WSU Vancouver’s Insight into Diversity HEED Award

WSU Vancouver is one of 94 institutions of higher education being recognized this year by Insight into Diversity magazine for our diversity and inclusion efforts. Our application for this award was put together by a team of folks from across campus led by Associate Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Obie Ford III.

The November issue of the magazine is out, and can be found here. WSU Vancouver is featured on pages 57, 84 and 100. I encourage you to check it out!


A New Academic Year

Dear VanCoug Academic and Student Affairs Colleagues,
We are writing to wish everyone a great start to the new semester. The beginning of the academic year is always a time of promise and renewal as we welcome a new group of incoming students and embark on new projects. We invite you to join us in reaffirming our campus commitment to equity and rededicating ourselves to the work of making this campus one where all students, faculty, and staff feel a sense of belonging, agency, and safety to be their authentic selves.


While we celebrate the start of the new academic year, we also acknowledge that many of us may be feeling unsettled by the recent incidents of violence across our country. This is a crucial time to come together in love and unity. Let’s create space for healing and recognize that both our differences and commonalities are strengths that connect us rather than divide us. Let’s establish meaningful relationship with one another within and across our respective campus units. Let’s continue the work of denouncing white supremacy and promoting an ethical and socially just society through an intentional commitment to inclusion, equity and diversity. These are core values of WSU Vancouver; we hold them closely as we work to build community and foster the success of all students, faculty and staff on this campus.


We are here for you. Do not hesitate to also access additional resources available to faculty and staff should you desire further support, including the Employee Assistance Program and the Office of Equity and Diversity (VDEN 230A). For students, there is the Counseling Center (VCLS 160), the Center for Intercultural Learning and Affirmation (CILA, Firstenberg 104; formerly the SDC), and the Office of Equity and Diversity (VDEN 230A).


Please know that we appreciate all the work that you do for WSU Vancouver. We look forward to working together with all of you to make this campus thrive.




Renny Christopher

Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs


Domanic Thomas

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and Enrollment


Obie Ford III

Associate Vice Chancellor of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion


I earned my Building a Community of Equity Change Agent Certificate!

WSU Vancouver’s Building a Community of Equity professional development program was implemented last year, and I am very happy to be in the first class of those who have earned our Change Agent certificates. The BaCE program was developed in support of WSU Vancouver’s Strategic Plan goal to “promote an ethical and socially just society through an intentional commitment to inclusion, equity and diversity.” The program is part of the portfolio of the Office of Equity and Diversity, headed by Dr. Obie Ford III, Campus Director of Equity and Diversity.  I have been a member of the BaCE committee since its inception, and I serve as co-facilitator of the workshop Search Committee Training for Faculty and Staff with Dr. Ford. I’ve learned a lot in working with the committee members to develop the program and to develop workshops, and from facilitating the search committee workshop. I have been a participant in workshops on Universal Design, Microaggressions, and Deaf 101, as well. I think our BaCE program is an outstanding innovation for our campus, and I hope to see Change Agent placards all over campus!


“Why Aren’t There More Black People in Oregon?” asks Dr. Walidah Imarisha

At the NCORE (the National Conference on Race and ethnicity in American Higher Education) conference in Portland last week, I heard Walidah Imarisha give the opening keynote address, “Why Aren’t There More Black People in Oregon? A Hidden History.” Her presentation was enormously compelling as it brought that hidden history into the open for the 5000 people attending the conference. A few salient facts she presented: the Oregon Territory (which included not only what is now the state of Oregon, but also Washington, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming) passed a law in 1844 excluding black people from living in the Oregon Territory. When the state of Oregon was admitted to the United States in 1859, it became the only state admitted to the Union with a racial exclusion law in its constitution. That language, excluding black people from living in Oregon, was not removed from the state constitution until 2002. That’s not a typo. That language was not removed until the 21st century.

I wish everyone from WSU Vancouver could have attended this keynote. Fortunately, Dr. Imarisha has a timeline which she presents on YouTube, from which her keynote address was drawn. I recommend that everyone check it out. It’s good for all of us to know the hidden history of the place we live, so that we can all work toward turning that history around to make the Pacific Northwest a place of racial equity and inclusion, and do it now, not wait until the 22nd century.

Diversity is a fact…equity is a goal

I recently heard a speaker quote something that I really appreciated: “Diversity is a fact, inclusion is a practice and equity is a goal.” This comes from a tweet from  @TonyaMosley. Mosley is the Silicon Valley Bureau Chief for KQED, a PBS station.

Here’s what I particularly like about this quote: in light of the propensity to raise questions over the value of diversity and whether we need diversity, Mosley succinctly reminds us that diversity is a fact, whatever our perspective on it might be.

Crucially, though, she then takes us farther, to inclusion and equity, which are important concepts for WSU Vancouver. I think it’s worth thinking deeply about the idea of inclusion as a practice. A practice is something that is customary, habitual, and expected. I call on us all to work to make our behaviors toward others inclusive as a custom and a habit. We can develop these behaviors consciously so that they then become habits. And I would love for our campus to become a place where people from underrepresented and historically undervalued identities can expect inclusion as a practice.

Finally, equity is a goal. We have incorporated equity as a literal goal in our campus strategic plan, and it is a goal that we need to work seriously and mindfully to achieve. As one step toward that goal, I invite all campus community members to take part in the Building a Community of Equity (BaCE) program. Information about BaCE can be found here.

Finally, I want to echo what Chancellor Netzhamer said in his campus update last week when he called on us to do the hard work to improve the ways in which we “call out, condemn and address instances of white supremacy, racism and discrimination on our campus.”

Diversity is a fact. Our campus community is becoming increasingly diverse, and will continue to do so as we move forward into the coming decades. Inclusion is a practice that will make a stronger campus community, as well as a stronger nation and world as we create the circumstances in which all people can develop their talents and contribute to their highest potential. Equity is a goal. It’s a goal that we must commit to and continue striving towards through the hard work and re-learning that it will take. I’m committed. And I hope each of you will commit, as well.

Chancellor’s Award for Advancing Equity

Thanks to the work of our Campus Director of Equity and Diversity, Dr. Obie Ford III, WSU Vancouver has established a new Chancellor’s Award for Advancing Equity. This is a high-profile award that will be presented at Commencement. Here are the details:

The Chancellor’s Award for Advancing Equity honors a full-time WSU Vancouver faculty or staff member for excellence in building and expanding a community of equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging on campus. The award recognizes this individual’s outstanding and impactful service to WSU Vancouver through contributions to realizing one or more of the following objectives from Goal 4 of the WSU Vancouver strategic plan to ensure equitable opportunities and outcomes for all student populations; infuse equity-mindedness throughout the fabric of the campus structure and create capacity to work toward equity in all aspects of campus endeavors; and/or build and maintain a safe and welcoming environment for all students and employees.


Nominees will have established specific procedures, practices and/or initiatives that advance equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging at WSU Vancouver in relation to any one of the following Goal 4 objectives. The award committee will rate each nomination based on the criteria below. It is crucial that nominators submit thorough nominations that describe how the nominee meets the award criteria. While completing all three categories of criteria is not required to submit a nomination, nominators should be aware and mindful that each category is interconnected. Therefore, the quality of the nomination is improved by providing as much relevant information about the nominee in each category as possible. The committee for the Chancellor’s Award for Advancing Equity will rate nominations on the following criteria:

  1. Ensure equitable opportunities and outcomes for all student populations.

(Any of the following meets this category)

  • Practices/initiatives that support equity of outcomes in outreach, recruitment, retention or graduation.
  • Partners with culturally specific organizations to increase student access and understand needs of underrepresented students.
  • Identifies/obtains grant funding to increase capacity for services to underrepresented students.
  1. Infuse equity-mindedness throughout the fabric of the campus structure and create capacity to work toward equity in all aspects of campus endeavors. (Any of the following meets this category)
  • Provides ongoing professional development related to equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging.
  • Ensures equity and diversity values in campus-wide activities.
  1. Build and maintain a safe and welcoming environment for all students and employees.

(Any of the following meets this category)

  • Develops and supports initiatives that promote dialogue around climate, equity and diversity issues.
  • Participates in the BaCE professional development program.
  • Implements campus supports to improve retention of underrepresented faculty and staff.

For more information about this award and to nominate an eligible WSU Vancouver faculty or staff member, visit the website.

If you have questions about this award, please feel free to contact the committee chair, Obie Ford III:

Associate Vice Chancellor Search

As many of you know, June Canty will be retiring after this academic year. June has led our student success efforts in Academic Affairs over the five years she’s spent in this position, and she will be missed. We’ve launched the search for a new Associate Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs.  A brief description and link to the full job posting appears below. The application deadline is January 21.

This position supports the Vice Chancellor in the achievement of the academic mission and vision of WSU Vancouver. The Associate Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs (AVCAA) has major responsibilities within the areas of student success, institutional research and strategic planning, academic planning, and assessment. WSU Vancouver is part of the Washington State University system, which operates as one university geographically dispersed. The AVCAA works with constituents, including Student Affairs, on the Vancouver campus, and also serves as a liaison with the Pullman campus. The successful candidate will qualify for tenure at the rank of Professor.

For more information, please see:



Welcome back for Fall 2018!

Hello, faculty and staff colleagues, and welcome to the start of fall semester 2018. First, I’d like to ask you all to help us be sure that all students who should be registered are registered, so that we can capture our FTE accurately. Having all our students registered in all their classes is important for us, so that our FTE is reflected correctly–a process that has budgetary implications for the campus. Census day is a week from Friday–August 31–and the earlier we have all students registered the better, as we track our FTE on a daily basis, and right now our FTE is not up as much as we expected it to be at this point in the registration process.

In other news, earlier this month I celebrated my 5 year anniversary as Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs at WSU Vancouver. I’m feeling good about my time here, and will have some more to say in future posts about the changes we’ve made over the past five years.


Go Cougs!