Issue 2011-12 (December 14, 2011)



Sale of Jensen-Byrd Building Approved

By Barb Chamberlain & Doug Nadvornick

The WSU Board of Regents has approved the sale of the Jensen-Byrd property on the Riverpoint campus. The purchaser is Campus Advantage, an Austin, Texas-based company that operates 47 residential projects on or near university campuses in 21 states.

(Photo by Cori Medeiros)

The purchase price is $2.85 million and includes 1.48 acres of land adjacent to the building. The proceeds will support growth of the academic health science center at Riverpoint, including Spokane's expanding medical education program.

"I'm quite excited about this," said regent Connie Niva. "It's a timely opportunity and a great way to begin providing student housing in Spokane."

The development of housing in the University District was recently identified by the University District board as one of the top priorities to spur growth and private investment. About 3,500 students attend class on the Riverpoint Campus, and the University District is home to more than 14,000 college students (including those at Gonzaga). Yet, there are few housing options within close walking distance of Riverpoint.

The site is in a part of the campus identified in the master plan as suitable for housing and mixed-use development given its location on campus. It's on a transit line with links to other campuses and only a short walk from downtown amenities.

"This project fits well with what we were hoping for," said regent Francois Forgette.

The university has tried for more than six years to get a project going on the Jensen-Byrd site, but due to the sluggish economy and the high cost of renovating the building, it hasn't happened.

According to Campus Advantage, they are planning to replace the former hardware-store warehouse with a 425-bed purpose-built student housing facility consisting of two and four-bedroom apartments, a fitness center, business center, study rooms, a game and media room, and outdoor spaces. The five-story building will be approximately 200,000 square feet.

"Many of the original bricks and some of the large wood support-beams will be re-worked into the new design," said Scott Duckett, executive vice president and chief business development officer for Campus Advantage. "We expect to break ground in summer 2012 to meet an occupancy date of fall 2013."

"With more than 14,000 students in the University District, there are 4,363 beds of on-campus housing," Duckett said. "There is a lack of apartment housing in the downtown area, and no purpose-built private apartments catering to students. Spokane is a great city that's growing, so this is going to be an economic boost for that area."

"We look forward to celebrating continuing and accelerating development momentum in the University District," said chancellor Brian Pitcher.

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Nutrition/Exercise PhD Returns: Strong Array of Skills Required for Success

By Doug Nadvornick & Lorraine Nelson, College of Pharmacy

"I want to start my presentation with a story," student Kari Jo Hilgendorf began. "My family knows a girl who was taken from her home when she was two, due to severe neglect." The girl is now eight and still dealing with the trauma, and Hilgendorf wondered if exercise might help her and other victims of abuse.

So Hilgendorf is designing a clinical study that will explore her hypothesis as part of her PhD work in nutrition and exercise physiology (NEP) at Washington State University's health sciences campus in Spokane. She believes slow, gentle forms of exercise, such as yoga or tai chi, will help some people. Others, she said, might need more vigorous workouts.

Hilgendorf is one of a handful of students in the NEP program's newly revised PhD track, which began in August after an absence of a few years.

Original investigation and analysis

The process of earning a PhD usually takes four to six years and culminates in a written thesis.

"Students have to produce a body of work," said Susan Marsh, assistant professor and director of the NEP doctoral degree program. "They have to ask an original question about something that hasn't been resolved and then do the work to find an answer."

PhD student Heidi Medford (left) in the lab with Marsh
(Photo by Cori Medeiros)

What makes a good PhD student?

"They aren't necessarily the students who are the most technically proficient or have the highest grade point average," Marsh said. The students who are most likely to succeed and excel in the program are those who ask good questions and who can analyze and make sense of the data they collect.

"I want students who can think," she said. Developing critical thinking skills is an integral part of a doctoral program. That development occurs both through coursework and working closely with faculty mentors on their dissertation research.

Marsh also looks for students who can learn a variety of other skills, such as interviewing participants in experiments, making cell cultures, and supervising undergraduate research assistants.

And she wants students who bounce back when something doesn't pan out in the lab.

"It can be a blow to their ego when data don't support their hypothesis," Marsh said. "Some students struggle with this but then learn that science is rarely black and white, and unexpected results can often lead to new questions and more exciting discoveries."

Communicating work and findings

Another important characteristic of good Ph.D. students is the ability to tell others about their work, Marsh said.

"Students need to learn how to communicate their science to different audiences," she said. "They have to get beyond their jargon and explain things in simple language, if necessary."

To hone this skill, Marsh requires PhD candidates to lead seminars, such as the one in which Kari Jo Hilgendorf told the story of the neglected child.

Like Hilgendorf, doctoral student Heidi Medford took her turn before a small group of her peers and faculty members. She explained the anatomy of the heart, moved into a technical discussion about how exercise affects it, and then answered audience questions.

"Science is nothing if you can't communicate it," Medford said.

"A Ph.D. is really about learning how to learn," she said. "Yes, the subject matter is difficult, and we do take classes, but there are no textbooks. The bulk of our time is spent studying what other scientists have done, critically analyzing the findings, and thinking of ways to apply what they've found to what we are learning." In addition to classes and research, she also teaches.

"It's at least a 60-hour work week," Medford said, "so you have to really want to be here. In fact, probably the hardest thing to learn in graduate school is that everything can't be perfect all of the time."

Once she completes her degree, however, Medford believes she will be well qualified for any career path she chooses. She credits Marsh with pushing her harder—in a good way—than she thought possible.

"Hopefully, some day, I will be half the teacher she is."

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WSU Spokane Site for New National Diabetes Clinical Trial

By Lorraine Nelson, College of Pharmacy

The Washington State University health sciences campus in Spokane will be one of the sites for a new national clinical trial studying medications for the treatment of type 2 diabetes that is scheduled to begin next fall. Supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health, the trial will compare the effectiveness of several approaches to managing medications in people with early type 2 diabetes, according to Joshua Neumiller, a College of Pharmacy faculty member and one of two lead researchers on the project.

"There are an expanding number of medications available for the treatment of type 2 diabetes," Neumiller said. "This trial aims to collect evidence to guide clinical decision making and optimize outcomes in the treatment of people with type 2 diabetes."

The WSU researchers will be enrolling 50 patients per year over the first three years of the study, for a total of 150 participants. It will be the largest trial handled so far by the college's Clinical Trials Research Team, Neumiller said. The trial is anticipated to run for eight years.

Neumiller and Carol Wysham, an adjunct faculty member in the College of Pharmacy and a Spokane endocrinologist, are sharing the job of lead investigators for the project. It will require the WSU team to add two or three clinical staff to its unit for the duration of the project. The team has six other trials currently under way.

George Washington University in Washington, D.C., is the coordinating site for the multicenter study, and Neumiller and Wysham will serve on the steering committee overseeing the project. The study is funded by the National Institutes of Health, which will provide WSU with approximately $2.5 million in research support for the trial. 

For more information about the WSU Clinical Trials Team, visit the Web site or call toll-free 1-855-228-0832.

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High School Students Get Taste for Health Sciences Careers

By Doug Nadvornick

In the Nursing Building simulation lab at WSU Spokane, a small group of Lewis and Clark High School students crowd around a smiling manikin. A few of them are wearing stethoscopes. College of Pharmacy clinical associate professor Brenda Bray teaches them what to listen for when they put the diaphragm on the manikin's chest. The young people concentrate on finding the beating artificial heart.

Lewis & Clark High School students check out SimMan
(Photo by Marianne Dunn)

This is the final stop of a Riverpoint Campus tour for these students. They're part of Marianne Dunn's Intro to Health Sciences Careers class at Lewis and Clark.

"A lot of these kids are interested in studying pharmacy or nursing," said Dunn. "Some are thinking about becoming dentists or going into dental hygiene."

Dunn worked with John White, interim chair of pharmacotherapy, to arrange the tour. White's daughter is one of Dunn's students.

Dunn said tours like this help her students discover what kinds of health sciences careers are available to them.

Besides their venture to the simulation lab, the students also visited Eastern Washington University's dental hygiene clinic and sat down to talk with current pharmacy, nursing, and medical students.

"I think students get a lot out of hearing other students, instead of just professors," said White.

"My kids were so jazzed" after meeting with the college students, said Dunn.

Exposing students to science careers

Dunn's class is one of at least two at Lewis and Clark that teach students about science careers. The other, for freshmen, is the first course in the biomedical curriculum created by Project Lead The Way, a national organization that develops lessons that expose students to engineering and life sciences careers. Several Spokane area school districts are now teaching that course. WSU Spokane trains teachers to use the curriculum.

Dunn says her Intro to Health Sciences Careers class is a broader exploration of health-related fields.

"We look at all the different areas of care," she said. "It's not just about doctors and nurses. We also learn about things like central services and billing and coding."

It's natural that Dunn has an interest in steering students to health care careers. She's a graduate of the WSU College of Nursing and worked as a nurse for 17 years before earning her teaching certificate.

"There's a lot of grant money out there right now for training students for math and science careers," said Dunn.

She used a grant to create her introductory class and went to Seattle during the summer of 2010 to get training. Now in its first quarter, the elective course drew 26 students. Dunn isn't sure how many students she'll teach next quarter, but she hopes the class will become popular enough not only to be continued next year, but also to expand into a multiple-course sequence.

Dunn says health care offers a great career direction for students, even those not interested in attending four-year and professional schools.

"So many of these health care fields provide living wage jobs that are good for kids at all academic levels," said Dunn. "And with our strong health care industry, it's a great way to keep our kids in Spokane."

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SLIDESHOW: In-Class Potluck Makes Learning Easier to Swallow

By Judith Van Dongen

Take a walk across campus in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas, and you're bound to stumble upon a potluck somewhere. So a series of two potluck events held in the South Campus Facility in late November didn't seem like anything special...until you got a closer look at the foods that were offered. 

Mashed sweet potatoes and carrots, liquid "banana pancakes," red beans and rice, and golden mango pudding—these were among the dishes students in the undergraduate speech and hearing sciences had prepared for their fictional patients diagnosed with dysphagia (swallowing disorders). The assignment: based on one of three patient cases provided or one that students made up themselves, create an easy-to-swallow dish or thickened drink that is nutritious, tasty, and culturally appropriate for the client.

Clinical associate professor of speech and hearing sciences Amy Meredith, who has been organizing these potlucks as part of her speech anatomy class for the past four years, said speech-language pathologists sometimes see patients whose ability to chew and swallow is compromised (e.g. after a stroke or traumatic injury, or as part of a progressive neurological disease). And although dysphagia is covered in depth in the graduate program, she said an introduction to the topic reviews all the different systems involved in speech and therefore makes for a good conclusion to her anatomy class.

 "The potluck provides a fun end-of-the-semester way to bring in problem-based learning, in addition to cultural competency," Meredith said.

Each student or student group brought in their home-prepared dish, along with the recipe, and made a short oral presentation on the patient case and dish selected. Following the presentations, a volunteer jury drawn from the campus community tasted each entry and judged it in a number of different categories. Categories included best entrée, best tasting thickened liquid, best dessert, best ethnic dish, most appealing to the senses, most creative, most nutritious, and easiest food to swallow, among others. (See slideshow for some of the winning entries from one of the two potlucks).

The students themselves also had the opportunity to try each dish and vote for their favorites.

For the students, the potluck provided an opportunity to solve a real-life scenario they might encounter in their practice down the road. For the judges, it was a chance to get out of their offices and connect with students.

Some had a personal interest, such as Shannon Scribner, an undergraduate speech and hearing student who was a participant in the first potluck and served as a judge in the second one. She said her mother-in-law, who has Parkinson's, is doing well right now, but may start to experience difficulty swallowing as the disease progresses.

"I thought this potluck would give me some really good ideas for if it comes to that," Scribner said. "That way, we could prepare dishes for her that she could enjoy."

Meredith plans to continue her potluck tradition in years to come. She was happy to see several nursing faculty participate as judges this year and hopes the event will draw in faculty and students from other health-related programs in the future. She also plans to explore the possibility of connecting with patient support groups in the community.  

With the help of teaching assistant Kelly Wiegardt, Meredith plans to compile the recipes from her multicultural dysphagia potluck into an e-book. Those interested in receiving the book once it's done may e-mail Amy Meredith at  

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SLIDESHOW: A Soft Spot for the Library

By Becki Meehan; photos by Susan Lyons

Thanks to a donation by Betty M. Anderson, associate dean emeritus for the WSU College of Nursing, patrons of the Riverpoint Campus Library will be greeted by new art work as they make their way through the front entrance.

During her teaching tenure, a passion of Anderson's was making sure students knew about the history of nursing. In fact, she donated core history books to the library and was also instrumental in getting a private collection of nursing books donated.

Anderson, who has always had a soft spot for the library, wanted to add to her prior donations by providing something to make the facility more welcoming. She worked out a plan with Riverpoint Campus Library director Bob Pringle. They decided on fabric art to accent, and perhaps soften, the hard surfaces.

Expert quilter Terry Miller of Coeur D'Alene, Idaho, worked eight months to produce three pieces of quilted wall art that depict the Riverpoint Campus: a cougar and an eagle that represent Washington State University and Eastern Washington University, plus a pair of geese that are representative of the campus location, which is frequently visited  by flocks of Canada geese.

The quilts are based on designs from the Big Fork Bay Cotton Company in Montana: "On the Prowl" and "Spirit" by Toni Whitney and "Wading" by Heather Soos. The mounting blocks were made and donated by Chuck Foster.

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Nursing College Connects Students through Technology

By Alli Benjamin, College of Nursing

Balancing work, family life, and other commitments is common for nurses going back to school. For Onalaska, Washington, resident Katy Dunning, a married, 31-year-old mother of two and a registered nurse (RN), it is her new reality. Thanks to the online/distance learning option offered to RNs by the WSU College of Nursing, Dunning will graduate in May 2012 with her Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) degree.

Dunning has always known that she wanted to become a nurse.

"So many nurses have made a difference in my life," she said. "I wanted to have a profession where I could live anywhere and be able to find work."

Dunning has been a nurse for more than 10 years and wanted to earn her BSN so that she could be better prepared.

"Health care is complex and changing. Continuing education is essential for nurses so that we can meet the needs of our patients," Dunning said. "I chose WSU because of its quality of curriculum and faculty. My advisor, Mary Stucky, provided me with sound advice and understood my situation. She knows me."

The distance learning program was a convenient option for Dunning. She lives in a small town of 3,200 people that's 73 miles from WSU Vancouver's campus.

"I was scared of the online program at first because I didn't know if it would work for me," she said. "I was originally planning on driving to Vancouver. I'm glad I didn't because the online program has allowed me to earn my degree while not interrupting my life."

The distance learning program allows students like Dunning to take one class at a time or a full course load. Distance students log in to live or archived course video streams. Students have the ability to participate in live discussions with other campuses. Distance learning students can interact with on-site students through online discussion boards.

"It works with my schedule," Dunning said. "Since the lectures are archived, I can fit in little snippets when I have time. I can do laundry and listen or pause it if I need to."

Even without high-speed Internet, Katy discovered it was possible to listen to lectures. "I contacted the WSU IT department because I was having a hard time watching the lectures-the videos kept failing," Dunning said. "The IT department suggested putting the lectures into mp3 format so I could listen instead. Talk about accommodating!"

Students can complete their clinical courses at sites close to home, and Dunning will complete hers this summer at Providence Centralia Hospice. She is even considering applying for the college's Master of Nursing program.

"I have contemplated becoming a nurse practitioner, but for right now, a BSN from Washington State University is reputable and will make me competitive so I can achieve my career goals," said Dunning.

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Cougs Chelan County

Extension Programming Provides Family Support, Helps Inmates Be Better Fathers

By Doug Nadvornick

Chelan/Douglas County Extension educator Jenn Crawford occasionally spends time in the Chelan County jail. And while she's there, she's busy doing something you don't often associate with jails: yoga.

Chelan County inmates practice yoga as part of the Fit Fathers program
(Photos courtesy of Chelan/Douglas County Extension)

Crawford and a group of volunteers teach yoga to inmates as part of Fit Fathers, Successful Families Inside and Out, one of three family programs administered by Crawford's Extension office. They also teach the program in community settings.

"We use yoga as a way to help them strengthen their parenting skills," said Crawford. She explains that yoga shows the men how to calm and train their minds and "to stay aware and present" while they're with their children.

The results, according to Crawford, are encouraging. Her team found that most of the men understand more about what their children need from them, how they can satisfy those needs, and how to better handle stressful situations.

Inmates praise Fit Fathers on the WSU Extension Web site: "Thank you for the class. It really made me think about my parenting skills and taught me a lot." "It opened up my eyes to getting out and doing more fun things with my daughter."

Crawford says the Chelan/Douglas County Extension focus on families came after a community needs assessment several years ago.

"We heard people talk about drug and alcohol abuse and parents didn't know about the resources available," she said.

Besides Fit Fathers, her office adopted two other programs used by other WSU Extension offices. One, Strengthening Families, targets 10-to-14-year-old children and their families. Crawford says it aims to improve communications among parents and their kids and reduce the chances that young people start binge drinking. It's taught in both English and Spanish. She says Extension educators do surveys with family members before and after the seven-week courses. That and other anecdotal evidence helps them to track trends.

A third program, Children Cope With Divorce, provides support for families whose parents are undergoing divorce. Crawford says local counselors help moms and dads look at divorce through their children's eyes. They learn how to share parenting responsibilities. She says the program tracks the families for up to a year after the classes end.

Crawford says all three programs are having a positive effect in the two central Washington counties.

"We have data that show parents are talking more effectively with their children about not using drugs," said Crawford. "We think it has led to fewer arrests related to drug and alcohol abuse. That's a big cost savings for the community."

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In the News

  • KREM TV did a story on research conducted by professor of criminal justice Bryan Vila and his team on the effects of fatigue on police officer performance. The story was picked up by print and broadcast media around the state, as well as several national media outlets. Watch or read the story here.
  • Comcast Newsmakers filmed a number of interviews on location at the Riverpoint Campus last month, including one with WWAMI Spokane director Ken Roberts. Roberts talked about the new Biomedical and Health Sciences Building and what it will mean for medical education in Spokane. Watch the interview here.

To see more stories on WSU Spokane people, programs, and research featured in the mainstream media, see our News Coverage page.

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Community Connections

  • Sat. Dec. 31 - First Night Spokane
    Celebrate New Year's Eve in downtown Spokane at First Night Spokane. Park for free at the Riverpoint Campus and hop on the free shuttle to downtown to see ice carving and Irish dancing; listen to African drumming and rock and roll; watch magic happen; and much, much more. First Night Spokane starts with Kids Night Out at 3:30 p.m. and runs all the way through the finale at midnight, which features one of the best fireworks shows of the year. Tickets are $12. Kids 10 and under are free. For more information, see the First Night Spokane Web site.

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Personnel and Staffing Changes    


  • Martha West, Office Assistant 3, Human Resource Services/Student Affairs, effective December 1, 2011.
  • Timothy McGarry, Information Technology Specialist 2 (50%), Information Technology Services-Operations and Enterprise Services, effective December 5, 2011.
  • Peggy Peterson-Johnson, Academic Coordinator, College of Pharmacy, effective December 5, 2011.
  • Karen Caines, Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, effective January 1, 2012.


  • Chris Rode, from Information Technology Specialist 1 to Information Technology Specialist 2 in Information Technology Services-Academic Research Technology (ART), effective July 1, 2011.
  • Gail Oneal, from Instructor to Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, effective January 1, 2012.
  • Linda Ward, from Clinical Associate Professor to Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, effective January 1, 2012.


  • Cynthia (Cinde) Johnson, Extension Coordinator, Master Gardener Volunteer Program, Spokane County Extension, retirement effective December 31, 2011.
  • Chris Hilgert, County Extension Educator, Spokane County Extension, effective December 9, 2011.

Recruitments & Searches:

  • Assistant/Associate Professor, Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, closes January 15, 2012.
  • Associate Dean for Academic Programs, College of Nursing, open until filled, review of applications begins January 18, 2012.
  • Assistant or Associate Professor, College of Nursing, open until filled, applications under review.
  • Hospital Liaison and Research Coordinator (75%), College of Nursing-Tri-Cities, closed October 23, 2011, interviews in process.
  • Custodian 1, Facility Operations, closed October 12, 2011, position has been filled.
  • Media Technician Senior, College of Nursing - Yakima, interviews in process.
  • Office Assistant 2-ASWSUS (50%). Student Affairs, position closes December 14, 2011.
  • Professor/Chair, College of Pharmacy, open until filled. Research Study Coordinator 1, College of Pharmacy-Clinical Trials Group in the Department of Pharmacotherapy, open until filled.
  • Scientific Assistant, College of Pharmacy, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, open until filled. 
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Way to Go!

Way to Go, WSU Spokane students, faculty and staff! Because of you, the Second Harvest food drive hosted by the Associated Students of WSU Spokane and the WSU Spokane Office of Student Affairs was a wonderful success! 902 pounds of food was collected—564 more pounds than last year's drive! Thank you all for your contributions!
(from AWSU Spokane and WSU Spokane Student Affairs)

Here's where you make someone's day a little brighter by extending your thanks for a job well done. Send your "Way to Go!" comments to Judith Van Dongen and watch for your thanks to be published in an upcoming issue of the Campus Bulletin!
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The Bulletin is a monthly publication that is usually published on the second Wednesday of each month. The exact publication date may shift due to holidays. If you have an item that you'd like us to include, send it to us by Friday in the week before publication.

The Bulletin covers news of interest to the faculty, staff, and friends of Washington State University Spokane, and associates on other WSU campuses and on the Riverpoint Campus.

Regular columns cover professional accomplishments, opportunities for involvement in the campus community and the Spokane community, notices of new developments on campus, upcoming events, personnel changes, and other news.

The Bulletin also serves as a source of information for external communications directed to alumni, future and current students, and friends of Washington State University Spokane. You'll read it here first!

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Editorial staff