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Scholar of the Year

The Phi Kappa Phi Scholar of the Year is an annual chapter-based award for distinguished faculty at Central Washington University. Honorees are awarded at the annual Scholar of the Year presentation held during spring quarter each year.

Selection Process
Each year the chapter solicits nominations from the campus for the Scholar of the Year award. Faculty nominate deserving colleagues with a letter and curriculum vita, and the Executive Committee reviews materials and makes selection.

 2016-2017 Scholar of the Year

Dr. Jason Knirck Department of History

Jason Knirck is a modern Irish historian who also teaches British and Western European history. His research concerns the Irish revolution and the foundation of the Irish Free State, focusing particularly on the political rhetoric of the period. His monograph Afterimage of the Revolution: Cumann na nGaedheal and Irish Politics 1922-32, which deals with the relationship between the Free State political party Cumann na nGaedheal and the legacy of the Irish revolution, was released in 2014 by the University of Wisconsin Press. His current work focuses on the Irish Farmers' Party in the 1920s, and the roles played by opposition parties in the Free State parliament.  He is also co-editing with Ciara Meehan and Mel Farrell a collection of essays on Ireland in the 1920s that will be released in 2015 by Irish Academic Press. Before arriving at CWU in 2004, he taught for three years as an assistant professor at Humboldt State University. For more information about his research and how to contact him click here.

 2015-2016 Scholar of the Year

Dr. Lixing Sun Department of Biology

Dr. Sun has been at CWU since 1996, and during his tenure he has authored or co-authored over 30 scholarly papers in peer reviewed scientific journals on a diversity of topics ranging from developing new statistical methods for sampling beaver dispersal, to the interplay between biology and culture in human kinship.  Dr. Sun has also authored three popular and critically-acclaimed book, with a fourth one in progress.  These books have received awards and popular use in the fields of science education, biology, and the emerging field of the evolutionary psychology of “fairness.”  His third book, “The Fairness Instinct: The Robin Hood Mentality and our Biological Nature,” was published by Prometheus Books in 2013, and analyzes the psychological, social, and evolutionary consequences of the concept of fairness in different societies both past and present.  This book has attracted great interest and critical acclaim as it has become an important foundation of an exciting new discipline within the field of animal behavior and evolution.
Dr. Sun has also mentored numerous undergraduate and graduate students in their own projects and subsequent publications, and has been a long-time member of CWU’s Primate Behavior and Ecology Program, including serving as its Director.  Dr. Sun employs a multidisciplinary approach to studying the evolution of human behavior, society, and culture.  His interests and methods also draw upon anthropology, chemistry, mathematics, psychology, sociology, and economics. For more information on his research and how to contact him click here.

 2013-2014 Scholar of the Year

Dr. Linda Raubenson Department of Biological Sciences

Dr. Linda Raubenson is currently a professor in the Department of Biology at CWU. Dr. Raubenson received her PhD in Biology from Yale in 1991, and she teaches courses in evolution, genetics, plant taxonomy, and general biology.
Her research includes the phylogeny of seed plants, especially conifers; chloroplast genome evolution and the use of genomic data in phylogeny reconstruction; and conservation and ecological genetics of regional plant species. For more information on  her accomplishments and current research click here.

 2012-2013 Scholar of the Year

Dr. Matthew Altman Department of Philosophy

Matthew Altman earned his BA from Albion College in 1994 (with a double major in philosophy and English) and his PhD in philosophy from the University of Chicago in 2001. He joined the Philosophy & Religious Studies Department at CWU in 2003. Dr. Altman directed the Douglas Honors College from 2007-2013, and he is currently Associate Professor and Chair of the Department.

Dr. Altman’s research is primarily on German philosophy, especially the theoretical and practical philosophies of Kant and Fichte.Dr. Altman teaches several courses in applied ethics and the philosophy of law, and he has published articles on such topics as capital punishment, same-sex marriage, mandatory ultrasound laws, the use of torture on terrorist suspects, and the Syrian civil war. Currently his research is focused on the problem of other minds in early German Idealism, Fichte’s Vocation of Man, and the theory of punishment. For more information on his research and how to contact him click here.

 2010-2011 Scholar of the Year

Dr. Anne M. Johansen Department of Chemistry

Dr.Anne M Johansen is currently an associate proffessor  in the Department of Chemistry at CWU. She came to CWU in 2008 and is currently working on the following research projects with her students. Iron in the Marine Atmosphere, Ultra Fine Particulate (UFP) Matter and Health Effects, and Long-term Study of Precipitation and High Elevation Lakes Chemistry in Mt. Rainier National Park. She received her Ph.D. in Environmental Science Engineering, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA in 1999. For more information on  her accomplishments and current research click here.



 2009-2010 Scholar of the Year

Dr. Anthony Diaz Department of Chemistry

Dr.Anthony Diaz Currently serves as the department chair for the department of chemistry at cwu and as a professor of Inorganic Chemistry. He received his PHD from Oregan State University in 1996. Dr. Diaz’s research involves the study of electron-hole (e-h) pair transport and trapping in doped luminescent materials under vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) excitation.  Excitation by VUV radiation leads to the formation of an e-h pair in the host.  In order for luminescence to occur this e-h pair must be trapped by the rare earth dopant.  However, the electron may also be trapped by bulk killers (impurities or defects), or it may be lost to surface states. For more information on his research and accomlishments click here.

 2008-2009 Scholar of the Year.

Dr. Robert E. Holtfreter Department of Accounting

Dr. Holtfreter has taught at Central Washington University for more than 20 years. A recognized leader on campus, Dr. Holtfreter has received numerous awards for his professional service, research and teaching including the 2006 Association of Certified Fraud Examiners Educator of the Year and the 2001 Outstanding Educator Award from the Washington Society of Certified Public Accountants. From 1983 to 1990, he held the Grant Thornton Distinguished Professorship at Fort Hays State University in Kansas.

An esteemed leader in the field of accounting, Dr. Holtfreter’s career spans more than four decades. In addition to his professional leadership and achievement as a scholar, he has made a substantial impact through research and service leadership in the field of accounting. Most notably, Dr. Holtfreter is recognized for his efforts to provide continuing education related to fraudulent practices, security breaches and identity theft. For more information or to contact Dr. Holtfretter click here.

 2007-2008 Scholar of the Year

Dr. Jeffery Snedeker Department of Music

Dr. Jeffrey Snedeker has taught in the Music Department of Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington, since 1991.  His duties include teaching horn, music history, and brass literature and pedagogy, performing with the CWU Faculty Wind Quintet, and directing the CWU Brass Choir and CWU Horn Ensemble.  The CWUHE maintains an active outreach program for public schools, and has been an invited performing ensemble at numerous horn and music educator conferences, including the 28th, 30th, 33rd and 40th international workshops of the International Horn Society. He has served as Associate Chair of the Music Department and Chair of CWU’s Faculty Senate, as well as numerous department, college, and university committees. For More information on his accomplishments and how to contact him click here.

 2006-2007 Scholar of the Year

Dr. Tom Wellock Department of History

Thomas Wellock earned his MA from the University of Toledo and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in U.S. History. He specializes in teaching history courses on the environment, recent United States, American West, and Cold War foreign policy. In 2000, he was awarded Central's Alumni Association's Excellence in Teaching Award. He is the author of Critical Masses: Opposition to Nuclear Power in California, 1958-1978 (Wisconsin, 1998) and Preserving the Nation: The Conservation and Environmental Movements, 1870-2000. He left CWU in 2010 and is missed very much, the society wishes him the best in his future endeavers.



 2004-2005 Scholar of the Year

Dr. Dan Herman Department of History

Daniel Herman is an Arizona native who was educated in California (mostly) and who has since lived in places as far away as New Zealand. Herman specializes in American cultural history, American Indian history, the American West, Jacksonian America, and the Civil War. He has produced three books, twelve scholarly articles, and some thirty book reviews and encyclopedia articles.  His newest book, Rim Country Exodus: A Story of Conquest, Renewal, and Race in the Making (University of Arizona Press, 2012) examines the bloody and contradictory history of Apaches, Yavapais, settlers, and BIA agents in Arizona between 1864 and 1940.  To find out more about his acomplishments or to contact him click here.

 2003-2004 Scholar of the Year

Professor Joseph Powell Department of English

Joseph Powell grew up on a small farm in Ellensburg. He received his BA in English Literature from the University of Washington, an MA from Central Washington University, and a MFA from the University of Arizona. His first book of poems, Counting the Change, was selected by Ted Weiss to be published in the Quarterly Review of Literature; his second, Winter Insomnia, was published by Lex Runciman's Arrowood Books; his third, Getting Here, was also chosen by Weiss for the Quarterly Review of Literature. He has also co-written a book with Mark Halperin on meter in poetry: Accent On Meter: A Handbook for the Readers of Poetry, published by NCTE. He published a book of stories in 2007 called Fish Grooming & Other Stories from March Street Press and is currently working on a book of poems called Hard Earth." For more information on his achievements or how to contact him click here.

 2002-2003 Scholar of the Year

Dr. Paul W. James Department of Biological Sciences

Dr. Paul W James Ph.D is currently a professor at Central Washington University and teaches the following courses; General Biology, Introductory Biostatistics, General Ecology, Ichthyology, Limnology, Wildlife & Fisheries Ecology, and Ecological Field Techniques. He received his Ph.D. from Oklahoma State University apecializing in Zoology in1989. Currently he is conducting research on Fish ecology, stream ecology and investigating the impacts of fish barriers (culverts, small dams and diversions) on fish populations specifically in urban streams and along Interstate 90 through the central Washington Cascades. For more information about his research and how to contact him click here.

 2001-2002 Scholar of the year

Dr. Wesley Van Tassel Department of Theatrical Arts

Prior to coming to Central in 1991, he headed five theatres in the mid-west and served as chair of two college theatre departments. He has directed more than 100 productions, many with stage and screen stars. Dr. Van Tassel received his B.S. at Minnesota State University in Moorhead, his MA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and his PhD from the University of Denver. He has directed many CWU productions including The Comedy of Errors, The Merchant of Venice, The Grapes of Wrath, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Pump Boys and Dinettes, Dracula and wrote and directed an original musical adaptation of The Tortoise and the Hare. For more information about him and how to contact him click here.


 2000-2001 Scholar of the Year

 Dr. Karen J. Blair Department of History

Karen Blair grew up on Long Island, NY. She attended Mt. Holyoke College in Massachusetts for her B.A. and SUNY/Buffalo for her M. A. and Ph.D. in History. She has taught at CWU since 1987, balancing teaching with travel and research to explore the history of Pacific Northwest women and the history of women's voluntary associations in America. She devotes her spare time to playing classical piano, including ensemble performance with chamber musicians. She retired from CWU in 2014 and the society wishes her the best.


 1999-2000 Scholar of the Year

Dr. Patsy Callaghan Department of English

Patsy Callaghan received her BA and MA in English Education from the University of Washington. After teaching junior high English in the Seattle area, she moved to Eugene, Oregon, where she directed the Writing Tutor program and entered the doctoral program in English. While at the University of Oregon, she served five years as the Assistant Director of the Council for Minority Education, worked as a field researcher for the National Endowment for the Humanities, and completed a doctorate with emphasis in rhetoric, world literature, and folklore and mythology. In 1984, after teaching at Peninsula College for two years, she joined the faculty of CWU. While at Central, Patsy served as English department chair for eight years. For more information about her and how to contact click here.


 1998-1999 Scholar of the Year

Dr. Roger S. Fouts Department of Psychology 

Roger S. Fouts is a retired American primate researcher. He was co-founder and co-director of the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute (CHCI) in Washington, and a professor of psychology at the Central Washington University. He is best known for his role in teaching Washoe the chimpanzee to communicate using a set of signs taken from American sign language.

Fouts is an animal rights advocate, citing the New Zealand Animal Welfare Act as a model for legal rights for the Great Apes (Hominidae), and campaigning with British primatologist Jane Goodall for improved conditions for chimpanzees. He has written on animal law and on the ethics of animal testing. He is also an adviser to the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics.

 1997-1998 Scholar of the year


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