PULLMAN – Bill Gillis, director of WSU’s Center to Bridge the Digital Divide, will step down as center director to focus on rural economic development.
Vickie Parker-Clark, district director for WSU Extension’s Northeast District and an accomplished Extension professor with more than 25 years of experience, will serve as interim director.
“This move allows Bill to dedicate his time to rural economic development,” said Linda Kirk Fox, associate vice president and dean of WSU Extension.
Founded in 2001, the Center to Bridge the Digital Divide focuses on empowering people with the ability to apply technology in ways that build community and create opportunity. It fosters collaborative partnerships and provides education outreach as well as research and policy guidance to expand access to telecommunications infrastructure and critical information technologies among underserved populations.
Financially self-sustaining, CBDD has attracted an average of $3 million a year in grants and contracts to WSU for project support; about 80 percent of those funds have been disseminated to community-based organizations in Washington or to international partners through sub-grants and subcontracts.
The center has pursued projects both internationally and in Washington. It has significant work underway in Africa and Afghanistan, and its Rural Bridges program is working to create 5,000 new, sustainable jobs in Washington over the next five years.
Gillis will be a part of that effort in his new role as leader of the center’s Rural Networks project. His title will be extension specialist for rural economic development.