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At Evangelical Christian Colleges, Leadership Is Often the Family Business

Matthew Sutton
Matthew Sutton

During the past school year, several leading American universities welcomed top scholars and experienced administrators as their new presidents. And none of them—not one—inherited the job from his father or mother.

That goes without saying, right? Nonprofit, tax-exempt universities are not typically family dynasties. But at evangelical Christian colleges, including some of the most prominent, there are different expectations as many leaders are succeeded by their children. In evangelicalism, in particular, some of the churches are likely to be treated as family businesses, with indigenous cultures that only a few can understand.

“There’s obviously a distrust of outsiders, so you want people who know the system, the ministry, what you are about,” said Matthew Sutton, who teaches history at WSU and is the author of American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism. “The assumption is that people within family know that best and can protect the heritage.”

More about the family business of college leadership in The New York Times (subscription required)

Senior wins Boren Award to study Mandarin in Taiwan

Thomas G. Taylor, a senior studying social sciences through the WSU Global Campus, has received a Boren Scholarship from the National Security Education Program (NSEP) to study the Mandarin language in Taiwan during the 2014-15 academic year.

He is one of 165 Boren recipients out of 868 applications from students in 38 disciplines nationwide. The new Boren Scholars represent 25 disciplines at 90 institutions in 36 states.

Taylor’s degree program includes concentrations in political science, sociology, and history.

He is WSU’s 13th Boren Scholar since 2001; the designation is for awardees who are undergraduates. WSU has also had two graduate student Boren Fellows since 2000.

NSEP reports that among this year’s winners, China is the most requested destination and Mandarin the second most popular language.

Learn more about this distinguished scholarship and others

English major among WSU’s first Fulbright UK summer students

Grace Reed
Grace Reed

Grace Reed, a sophomore from University Place, Wash., majoring in English, is headed for Nottingham Trent University to study “Creativity, Culture, History and Heritage” for four weeks this summer.

Reed is one of three WSU undergraduates going to England and Scotland as the University’s first recipients of Fulbright UK Summer Institute awards.

“It is quite an accomplishment for WSU to have three students accepted for the Fulbright UK,” said Sarah Ann Hones, director of the Distinguished Scholarships Program, part of the WSU Office of Undergraduate Education.

The students will experience the UK; develop their research, communication and presentation skills; and perform community service. The Fulbright program will cover most of their costs.

Twelve WSU undergraduates went through the rigorous process of applying for the awards.

More about WSU’s Fulbright UK summer students

Explaining perceptions of advertising tone

Travis Ridout
Travis Ridout

With midterm elections only 6 months off, it appears that many political groups are moving away from negative attack ads. Experts believe this change could be a response to new trends in voter response.

Research by Travis Ridout, associate professor of political science at WSU, and a colleague at Wesleyan University suggests the tone or volume of a political ad is not the key consideration in whether an ad will resonate with the audience. Their 2012 analysis found the strategic framing of an ad matters more than its perceived negativity.

For example, an ad touting a candidate’s foreign politics expertise during an overseas crisis will resonate more with voters than a candidate criticizing his or her opponent’s lack of foreign expertise at a time of peace.

More about political advertising

CAS alumna highlights WSU multicultural graduation May 9

Elise Boxer
Elise Boxer

Alumna Elise Boxer, a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Utah (UU), will deliver the keynote address during WSU’s annual Multicultural Graduation Celebration 6-8 p.m. Friday, May 9, in the Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories Event Center in Pullman.

Boxer earned two bachelor of arts degrees at WSU in 2002, one in history and one in social studies.

“WSU was an important part of my educational journey,” said Boxer, who was active in the Office of Multicultural Student Services and the Native American Student Center. “I was able to connect my tribal community to the university by making space for Native students on campus,” she said.

“She served as an excellent mentor and role model, not only for students of color but for all students,” said J. Manuel Acevedo, director of WSU’s Office of Multicultural Student Services.

Before joining the faculty at UU, Boxer was a visiting assistant professor in American Indian studies at Eastern Washington University and a member of adjunct faculty at the College of the Redwoods-Klamath-Trinity Instructional Site and Mesa Community College. She earned her master’s degree in history at Utah State University and her doctoral degree in history at Arizona State University.

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