Bernardo Gallegos was WSU’s first “cluster hire.” Gallegos started in August as the College of Education’s Distinguished Professor of Multicultural Education. However, the cluster hire program that brought him to Pullman actually began several years ago, in discussions between Provost Robert C. Bates and Dean Judy Mitchell of the College of Education.

To further the university’s goal of recruiting faculty with expertise in teaching about multicultural issues and to diversify the curriculum, Mitchell offered a new strategy. She suggested hiring a cluster of five faculty in multicultural education, including a well-respected senior faculty member who could lead the entire college to new heights.

The provost agreed, but his budgetary scalpel cut that request to two positions: a senior professor at the distinguished rank and a junior professor who, together with other multicultural faculty, would anchor a supportive network and advance diversity within the college.

More than advertising needed
With funding secured, the cluster-hire proposal was ready to become reality — but only after a successful search.

“For our distinguished professor, we were looking for someone who was not likely to be seeking a new job,” Mitchell explained. “There is a very limited pool of senior faculty in multicultural education, and we knew we couldn’t expect to find anyone just by running an ad.”

So the college’s search committee used a nomination process that did not rely on the usual advertisements. Search committee members, as well as others they contacted across campus and at other universities, nominated potential hires. From that identified pool of highly qualified senior faculty, Gallegos was interviewed and chosen.

“I wasn’t looking for a job; I was happy at Chicago (at the University of Illinois, Chicago campus),” Gallegos said. “I asked a lot of questions and realized that this was a great fit. So, I agreed.”

To complete the cluster, assistant professor Paul Pitre will begin work at WSU in spring semester. Pitre was hired through the regular national search process.

Duplicating success
Based on the success of the first cluster-hire experience, Bates intends to duplicate this faculty diversity effort at other colleges across campus.

“Bernardo Gallegos is exactly the kind of senior faculty member we were hoping to attract through the cluster-hire process,” Bates explained. “Professor Gallegos is an excellent scholar and a nationally recognized contributor to the field of multicultural education. He is working enthusiastically to increase diversity at WSU and is already planning a major conference here next semester.”

Gallegos is planning the first International Globalization, Diversity and Education Conference to be held at the Pullman campus in March.

“This will be the first conference to focus on the relationship of globalization, diversity and education,” Gallegos said. “We must enrich our conversation around diversity and frame diversity in its historical and global context. Only then will we understand how people can coexist. This is the question of our century, and a question I began asking as a child in New Mexico.”

Gallegos is of Pueblo, Spanish and Genizaro (Plains Indians raised in Spanish households in the Southwest) ancestry.

“I have always tried to get out of my group to understand others,” he said. “I got my Ph.D. in multicultural education by asking the same questions I asked as a child, and I ask those same questions today. Here at WSU, I am fortunate to be with colleagues who support me and who ask similar questions themselves.”