance did something for this kid.”
     That inspired her next goal: to offer dance therapy for autistic children. She plans to earn a master’s degree in psychology – “I’m considering WSU Tri-Cities” – after she graduates from WSU Online in December with her bachelor’s degree in social sciences.
     “Online was the obvious choice. I needed to study on my own schedule,” she said. “I recommend WSU Online to other people, especially moms who really care and don’t want to be away from their kids.”
     Kathy not only stayed home with her son, Ravyn, she let him look over her shoulder during her online studies.
     “Any coursework that came on DVD, we watched together. He watched the entire DVD on the Missoula floods. It was fascinating to him. We had great discussions.”
     Ravyn’s college-level knowledge sometimes surprises his middle-school teachers, she said.
     “They ask me, ‘where does he learn this stuff?’ From WSU, I tell them.”

By Richard H. Miller/WSU Online

Friday, February 18, 2011

Grad sets world record -- 33 years later

Gini Woodward Ski hatThe 700-foot hat is displayed in Sandpoint, Idaho.

     Gini Woodward proves the value of patience.
     In December, she graduated from WSU Online with aGini Woodward mug degree in Social Sciences, 42 years after she left the Pullman campus to get married. In January, she set a Guinness World Record for a feat she’d accomplished 33 years earlier.
     While the WSU diploma was carefully planned, the world record came as a surprise. In 1977, the Bonner County, Idaho, resident used a knitting machine to create a 700-foot-long ski hat. The process took eight days. The hat contains panels from about 540 local businesses that contributed funds, Woodward said. About 25 of those businesses still survive, according to the Sandpoint Daily Bee.
     The hat sat in the Bonner County Museum until this winter, when a real estate agent used it to drum up publicity for the Sandpoint Winter Carnival. “She pranced it around town as a promotion,” Woodward said of the 80-pound hat. “No one told me about it until someone called and asked, ‘When did you have time to knit that?’”
     In January, the hat was entered in the Guinness contest, and won the longest ski hat award. There is no previous record for the longest ski hat, but the largest knitted hat, according to the Guinness website, is 22 feet high, and 49 feet in circumference.
     By that time, the hat was back in the museum. “I hadn’t seen it in 30 years,” Woodward said. “It was returned very dirty and wet. The thing needs a bath.”
     The hat may be put away, but Woodward is getting good use out of her diploma. She will be an Idaho representative at the Civility and Democracy in America Conference this March at WSU's Riverpoint campus in Spokane.
     “It is an honor to participate,” she said. “The education I gained from WSU Online classes is already being put to good use!"

When Gini Woodward left WSU, tuition was $52.50 a semester, see story.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Location announced for Spokane seminars

seminarThe March 10 academic seminars will be held at CenterPlace in Spokane Valley. The one-credit in-person seminars last three hours, and also require finishing an assignment from the instructor.

The Spokane seminars are:

1:30-4:30 pm: Psychology 301 (SLN 78899) - If Only We Could Forget: Targeting Reconsolidation as Treatment for Neuropsychiatric Disorders. Taught by Dr. Brendan Walker

(Snacks served between afternoon and evening courses)

5:30-8:30 pm: Sociology 491 (SLN 78592) - The Medicalization of Deviance: From “Badness” to “Sickness.” Taught by Dr. Christine Oakley

Seminars are also scheduled in Seattle at the Hotel Monaco and Tacoma at a UW facility. The Tacoma seminars are part of our Tacoma Rendezvous, where students, friends and family can gather to socialize, meet Butch, hear from staff and enjoy a catered lunch.

Here’s a list of all the seminars. Please contact your academic consultant if you’d like to attend. To register for the Tacoma Rendezvous, please go to the website.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Beware the “unusual massage” email

massage     Scammers would be a lot more dangerous if they hired a proofreader.
     The latest scam, according to WSU’s IT Department, involves an email purportedly from The subject line is “Re-Confirm your Wsu.Edu to avoid closure.” Here’s how it starts, typos and all:
     “We are detected some unusual massage from your Webmail account,to avoid you loosing your account or suspention,you are to re-confirm you account for us to know that you are the rightfull owner of this account."
     The email then asks for personal information -- as if any WSU student would fall for such a poorly spelled hoax.

     In other safety news, this is American Heart Month. Apparently, you’re supposed to eat right and exercise occasionally. There’s more health info on the Wellbeing for Online Students webpage.
     You’ll also find an “Ask Wellbeing” Q&A page, but if you really want to feel great, see if you can win a Kindle by completing this survey.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Got FAFSA? The deadline is next Tuesday

DSC_6440The priority filing date for 2011-2012 FAFSA is next Tuesday, Feb. 15. If you miss this date, you may lose out on thousands of dollars in additional aid. Please go to the financial aid website for more info. You can also call 1-509-335-9711 or send an email to

And here’s a sad story about one student who had to leave college because he missed the FAFSA date.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Meet us in Tacoma; we’re buying lunch

Jerry PetersonJerry Petersen, top, leads a seminar at the 2010 Tacoma Rendezvous. Below right, Butch mingles with a student after lunch.

Butch and student

WSU Online staff invites all students, family and friends to our annual Tacoma Rendezvous on March 26.
     The Rendezvous includes a lunch hosted by the ASWSU Online Student Government for students and guests, as well as free admission to the Tacoma Museum of Glass, the Tacoma Museum of Art, and the Washington State History Museum. 
     Students can also earn one-credit by attending a seminar, and doing an follow-up assignment. The seminars are offered in Spokane and Seattle, as well as Tacoma.
     Please select this link for information on the Tacoma Rendezvous. If you’re interested in taking a seminar in Tacoma, Spokane or Seattle, here’s a look at what’s being offered.
     To sign up for a seminar, please contact your advisor, who will handle the registration and make sure the course is right for you. You can also contact your advisor to set up an in-person meeting.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

She studies abroad, doesn't come back

“I fell in love with the culture, the language and the lifestyle” of Spain, said Coty Nisbet. “The warm winters and beaches aren't bad, either.” Here's the story.