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[Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed Mark Staton's position at Western. He is an assistant professor of marketing. ]

Conveying the importance of class material can be a tough task, and connecting students to professionals in the private sector can be even more difficult – but one Western Washington University professor has found a way to simultaneously do both.

LeaAnn Martin was ready to begin her job as a graduate assistant teaching racquetball and balance her life as a graduate student at the University of Texas in 1981. She had played a good amount of racquetball before, and asked another instructor to show her how to teach it.

“He got in the court with me, and after hitting a few racquetballs with my racquet he told me to put my racquet down and use my hands. That started my handball career,” Martin said.

Title: associate professor of geology

What do you love most about your department? The comaradery and collegiality of the faculty, students, and staff. It’s a rare and special experience to have some of your best friends as professional colleagues in your department.

Years at Western: 15!

Originally from: Palo Alto, Calif.

Hobbies: Soccer, backcountry skiing, trail running, backpacking and climbing, surfing (a bit), mountain biking, and of course, geology!

Title: Associate professor, science education and elementary education

What do you love most about your department? “I love that everybody who teaches here have a passion for being the best teacher they can be everyday for every student. That is our goal and what I love the most is that everyone shares that goal. I also love the campus, it is beautiful.”

Years at Western: 14

Originally from: Born in Virginia. Went to high school and college in California.

Title: Assistant professor in the Communication Department

What do you love most about your department?: “Everyone makes a big effort to respect each other. Everyone is open and transparent about decision-making processes, and I think that helps foster a sense of collegiality.”

Years at Western: This is her first year.

Originally from: Grew up in Connecticut and lived 10 years in Vermont. Did her graduate work in Minnesota.

Title: Professor in the Communication Department

What do you love most about your department? “How collegial we are with each other. We really respect each other so we can get the work done for the organization.”

Years at Western: 13th year

Originally from: Kent. Attended Kent-Meridian high school then University of Puget Sound for undergrad.

Hobbies: Hanging out with her kids, playing piano bass guitar, and quilting.

Title: Academic support coordinator in Student Outreach Services and coordinator of the Western Outdoor Orientation Trip (WOOT!) Program.

What do you love most about your department? “I love getting to work with amazing students here at Western and getting to support, inspire and encourage them to find their passion, discover their purpose and realize their potential. The staffs in SOS are truly committed to the personal and academic success of each student we work with, which makes it an amazing place to work!” 

Title: Program coordinator for the WWU theatre and dance department

What do you love most about your department? “The drama. Well, no, not really. Truthfully, I love the creativity and the students are so enthusiastic about the curriculum offered.”

Years at Western: First year at Western. Previously worked at Whatcom Community College.

Originally from: Washington state

Deb Currier, an associate professor in the theatre and dance department at Western Washington University, is the director of "Deception Pass: An American Story," on stage in the WWU Performing Arts Center through Feb. 3.

WWU Communications and Marketing intern sat down with Currier earlier this week.

Years at Western: 11th year teaching at Western

Originally from: Riverside, Calif., then graduate school in Oregon and now in Bellingham

After working at Western Washington University for 43 years, Assistant Police Chief Dave Doughty has retired. Doughty came to Western as an undergraduate student from Nebraska in 1968 with plans to major in music education, but due to scheduling errors, he ended up unable to begin the program his freshman year. Doughty worked that year for the Associated Students as a student sound technician, and in the summer of 1969, he began working as a student security officer (now known as the Green Coats) for four years.