Two Washington State University faculty members who want to help Latino/Mestizo and Native/Indigenous communities are getting a boost from the WSU College of Education.
They, along with two colleagues with expertise in mathematics education, are recipients of faculty fellowships from the college. The two-year fellowships set the stage for larger grants, said A.G. Rud, dean of the college.
“The exciting work of these four scholars supports two of our strategic initiatives: helping diverse populations and improving education in the STEM disciplines – science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” he said.
Faculty fellowships provide support for innovative research and graduate student funding. The latest ones to be awarded are the Berry Family Fellowship, supported by Joan and George Berry, and the Ellison Fellowship, funded by Ben and Nancy Ellison.

Professor Brian McNeill and Associate Professor SusanRae Banks-Joseph, both at WSU Pullman, are recipients of the Berry Family Fellowship. They will develop a proposal for creation of the Pacific Northwest Center for Mestizo and Indigenous Research and Outreach.

“To our knowledge, this would be the first center of its kind in the United States,” said McNeill. “Its primary goal would be to serve the needs of Latino/Mestizo and Native/Indigenous communities in the Pacific Northwest. We believe it would help communities both nationally and globally.”

By choosing the word “Indigenous,” Banks-Joseph and McNeill are including Native Hawaiian as well as Native American/American Indian and Alaska Native populations. The choice of the word “Mestizo” recognizes that much of Latino culture is a blending of racial and ethnic backgrounds, including Caucasian, African and Indigenous bloodlines.
“In addition to shared mixed backgrounds, Latinos/Mestizos and Indigenous people face similar societal issues, including educational achievement gaps, high poverty rates and health problems as well as discrimination,” said McNeill.
With establishment of a center as a long-term goal, McNeill and Banks-Joseph will seek funding to support graduate students and promote multidisciplinary research efforts. They plan to build upon the mission and accomplishments of the Clearinghouse for Native Teaching and Learning, which is based at the College of Education.

Assistant Professor Janet Frost of WSU Spokane also has received a Berry Family Fellowship. It will support expansion of the Riverpoint Advanced Mathematics Partnership (RAMP), a professional development project that includes 17 high schools, seven school districts and eight higher education faculty. The fellowship funding also will be used to explore possibilities for connecting RAMP to the Mead School District’s proposed STEM Academy.

Frost is principal investigator, lead evaluator, facilitator and planner for the RAMP project, which receives funding from the U.S. Department of Education via the Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board.

The Ben and Nancy Ellison Fellowship has been awarded to Associate Professor Amy Roth McDuffie on the WSU Tri-Cities campus. She will use the award to examine mathematics and curriculum innovation at Delta High School, a new STEM-focused public school in Richland. She has proposed a number of research questions important to understanding the mathematics curriculum.
Roth McDuffie is among WSU faculty members who helped design the Delta High School curriculum. Her research focus is the professional development of pre-service and practicing teachers in mathematics education. She emphasizes teaching methods that incorporate research and theory on how students come to understand mathematics.