Early Voting Matters to Visiting Distinguished Professor in Political Science

November 20, 2014

Whether you view early voting as a necessity, a privilege, or an obligation, there is no denying that it has had a profound impact on American voting behavior. Dr. Paul Gronke has dedicated his career to studying the impact of early voting.

Gronke currently teaches at Appalachian State University as the Dr. Daniel B. German Professor in Political Science. This endowed Distinguished Professorship was created to enhance teaching and scholarship in the Department of Government and Justice Studies. Gronke has committed to teaching at Appalachian for a year. “I’m impressed with this University, and I find that the faculty work very hard,” Gronke says. “The students here are bright.”

Having studied elections and conducted public opinion research since age 16, Gronke has focused particularly on early voting, and its effects on political campaigns. Additionally, he is the founder and director of the Early Voting Information Center, a non-partisan policy research center dedicated to the study of voting at times other than Election Day and places other than local precincts.

After earning a Master of Arts degree from the University of Essex, and his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, Gronke went on to his first teaching position at Duke University. It was there that he developed an appreciation for the mountains of North Carolina. “When my family and I used to come to Boone to get our Christmas trees, we would always talk about what a beautiful town this is,” Gronke says. “I understand why people stay here, I find this area incredibly charming.”

Gronke has been a faculty member at Reed College in Portland, Oregon since 2001, and teaches courses there on political behavior, political institutions, and social science research methods. He also served as the chair of the Political Science Department at Reed from 2001 to 2009.

During his time at Appalachian, Gronke hopes to complete a book on early voting, and expand his research internationally. “Other countries have much bigger issues at stake, and they face much greater challenges than we do in the United States,” Gronke says. “We can set an example and teach these countries something through our voting processes.”

Gronke hopes that his time here will help promote the Distinguished Professorship in the Department of Government and Justice Studies. “I’d love to be an ambassador for this program and communicate to my colleagues what a wonderful place this is,” Gronke says. “I’ve been very happy here.”

To learn more about the Early Voting Information Center and Paul Gronke’s research, please visit

Bathanti receives the Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry

November 19, 2014

Joseph Bathanti, writer in residence for the College of Arts and Sciences' Watauga Residential College and professor of creative writing in the Department of English, has received the prestigious Roanoke-Chowan Award for Poetry for the second time. Congratulations to Dr. Bathanti on winning this coveted award.

Nunes Emphasizes Civic Engagement as Chair of the Department of Cultural, Gender and Global Studies

November 19, 2014

Millions of people use the internet every day without considering its effects on their lives, and on society as a whole. Dr. Mark Nunes, the new Chair of the Department of Cultural, Global and Gender Studies, is out to change that.

Dr. Nunes is author of Cyberspaces of Everyday Life (Minnesota, 2006), which explores how the Internet restructures our everyday experience of the public and the private, and the local and the global. He is also editor of and contributing author for a collection of essays entitled Error: Glitch, Noise, and Jam in New Media Cultures (Continuum, 2011), which examines how the concepts of “noise” and “error” structure modes of cultural resistance in a network society. He has written a number of articles in the field of new media studies.

Nunes earned his interdisciplinary Ph.D. in the Culture, History, and Theory program of Emory University’s Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts. He also holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Virginia, and a Master of Arts in Psychology from Columbia University.  His ongoing research focuses on the cultural impact of new media on contemporary society.

The Department of Cultural, Global and Gender Studies offers three programs; Global Studies, Women’s Studies and Interdisciplinary Studies, which all revolve around the university’s core values of global education, interdisciplinarity and creating a just and sustainable society.

To highlight these core values, Global Studies students are required to study abroad for at least 12 consecutive weeks, and their job prospects are helped by their language and intercultural skills. Alumni have gone on to pursue graduate degrees in areas such as International Studies, Library Science, Conflict Analysis and Resolution, Social Work, Political Science, and work for a variety of nonprofits, including organizations like the Red Cross.

In addition, the Women’s Studies program is the second oldest program in the state of its kind, and is highly receptive to frequent changes in the field. The faculty is highly diverse, with 53 affiliate members representing 5 colleges and 15 departments. Dr. Kim Q. Hall was recently named the new Director of this program.

Furthermore, the Interdisciplinary Studies program allows students to design their own major, which is ideal for student entrepreneurs and those whose interests straddle many disciplines. Graduates of this program have pursued careers and graduate degrees in fields such as Law, Nursing, Public Health, Journalism and Middle Eastern Studies.

Nunes hopes to expand the department by attracting students early on in their academic careers, and by making many connections across the university so that both students and faculty are aware of the opportunities in this department.

Nunes also places great emphasis on making sure students have civic engagement experiences as part of their education. “We’re not just doing classroom based studies,” Nunes said. “We’re connecting to concerns in everyday life, be that in the workplace, in nonprofits, in the community, or abroad.”

To learn more about the Department of Cultural, Global and Gender Studies, please visit



Off Crutches, Dr. William Schumann Transitions to Appalachian Studies in Stride

November 12, 2014

Billy Schumann may not be ready to try out for the US Olympic ski team, but he is happy to finally be at Appalachian leading the Center for Appalachian Studies.  An avid skier, Schumann had a nasty skiing accident in the months before coming to Appalachian, delaying his arrival and requiring surgery to repair a broken leg.  He is now excited to be back at his alma mater, off crutches, and focused on the future of Appalachian Studies. 

The Center for Appalachian Studies focuses on regional culture, including regional sustainability and musical traditions. It provides graduate and undergraduate programs, as well as a minor.

“The idea is to train students in these areas so they are successful practitioners of positive community change in Appalachia,” said Schumann. “We emphasize diversity by recognizing that Appalachia is constituted by several communities and traditions.”

Students in the Appalachian Studies program develop applicable skills that prepare them for a great variety of careers within the Appalachian region and other mountainous regions in the United States. “We’re examining our own curriculum and other programs on campus that will help give students specific skills that are relevant in a difficult job market,” Schumann said.

Graduates of the Appalachian Studies program have gone on to pursue careers in fields such as law, the nonprofit sector, local government and journalism.

Schumann hopes to grow the Appalachian Studies program through research. “I want to conduct research and engage with the region’s communities in ways that are relevant to the public policy debates occurring in North Carolina and the Appalachian region in general,” Schumann says.

The Appalachian Studies program is currently conducting a survey of the Appalachian region, which extends from New York to Alabama. The survey targets college students and gauges what they think the region’s strengths are, as well as what their needs are in preparation for their careers. This survey is sponsored by the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Graduating from Appalachian State University in 1993 with a degree in Anthropology, Schumann went on to earn a graduate degree in Appalachian Studies from Appalachian State in 1999, as well as a Master’s degree in Political Science in 2000. He earned a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Florida in 2005. Schumann directed the Allegheny Institute for Natural History at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, and also served at Berea College as the National Endowment for the Humanities Chair in Appalachian Studies.

For more information on the Center for Appalachian Studies and its Appalachian Studies program, please visit

Eloranta elected an officer of the International Economic History Organization

November 10, 2014

We at the College of Arts and Sciences are thrilled to announce that Dr. Jari Eloranta has been confirmed as secretary-general of the International Economic History Association. Congratulations, Dr. Eloranta!

The Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series Brings Innovative Writers to Appalachian

November 6, 2014

The Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series hosts seven acclaimed and innovative writers during the 2014-2015 season.

The series hosts experienced authors, as well as two new poets who are building momentum. The authors featured include George Ella Lyon, Shira Dentz, Hank Lazer, Roxane Gay, Tim Earley, Megan Kaminski, and Allen St. John. The series presents public readings, and promotes discussions of writing as a craft.

“We’re trying to bring in writers that focus on the conversations that are currently happening in creative writing,” said Kirsten Jorgenson, Co-Director of the Visiting Writers Series.

Poet and experimental fiction author Shira Dentz will give a craft talk on November 13, 2014. She has received multiple awards, including an Academy of American Poets Prize. Dentz’s past work as a graphic designer influences her writing, and she is helping to pioneer the concept of “designing poetry”.

On March 19, 2015, author Hank Lazer will speak about his work, which was nominated for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize, and the 2004 Forward Prize. “Hank Lazer is one of the leading thinkers and writers in experimental poetry,” said Jorgenson.

On April 16, 2015, author Roxane Gay will give a craft talk. Gay’s writing has been featured in multiple publications such as Time, The Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times Book Review. Gay is the co-editor of PANK, and she teaches writing at Purdue University.

Finally, on April 23, 2015, poets Tim Earley and Megan Kaminski will appear together. Earley is the author of three full-length poetry collections, and a limited edition chapbook. He teaches for the University of Mississippi. Kaminski is the author of seven chapbooks and two full collections, and teaches creative writing at the University of Kansas.

The series began September 4, 2014 with bestselling author and award winning journalist Allen St. John, and his book Clapton’s Guitar. St. John appeared on behalf of the Common Reading Program.

On October 2, 2014, poet and author George Ella Lyon appeared on behalf of the Rachel Rivers-Coffey Distinguished Visiting Writer Program. Lyon has won several awards, including the Golden Kite Award from the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and she currently teaches writing through conferences and workshops.

Admission to all events is free, and all talks, with the exception of Shira Dentz’s craft talk, take place in the Table Rock Room in the Plemmons Student Union. Dentz’s craft talk will take place in the Rough Ridge Room in Plemmons.

For more information on the 2014-2015 Visiting Writers Series, please visit the website of the Department of English at or access the Hughlene Bostian Frank Visiting Writers Series Facebook page.


New Chair of Government and Justice Studies is Driven by His Passion for Politics

November 5, 2014

The College of Arts and Sciences welcomes Dr. Phillip Ardoin as the new Chair for the Department of Government and Justice Studies.

While earning his undergraduate degree from Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia, Ardoin worked on Capitol Hill for a United States Senator representing Louisiana.  That experience guided him to an M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science at Louisiana State University.

Ardoin later served as a faculty member and Research Lab Director in the Nelson Mandela School of Public Policy at Southern University from 1999-2003.  In 2003, Ardoin and his family moved to Boone to join the Department of Government and Justice Studies at Appalachian State University.

The Department of Government and Justice Studies contains three programs; Criminal Justice, Political Science, and Public Administration. Ardoin believes these fields are particularly relevant today. “Politics influences everything we do,” Ardoin says. “There’s no decision made that isn’t influenced by politics in some way, shape, or form.”

Graduates of Government and Justice Studies are active and engaged in the field in a number of differing contexts.  According to Ardoin, “We have alumni working on Capitol Hill, in the North Carolina state legislature, and in law enforcement agencies throughout the region.” Ardoin adds, “Many of our M.A. graduates are now faculty at universities across the country.”

The Department of Government and Justice Studies also contains the Master of Public Administration program, which produces roughly twenty-five percent of North Carolina’s city and county managers. “Last year, 95% of our MPA students were placed in jobs immediately,” Ardoin says.

Ardoin emphasizes the value of internships for current students. “Internships have led to strong job placement for our students, and has helped to create a strong professional network,” he says.

Ardoin’s goals for the department focus on increasing student involvement in state and national politics. This is currently being achieved through the department’s Washington at Work and N.C. Politics in Action summer courses, which allow students to engage with interest groups, elected officials, campaign activists, and members of the federal bureaucracy. “We want to produce staff and lobbyists, so we want our students to meet with people who are doing those things,” Ardoin says.

To learn more about the Department of Government and Justice Studies, please visit


Alumna Kit Gruelle Fights Domestic Violence in HBO Documentary "Private Violence"

BOONE—As part of her ongoing battle against domestic violence, Appalachian State University alumna Kit Gruelle is featured in the HBO documentary “Private Violence.” Gruelle is featured in the film as an advocate and community activist fighting for rights and resources for women and children who experience violence at home. “Private Violence” centers on a North Carolina woman who has survived domestic violence.

“Private Violence” will be shown in Holmes Convocation Center on campus Wednesday, Nov. 5, at 7:30 p.m. Admission is free, and this event is open to the public.

“I started this project 12 years ago to call attention to the battered women’s movement and celebrate the strength of battered women,” Gruelle said. “I also wanted to challenge the stereotypes still attached to domestic violence.”

“Private Violence” is the result of Gruelle’s own battle with domestic violence. Her experiences inspired her to become an advocate, and her role as advocate is portrayed in the documentary.

Gruelle graduated from Appalachian in 2012 with a B.S. in sociology, which was a focus in violence against women. “The sociology professors were incredibly supportive of me,” she said. “They valued my life experience in very respectful ways.”

Gruelle hopes that “Private Violence” will help people gain a realistic understanding of the complexities of domestic violence. “By bringing communities together, we can work as a team to support victims and hold abusers accountable for their choice to be abusive,” she said.

A panel discussion will follow the documentary. Members of the audience should be aware that the documentary contains graphic content of domestic violence situations. Please be aware of potential triggers. Staff from Appalachian’s Counseling Center and members of OASIS will be in attendance should the need arise for their services.

The screening is sponsored by Appalachian’s College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Sociology and the student organization Cultural Awareness and Student Engagement. To learn more about “Private Violence,” visit

Goff Works to Keep History Alive at Appalachian

November 4, 2014

“You can’t understand the present without understanding the past. That’s a very personal thing for me,” says Dr. James Goff, who was recently appointed as the new Chair for the Department of History in the College of Arts and Sciences.

This philosophy has influenced Goff’s work at Appalachian State, which began in 1986. Goff attended the University of Arkansas and received a Ph.D. in American History, where he focused on American Religious History.

During his time at Appalachian State, Goff has witnessed growth in the Department of History and the university as a whole, including changes in how the university approaches general education. “There are many transitions in the department right now related to general education,” Goff says. “We believe it should be impossible for an Appalachian student to get a degree without taking a history course, because it’s such a vital field of study.”

Graduates of the Department of History have gone on to pursue careers in fields such as journalism, law, civil service, historic preservation, and curatorship. “Our students are prepared for work in many fields because studying history teaches them how to write, research, think and analyze the world around them,” Goff says.

One of Goff’s highest priorities is to continue to provide support to the faculty of the Department of History. “What makes our faculty good is that they’ve immersed themselves in their field, and they are the authority on their subjects,” Goff says. “During my time in this department, I was fortunate to work with Chairs who made it possible for me to publish books and supported my research. I want to make sure our current faculty have the same opportunities.”

As Chair, one of Goff’s goals is to increase awareness of the Department of History and impress upon students the importance of including history courses in their education. Excellent faculty scholarship and research are hallmarks of the department.  “We’re not just reading another historian’s book and talking about it in class,” Goff says. “We give students a direct relationship with their teachers, who are working publishing historians.”

To learn more about the Department of History, please visit

New Director Clark Maddux Seeks to Increase Awareness of Watauga Residential College

October 30, 2014

“I’ve always thought of myself as a professor first,” says Dr. Clark Maddux. “I’m proud of my research, but I know that where I make a long term impact is in the lives of students, and that’s what I want my legacy to be.”

As the new Director of Watauga Residential College, Maddux seeks to do just that: impact the lives of students by providing them with experiential learning opportunities.

Maddux earned his PhD in American Studies from Purdue University, and was on faculty at Tennessee State University and Austin Peay State University before coming to Appalachian State University in 2012.

Watauga Residential College (WRC), formerly known as Watauga Global Community, is a two year program that emphasizes experiential coursework, and provides students with integrated learning opportunities where the barriers between classroom learning and co-curricular experience are intentionally blurred. WRC provides a variety of classroom formats including lectures, smaller discussion sections, small project groups, linked classes and trips outside the classroom. It is one of two residential colleges in North Carolina, and was founded in 1972.

“Those of us who have been around ASU for a while will recall the original Watauga College and its experiential program,” says Dean Anthony Calamai. “Watauga Residential College represents the next generation of Watauga College. Moreover, the addition of Dr. Clark Maddux as director of WRC and his vision for the Watauga academic program provide a bright future for our residential college.”

Maddux seeks to increase enrollment at WRC by hosting recruitment events at local high schools, and working closely with the Office of Admissions at Appalachian State. As a result, Maddux anticipates admitting about 100 freshmen in fall 2015.

The faculty of WRC emphasize building personal relationships with students through their experiential activities. For example, at the beginning of each school year, faculty take students to the Appalachian Trail to help rebuild and maintain a section of the trail and develop a community in the process.

“Students seem to establish strong identities with residential colleges,” Maddux says. “We like to think that Watauga Residential College is like having a small liberal arts college within a larger university.”

Maddux views WRC as an asset to Appalachian State, as well as to the community and state overall. “This residential college offers students an opportunity they wouldn’t otherwise be able to get in a state university,” says Maddux. “Here, we try to break down all the barriers that build up between faculty and students. We want to collapse those divides as much as possible and give students a much more integrated experience.”

For more information on Watauga Residential College, please visit, or visit their Facebook page