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Sunday, May 16, 2021

Western Reads appoints new director after 6 years

Molly Ware, Western Reads’ new director, plans to bridge the divide that students and faculty members may be feeling in today’s current political climate. // Photo by Kevin Lake

By Stella Harvey

Molly Ware, associate professor in the Woodring College of Education, has been hired as the new faculty director of Western Reads, a program on campus that aims to build community and encourage academic conversations across departments.

Dawn Dietrich, an associate professor in the English department, said Ware will replace her as the Western Reads faculty director. Dietrich said she has enjoyed getting to see the program develop over her time as director and looks forward to seeing how Ware moves it forward.

Dietrich said she is stepping down next year, after six years as director, to finish a book project.

“I couldn’t be happier,” Dietrich said. “When you step down from a program you really love, you want to see it thrive and continue. I feel that the program is in such great hands with Molly.”

Brent Carbajal, provost and vice president for academic affairs, agreed with Dietrich.

“As a discussion facilitator, she thinks broadly about inclusion and about how to make conversations impactful for all, not just for some,” Carbajal said in an email.

Ware, a former middle-school science teacher, said the interdisciplinary positions she was offered at Western have given her a unique opportunity to help students become powerful teachers for their future students.

As a professor of education at Woodring College, Ware said she has grown into a dynamic and responsive educator and community member since she first arrived at Western.

Ware said she has always been interested in changing systems and structures so they work better for everyone. Going about this involves building a community where students, staff and faculty can work together to collaborate on creative solutions.

She said she sees Western Reads as another outlet to utilize her community skills to positively impact incoming students.

“I’m an integrative thinker, and so I am really motivated to be thinking about Western’s interesting challenge of wanting students to explore and try different things,” Ware said.

Western Reads offers students and faculty the opportunity to engage in formal and informal conversations about each year’s book choice through a variety of activities and events, according to the program’s website.

Dietrich said book nominations from students and faculty are considered each year by a committee. The committee’s selection is then provided to all first-year and transfer students for free and can be found at a discounted rate in the bookstore.

Ware says her vision for Western Reads is going to be developed over time. Currently, she said structuring events so they build off each other and having more opportunities to explore their academic interests through Western Reads could have a great impact on helping students find their way.


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