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Spring 2024 Newsletter

Eastern Kentucky University brick wall with university name and flowers in the foreground

Photo by Carsen Bryant

A welcome message from the Dean

Dean Mercy Cannon

Dean Mercy Cannon

Spring is in bloom on the Campus Beautiful!

CLASS is proud of the students who are working diligently in their classes. They are also taking advantage of all the opportunities outside of the classroom. From internships to study abroad to career preparation to volunteer efforts, CLASS students show that they are deeply engaged in their educational experience. It is our highest purpose to educate students, and on the heels of a successful EKU Giving Day, I thank you for contributing to the many foundation funds and scholarships that support students’ academic goals.

This newsletter offers a glimpse of the outstanding work being done in the College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences.



EKU Anthropology Students Dig Into the Past with Dr. Endonino

Students and teacher conducting a dig in a field

Students conducting a “site survey” intended to locate evidence of suspected homes of enslaved people who lived at Clermont/White Hall.

EKU anthropology students’ summer field experience allowed them to explore Kentucky’s historical record from the ground up. Dr. Jon Endonino set up this experience at White Hall, former home of Cassius Clay and his son Green Clay. Professor Endonino has been developing research related to the property since 2012.

Students excavating a limestone wall foundation

Students excavating the remnants of limestone wall foundations that are associated with a domestic structure

When asked about the field experience, Dr. Endonino wrote: “After a hiatus and formation of new research questions we returned in summer 2023 to locate archaeological remains associated with the settlement of Tanners Station and early Clermont, dating from about 1780 to 1820. We also located the blacksmith shop.”

A student conducts an electrical resistivity survey in the field.

EKU graduate Zac Jones conducting an electrical resistivity survey.

Endonino’s students staked the grounds and were able to unearth multiple artifacts that tell the story of the people who lived and worked on the property. Enslaved people had small houses on the perimeter of the grounds; a kitchen separate from the main house safeguarded against cooking fires.

Anthropology Junior Lauren Breiner, when discussing her experience at White Hall stated: “Something interesting we found in the near my excavation unit was a teacup. I found out the things that you could learn from certain objects, the history that goes along with it.” Teacups, hand-manufactured nails, and iron pieces from the kitchen shed light on daily life in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Kentucky.

As EKU contributes to a deeper understanding of local history, students also gain technical skills, foundational knowledge and

thorough preparation to develop their own critical mindset around issues of the past, present, and future of Kentucky.

EKU’s Anthropology program offers the archaeology field school every other year; in summer 2025 students will return to Daniel Boone National Forest.

The Appalachian Studies program undergoes revamp


Map of Appalachia

Kentucky, alongside 12 other states, make up the Appalachian region. A number of EKU’s students call the region home, so more visibility of the program and continued services it provides can result in connection among students. Photo Courtesy of the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)

Story courtesy of Eastern Progress

Started around 25 years ago by a group of sociology professors, the Appalachian Studies program at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) focuses on analyzing the region as a place, identity, and academic discipline, and is offered in the form of a minor and certificate and can be added towards a degree of any kind. During that time, it has experienced a number of changes, from budget reallocations and other modifications. As a result, the program is not as well-known on campus as it once was. With the addition of  a new coordinator, however, the program is experiencing a revamp and looking to offer opportunities for connection and collaboration within EKU and the community.

Professor of English and the new coordinator of Appalachian Studies Erin Presley is energetic about her new role in the program and looks forward to creating a bigger presence on campus, and reengaging students, faculty, and staff.

“One of the things I want to work on is expanding course offerings so that we are in more disciplines,” said Presley. “It’s a pretty good mix right now but we are pretty heavy in CLASS (College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences), so I’d like to build more interdisciplinary relationships.”

The Appalachian Studies program has many courses that are cross-listed with other disciplines on campus, but Presley is looking to add even more to the mix.

“The main thing is I want there to be more course options,” Presley said. “Some students have already taken all the classes so that’s proving a roadblock for students to be able to complete the minor in a timely fashion, so I want to eliminate that roadblock by having more.”

With heavy interdisciplinary coursework already in place and more being planned, this program will be able to reach more students with diverse interests.

Read the full story

EKU and SCC to Offer Social Work Degree


EKU President David McFaddin & Sommerset Community College President Carey Castle

EKU President David McFaddin & Sommerset Community College President Carey Castle

Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) and Somerset Community College (SCC) are proud to announce a collaborative partnership to enhance educational opportunities for students pursuing careers in social work. The two institutions have entered into an agreement to establish an articulation and transfer plan through the University Center of Southern Kentucky (UCSK), facilitating a seamless transfer pathway for students to earn an associate in arts (AA) degree from SCC and transfer to earn a Bachelor of Social work from EKU on SCC’s campus.

This partnership underscores the commitment of both institutions to foster a more accessible and streamlined transfer pathway while promoting credit transferability and academic excellence. Through a pathway with an AA degree at SCC, students can transfer seamlessly from SCC to EKU, maximizing their educational potential and career prospects.

Key highlights of the partnership agreement include:

  1. Priority Admission: Upon successful completion of the AA degree at SCC, participating students will be granted priority admission to EKU’s Bachelor of Social Work program and complete their EKU courses on SCC’s campus through the UCSK.
  2. Credit Transfer: EKU will accept the credit hours from the AA degree at SCC towards the Bachelor of Social Work degree, enabling students to progress efficiently through the program.
  3. Mutual Oversight: EKU and SCC are committed to monitoring and supporting students through the UCSK to ensure program quality, consistency, and transferability for the benefit of students.

Dr. Carey Castle, President of Somerset Community College, expressed enthusiasm about the partnership, stating, “This collaboration represents a significant step forward in our mission to provide accessible, high-quality education to our students. By joining forces with Eastern Kentucky University, we empower individuals to pursue rewarding careers in social work while meeting the region’s growing demand for skilled professionals.”

“With social work being among the 20 most-needed professions in the state, access to EKU’s degree program is crucial for addressing social issues such as poverty, inequality, mental health and family dynamics,” said EKU President David McFaddin. “Social workers’ efforts have the potential to transform individual lives and entire communities, creating transformative change for generations to come. We are honored to extend the reach of this exceptional EKU program and contribute to the continued success of this region.”

Both EKU and SCC are dedicated to upholding the highest accreditation standards and compliance with accrediting bodies such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and the Council for Social Work Education.

Alumni Spotlight: Wylie Caudill


Local Artist Wylie Caudill with his dog

Wylie Caudill

Story courtesy of Eastern Progress

Kentucky serves as the birthplace of several talents across the artistic and musical spheres. Wylie Caudill, a Cynthiana native and Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) alumni, is no different. Known for his large-scale mural work across the state, Caudill attended EKU to pursue a degree in broadcasting.

“When I was touring EKU, the broadcasting department was kind of telling me about their film program — the film oriented things you (EKU) had to offer,” Caudill said.  “And it was close to home, and I had a scholarship there so I think that’s how I kind of made the decision,” said Caudill.

While working on his degree, Caudill was drawn to the artistic opportunities EKU had to offer. EKU’s concrete served as his canvas. Caudill, utilizing chalk, began creating art across campus, earning him the endearing title, ‘the chalk guy.’

“I did a lot of chalk art around campus and just became known as the chalk guy for the three years I attended EKU and that built up a big following from my Instagram and my social media accounts,” said Caudill.

According to Caudill, he graduated EKU with an Instagram following of close to 2,000; now, Caudill celebrates a combined 250,000 followers across Instagram and Tiktok. Caudill’s work in chalk led him into the world of large-scale art, painting his first mural for The Stave, a restaurant in Frankfort, after graduating.

“I started to get a lot of inquiries about large scale art, in general, just because people knew about my chalk art from college and it really just sort of snowballed from there and that’s how I started doing murals,” said Caudill.

According to Caudill, he’s had the opportunity to work alongside several large-scale brands, including MTV, Mountain Dew, and YouTube.

Most recently, Caudill was named the official artist for the 2024 Kentucky Derby.

Read the full story






Student Spotlight: Rosemary Kelly, Broadcast and Electronic Media and JC Dyer, History and Sociology


Honors Students Rosemary Kelly and JC Dyer

EKU Honors Students Rosemary Kelly and JC Dyer at the NCHC

Eastern Kentucky University’s (EKU) Honors Program has had more than 1,100 student presenters at the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC) annual meeting since 1990—a total exceeding that of any other university in the nation. Over the past decade, EKU students have earned two NCHC poster awards. Notably, at this year’s NCHC awards alone, EKU Honors students took home two poster awards.

Rosemary Kelley, a senior first-generation college student from Berea, Kentucky, won first place as the conference’s “Best Poster” in the Social Sciences for her research on grandparents raising grandchildren in Appalachia as a result of the opioid crisis.

Kelley was one of three EKU Colonels in the spotlight at the NCHC meeting. Senior history and sociology major JC Dyer was awarded second place in the humanities category for his research poster on the Godzilla movie franchise, and senior Ximena Patiño Enríquez, a first-generation college student and nursing major, was among the nominees for NCHC Student of the Year.

Dyer said, “The award means a lot for me because it shows that people enjoy my work and are excited about it. It is one of the best feelings when someone recognizes you for the passionate work you’ve undertaken.”

Read the full story


Faculty Spotlight: Dr. David Blaylock

Dr. David Blaylock and Dr. Jennifer Spock

Dr. David Blaylock and Dr. Jennifer Spock

As finals loom, CLASS faces a bittersweet moment: the retirement of beloved history professor Dr. David Blaylock, who has shaped countless minds for over three decades. As Department Chair Dr. Tim Smit notes, “Dr. Blaylock has been an integral part of the department for more than thirty years; we’ll miss him but are glad to see him begin a well-earned retirement.”

Dr. Blaylock’s journey began with a B.A. in History from University of North Carolina, Greensboro, an M.A. in Asian Studies from Washington University, St. Louis, and a Ph.D. in East Asian History from The Ohio State University in 1992. He started as an assistant professor at EKU in 1993. 

Over the past 31 years Dr Blaylock has inspired students with his passion for East Asian and Japanese history, offering classes such as “Japan: Samurai to Superpower.” Generations of students have enjoyed his General Education courses on world civilizations, History Methods and Research classes, and topics in his area of specialization. And he supported the academic journey of History and History Teaching majors for years as one of two academic advisors in the department — at one time advising over 200 majors!   

Dr. Blaylock has focused his scholarship on Japanese business history with a focus on the Meiji period (1868-1912). He has written encyclopedia articles on Japanese and Chinese history for the Encyclopedia of Modern Asia and Great Events from History, presented numerous scholarly papers at conferences, and contributed book reviews to academic journals. Dr. Blaylock was the advisor for Chinese Literature, An Introduction by Ihor Pidhainy. His professional service includes board membership and conference chair for the Southeastern Regional Conference of the Association for Asian Studies.

On a personal note, Dr. Blaylock found love in the History department when he met Dr. Jenn Spock, who was hired into the History department as EKU’s first specialist in Russian and East European history. They married in 2007 and can often be seen taking a morning walk along Lancaster. 

From his dedication to guiding students through historical complexities to his infectious enthusiasm, Dr. Blaylock has made learning an unforgettable experience. Maggie Kendrick, a history and anthropology student, affirms Professor Blaylock’s impact: “I know I speak for myself and many others when I say we will greatly miss Dr. Blaylock; in his time here at Eastern, he has been a beacon of wisdom and a steady hand of guidance. His classes were engaging and he always showed the students his passion for knowledge of the past. Our history department won’t be the same without him, but we wish him the best and happiest years of retirement! They are so well deserved!”


We honor Dr. Blaylock’s indelible impact and celebrate his legacy. Best wishes for a wonderful retirement! 

College of Letters, Arts, and Social Sciences

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