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Common Reading Program Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement

Faculty Dave Pietz and Cherri Wemlinger Honored at WSU University College Award Ceremony by Common Reading Program on April 19

PULLMAN, Wash.—Two Washington State University faculty members were honored at the fourth annual University College awards ceremony Tuesday, April 19 for their contributions to the Common Reading Program.

Karen Weathermon, director of Learning Communities and co-director of the Common Reading Program, says “We want to recognize those who went above-and-beyond to make WSU’s annual Common Reading Program a huge success,” she says.

David Pietz, associate professor in history and director of the Asia Program, and Cherri Wemlinger, teaching assistant in history and Asian Studies, were honored for their hard work and determination with the Common Reading Excellence Award. They created and piloted a one-credit Freshman Focus course that implemented the Common Reading book and Common Reading Tuesday’s expert lecture series as the center of its curriculum.

The course required students to attend a minimum of seven Common Reading events and in small groups extend that experience by creating final projects that explored an issue of interest on Afghanistan.

“This is the first time that the Common Reading has been used as the basis of a course, rather than a complementary element of an existing course,” Weathermon comments. “Their work gave us a foundation that we can build upon in future years.”

The book chosen for the 2010-11 academic year Common Reading book for over 3,000 freshmen was “Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” by Greg Mortenson.

The Common Reading Program, a part of the University College at WSU, strives to create a common academic ground and dialogue for all participants—new students, faculty, staff, and the community around them.

CONTACT: Beverly Makhani, Communications Director, WSU University College, 509-335-6679,

Karen Weathermon, Learning Communities Director, WSU University College, 509-335-5488,



Desk Copies of Common Reading 2011-12 “Physics for Future Presidents” Available to WSU Faculty

PULLMAN, Wash.-Copies of the 2011-12 common reading book, “Physics for Future Presidents:  The Science behind the Headlines” by Richard A. Muller, are available to Washington State University faculty interested in using the book in their undergraduate courses for the coming year.

“Physics for Future Presidents” was chosen as the common reading book for freshmen by Provost and Executive Vice President Warwick M. Bayly in late March.  The 2010-11 book, “Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, not Bombs in Afghanistan and Pakistan” by Greg Mortenson, was widely used in first-year classes by faculty across campus.

The book covers five complex, contemporary issues: terrorism, energy, “nukes,” space, and global warming in a manner that is designed to be understandable for readers from all backgrounds.  Each set of chapters concludes with a “Presidential Summary” that explains the decisions the reader would need to make on the topic as the president of the United States.

In the text, Muller looks at history, misinformation, and hype while helping the reader balance those with a more logical scientific approach.  The physics professor’s book is based on his own renowned course at Berkeley for non-science majors.

Muller’s book is broadly applicable to fields across campus, including business, communications, education, the humanities, political science, and STEM disciplines.

To enhance the experience of students using the book in classes, the Common Reading Program hosts an evening lecture series, which starts during the week-of-welcome.  The events feature WSU faculty, students, and guests presenting topics inspired by the text.  For the 2010-11 program, 77% of attendees reported that the lectures helped further their understanding of the issues presented in the book.

Those interested in a desk copy should contact Karen Weathermon, co-director of the WSU Common Reading Program, at 509-335-5488 or by email at

For more information on “Physics for Future Presidents” and on the Common Reading Program visit

MEDIA CONTACT:  David Clarke, communications assistant, WSU University College, 509-335-8070,

SOURCE:  Karen Weathermon, co-director, WSU Common Reading Program, 509-335-5488,