Field Contributions: WIU Prof Chairs National Counseling Conference in QCs

WIU counselor education students and faculty

WIU Counselor Education Professor Rebecca Newgent (in pink shirt) and (L to R) Rona Galica (Rock Island, IL), Molly Watkins (Davenport, IA), and Julie Churchill (Davenport, IA) at the AARC National Conference in Moline. Galica, Watkins, and Churchill are master’s degrees candidates in the Western Illinois University Department of Counselor Education and helped Dr. Newgent plan and organize the conference as Newgent’s conference chair committee.

In early September, Dr. Rebecca Newgent, professor in Western Illinois University’s Department of Counselor Education, served as the chair for the Association for Assessment and Research in Counseling‘s national conference. Held at the iWireless Center in downtown Moline (IL), the event drew participants from 27 states and many different institutions.

“She did an excellent job organizing the event and received rave reviews for the venue and content,” noted Lloyd Kilmer, assistant dean of the College of Education and Human Services at the WIU-QC campus.

Recently, Dr. Newgent provided an overview of how one goes about organizing such a large gathering for fellow counseling educators and counselors, all the while keeping up with the daily demands of being a university faculty member.

Q: Can you provide a little background about the AARC’s National Assessment and Research Conference?

Newgent: The Association for Assessment and Research in Counseling (AARC), a division of the American Counseling Association, is an organization of counselors, educators and other professionals that advance the counseling profession by promoting best practices in assessment, research and evaluation in counseling. The purpose of the AARC’s National Assessment and Research Conference is to advance the mission of AARC by promoting and recognizing excellence in assessment, research and evaluation in counseling. The benefits of the AARC conference include professional development, professionalization, research and knowledge, human development, public awareness and collaboration.

Professional counselors, counselor educators, researcher and educators attend. It is held annually in various cities throughout the country. This was the first time the conference was held in the Midwest, and we had attendees from 27 states and almost doubled the attendance from prior conferences.

Q: How did your chairperson position of the National Assessment and Research Conference come about?

Newgent: Each year the executive board of AARC accepts proposals from members to chair and host the next conference. With the help of the Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Quad Cities was selected—over major cities around the country—for the 2014 conference. We began this process approximately 14 months prior to the conference.

Q: What the benefits of chairing the conference for you as Western Illinois University professor? for your students?

AARC Conference Keynote Speaker Thank You

Dr. Thelma Duffey, president-elect of the American Counseling Association, receiving her “Thank You” gift after her keynote speech at the AARC’s National Assessment and Research 2014 Conference, which was chaired by WIU Counselor Education Professor Rebecca Newgent (in the pink). Pictured with Dr. Duffey and Dr. Newgent is Dr. Shawn Spurgeon, president of the Association for Assessment and Research in Counseling.

Newgent: As a university professor, it was an honor to chair the conference. As chair, I was able to highlight my department and Western to my colleagues across the country. My students also benefited, in that they were exposed to national leaders; several came to classes to talk with my students about their leadership roles. Additionally, WIU had the largest number of student attendees at the conference, where they were exposed to cutting-edge information about assessment and research and also had the opportunity to meet the president-elect of the American Counseling Association, Dr. Thelma Duffey, our keynote speaker.

Q: What are the duties of the conference chair?

Newgent: In AARC, the conference chair must wear multiple hats. From the submission of the proposal to host/chair the conference through the post conference accounting, the chair is involved in every aspect. Fortunately, we have a great conference model to follow. The role was intensive for the entire 14+ month period, but fortunately I had a great committee of graduate students who made my job much easier.

Q: How do juggle those duties with your instruction and other scholarly work as a WIU faculty member?

Newgent: It was certainly not easy juggling my conference chair duties with my faculty position. It was not uncommon for me to work into the wee hours of the morning and all weekend just to make sure that I was keeping up with all of my responsibilities. Would I do it again? Ask me in a couple of years!

Q: Any other info. that you would like shared/highlighted about the conference and your work with the AARC for it?

Newgent: Personally, I love being associated with AARC. This association provides me with valuable information, tools and a network of colleagues that are leaders in the field of counseling. Over the years, I have increased my involvement with AARC. In addition to having chaired the 2014 national conference, I am the editor of Counseling Outcome Research and Evaluation, a national peer-reviewed journal published by SAGE in association with AARC.

Next year, AARC will celebrate its 50th birthday and the conference will be in Memphis, TN.

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Professor Gruver gets down on ground-level with local students

Find out how Professor Joel Gruver and a graduate student from Western Illinois University recently guided students in an interesting community service project in this article in the McDonough County Voice.

Award-winning research: a family tradition

One of the high school students featured in a story on WSIL-TV yesterday (March 28) is pretty lucky when it comes to having a dad who can help with homework, so to speak.

WSIL, a TV station in southern Illinois, profiled some of best high school students in the state, who had gathered at Southern Illinois University over the past weekend for the 33rd Annual Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. One of those students was Macomb High School senior Prem Thottumkara. As the story explains, students delivered presentations based on their summer research projects and a written thesis, and one rule for the symposium was that “students must conduct their experiments and research under the watchful eye of a mentor.” This student didn’t have to look too far to find a scientist who could guide his work. Prem happens to be the son of WIU chemistry professor Vinod Thottumkara (who goes by T.K. Vinod). As the story says,

Thottumkara said he is glad that his mentor is his father because it makes asking questions an easy task, even if the answer is not what he wants to hear. “I can say, “hey dad, how does this work?” and he’s quick to give me a response and even when there’s something he knows I should know yet, he’ll say “this is advanced organic chemistry, you don’t need to know this yet” Thottumkara said.

And Prem’s participation in the Junior Science and Humanities Symposium is just another chapter in the family history of father-son collaboration. Professor T.K. Vinod even earned a patent on a project that was initially sparked by his elder son during a junior high school project. Learn more about Professor Vinod here.

picture of Professor T.K. Vinod with his son and other students

Professor T.K. Vinod with his son Arun and other students (2005)

 

WIU professor interviews guitar gurus

With his blue sneakers and his AC/DC and Spinal Tap wall décor, music instructor Matt Warnock, 32, is sometimes mistaken for a student at WIU.

“A student yelled at me one time when I was taking an amp from a classroom because he thought I was stealing it,” he laughed. “He said, ‘Hey, you can’t do that!’ and I said, ‘Yes, I can.'”

Warnock began teaching at Western while he was simultaneously working on his doctoral degree. For the last six years, he has not only taught at WIU, but also brought noted musicians to campus, organized the International Guitar Festival at WIU, and toured and played with other musicians in Brazil. And recently, he added yet another role to his resumé: editor-in-chief of Guitar International.

(more, below the photo)

photo of Matt Warnock

Matt Warnock with his Paul Reed Smith guitar

As an interviewer and editor for this online publication, Warnock has had the opportunity to meet musicians he admires, including Ace Frehley of KISS and Brian Aubert of Silversun Pickups. The web magazine, in addition to providing tips for guitar players and headlines from the music biz, also features interviews with guitarists ranging from Kenny Wayne Shepherd to Eric Johnson to Carlos Santana. Even Eddie Van Halen‘s name is among the list of featured interviewees.

“In the Rock History class that I teach at WIU, sometimes a student will ask me how I know this or that about a certain musician,” Warnock said. “I’m able to say, ‘Because I asked them about it.’

So how did such a busy professor get into the music-writing business?First of all, though his guitar expertise and academic credentials may be in jazz, he Respects the Rock.Warnock, raised in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada, grew up listening to 60s and 70s-era classic rock by Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin. He started playing guitar when he 15.

“My school offered science or a guitar class, so I chose guitar,” he said. “I knew pretty much right away that I loved it.”

He took private lessons in rock and blues, and then classical guitar, but it wasn’t until a high school teacher began to mentor him that Warnock caught on to jazz.

“He played saxophone in a band, and he started bringing me to gigs around town when I was pretty young,” Warnock said. “Not a lot of kids were interested in jazz, but I was one of the rare ones, so he kind of latched on.”

From there Warnock went to McGill University in Montreal—”kind of our jazz mecca”—to study jazz performance.

“I think the improvisation was what drew me to jazz,” he said. “Growing up listening to rock and blues from the 70s… jazz was a difficult version of that. I kind of always liked a challenge, so that drove me towards it initially.”

Warnock continued his love, and formal study of, guitar by enrolling at Western Michigan University, where he was a teaching assistant as he pursued his graduate degree. It was when he moved to Champaign (IL) to attend the University of Illinois for his doctorate that he made his first foray into music journalism. Like many magazine writers, Warnock got his start by contributing to a magazine he knew inside and out. A longtime reader of Just Jazz Guitar magazine, Warnock decided to e-mail the editor with a sample of his writing.

“They liked it, so I started writing for them,” he explained. “They would mail me books, DVDs, and CDs to review, and then I started writing lessons on how to play certain things.”

Before long, Warnock was contributing interviews with artists, including John McLaughlin, a guitarist who played with Miles Davis and Grammy-winning John Pizzarelli. While continuing to write for this quarterly publication, Warnock finished his doctorate degree and decided to expand his writing portfolio even further.

“I realized that I would have more free time now that I’m not in school, so thought I should fill that time productively,” Warnock said. “I Googled about 100 magazines or online websites that accept contributions, sent stuff to about 25 or 30 of them, and then five or six started having me write for them. I wrote a few things, and eventually kind of settled on writing for one, which was called Modern Guitars. I thought as a freelancer I could use it to leverage my reputation as performer and teacher, and maybe get more experiences. And I love to write.”

But eventually the company partners split, and one partner started a new magazine. That hardly signaled the end for Warnock’s side career:

“Because of my writing history with him, he asked me to jump on board. Now I co-own a publishing company.”

Today, Warnock finds that artists’ press people call him and request that he interview their artists. He is granted full press access at events and has his travel expenses covered for his stories. And he’s interviewed some of his childhood heroes, like Robby Kreiger of The Doors. Earlier this fall, Warnock covered a large guitar-maker conference in Washington, D.C.

“I got to try out amps no one else has seen, and hang out with rock stars for four days,” he said.

Among them was Orianthi, a young female guitarist who had been Michael Jackson’s guitarist on the tour just before he died.

“She was cool,” he said. “I’ve had to the chance to do some pretty cool stuff.”

And in the meantime, the web publication is gaining readership in Europe and several English-speaking countries, and has a readership of approximately 65,000 readers and 700,000 page views per month. “It’s grown pretty significantly,” he said. “And because it’s online-only, we can do a lot of things we wouldn’t have been able to do with a traditional print magazine.”

For example, the medium requires much less turnaround time between the date an interview is conducted and the time it’s published. The publication also focuses on posting shorter pieces frequently, rather than take the time required to invest in a lengthy feature.

“They’re more timely that way, and we can get them out more quickly,” he said.

And as for those features, Warnock still has plenty of heroes with whom he’d like to secure an interview. So who would he most like to meet?

“Probably Jimmy Page,” Warnock said. “I have a lot of questions for that guy.”