Northwest College

Teaching & Learning Center

Faculty spotlights

Learn more about what makes Northwest college’s faculty truly excellent! 

In collaboration with The Committee on Faculty Development and Morale and the office of College Relations, the TLC is excited to showcase the great work of Northwest College's educators! In this faculty spotlight series, we will feature members of our faculty that are recognized by nominations from their peers based on demonstrated excellence in teaching, mentoring/advising, service, or scholarship. Spotlights will also be promoted by the Marketing, Communications & Web office in a variety of media.

Elaine DeBuhr

Posted: April 7, 2023

As a grad student at the University of Iowa in the mid-90s, Elaine DeBuhr and her husband Rob traveled to Missoula for a family wedding and decided to take a more scenic route through Cody and Yellowstone National Park. She was struck by the extraordinary landscapes and took pictures along the way she would later hang in her studio, but little did she know the place she once saw only through the eyes of a tourist would eventually become home.

Elaine has been a full-time member of the Northwest College faculty since 2005 and division chair since 2013. Originally a French major at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, Elaine’s love of art inspired her to switch majors, and she earned a degree in art history instead. That degree allowed her to work at places such as the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis, or the Cunningham Foundation in New York City with world-renowned choreographer and dancer Merce Cunningham. She was on a strong professional path, but still wanted something different, and knew exactly what it was.

“My last semester at Macalester, I took a ceramics class,” Elaine said. “It was as hard as anything I’ve ever taken, but what I noticed, was that I wasn’t watching the clock. Time stood still, but hours had passed, and I got lost in it.”

So, 10 years after earning her BA, Elaine returned to school to pursue her passion and earned her MFA in 1998. She accepted her first teaching position that same year at Oregon College of Art & Craft, and in 2001, when her husband was hired to start the music tech program at Northwest College, Elaine made the move to Wyoming. She did so with zero expectations but ended up joining the faculty too as an adjunct before moving into a fulltime role.

“I like the close-knit community here as opposed to a huge university where no one knows each other. Everyone is so supportive of each other too.”

Though Elaine is an art professor who now teaches ceramics to others, she’s still driven to create her own work and strives to bring that energy to her classroom. Influenced by her time with Merce Cunningham, she came to understand consistent work ethic and discipline are the keys to success and works to pass that on to her students as well.