Beth Grimm Whelley (2016 Recipient)
In Beth Whelley’s work, she uses the critical thinking skills sharpened through her graduate work at Wright State University to help clients understand their communication challenges so they can tell their story on their own terms, while also keeping the audience in mind.
Whelley has a 25-year background in corporate communications, public relations and marketing communications (including strategic planning), crisis communications, presentation and media coaching, and community outreach and affairs. She is an experienced facilitator and currently leads Fahlgren Mortine’s media training practice area.
Before coming to Wright State, Whelley earned her undergraduate degree from Miami University. Whelley is a current member of Wright State’s College of Liberal Arts Dean’s Leadership Board. She is also active in the Dayton community, serving on the Board of Trustees for Sinclair Community College, the Dayton Art Institute Associate Board, and the Miami Conservancy District. Previous community service includes serving on the Board of Governors for Leadership Dayton and leading reading groups for 7th and 8th grade students at the Dayton Early College Academy. Whelley has been honored as a Dayton YWCA 2011 Women of Influence, a 2013 Dayton Daily News Ten Top Woman, and a 40-Under-40 in the Dayton Business Journal.
Wendy Merkert (2015 Recipient)
Wendy J. Merkert, CFRE, earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English and certifications in professional and technical writing at Wright State University. She earned her MA in 2006 while already employed as Annual Fund and Grants Director/Annual Fund Manager for the Victoria Theatre Association and the Dayton Opera Association. Since receiving her MA, she has been highly visible and successful as a professional fundraiser for fine-arts and educational organizations in Ohio and nationwide. From 2008-2012 Merkert served as Development Director for the Dayton Opera Association, and currently she is Manager of K-20 Fundraising for the national nonprofit Invent Now.
A strong believer in giving back, Merkert has been a member of the CoLA Dean’s Leadership Board since 2010 and has served as Treasurer, Secretary, and Vice President for Programming and Chair of National Philanthropy Day for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Greater Dayton Region Chapter. In addition she volunteered with Special Olympics in 2007-2009. A decade-plus into her career, Merkert’s efforts have been instrumental in making the fine arts accessible to Ohioans and advancing science literacy.
Jill Channing (2014 Recipient)
Jill Channing is Dean of the Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Division at Kankakee Community College (KCC) in Kankakee, Illinois. Originally from the small rural Ohio village of Plymouth (population 1,800), Channing earned her B.A. and M.A. in English at Wright State University and her Ph.D. in Educational and Cultural Studies from the University of North Carolina Greensboro. During her graduate study at Wright State, she served as president of the English Graduate Organization; worked as a graduate teaching assistant in the university writing program; and completed two graduate concentrations, one in composition and rhetoric and one in litera-ture, as well as earning a graduate certificate in Women’s Studies. She was the English department’s Outstanding Graduate Student in Literature in 2005. Prior to becoming a dean at KCC, Channing chaired the English Department at Mitchell Community College in North Carolina and taught writing, literature, and women’s studies at two-year colleges in New Mexico and North Carolina. Channing’s research and scholarly interests include online curriculum development and delivery, 20th Century British and American literatures, first-year composition pedagogy, and higher-education leadership strategies.
A highly effective teacher and administrator and an energetic and positive educator and scholar, Jill Channing truly personifies the values of a humanities education and showcases the versatility of an English major.
Sharon Short (2013 Recipient)
Sharon Short earned her B.A. in English from Wright State University in 1982, graduating magna cum laude. She went on to earn an M.A. in English from Bowling Green State University. A successful working writer, she is the author of two mystery series (Josie Toadfern and Patricia Delaney), a columnist for the Dayton Daily News, and director of the renowned Antioch Writers' Workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She is also an adjunct instructor of creative writing and composition at Antioch University Midwest. She was the featured author at the 2013 Ohioana Book Festival in May.
Most recently, Ms. Short is the author of the novel My One Square Inch of Alaska (Penguin Plume, 2013) in which a pair of siblings escape the strictures of their 1950s industrial Ohio town on the adventure of a lifetime. Opening chapters of this novel earned her a 2012 Ohio Arts Council individual artist's grant and a 2011 Montgomery County (Ohio) Arts & Cultural District Literary Artist Fellowship. My One Square Inch has garnered enthusiastic reviews from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, and the Saturday Evening Post, to name just a few. Ms. Short’s finely honed ear for language, sensitive evocation of past times and local spaces, her dedication to her craft, and her commitment to the development and furtherance of literary community here in Dayton and southwestern Ohio exemplify literary and cultural values central to the Wright State University Department of English.
Gwendolyn Kestrel (2012 Recipient)
Gwendolyn Kestrel received her B.A. (summa cum laude) and M.A. in English from Wright State University. While at WSU she was already writing and designing games, and since graduating Gwendolyn has turned her passion into a successful career in the gaming industry. Gwendolyn has spent a decade with Wizards of the Coast, the world’s largest publisher of tabletop games, as a writer, editor, designer and manager. Her projects included Star Wars: Ultimate Adversaries, two Harry Potter trading card games, and dozens of Dungeons and Dragons credits.
While working for Wizards of the Coast, Gwendolyn also earned an M.B.A. and began graduate work at University of Washington in games and education. She has also taught Game Design Processes for ITT Tech. She is currently employed as an analyst at Microsoft. She is a fine example of how a creative drive and a liberal arts degree can forge a successful career.
Christopher Wahl (2010 Recipient)
While working toward two degrees—a B.A. in English (1997) and an M.A. in TESOL (1999)—Christopher tutored in the University Writing Center. After graduation, he taught ESL and Composition classes part time at the University of Cincinnati, Edison Community College, and Franklin University.
In 2000, he joined the Intensive English Language Programs at the University of Findlay, where he also served as treasurer for Ohio TESOL. In 2002, he accepted a faculty position at Hudson County Community College in Jersey City, NJ. After earning tenure in 2005, he moved to administration at HCCC, first as director of the ESL/Bilingual Program, then as Associate Dean of ESL/Bilingual and Developmental Education.
He now lives in Jersey City with his wife Heather and son Dylan.
Stephanie Corcoran (2009 Recipient)
Stephanie Corcoran is a 1983 graduate of Northmont High School; a 1987 graduate of Miami University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration; a 1989 graduate of the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where she earned her teacher certification; and a 1997 graduate of Wright State University, where she earned a Master of Arts in Composition and Rhetoric. She holds a permanent certificate to teach secondary English in the state of Ohio.
This is her 19th year of teaching secondary English. In addition to teaching at Northmont, she has taught undergraduate and graduate-level English and education courses for the past 11 years.
Stephanie and her family have lived in the Northmont community since moving back from Nevada in 1991 because they believe in this school district and in this community. Her husband, Mike, is an administrator in the Northmont school district. She has two daughters, Taylor, a senior at Northmont High School, and Chrissy, an 8th grader at Northmont Middle School.
Teresa Troyer (2008 Recipient)
After earning her B.A. from Ohio Wesleyan, Teresa Troyer continued on to earn her M.A. in English: Composition & Rhetoric with a TESOL endorsement from Wright State in 2003. TESOL is teaching English to speakers of other languages.
She is currently the coordinating teacher for ESL (English as a second language), 9-12th grade social studies and foreign language in the Dayton public schools, but she cannot resist spending more time engaged with ESL students and related programs. Teresa has spent fourteen years as an educator. Her experience includes teaching EFL in the Peace Corps in Slovakia, teaching English in the Bronx, NY, teaching in a residential rehabilitation center, and teaching first year composition at Wright State as a Graduate Teaching Assistant.
Teresa states she and her husband are lucky to have two healthy little boys, Yozi and Max, with whom they hope to resume traveling very soon.
Beth Klaisner (2007 Recipient)
Beth Klaisner came to Wright State as a non-traditional transfer student 20 years ago. In the following four years, she completed both a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education: English and a Master of Arts degree in English with emphases in Creative Writing and Teaching College Composition. During her master's program, she began her service to WSU as a graduate teaching assistant and was selected as the Outstanding Graduate Student for the Department of English Language and Literatures in 1991.
Beth continues to serve WSU in a variety of roles. After working as an adjunct instructor at both WSU and Sinclair Community College, she became a full time instructor in the English department. She served the college and the university by participating in the 1995-96 general education assessment process. In 2001, Beth became a college advisor. This change brought her more opportunities to be involved with recruitment, the admission process, advising, curriculum development and implementation, and alumni activities and events. Beth has been heavily involved in the process of implementing the Degree Audit Reporting System in the College of Liberal Arts, and in assisting with the college and university major systems transition in 2006-2007. In 2005, Beth was selected by President Goldenberg as the universityís representative to the Higher Education Resource Center (HERS) Summer Institute for Women in Higher Education Administration at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania.
Beth served the College of Liberal Arts at Wright State University as the Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs from January, 2007, until April, 2010.
Adrienne Cassel (2006 Recipient)
Adrienne Cassel holds an M.F.A. from Bennington College, an M.A. from Wright State University, and a B.A. from Central State University. She is currently working on a Ph.D. in Poetry at the University of Cincinnati.
Adrienne is an assistant professor of English at Sinclair Community College and an adjunct instructor in Women's Studies at Wright State University. In the summer, she teaches poetry at the Institute on Writing and Teaching at Wright State. She is also a visiting writer and docent for the Dayton Art Institute.
With Mary Beth Pringle, Adrienne founded the Five Rivers Poetry Project, which was awarded a Phi Kappa Phi Literacy Grant in 2004. Her poems have appeared in 5 A.M., Nexus, The Bennington Review, and Flights. Adrienne's poem “Learning to Fly” received the 2000 Paul Laurence Dunbar Memorial Poetry Prize. Her essays on teaching have appeared in the Instructor's Guide to The Norton Field Guide to Writing (Richard Bullock, 2005), and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Pedagogy Forum (2006).
Jenny Crusie (2005 Recipient)
Jenny Crusie is a New York Times bestselling author of romance novels, who has also published a book of literary criticism on Anne Rice, published under the name of Jenny Smith. She attended Wright State as Jennifer Smith while teaching in the Beavercreek public school system as an elementary and junior high art teacher. Jennifer earned a master's degree from WSU in Professional Writing and Women's Literature. Her master's thesis was titled “A Spirit More Capable of Looking Up to Him: Women's Roles in Mystery Fiction 1841-1920.” While at Wright State, she published an article entitled “De-mystifying Feminist Criticism: A Response” with Mary Beth Pringle and Judi Roller.
In 1993 Harlequin accepted Jenny's first novel, Manhunting, Five more Harlequins followed, including Getting Rid of Bradley which won the RWA Rita Award for Best Short Contemporary, Strange Bedpersons, What the Lady Wants, Charlie All Night, and Anyone But You. Jenny also wrote two category novels for Bantam's Loveswept line, The Cinderella Deal and Trust Me On This. During this time she put the Ph.D. on hold to earn an M.F.A. in fiction from The Ohio State University; her thesis was titled Just Wanted You to Know, and consisted of several short stories and the proposal for a mainstream novel titled Crazy For You.
In the fall of 1995, Jenny began to write single title novels for St. Martin 's Press, which include Tell Me Lies, Crazy For You, Welcome to Temptation, Fast Women, Faking It, and Bet Me. Today, in many ways, Jenny has come full circle. She is currently collaborating on a novel with Robert Mayer called Don't Look Down, putting into practice everything she studied about the differences in the way men and women write fiction.
Byron J. Crews (2004 Recipient)
Byron has been teaching in the Department of English since 1998 and is also a professional short fiction writer, serving as a research assistant for Sudden Fiction. He appeared in Wright State 's production of Halfway Diner and has directed music for theatrical productions at the University of Florida and San Francisco 's Magic Theatre.
Byron's first play, Remote Control, was staged at Wright State's Herbst Theatre in November 2003 and described by Stuart McDowell, Chair of the Theatre Department, as a “marvelous mirror of the mayhem of our modern world.”
Jane Blakelock (2003 Recipient)
In 1996, Jane was appointed Instructor in English and a few years later, Lecturer in English. She has taken on considerable additional responsibility beyond her teaching, including web coordinator for the College of Liberal Arts, and three years ago was appointed Assistant Director for Writing Programs in the English Department, with special responsibility for technology. Jane, along with Rich Bullock, oversaw the huge process in which every one of the 200 annual sections of English composition was moved into computer classrooms, beginning fall 2002.
Mary E. Kenton (2002 Recipient)
Mary Kenton has provided many years of dedicated service to WSU and the surrounding community, and her tenure as associate director of the University Honors Program has spanned four directors. In that capacity, she has given the program essential continuity through her work in communications, curriculum development, scheduling, and budgeting. She recently published “Christianity, Democracy, and Socialism: Bouck White's Kingdom of Self Respect ,” as a chapter in Socialism and Christianity in Early Twentieth Century America (1998).
Sherri L. Szeman (2002 Recipient)
After completing her master's degree in 1980, Dr. Sherri Szeman pursued a Ph.D. at the University of Cincinnati in the mid-1980's, later teaching at Clark State University.
Szeman has received international recognition for her writing. Her first novel – the highly successful The Commandant's Mistress – was a best seller and scheduled to appear on Showtime as a motion picture.
Mark T. Willis (2002 Recipient)
Mark Willis is currently Research Coordinator in Wright State University 's School of Medicine. Mark's work as a legislative advocate for passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act was recognized in 1990 by an invitation to the White House for the ADA signing ceremony. His creative writing was supported in 2002 by an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Ohio Arts Council.