"...Online Newsletter from the Pittsburg State University College of Arts and Sciences"

Grandmother Flute Player

Grandmother Flute Player
Elizabeth Nichols

Elizabeth Nichols, who graduated from PSU in 1943 with a degree in modern languages and literatures, grew up in Fort Scott.  While attending PSU, she would return to Fort Scott on the weekends to give music lessons in order to have money to continue her education the following week.

She always was interested in music.

Then, almost 50 years after she graduated from PSU, a chance meeting with a woman who had a Native American flute changed her life.  She’d had a long-term interest in the music of Carl Orff and was able to transfer his concepts to Indian flutes, which she began to collect in various sizes.

“My life has consisted of a series of synchronistic events,” says Nichols, who has held major academic appointments in the U.S., Canada, and South Africa.

After a long career in the academy, Nichols performed for 20 years as “Grandmother Flute Player.”  She now writes prose and poetry.  In addition, she has established a music scholarship at PSU in the name of her brother F.B. McGuire, who would’ve liked to have pursued a music career but was not able to because of financial considerations.  She has also donated a variety of Native American artwork, artifacts, and one of her flutes to PSU’s Special Collections.



Welcome to the Summer 2012 edition of Universitas, the electronic newsletter for the College of Arts and Sciences at Pittsburg State University.   As you will see from the newsletter articles, the College was very busy since the publication of our Fall 2011 newsletter.

Dean Kunkel at Spring Commencement
Dean Kunkel at Spring Commencement

During the Spring 2012 Semester various students and faculty received prestigious awards.  Holly Hrabik and Zack Krumsick were named the Pittsburg State University Outstanding Woman and Outstanding Man.  Both Holly and Zack are Biology majors.  Arts and Sciences especially is honored because the University gives just one Outstanding Woman and one Outstanding Man award each year and this year both recipients were from our College. 

Holly and Zack Holly Hrabik and Zack Krumsick
Paul McCallum, Grant Moss, and Craig Fuchs Paul, Grant, and Craig

In addition, Pittsburg State annually names three faculty to receive the Outstanding Faculty Award.  This award particularly is meaningful because nominations and selections come from students.  We are honored that all three of this year’s recipients are from the College of Arts and Sciences – Dr. Craig Fuchs (Professor of Music and Director of the Honor’s College), Dr. Paul McCallum (Professor of English), and Dr. Grant Moss (Assistant Professor of Spanish).  We obviously are very proud of all the outstanding students and faculty in Arts and Sciences, and are thrilled when exemplary students and faculty are recognized with these prestigious campus awards.

In addition, we requested and received funding from the Kansas Legislature and Governor Sam Brownback for a new program in Polymer Chemistry.  This initiatve connects the Kansas Polymer Research Center on our campus with both the Chemistry Department and the Plastics Engineering Program in the College of Technology, creating a very exciting opportunity for future undergraduate and graduate students as well as cutting edge research opportunities with direct implications for economic development in Kansas.  We currently are in the process of hiring new polymer chemistry faculty and stocking laboratory space.  It is exciting to see the early stages of this dream becoming reality!
We also remain very involved with planning for the new Fine and Performing Arts Center, which will sit on the corner of Homer and Ford streets.  Fundraising continues for this project and I am told we are getting closer to the $30 million goal for this iconic structure that will provide both an academic space for students and student performances in music, theater, and art, as well as a cultural center for the arts, including an impressive venue for well-known speakers and concerts, in this region of the state.  The College of Arts and Sciences is very excited about seeing this dream becoming reality in the near future.

Performance Hall
Performance Hall

On a personal note, I completed my first (and perhaps only) half-marathon in mid-April participating in the “Rock the Parkway” race in Kansas City.  Throughout my life I have been a casual runner, so taking on the training for running 13.1 miles and actually completing the race in 1 hour, 49 minutes, and 21 seconds was quite a surprise!  At this point I’m still running, but don’t know if the April event was a “first” or possibly my “only” half-marathon!
 I encourage you to read the articles in this newsletter to learn about just a few of the tremendous and noteworthy activities of students and faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences.  Please also accept my invitation to regularly check our College website, Facebook page and the new Dean’s Office Blog for news, announcements, updates, events, and discussion of issues in Arts and Sciences as we continue to pursue our mission of developing global citizens through the humanities, social and natural sciences.  

Dean Karl Kunkel at a Half Marathon Dean Kunket at a Half Marathon

As you already know, it is special to be a Gorilla in the College of Arts and Sciences!
Karl R. Kunkel, Dean Key to Global Citizenship

Primary Sources


Two PSU students presented the results of their undergraduate research projects at the 55th annual Missouri Valley History Conference (MVHC) in Omaha, NE, on March 1, 2012.

Ariel Yager, a BSED-History & Government major, presented “The Modern Woman at College in the 1920s:  Thelma Fowler Renfro at Pittsburg State.” Sylvia Rusk, BA-History (2011), presented “African American Maternalism and a Life of Civil Rights:  Marguerite Mitchell Marshall, 1911-2002.” Both projects were based on primary source materials held in the PSU Archive.

“History undergraduates don't often get the opportunity to do actual, primary-source, archival research,” says Dr. Kris Lawson, Assistant Professor of History at Pittsburg State University.

“Typically that kind of research happens at the graduate level. Students taking history at PSU have several unique advantages that allow it to happen early.”

According to Lawson, PSU benefits from having a quality archive.

“We have a terrific archivist (Dr. Randy Roberts) who is willing to spend extra time and effort and allow the students to have access to even un-processed records.  In addition, our classes are small enough to allow for individual instruction, which is exactly what primary-source research requires.”

Sylvia Rusk, one of the students involved, echoes this.

“As an undergraduate student, it is a great experience to be able to work in the archives with such amazing stories and artifacts to be found down there,” Rusk says. “It really makes you feel like you are on the job or you just got a huge grant to work on a research project. With such a warm and personable staff, PSU's archive really became a place where I always wanted to be, because it’s a really special department. I feel truly blessed to have been able to tell Marguerite Mitchell Marshall's story to so many people because her life (to me) was a wonderful and amazing journey.”

Lawson sums up the educational effect this has on our students.

“The end result is that we have students who are able to do the work of real historians and tell meaningful stories that have been hidden for many years.  And, the students who take this experience into graduate school or onto the job market have the very tangible advantage of being able to say ‘This is how History is done.’”

The MVHC is a regional conference that PSU History faculty have been attending annually since 1971.  Ariel and Sylvia attended this year along with three faculty members - historians Daley, Lawson, and Shaw.  This year’s MVHC program included presenters from the Midwest and universities as far away as California, Maine, and Virginia.

Telegrams from Faculty


Laura Washburn, English:  Ninth Letter is featuring one of her poems, "Penances" on their podcast.  It's the second one.




Mike Gullet, Communication:  This PSU Video captures some of Mike’s powerful pictures of the Joplin tornado disaster. http://youtu.be/1U2rh7AYS_I


Virginia Rider, Biology:  Professor Rider talks about our undergraduates: http://youtu.be/EfgVel7dd4U


See these and more by liking our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/College-of-Arts-and-Sciences-Pittsburg-State-University/253683531363465


Hite and Johnson are HITS


Dr. Amy Hite and Ms. Karen Johnson were accepted as 2012 Health Information Technology Scholars (HITS).

“This program is a Faculty Development: Integrated Technology into Nursing Education & Practice Initiative,” says Mary Carol Pomatto, Chair of the Department of Nursing.

The project is funded by a five-year, $1.5 million grant provided by The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA’s) Bureau of Health Professions (BHPr) in partnership with the Office of Health Information Technology (OHIT).

“The HITS project is designed to develop, implement, disseminate and sustain a faculty development collaborative initiative to integrate information technologies in nursing curriculum,” says Pomatto. 

This project will expand the capacity of collegiate schools of nursing to educate students for the 21st century. The program includes eight learning modules, a three-day conference in Kansas City, technology expert-advice on projects, implementation of the projects, and evaluation.

 “The purpose of our submitted project is to utilize Simulation Mannequins, log clinical hours in Typhon and to document in a simulated EHR (Electronic Health Record),” says Karen Johnson, Instructor of Nursing.

This project will be initiated with the Advanced Health Assessment courses (Nurs 803/804) where faculty will use simulation scenarios to evaluate NP students’ assessment skills.

“Ideally the information and technology used in this course will be continued in the remainder of the Nurse Practitioner Theory and Clinical courses,” says Amy Hite, Assistant Professor of Nursing.

For the 2012 program there were 305 applicants and 58 accepted for the 5th and final year of the HRSA grant program. Since the inception of the HITS program there have been over 1,700 projects submitted. The 2012 cohort had submissions from 196 nursing schools in 47 states; and 31 schools from 25 states were selected.

Cultural Diversity Begins in Elementary School

Grant Moss

Dr. Grant D. Moss (Department of Modern Languages and Literatures) and

children in Gabriela Johnson’s ESOL classroom at Lakeside Elementary

When Mrs. Gabriela Johnson (ESOL teacher at Lakeside Elementary School) and Dr. Grant D. Moss (Assistant Professor of Spanish at Pittsburg State University) met in 2010, they began to work together in order to promote the value of cultural and linguistic diversity among their students.

"The fruits of this partnership took shape in the spring of 2011," says Moss.  "This was when I gave a presentation titled 'The Importance of Other Languages' to about forty students at Lakeside Elementary."

Among the participants were JaNell Lopez's first grade class and Mrs. Johnson's ESOL students. Dr. Moss hoped to encourage bilingualism and cultural multiplicity among the children. Although students in both classes received the talk positively, Mrs. Johnson's concern was that the ESOL students did not interact as she thought they should.

 "I wanted my students to see it is a good idea to know various languages and be a part of two cultures," she said.
 "Her goal," according to Moss, "was for her students-whose ages ranged from five to eleven-to participate more openly with me in both of their languages."
The first initial team effort led to another, more streamlined, activity in February of 2012.

"During the presentation, I focused on 'Les fogueres d'Alacant,'" said Moss. This is a festival celebrated in the Alicante region of Spain each June. "One of the objectives of this dialogue was to encourage ESOL students to build upon their own cultural duality through a discussion of the social, historical, cultural, and linguistic diversity that exists on the Mediterranean coast."

According to Moss, a byproduct of the event was the frank interaction between him and the students during which Moss discussed his extended experience in Spain, Brazil, Chile, and Ecuador (the discussion occurred in English, Español, and Valenciá).

Telegrams from Students



Rachel White has been accepted into 3 MFA programs, two with full ride, and will be making her decision this summer.

Robin Pettibon, while on an internship, has created a new website for Eagle Picher:  eaglepicher.com


Samantha Pendleton is the first student with an emphasis in Analytics to fill an internship at Commerce Bank in Kansas city.

Cadets Meet the Challenge

Ranger Challenge Lexi Skaggs/Kada Barbour

Pittsburg State University ROTC has a tradition of success in the Ranger Buddy Challenge, a grueling test of cadets’ physical and mental toughness. They extended that tradition recently, coming in a close second at the University of Kansas Ranger Buddy Challenge where they competed against 130 teams from 30 universities.

The Ranger Buddy Challenge is designed to be tough, beginning with a 15-kilometer road march at 4:30 a.m. and ending with a 2.5-mile run at 5 p.m. In between, the cadets cycle through seven events that are designed to assess basic skills under duress. For the competition, there were eight events for each of the three divisions. PSU teams took first place in seven events.

Lt. Col. Chris Lambert, chairman of the Military Science Department at PSU, said he was proud of the way the Pitt State students represented the university and the Gorilla Battalion.

“We sent a total of six, two-cadet teams,” Lambert said. “Four of the teams were all-male, one of the teams was all female and one was co-ed. Our all-female team placed second overall in their division.”

In addition, one of the all-male teams placed second in their division, another placed eighth and a third placed 21st. The co-ed team placed fourth overall.

Lambert said the PSU squads nearly took the top spot, tying host KU for first place, but losing the tie-breaker by just one point.

Some of the other universities in the competition were the University of Oklahoma, the University of Colorado, the University of Arkansas, the University of Missouri, the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, the University of Nebraska, Central Missouri State University, the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign, Missouri Science and Technology, Missouri Western State University, the University of North Dakota, North Dakota State University, South Dakota State University, and the University of Northern Iowa.

PSU’s success at Ranger Buddy Challenge is especially notable, according to Lambert, when the competition includes some of the largest and best known universities in the Midwest.

All-female team - Lexi Skaggs/Kada Barbour, 2nd place out of 13 teams

All-male team - Paul Hartfield/Keith Weaver, 2nd place out of 88 teams

All-male team - Hal Rivard/Andrew Thomas, 8th place out of 88 teams

All-male team - Adam McDonald/Sean Gilbert, 21st place out of  88 teams

Co-ed team - Kristina Willis/John Fatkin, 4th place out of 17 teams

Student coaches for the competition were Jared Beachner, Mason Johnson, Stephen Cuff, Clayton Argyle and Ethan Clouse.

©2012 Pittsburg State University

Jane Austin on Board

Jane Austin Board Games
Robin Mooney, Brandi Unruh, Susan Schreiner, Jamie Fenoglio, & Lora Winters

Upper level university English literature classes aren’t usually much for fun and games.

Pittsburg State University English professor Paul McCallum changed that recently when he allowed students in his English 7 7 1 (Major Authors) class to choose their class projects rather than write major literary papers.

The results surprised them.

“Three sets of students decided to design board games,” McCallum said. “I was expecting something on felt with plastic game pieces, but they turned in something altogether different and altogether wonderful.”

The class focused on Jane Austen, who remains a popular author despite the fact that she died nearly 200 years ago.

A team composed of Jamie Fenoglio, Lora Winters and Brandi Unruh created “Jane Austen The Board Game,” working on it most of the spring semester.

“We worked really hard to make it fun,” Winters said.

Unruh said their game mixed questions on Austen, the books and movies made from them, as well as pop culture of her time.

Susan Schreiner created an Austen trivia game.

“It’s definitely for the person who knows Austen well,” she said. “I’ve got 445 questions in 10 categories, including her novels, her times, her life, the movies and her other writing from her juvenilia to her unfinished novel.”

It sounds impressive, by Schreiner said that she actually fell short of her goal.

“I should have had 500 questions,” she said.

In Trivial Pursuit, those who answer a question correctly receive a colored wedge and have to fill up a pie shape with them.

“In my game, you collect little books and fill up a bookshelf,” Schreiner said.

“And they ’re cute little books,” McCallum added.

Robin Mooney named her game “Playing Jane.

“It’s accessible or those who have not read all Austen’s novels,” she said. “I wanted something my nieces and nephews could eventually play . It covers each of the novels equally and the era in which she lived.”

It’s unlikely than any of the games will ever be commercial available, but Unruh said she had gotten a teaching job and might use her game to introduce Jane Austen to her students.

“We could put them in the display case as a museum piece from when there were giants,” McCallum said.

And they might go on display at Axe Library for a time as well.

But Schreiner reminded him that there are other good projects in the class as well, and McCallum said that was true.

“There was a cooking demonstration, with two students fixing Austen dishes, and there was a presentation on the architecture of Austen’s time,” he said. “There was also an equestrian demonstration, which was presented on film. We wanted to bring the horse into the classroom, but it would have taken two trips in the elevator to get it there.”

He said the Austen class, which is a night class, typically has about 10 students. This semester he had 24.

So why is Austen still so popular after nearly two centuries?

“She was quite a satirical author, and had a lot to say about the society of her time,” McCallum said



The Pittsburg Morning Sun


Art Put to Work


The judging panel for the 2012 Adobe Design Achievement Awards has selected Jordan Giesler as a semifinalist.  Jordan entered the competition as part of a requirement for Art 605, Commercial Art IV.

Jordan is currently working on his final 3 credits hours for PSU which is an internship with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Jordan Giesler Jordan Giesler

“Working for the Chiefs has been a lifelong dream of mine,” he says. “Being from Kansas City, I followed the organization ever since I could remember, so naturally when I heard that they offered a Graphic Design Internship I applied.” Jordan didn’t think he had a chance to get it, but about a week later he was contacted for more information. “Before I knew it I was having an interview.”

It was like a dream come true. 

“I didn't know what to expect and after a very fast first two weeks,” he says. “I was being challenged more than ever.”

Jordan says that this internship has been the hardest and most rewarding thing he’s ever done.

“It has been more work than I could have expected. I feel like I am learning more all the time,” he says. “I am dreading having to leave the internship. I have learned so much and had so much fun working so hard.”

In the mean time, the Adobe competition is not over yet and won’t be until November.

“I entered a package design I completed this past year,” says Jordan. “I called it Coco Loco. It was a beer packaging design that was for a coconut-flavored porter.” Jordan brews the beer himself. “It by far was the most fun I have had making a design, I got really into it and I believe it truly pushed my skills further.”

Recently Jordan was told that another design of his runner-up in a contest run by Creative Quarterly. It will be placed on their website.

The Adobe Design Achievement Awards celebrate student and faculty achievement reflecting the powerful convergence of technology and the creative arts. The competition - which showcases individual and group projects created with industry-leading Adobe creative software - honors the most talented and promising student graphic designers, photographers, illustrators, animators, digital filmmakers, developers and computer artists from the world's top institutions of higher education. There have been 2567 entries from across the creative arts communities world -wide.

Telegrams from Alumni



Josh Davis,  who has an MA from PSU, can be seen rattling the cage over hat the Poetry Coop: http://www.poetrycoop.com/poetry-workshops/rattling-cage-forms-and-repetition

Rebecca Bauman, who got her BS at PSU,  won the top teaching award for a TA at UFlorida?  She  writes: "The Calvin. A. VanderWerf Award for graduate student teaching. That's the top teaching honor for graduate assistants at UF, and most of the nominees are usually PhD candidates. Padgett Powell, my director, says NO creative writing student has EVER won the award before, and the English program director says we haven't even had a win for an English PhD candidate since 2004. "

Family and Consumer Sciences.

 Horizon Award Program Honors three FCS Graduates over the past two years.  This program recognizes exemplary first-year educators. This year two PSU graduates were recognized.
 Robyn Studebaker, who teaches at Central Heights High School, Central Heights USD 288
 Lindsay Hothan, who teaches at De Soto High School, De Soto USD 232

 Marla Sterling, a teacher at Cherryvale Middle/High School will be awarded the American Association of Family & Consumer Sciences New Achiever Award at the AAFCS National Conference this June.

Stringing Things Together


The Department of Chemistry will soon have two new degree offerings, a Bachelor of Science major in Polymer Chemistry and a Master of Science in Polymer Chemistry. Courses for these programs are anchored in the Department of Chemistry and the Plastics Engineering Technology program involving resources and staff from the Kansas Polymer Research Center. 

“Pittsburg State is in a very unique position to offer academic programs in Polymer Chemistry due to already having the Kansas Polymers Research Center (KPRC) on our campus,” says Karl Kunkel, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.  “Given the promising future of polymer science, the relevance of this field for the Kansas economy, the lack of other polymer chemistry programs in the region, and the obvious unique link between PSU and KPRC, it makes sense to offer a bachelor’s and master’s degrees to the people of Kansas and house this program at our university.”

The suitability of PSU for this initiative was echoed by Dr. Andy Myers, director of the KPRC.

“The Kansas Polymer Research Center at Pittsburg State University is one of the world's leading centers specializing in vegetable oil-based polymer research and development,” says Myers. “KPRC scientists work with industry partners, state and federal agencies, as well as producer associations to develop and commercialize intellectual property.”

Preparing students for jobs was a major impetus for this initiative.

“The polymer and plastics industries are one of the largest employers of high tech, high value jobs for science majors,” says Bruce Dallman, dean of the College of Technology.  “In fact, the American Chemical Society division of Polymer Chemistry projects 50% of all chemists work with polymers at some time in their career.”

New faculty will be hired with joint appointments in KPRC and either the Chemistry Department or the Plastics Engineering Technology program. Jointly, these existing and new assets further students’ knowledge base and experiences preparing them for meaningful and economically vital careers in the expanding field of polymers.

“Research opportunities for students are central to their career preparation and will be reflected in the proposed academic program, says Khamis Siam, chair of the Department of Chemistry.  “Further, after the degree programs are established we aggressively will pursue approval from the American Chemical Society.”

Do YOU have a story?

If so, contact us!