college of liberal arts

More Americans want government to stay out of international affairs

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The number of Americans wanting their government to stay out of international affairs is higher than it has been since the Vietnam War, according to a new analysis.

In an article published this week in Orbis: A Journal of World Affairs, Oregon State University historian Christopher McKnight Nichols notes that doubts about American involvement abroad are on the rise, up 10 percent in a decade. He connects current reluctance on the part of many Americans to get involved militarily and politically with foreign nations to a long-standing tradition in U.S. politics.

“Virtually all isolationists in the history of the United States have subscribed to some form of international engagement, whether that is economic, cultural, political or intellectual,” he said. “There is no such thing as a complete isolationist. What we do have is a rich history of Americans who have taken on isolationist or anti-interventionist beliefs at different times, and helped transform or influence the political system and policy.”

Nichols, an assistant professor in the School of History, Philosophy, and Religion at OSU, is an expert on isolationism, internationalism, and the history of U.S. roles in the world and military interventions abroad.

In his article, he links the “heyday” of American isolationism of the 1920s and 1930s to current events, including polls showing nearly 70 percent of Americans reject further U.S. efforts to intervene or to promote democracy abroad.

Nichols also wants to take back the term “isolationist” from its common stereotype of a conservative mindset that wants to wall off from the outside world. Famous figures, ranging from peace activist Jane Addams and racial reformer W.E.B. Du Bois to writer Mark Twain and former U.S. Sen. William Borah, a nationalist who opposed the League of Nations, have all favored anti-war and anti-imperialistic isolationist policies.

“They say politics makes strange bedfellows, and we can certainly trace this with the isolationist movement, which tended to attract people on both the far left and far right,” Nichols said. “Today we see that same sort of tendency with some young anti-war activists supporting someone like Ron Paul.”

Most of these type of isolationist sentiments can be traced to three “policy pillars” – expressed by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe – in laying out the relationship between domestic and foreign commitments, types of diplomatic and military isolation, and debates over foreign policy cautiousness that have had a deep impact on U.S. foreign relations for more than a century.

“These are the touchstones for all foreign policy debate, then and since,” he said. “The key precepts were: no permanent alliances or binding foreign entanglements, peace and honest friendship with all nations, enhancing and protecting international commerce, heralding unilateral action, and asserting U.S. rights to hemispheric defense and a wide sphere of primary U.S. influence abroad.”

Nichols said that isolationism as a strain of thought that informs how American citizens and policymakers evaluate options abroad and sometimes sways policy cannot be overstated. Eight years ago there were far more troops on the ground overseas than today, and he said President Obama has shown a reluctance to put “boots on the ground” in places like Libya and Syria, causing some of his critics to call him a “neo-isolationist.”

“With President Obama, we are back to small-scale, multilateral interventions, more like those that we had in the Clinton era,” Nichols said. “During Clinton’s presidency, the U.S. deployed forces abroad approximately 80 times in foreign humanitarian and peacekeeping operations, but these were mostly conflicts with small troop footprints, or Special Forces, characterized by few American causalities.

“In the wake of the Iraq War, in light of the drawdown in Afghanistan, and given pressing economic and political concerns at home, the U.S. public is increasingly reluctant to sacrifice American lives or to materially support intervention and aid abroad.”

Nichols is the author of “Promise and Peril: America at the Dawn of a Global Age,” which traces the origins of isolationism back to the debates over U.S. imperialism at the end of the 19th century and its continuities over the next-half century.

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Dana Biggs hired as athletic bands director at Oregon State University

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Dana Biggs, assistant director of bands at the University of Colorado, has been hired as the new director of athletic bands at Oregon State University.

Biggs fills the vacancy left by Brad Townsend, who has accepted a position as athletic bands director at the University of Pittsburgh.

“Dana has a tremendous record of success at the collegiate level,” said Christopher Chapman, OSU director of bands. “His drill design and show concepts are innovative and exciting to collegiate football fans and students alike. His experience in the Pac-12 Conference has allowed him to watch the OSU band from afar and he is now excited to join our team.”

Biggs plans to move to Corvallis in July and hit the ground running, designing new pre-game and halftime shows for the Oregon State University Marching Band in time for the summer’s band camp and the fall football season.

Prior to his position in Colorado, he served as acting associate director of bands at the University of Kentucky and as assistant professor of music and director of bands at University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Ky.

Media Contact: 

Christopher Chapman, 541-737-8829

Marion Rossi appointed associate dean of OSU’s College of Liberal Arts

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Marion Rossi, director of the School of Arts and Communication and associate professor of theater arts, has been appointed associate dean in Oregon State University’s College of Liberal Arts.

Rossi’s appointment comes on the heels of a $5 million gift dedicated to the arts that was given earlier this year by an anonymous donor – the largest for the arts Oregon State has ever received.

“Marion Rossi has a longstanding reputation as a leader in the arts community at Oregon State,” said Larry Rodgers, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “As associate dean, he will not only continue to elevate the arts but will dedicate himself to enhancing every school in the college.”

As associate dean, Rossi will also focus on curricular innovations and alignment, as well as building the college’s connections and collaboration within the university.

“The arts, humanities and social sciences not only generate their own particularized knowledge, they shape our ways of understanding the human experience,” Rossi said. “I look forward to further engaging with colleagues around the university and creating new opportunities for our students.”

Rossi will replace associate dean Michael Oriard, who retires from Oregon State with 37 years of service on June 30.

Media Contact: 

Larry Rodgers, 541-737-4581

Auditions for summer Bard in the Quad production to be held May 28-29

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Open auditions for Oregon State University Theatre’s popular summer outdoor event Bard in the Quad will take place Tuesday, May 28, and Wednesday, May 29, beginning at 6 p.m. at Withycombe Hall’s main stage, 30th and Campus Way, Corvallis.

This summer, Bard in the Quad will present Shakespeare’s “Comedy of Errors.” This tale of comic misunderstanding, mistaken identity, and love lost and found will be transported to the wild world of the reality television show “Jersey Shore.”

Auditions are open to all OSU students, staff, and faculty and community members and will consist of cold readings and movement exercises. Performance dates for “Comedy of Errors” are Aug. 8-11 and Aug. 15-18. Rehearsals will begin on June 16. All cast members must be available to attend all rehearsals and productions.

A cast of 12 players is needed for the play.

For more information, go to http://oregonstate.edu/dept/theatre/auditions or contact director Elizabeth Helman at Elizabeth.helman@oregonstate.edu

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Robert Michael Pyle to appear at OSU for Campus Creature Census Celebration

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Master naturalist and author Robert Michael Pyle will be the featured guest at the Campus Creature Census Celebration, which will be held Thursday, May 23, at 7 p.m. in the International Living and Learning Center at Oregon State University.

The center is located at 1701 S.W. Western Blvd. in Corvallis.

Winning artwork and photography will be on display, and prose and poetry winners will share their entries at the event, which is free and open to the public.

Sponsored by OSU’s Spring Creek Project, the Campus Creature Census is an ongoing invitation to engage with all non-human creatures. According to Charles Goodrich, director of Spring Creek, the goal of the event is to create a catalog of person-to-person encounters with all the flora and fauna on campus, in prose or poetry, visual art or photography, or field guide-type entry.

Pyle is one of the Pacific Northwest’s premier lepidopterists and the author of award-winning books informed by his engagement with nature. His books include “Wintergreen: Rambles in a Ravaged Land,” “Where Bigfoot Walks: Crossing the Dark Divide,” and his latest, “The Tangled Bank.”

For more information, go to http://springcreek.oregonstate.edu/

Media Contact: 

Charles Goodrich, 541-737-6198

Noted Native American storyteller Joseph Bruchac to perform May 9

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Noted Native American author and storyteller Joseph Bruchac will perform in Corvallis on Thursday, May 9, and then give a talk the following day at Oregon State University’s new Native American Longhouse. Both events are free and open to the public.

Bruchac will perform “Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Music,” on May 9 beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library. His talk at the longhouse on Friday, May 10, “Seeing Nature through a Native American Language,” begins at 3 p.m.

He is the author of more than 120 books for adults and children, including the best-selling “Keepers of the Earth” series (with Michael Caduto), which uses traditional American Indian stories to teach science. There are more than one million copies in print.

Bruchac is founder and executive director of the Greenfield Review Literary Center and The Greenfield Review Press. He has edited a number of anthologies of contemporary poetry and fiction, including “Songs from this Earth on Turtle's Back” and “Breaking Silence,” which won an American Book Award.

His work as an educator includes three years of volunteer teaching in Ghana and 12 years at Skidmore College, where he taught English and directed a college program inside a maximum security prison.

As a professional teller of the traditional tales of the Adirondacks and the native peoples of the Northeastern woodlands, Bruchac has performed widely in Europe and throughout the United States. He has been featured at the British Storytelling Festival and the National Storytelling Festival.

In advance of his Corvallis visit, Bruchac will be writer-in-residence for the Long-Term Ecological Reflections program at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, which is co-sponsored by the Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word and the U.S. Forest Service. His May 9 performance is co-sponsored with the Friends of the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library.

For more information, call 541-737-6198, or go online to http://springcreek.oregonstate.edu/

Media Contact: 

Charles Goodrich, 541-737-6198

50th anniversary of historic Everest climb

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Fifty years ago this spring, the first American mountaineers to scale the world’s tallest mountain accomplished that feat in a manner that still has the climbing world in awe today. The ascent of Mt. Everest by Willi Unsoeld and Tom Hornbein is considered one of the greatest climbing achievements in history.

A graduate of Oregon State University, Unsoeld later served on the faculty of the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Oregon State before taking a leave of absence to join the Peace Corps and embarking upon his historic trek.

It was a quest that would cost Unsoeld nine of his toes from frostbite, but cement his reputation as one of the country’s greatest climbers and give birth to a legacy of adventure-seeking that today still thrives at Oregon State University.

Josh Norris, director of the Adventure Leadership Institute for OSU’s Department of Recreational Sports, said that Unsoeld’s philosophy of life is as compelling to students today as tales of his climbing triumphs.

“When Willi was in his late 40s, he could out-climb just about anyone around even though he was missing almost all of his toes and had an artificial hip,” Norris said. “He was a strong personality and was most at home when he was in the outdoors, in touch with what he called ‘the sacred,’ or nature. His basic philosophy was that if you didn’t experience life to its fullest, you weren’t really living.”

That philosophy is what led to the Mt. Everest achievement. Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first climbers to scale the world’s tallest peak in 1953, taking a southern route. In the subsequent decade, only one other successful climb took place, using that same route.

Ten years later, the National Geographic Society sponsored an ascent that resulted in dual attempts. Two American climbers would follow the southern route; Unsoeld and Hornbein opted to go for the western route, which was considered a near-impossible climb.

The difficulty of the route was not the only challenge; the climbers would have to carry all of their gear on their backs – no base camp, no porters, and no way back.

“They were totally going for broke,” said Norris, who has become a bit of a historian in researching OSU’s mountain climbing past. “They had no camp to retreat to, so they decided to traverse the peak. They had to make it to the top from the west and descend on a different route. That daredevil approach is why Willi joined the team – he didn’t want to try a route that someone else had already done.”

Scaling a 29,000-foot peak in the bitter cold, and carrying all of the necessary food, ropes, oxygen and other supplies on your back is almost beyond comprehension by today’s standards.

“Last year a group of climbers tried to recreate the Unsoeld-Hornbein climb,” Norris said, “and they did not succeed – even with modern equipment.”

After the successful ascent and summit on May 22, 1963, Unsoeld was hospitalized for weeks in Nepal. Oregon State president A.L. Strand sent a letter to faculty and staff seeking donations to help pay for his medical care; when he took leave from the university he lost his health insurance.

Eventually, Unsoeld returned to the United States and became a founding faculty member of Evergreen College in Washington. He died in 1979 at the age of 52, leading a group of Evergreen students on a climb of Mt. Rainier when he was buried in an avalanche.

Norris said that Unsoeld’s spirit has carried on at Oregon State. In 1988, OSU graduate Stacy Allison became the first American woman to scale Mt. Everest.

Today, the university’s Adventure Leadership Institute, which was founded in 1947 with undergraduate Unsoeld as a charter member, draws students to outdoor activities, Norris said. Some 9,500 annually participate in classes or outdoor activities, which include climbing, kayaking, hiking, cycling and other pursuits.

“It is more than just experiencing outdoor adventures,” Norris said, “the institute is about instilling the qualities of leadership and spirit that Willi Unsoeld personified.”

The OSU Adventure Club has some 200 dues-paying members who climb peaks throughout the Pacific Northwest, including Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, Smith Rocks, Mount Rainier, The Three Sisters and others. Climbing walls in Dixon Recreation Center draw some 28,000 visits a year.

Such activities are a draw for students, who are seeking meaningful experiences in college to supplement their classroom learning, Norris said.

“We have one 18-year-old freshman from the East Coast who came to OSU specifically because of the Adventure Leadership Institute,” he said. “Her latest goal is to climb Mount Jefferson in the winter, and at the same time, develop her leadership skills.

“That kind of spirit in students today would make Willi proud.”

Media Contact: 

Josh Norris, 541-737-4341

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OUS offers first study abroad program to Cuba

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Students from three campuses will travel to Cuba in June for the first official study abroad program to that country in the history of the Oregon University System (OUS).

The 15 students from Oregon State University, Portland State University and the University of Oregon will venture to Cuba in the summer after taking a class this term on Cuban Society, Culture and Politics through Film.

Michele Justice, associate director of OUS international programs, is charged with finding new study abroad opportunities in the university system.

“Making this system-wide means students from different universities can learn from each other, and it gives all students a chance to have resources and faculty to go places like this that they wouldn’t otherwise,” she said. “We have faculty across the state with expertise on Cuba, and a willingness to share this expertise.”

Dwaine Plaza and Amy Below from Oregon State are teaching the class, along with guest lecturers from the other colleges and universities. Plaza is a sociologist with expertise in migration studies and the Caribbean, and Below is an expert on Latin American politics.

“The students are experiencing Cuba through films, virtual guest lectures and through instruction by different faculty with Cuba expertise, and then they’ll be there to experience it all in person this summer,” Plaza said.

Students from the other campuses watch the class remotely when it is in session on Mondays, but congregate over several Saturdays this term to meet as a class in person.

“It’s important to us that the students bond and interact in person before they take this trip together,” Below said. “Once we get to Cuba, it’s going to be an intense learning experience.”

Each day they spend in Cuba will be built around a different theme. The students will learn about topics ranging from education, agriculture, and public health to Cuban culture and politics.

Tawny Garcia, a first-generation Cuban-American, is taking the class in part because she wants to reconnect with her roots. Garcia, a senior majoring in sociology at Oregon State, has never been to the country where her father was born.

“I am still in shock about being able to do this trip; not many Americans get to go to Cuba,” she said. “My understanding over the past couple of years is that Cuban Americans and Cubans see things differently. I plan to go there with an open mind and gain a better understanding of a part of me.”

Media Contact: 

Michele Justice, 541-737-6458

Dwaine Plaza, 541-737-5369

OSU Press publishes first biography of Ava Helen Pauling

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon native Ava Helen Pauling may be best known as the spouse of Linus Pauling, the only individual to win two unshared Nobel Prizes, but she also had a career of her own – as an activist for civil rights, peace, feminism and environmental stewardship.

Now the Oregon State University Press is publishing the first biography of this activist, who met her future husband in a classroom on campus and was a catalyst in his career as well as her own.

Written by OSU historian Mina Carson, the book provides an account of Ava Helen Pauling’s rich career and the history behind what the author calls “one of the great love stories of the 20th century.”

The book, “Ava Helen Pauling: Partner, Activist, Visionary,” is available from the OSU Press at: http://osupress.oregonstate.edu/book/ava-helen-pauling

“I first became interested in Ava Helen Pauling because of her peace and anti-nuclear testing activities,” Carson said. “I became downright intrigued when I started reading her papers in (the university’s) Special Collections and realized that based on her personal charm, as well as her status as the spouse of Linus Pauling, she was able to create a worldwide network of friends and allies in movements that reacted against the political strictures and military mobilization of the Cold War.

“Although she was a free-thinking youngster, she began her adult life as a conventional young woman determined to be a good wife and mother,” Carson added, “and matured into an articulate feminist.”

After marriage, Ava Helen Pauling found herself tugged between supporting her husband’s science career and wanting to embrace the social and political causes close to her heart. Those goals merged over time, Carson points out, shaping a more complete identity and lifting her into prominence as an influential activist.

Together the Paulings fought to limit nuclear proliferation and halt the testing worldwide of nuclear devices – an effort that garnered Linus Pauling a Nobel Peace Prize.

“Ava Helen Pauling undoubtedly was the one who inspired Linus Pauling to go beyond his science and take political stands and career risks based on moral conviction,” Carson said.

Carson, an associate professor of history at OSU, completed much of her research on Ava Helen Pauling while participating in the OSU Libraries Special Collections and Archives Research Center’s  Resident Scholar Program. She has also written a book on the American Settlement Movement, and co-authored a book on female musicians with Tisa Lewis and Susan M. Shaw, Girls Rock! Fifty Years of Women Making Music.

Carson will make a presentation on Ava Helen Pauling: Partner, Activist, Visionary to celebrate the book’s publication on Thursday, May 9, at 8 p.m. at the Oregon Historical Society, 1200 S.W. Park Avenue in Portland. The event is free and open to the public.

Media Contact: 

Micki Reaman, 541-737-4620; Mina Carson, 541-737-1259

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Antonya Nelson and Robert Boswell to give reading at OSU May 10

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Antonya Nelson and Robert Boswell will read from their work on Friday, May 10, beginning at 7:30 p.m. in the rotunda of the Valley Library at Oregon State University. A book signing will follow.

Nelson is the author of four novels and six short story collections, including “Bound” (Bloomsbury, 2010). In addition to other awards, she is a recipient of National Endowment for the Arts and Guggenheim fellowships.

The New York Times wrote of “Bound” that Nelson “compels you to linger, makes you take in the shimmer of the long, gray highway beside the strip malls, the promise and punishment of the steely blue sky. This America is her stage, and its characters are her people.”

Boswell’s collection of stories, “The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards,” was a finalist for the 2010 PEN USA Literary Award in fiction. He is the author of seven novels, three story collections, a play, a cyberpunk novel, and two books of nonfiction.

Kirkus Review says of Boswell’s forthcoming novel, “Tumbledown,” that it is “A book that reminds readers that the wages of sin are myriad and include the opportunity to find oneself.”

Boswell and Nelson are married and have two children. Both teach creative writing at the University of Houston, where they share the Cullen Endowed Chair in Creative Writing.

The event is part of the OSU School of Writing, Literature, and Film’s Visiting Writers Series.

Media Contact: 

Heather Brown, 719-232-1485

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Antonya Nelson

Robert Boswell