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Newsletter Spring 2023

Eastern Kentucky University Giving Day 2023 graphic

Giving Day, April 19


I hope you will save the date for Eastern Kentucky University’s Giving Day, set to take place on Wednesday, April 19. With a goal of 2,292 donors, this is the largest #GiveBigE goal ever, representing the number of EKU graduates last spring. In the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences (CLASS), we are working toward a college goal of 125 donors in support of this year’s Giving Day efforts. I hope that our CLASS alumni and friends will be inspired to join me in support of EKU on April 19. Your gift to CLASS, no matter the size, is an investment in excellence. Gifts from alumni and friends like you have created so many important opportunities for our students.

“While at EKU, I hope to become more of who I am and learn what it takes to really thrive as my own person. My true hopes lie in my future, where I hope to open my own counseling center and help children in need who can’t afford or don’t have the ability to access the help they may need. With the help of this scholarship, I can move forward in my plan to give back to the community that has given so much to me.” – Cassidy, Psychology Major and Scholarship Recipient

The CLASS Fund for Excellence will offer transformative learning experiences for students:

    • Study abroad trips
    • Professional conferences to present their research
    • Performance opportunities to showcase artistic achievements
    • Primatology and archaeology field schools
    • Artist and writer residencies
    • Internships with museums, schools, historical sites, professional organizations, government and non-profit agencies
    • Distinguished guest lectures, masterclasses, performances, workshops

Dr. Mercy Cannon Dean
College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences


Giles Gallery Grand Reopening, March 31. 5:00 – 8:00 pm


The bronze doors of the Fred Parker Giles Gallery with bronze paint surround.

Bronze paint to hug the bronze doors at Fred Parker Giles Gallery

The EKU Giles Gallery celebrates its 50-year golden anniversary after a much anticipated renovation, the first of its kind since the Jane F. Campbell building opened its doors in 1973.

To inaugurate the newly renovated university art gallery we are honored to display the creative research of 20 past and present faculty members from the EKU School of Art and Design.

This significant faculty retrospective, Giles Gallery Golden Grand Opening, will commence with a free public reception on Friday, March 31 from 5-8 PM. The free reception will include special guest performances from the EKU School of Music.

The Giles Gallery Golden Grand Opening faculty exhibit will be on public view March 31 – April 19, 2023. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram for more details, @EKUGilesGallery.


Social Work Master’s Grad Inspires Others

MSW Graduates from left to right: Keri Baker, Stephanie Burris, and Leah Russo.

Eastern Kentucky University held fall commencement ceremonies on Dec. 3, 2022, to celebrate over 1,200 students achieving their degrees.

Students from this graduation class hail from 11 countries, 40 states and 94 Kentucky counties and range in age from 19 to 71.

The 71-year-old graduate, Keri Baker, returned to EKU after a career in California to earn a master’s in social work and a certificate in mental health.

Baker said achieving her master’s degree and the experience she got along with it was thanks to the faculty and staff who make up the social work program—especially her advisor, Kelly Cogar, and the people in the Noel Studio who were instrumental in her educational success.

EKU Libraries Launches Free English 101 Textbook


Dr. Jill Parrott and Dr. Dominic Ashby pose with poster for The Commons: Tools for Reading, Writing, and Rhetoric

Dr. Jill Parrott and Dr. Dominic Ashby pose with a poster for The Commons: Tools for Reading, Writing, and Rhetoric.

Eastern Kentucky University is a School of Opportunity with an aligned vision to remove barriers prohibiting student success.

Through the EKU Board of Regents Innovation Grant funding, faculty from EKU’s English department partnered with EKU Libraries to publish “The Commons: Tools for Reading, Writing, and Rhetoric,” an open education resource (OER) for first-year students in English 101 courses.

This free textbook was created with EKU students specifically in mind and with careful consideration to their needs, interests and classroom experiences.


Serving Those Who Served

Travis Martin poses at a memorial

Dr. Travis Martin at a veterans memorial.

It all started at EKU, with Dr. Travis Martin, ’09 ’11 ’20, veteran and now director of the Kentucky Center for Veterans Studies. Just over a decade ago while working on a master’s in English, Martin began researching the ways veterans use writing “as a way to process the experience of war and define themselves after service.”

As Martin became immersed in his studies and research, more questions arose around the broader subject of veterans from an academic perspective. Does society understand veterans at all, he wondered? With such diversity among veterans and their experiences, why do we embrace stereotypes? Why does society want to fix veterans and not consider fixing the world to which they return?

CLASS Alumnus Lends a Hand in St. Vincent and the Grenadines


Andy Stofleth

Andy Stofleth

CLASS alumnus Andy Stofleth has been working with SBP (formerly known as St. Bernard Project) for the last five years to aid communities impacted by natural disasters.

SBP is a non-profit organization which provides vulnerable communities with resilience training and helps to rebuild after natural disasters have occurred. Stofleth currently serves as executive director for SBP’s operations in the Caribbean region.

On Sept. 1, 2019, the Bahamas suffered extensive damage from the Category 5 winds of Hurricane Dorian. According to SBP’s website, with Stofleth’s leadership, SBP has since been able to rebuild the Grand Bahama Children’s Home as well as homes for 550 families. SBP has also provided mold remediation training for more than 500 people and works with other nonprofit organizations to supply clean water to 400 people daily.

In January of 2023, Stofleth and SBP announced the start of a new partnership program with the Roads Buildings and General Services Authority of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to help rebuild homes following volcanic eruptions that occurred on the islands in 2021. The program will use concrete blocks made with volcanic ash to help rebuild more than 60 homes.

In a post about the project launch on his LinkedIn page, Stofleth said, “I couldn’t be more excited that this project is finally underway in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. For the better part of a year, we’ve been conducting testing and gathering data on volcanic ash for use in block making and collaborating with our partners BRAGSA to build a working facility to scale our production… Now we roll up our sleeves and do the real work.”

Stofleth graduated magna cum laude from EKU in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations. During his time at EKU, Stofleth was awarded College of Business and Technology Distinguished Senior Award and a Phi Kappa Phi Chapter Fellowship.


Student Spotlight: Claire Bailey


Claire Bailey

Claire Bailey

A sophomore at Eastern Kentucky University spun her way to an all-expenses paid trip to London, England on February 1. Claire Bailey is a psychology major joined by other EKU students hopeful to hear their name at the “Spin the Wheel” event; the spring 2023 event gave 14 students the chance to win a free study abroad trip. Bailey’s study abroad opportunity is funded by the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences, which supports these transformational experiences for students.

Bailey was not expecting to hear her name read from the jar holding names of entrants. “I did not think that I would win,” Bailey stated.

Bailey chose to take a two-week psychology course on Dracula taught by EKU’s Robert Mitchell. “I took an abnormal psychology class and wrote a case study on Dracula, and it was kind of interesting to take the class.”

The itinerary for this summer’s trip has not been released, but Bailey noted she looks forward to the Jack the Ripper tour. She had enrolled in Mitchell’s study abroad course before “Spin the Wheel,” and was planning to go regardless of whether her name was drawn.

Bailey’s friend, Sarah Williams, is a fellow EKU student studying pre-ASL and English interpretation with plans to also study abroad this summer. Williams was the first outside of the O’Donnell Auditorium to know of Bailey’s luck in the event.

“We both work at the Noel Studio and I started a shift at five and she got off at five…and I got called right before five o’clock, so I had to text her (asking) if she could cover my shift for a bit (because) my name just got called.”

The free international trip is not the only unique aspect of Bailey’s future experience, though. Born and raised in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, she has never been out of the country or on a plane. “I’m terrified of heights, but we’ll see how that goes. I just won’t look out the window.”

In addition to the Jack the Ripper tour, Bailey hopes the experience in London will “give me a new perspective… it’s not too much different from the U.S.A… but it’s still a lot different and I get to experience a new culture.”

Mitchell’s study abroad cohort leaves for London on June 3 and will return June 24. Bailey is excited for the opportunity to study abroad with all expenses paid, learn about the psychology of Dracula, and a different culture.

Get more information about the Spin the Wheel event.


Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Theresa Botts


Theresa Botts

Dr. Theresa Botts

Dr. Theresa Botts received the 2022 Distinguished Career in Psychology Award at the Kentucky Psychological Association Annual Convention in Louisville on November 10th, 2022, for her contributions to the field of psychology and her community. Department Chair Dr. Michael Chen praises Dr. Botts as a longtime champion of diversity and mental health at Eastern Kentucky University. She was recognized with EKU’s Presidential Award for Excellence in Diversity in 2022, which came as “no surprise to the many under-represented and graduate students who benefited from Theresa’s mentorship over the past decades.” Dr. Chen continues, “In addition to advising and mentorship, Theresa also directed the Department’s co-op program for many years, connecting students with local internship opportunities. Theresa is a humble and low-key person, but a valued colleague trusted by all.”

Colleague Dr. Michael McClellan notes, “Everywhere I go around the state Theresa’s name comes up and people speak so warmly of her. She has left such a positive and lasting impact on cohort after cohort of students who have passed through our department and who know her affectionally as ‘Mama Botts’ for her fierce support of them. She is embedded and active in so many community and social justice-focused projects at EKU and in our larger local and state-wide community to count; she has touched countless lives in her role as a clinician, clinical supervisor, and director of our Psychology Clinic; she is an excellent friend, mentor, colleague, and leader; and she is always the first person I call when I run into an ethical issue I need help talking through or just need a brighter outlook on life.”

“Dr. Botts has been a tireless advocate for providing excellent training opportunities to our students through her direction of the Psychology Clinic,” writes Dr. Dustin Wygant. “Her direction of the Clinic has helped thousands of students and people in the community. Dr. Botts is a champion of improving our appreciation of diversity and utilizing evidence-based practices to help those we work with in the Clinic. She is an amazing mentor, teacher, colleague, and friend.” Congratulations, Dr. Botts, on your decades of excellence, achievement, leadership, and service!


College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences

521 Lancaster Ave.
103 Roark Bldg.
Richmond, Kentucky 40475
Phone: 859-622-2222