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Common Reading Program Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement

WSU Common Reading Welcomes Faith Lutze to Discuss Whether Prisons Right Wrongs

PULLMAN, Wash.—Do American prisons accomplish the goal of achieving justice? Faith Lutze, Washington State University associate professor of criminal justice, will explore “Perceptions of Justice: The Power of Prisons to Right a Wrong” in a Common Reading Program presentation at 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 4, in Smith CUE 203.

“Our guest will explore how prisons in the United States are used to punish those deemed to have intentionally “wronged” another through the commission of a crime—so wrong that the person should be forcibly removed from society,” says Karen Weathermon, co-director of the Common Reading. “Throughout the presentation she will explore how prisons are used to ‘right a wrong’ and whether our perceptions of justice are accurate.”

Lutze joined the WSU in 1995 and became an associate professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology in 2001. She was also affiliate faculty in Women Studies and American Studies. Her current research is on community corrections, prisoner reentry, and homelessness; juvenile, adult, and family treatment drug courts; gender and justice in the correction of offenders; inter-communal violence prevention; and militarism and masculinity in criminal justice.

In 2013, she received a WSU President’s Award for Leadership in 2013 in recognition of her dedication to engagement and leadership development and was named the Criminal Justice Professor of the Year by Alpha Pi Sigma, the criminal justice honor society at WSU. She is an advisory board member for the Center for Civic Engagement

Beyond WSU she is a founding member of the Minorities and Women Section of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences. She serves on the advisory boards of the National Juvenile Drug Court Training and Technical Assistance Project of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and on the Washington State Center for Court Research.

She earned her B.A. at Saginaw Valley State College and her M.S. at the University of Cincinnati, both in criminal justice. Her Ph.D. from The Pennsylvania State University is in administration of justice.

The common reading book used in first-year and other classes this year is Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error, by Kathryn Schulz. The presentation by Lutze is one of about 20 faculty and guest expert lectures hosted by the Common Reading Program, which is part of the Office of Undergraduate Education at WSU.


March 3, 2014

CONTACT: Karen Weathermon, Co-Director, Common Reading Program, Office of Undergraduate Education, 509-335-5488,

Beverly Makhani, Director, Communications, Office of Undergraduate Education, 509-335-6679,



“Being Wrong” Author Kathryn Schulz at WSU Feb. 24 for Common Reading Invited Lecture

PULLMAN, Wash. – Kathryn Schulz, author of “Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error,” will present the Common Reading Invited Lecture at Washington State University at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24, in Beasley Coliseum.  The public is welcome.

“Being Wrong” is the 2013-14 book chosen as the university’s common reading and is being used in dozens of first-year and other classes on campus. Topics from the book inspire academic discussions among students and faculty, and are the subjects of lectures presented throughout the year by faculty on their research and by other guest experts.

“We are excited to welcome Kathryn to Pullman, and look forward to her interactions with students and faculty as well as her evening presentation,” says Susan Poch, co-director of the common reading program, part of the Office of Undergraduate Education. “Her book has been well received by the WSU community and many interesting conversations have been, and are being, inspired by it.”

“Being Wrong” touches on topics ranging from neurology to social bias to the roots of comedy and narrative. Karen Weathermon, also co-director, believes the book has been a good fit in especially two ways.

“Schulz’s basic premise is that while most of us abhor being wrong, it actually presents an opportunity to realize something new about ourselves, our world, our beliefs. At our research university, things often go presumably ‘wrong’ in a researcher’s work. When we look into why they went wrong, it often happens that new paths open to different discoveries. In fact, all research starts with a desire to investigate something that we don’t understand fully, or even that we realize we have ‘wrong.’”

“The book has also been a good fit for students. Being able to see their own challenges and failings as opportunities for growth is a valuable skill for them to develop.”

Schulz is also a journalist, public speaker, and book critic for New York Magazine. Her freelance writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, TIME Magazine, the Boston Globe, the “Freakonomics” blog of The New York Times, The Nation, Foreign Policy, and the New York Times Book Review, among other publications. In 2012, she won the National Book Critic Circle’s Nona Balakian Prize for Excellence in Reviewing. She is the former editor of the online environmental magazine Grist, and a former reporter and editor for The Santiago Times, of Santiago, Chile, where she covered environmental, labor, and human rights issues.

She was a 2004 recipient of the Pew Fellowship in International Journalism (now the International Reporting Project), and has reported from throughout Central and South America, Japan, and, most recently, the Middle East.

A graduate of Brown University and a former Ohioan, Oregonian, and Brooklynite, she currently lives in New York’s Hudson Valley. She has been featured in a Ted Talk and on YouTube.

For more information on the common reading program, visit

Jan. 28, 2014

SOURCE: Karen Weathermon, Co-Director, WSU Common Reading Program, 509-335-5488,

Susan Poch, Co-Director, WSU Common Reading Program, 509-335-7767,

LINK: To Daily Evergreen story


WSU Common Reading Welcomes Economists Smith and Wooten for Nov. 5 Lecture on Pundits, Predictions, and Confidence

PULLMAN, Wash.—Washington State University economics Ph.D. students Ben Smith and Jadrian Wooten have studied social media to find “What Drives Demand for Pundits?,” and will present their findings to a Common Reading audience at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5, in Todd 130.  The public is welcome.

“We are inundated by pundits, those who claim expertise in nearly any area,” they write. “Political pundits make wild predictions about enormous electoral wins. Financial pundits use an orchestra of sound effects to establish the confidence in their pick. But it is well established that pundits aren’t that accurate. So if they are so often wrong, why are they so confident? Is this just an artifact of who is picked to be on TV?”

Smith and Wooten used language analysis and data from Twitter to examine the roots of pundits’ confidence.

Wooten researches sports economics, natural resource economics, and teaching pedagogy. Smith earned his B.A. in finance from WSU, and is a behavioral and computational economist. The two have co-authored papers, include an August 2013 “Significance” magazine article called “Pundits: The confidence trick—better confident than right?”

Their presentation is hosted by the Common Reading Program, part of the Office of Undergraduate Education. The guest lecture is part of the year-long program in which thousands of students use the same book in dozens of first-year classes. The book for 2013-14 is “Being Wrong,” by Kathryn Schulz. Topics from it spur classroom discussions.

For information about this lecture and the program, and to submit nominations for the 2014-15 book, visit


MEDIA: Karen Weathermon, Co-Director of the WSU Common Reading Program, 509-335-5488,

Beverly Makhani, Communications Director, WSU Office of Undergraduate Education, 509-335-6679,



WSU Common Reading Welcomes Dean of Students Melynda Huskey to Oct. 29 Conversation on Useful, Painful, and Humorous Mistakes in College

PULLMAN, Wash.—Washington State University Dean of Students Melynda Huskey will present “All the Ways I Was Wrong in College, and How Glad I Am I Was” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29 in Stephenson Down Under, in the Stephenson Residence Hall Complex. The Common Reading Tuesdays lecture series hosts the event, which is open to the public.

“Since this year’s common reading book, Being Wrong by Kathryn Schulz, is about resiliency and learning from mistakes, it seems important to directly address these issues as they occur in the lives of our students,” says Karen Weathermon, co-director of the Common Reading Program.

“In the interests of student development, Dr. Huskey has agreed to share some personal stories from her own college days and describe how she learned and recovered from her mistakes, and went on to complete her degree in three years, be  invited into the Phi Beta Kappa honorary society, and build a successful career in student services.”

“My message—which I hope will be both fun and informative—will be that it is definitely possible to recover from what seems at any given moment like an impossible situation—such as disappointing mid-term grades,” says the dean of students. “I will talk about how, as a freshman, I choose a major for all the wrong reasons, and failed spectacularly. Even worse, I concealed my horrible GPA from everyone and never asked for help.

“Messing up like that liberated me from my own expectations, and I had to change a lot of my ideas about myself and the world. Throughout my career, I’ve realized that lots of people have done the same thing, and even have patterns of mistakes. I am very fortunate that in my current position I can speak from my experience and help students become resilient and seek resources at WSU to overcome what seems like an insurmountable catastrophe.”

The common reading is in its seventh year at WSU. Each semester faculty, staff, and external experts are invited to talk to students at numerous evening events on subjects related to the book. This year, as in the past, the book author will visit campus; Kathryn Schulz will be here Feb. 24, 2014.

For more information about the program, the book, and guest speakers, go to


MEDIA:  Karen Weathermon, Co-Director, WSU Common Reading Program, Office of Undergraduate Education, 509-335-5488,

Beverly Makhani, Director, Communications, WSU Office of Undergraduate Education, 509-335-6679,


WSU Common Reading Book for 2013-14 is “Being Wrong” by Kathryn Schulz

PULLMAN, Wash.—The Washington State University Common Reading Program announces that the book selected for 2013-14 is “Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error,” by journalist Kathryn Schulz.

“We are quite pleased that President Floyd chose ‘Being Wrong’ as the next common reading for our students,” says Susan Poch, co-director of the Common Reading Program and head of the selection committee, and associate dean of the University College. “It is a most interesting inquiry into the multitude of subjects surrounding human errors and our perceptions of them.

“Our selection committee this year studied 30-plus books nominated by the WSU community and ultimately had a field of three finalists. Provost and Executive Vice President Warwick M. Bayly, who typically makes the final selection, was on leave at the time, so our president chose the book. We commend the nominators, the committee, and President Floyd for their efforts on behalf of our students.”  [http:/]

Student Paula Tilson, serving on the selection committee, was enthusiastic about the book, which will be used in several courses for first-year students.

“It’s very readable for freshmen and I think they will want to read it,” says the junior accounting major from Olympia. “Coming in from high school, they will find they are expected to perform at a higher level in college and they think they have to be right all the time. But the sooner they learn there’s no way for them to be perfect all the time when it comes to academics, the better. This book will help them realize they can learn from their mistakes and build on that. And not to give up after being wrong but deal with it and work to improve.”

The other two finalist books are “The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water,” by Charles Fisherman, and “Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight about Animals,” by Hal Herzog.

“Being Wrong” was nominated by Adam Williams, administrative manager in the Dept. of Entomology, who first heard it favorably cited by former U.S. President Bill Clinton. Upon learning it was chosen as WSU’s next common reading book, he said he was pleased and that it will stimulate critical thinking in readers.

What does he hope students get out of the book? “I’d like students’ take away to be that, for any number of reasons, it’s OK to be wrong and recover from it. It’s humbling sometimes, but a way to get grounded as they go on into the world.  I hope students view error differently from this book and use experiences as growing opportunities to promote open perspectives.”

Common Reading Co-Director Karen Weathermon organizes the Common Reading Tuesdays guest lecture series that provides information and insight from thought leaders and researchers from the WSU as well as the external community.  At weekly events, these experts present topics related to subjects raised in each year’s common reading book.  She also works with faculty who are teaching courses as part of the Freshman Focus learning community.

“’Being Wrong’ presents an interesting perspective on research, which is an important activity at our land-grant, top tier research university,” says Weathermon. “How we advance our understanding of all fields is by investigating the questions where we don’t have a full, complete, or ‘right’ answer.”

As in years past, desk copies of ‘Being Wrong’ will be available to Pullman faculty members who are considering using the book in with their courses, Weathermon says.  Those interested should contact her at for a copy.  They will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

CONTACT: Susan Poch, Associate Dean and Co-Director of the Common Reading Program, University College at WSU, 509-335-6037,

Karen Weathermon, Co-Director of the Common Reading Program, University College at WSU, 509-335-5488,

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