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Emily Lardner and Gillies Malnarich, Washington Center Co-Directors

As co-directors of the Washington Center for Improving the Quality of Undergraduate Education, we have developed and led the center’s work within Washington State and nationally for more than a decade. Three co-authored articles highlight a shift in learning community practice that has occurred during our stewardship: “When Faculty Assess Integrative Learning” (September/October 2009) and “A New Era for Learning Community Work” (July/August 2008) in Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, and “Sustaining Learning Communities: Moving from Curricular to Educational Reform” in Perspectives, Winter 2007. We also guest edited and wrote the lead article in a special issue of the Journal on Learning Communities Research which highlights findings from Washington Center's two-year national project on Assessing Learning in Learning Communities.

Emily LardnerEmily Lardner, Co-Director

My other writing has been split between composition studies and promoting educational equity through learning communities. I co-edited a book, Situated Stories: Valuing Diversity in Composition Research, to help expand the questions being asked in that field as well as the methods used to answer them. I co-authored articles on collaborative teaching and portfolio-based assessment. I also co-authored a chapter and then a monograph on strategies for using learning communities to support the learning of all students, particularly students of color.

My interests lie in connecting research on creating engaging learning environments for students, particularly first generation students, with engaging and sustainable professional development for full and part-time faculty. We need to create better opportunities for students to experience deep and lasting learning with a particular focus on making better use of our time with students in class. I am also deeply interested in assessment at the course and program level.

Before coming to Washington Center, I worked in the English Composition Board at the University of Michigan as a lecturer and then as associate director for writing assessment. Our biggest project was designing a portfolio to assess the writing of incoming students, which we did in collaboration with high school and community college teachers across the state. Since coming to Evergreen, I have been teaching writing in the Evening Weekend Studies program, teaming with faculty across the curriculum. I also taught developmental reading at South Puget Sound Community College as an adjunct.

Gillies MalnarchGillies Malnarich, Co-Director

Most recently, my own writing has emphasized learning communities as an intentional, data-based intervention strategy for student success. In The Pedagogy of Possibilities: Developmental Education, College-level Studies and Learning Communities, I argue that learning communities need to be located at critical curricular transition points and/or where students flounder academically. In this publication, and in previous work, I use research on learning and teaching to argue that all students thrive in classrooms where learning college readiness strategies and skills are embedded in intellectually rigorous, real-world, integrative curriculum.

My current and longstanding interests are related to the democratization of higher education, specifically the changes we need to make—at both a structural level and within our classrooms—to ensure that all students receive an education of quality. This aim informs my work as a consultant, coach, developmental evaluator, and designer and facilitator of professional development programs for campus and statewide initiatives.

Before coming to the Washington Center, I worked with educators and campuses in Canada on policy and system-wide practices related to professional development for faculty and staff, institutional effectiveness, and abilities-based assessment from the classroom to the program level. Educated in the humanities and social sciences, I have taught adult literacy, developmental education, and sociology throughout my professional career in multiple settings—at community- and work-based popular education programs, universities, and a large urban community college. Since coming to Evergreen, I have been teaching in Evening and Weekend Studies on my own or with colleagues from various fields and disciplines.

Rachel BurkeRachel Burke, Program Supervisor

As the Program Supervisor for the Washington Center, I coordinate the National Summer Institute on Learning Communities and other events, support the development of regional networks of learning community professionals, and manage office operations. As Website Manager, I design, develop content, and maintain the National Resource Center for Learning Communities website. I also serve as managing editor for Learning Communities Research and Practice, an open-access peer-reviewed electronic journal.

Before I came to the Washington Center, I worked as a writer and editor on a K-5 science curriculum for Chicago Science Group (now distributed by Pearson Scott Foresman) that emphasizes inquiry-based learning. Previous to that, I worked at Microsoft as a program manager, documentation lead, and writer. I am a 1982 Evergreen graduate and I am currently working on a Masters in Public Administration at Evergreen, with an emphasis on higher education policy.

Brenda OrzinoBrenda Orzino, Assistant

In my current position as Assistant at the Washington Center, I support the co-directors and staff in the operations of the center. I assist the center with event planning and execution, web development, and general office duties. I am an Evergreen State College alumna, graduating in June 2012 with a focus in management and leadership.

Before I came to Evergreen, I graduated from Grays Harbor College as a Presidents' Scholar with both an Associate of Arts degree and Associates in Applied Science—Business Management. I am a member of the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society. My prior work includes hospitality management and accounting.

Dakota Dominguez and Caroline McCann, Student Clerical Aides

The Washington Center could not offer the resources and services it does without the support of our student staff. The students that work for the Center, while they pursue their education at Evergreen, provide professional-level support to institutions throughout the country and ensure the smooth functioning of our office.

This year, we are fortunate to have Dakota Dominguez and Caroline McCann working with us.