PULLMAN — The Office of Undergraduate Education announced the appointment of Karen Weathermon as interim director of learning communities, a new position on campus, effective March 10.

Weathermon previously worked for Writing Across the Curriculum, part of the university’s Writing Programs. For the past several years, U.S. News & World Report has ranked the WSU initiative among the best in the nation.

“We are delighted that Karen accepted this opportunity to develop and implement this important program that will coordinate across all disciplines and numerous projects,” said Mary Wack, interim director of the Office of Undergraduate Education. “Her work with WSU learning communities will have deep and lasting impact on all undergraduates and enrich their WSU experience.”

Student learning communities are designed to integrate living and learning, enhance student success and improve the quality of students’ first-year experience at WSU, said Wack.

Weathermon’s position is also charged with building faculty development programs that focus on collaboration, course development and the integration of curriculum across the classes in which students are co-enrolled.

“Karen’s efforts will support the Office of Undergraduate Education’s interest in educational reform and innovation,” Wack said.

Weathermon has directed Writing Across the Curriculum since 2004. Also, since 1999, she has been coordinator of the upper-division, interdisciplinary writing tutorial course, General Ed 302, and developed an online version of the course for distance students.

“I’m honored to have been selected for this new role,” said Weathermon. “This is an exciting opportunity to pull together a lot of my previous experience at WSU—with general education courses, with learning communities, and with faculty development.

“In addition, while much of the university’s current focus is on better engaging incoming freshman through learning communities, there are also many existing vibrant learning community programs at WSU with strong records of student engagement. One of the things we hope to do is to make more visible to students and faculty the full range of learning community options that can enrich a student’s baccalaureate experience.”

These programs include the Freshman Seminar, Community Service Learning, the writing studio courses offered through Writing Programs and Study Abroad, she said.

Weathermon earned her master’s and doctorate degrees in English from WSU, and her bachelor’s in English with a minor in biology from Pacific Lutheran University. She has taught English and general education classes at WSU and worked for Project EXCEL, a study skills course for at-risk freshmen. Prior to WSU, she was a secondary English teacher for high schools in Kelso and Longview, Wash.

The Office of Undergraduate Education is a multi-faceted, central university unit, with a mission to realize the WSU strategic goal to “provide the best undergraduate experience in a research university.” It collaborates with WSU’s nine degree-granting colleges to offer outstanding undergraduate programs in 245 majors across campus, as well as promotes a wide variety of opportunities for critical thinking, active learning, effective communication, global and diverse citizenship, and engagement for all undergraduates. Core units of the Office of Undergraduate Education are the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology; the Honors College; Writing Programs; and the Office of General Education.

In fall 2005, the office championed Freshman Focus Learning Communities, where first-year students are co-enrolled in two general education classes and live in coordinated residence hall floors. This residential community component is unique to freshman programs in the Northwest.