Whatcom welcomes new division chair

By Monique Everett

Rhonda Daniels, English teacher, and previous head of the English Department at Whatcom is the new Arts and Humanities division chair.

              “I’m excited about learning new things, and developing new relationships with people on campus that I haven’t worked with before,” Daniels said.

Overlooking budgets, and supporting department chairs through scheduling and staffing, Daniels connects with the Vice President of Instruction, and with other division chairs to disseminate information to the faculty.

 “Each division chair brings his or her own personality and character to the position,” Prior division chair for the Arts and Humanities Division, Bob Winters said.

            Daniels teaches English composition courses, and this summer led her own study abroad program to Scotland teaching Scottish literature.

            “We traveled 1,987 miles around Scotland reading literature at ruined castles, at fairy pools, and at battle fields. It’s been the highlight of my career so far,” Daniels said.

            Daniels also helped develop a book called “Thinking Vertically,” for English 101 classes as a way of bringing down textbook costs.

“I teach a lot of composition courses, and love working with my students. I can say nothing negative about my experience here at Whatcom,” Daniels said.

            Before transferring to Western Washington University Daniels attended Whatcom where she said she was terrified of English.

 “I didn’t go into English with an open mind, but my mind was opened by a very understanding professor named Brian Patterson,” Daniels said.

The general required classes students need to transfer can often spark irritation for those who aren’t interested in the subject.

“We complain a lot about general required classes, but the reality is someone could take geology, and suddenly discover they have a love of rocks,” Daniels said.

Graduating from Western with a Masters in English, Daniels said teaching her first grammar class was scary since there’s so much to remember.

    “I try to tell my students we’re not all perfect. I still send out emails with type-o’s and run-on’s,” Daniels said.

As a direct line from the administrative part of the college to the faculty Daniels serves as a facilitator for communication she said.

“It used to be that the division board had some supervisory role, but we are still faculty so we’re actually on equal ground,” Daniels said.

Making classroom observations of division faculty, and providing authorization for hiring and leave requests, were supervisory duties Winters carried out while Division chair he said.

“Those supervisory duties are now shifted to the Vice President for Instruction and the non-faculty members of the instructional leadership team,” Winters said.

The Arts and Humanities division has just started a t-shirt campaign inspired by a design full time art faculty member, Rob Beishline created.

The shirt reads, “We are all in this together.”

“We want students to know we are here for them. There’s a lot going on politically, a lot of stress just from going to school, and with life in general. We are all in this together,” Daniels said.

            Daniels has come a long way from being a student afraid of English to her new position as Division chair of Arts and Humanities.

            “A deeply rooted commitment to servant-leadership and nurturing future leaders are essential qualities for successfully navigating the demands of the position,” Winters said

            As a person who has reached great heights, Daniels said she thinks she has the traits for the job.

“I’m willing to listen to multiple perspectives. I’m also willing to learn from my mistakes because they are made, they happen,” Daniels said.

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