New diversity chief sets up shop

There is much work to do and little time to waste. That is the perspective that Michael Tate, interim vice president for Equity and Diversity, is taking as he begins to orchestrate diversity efforts at Washington State University. Tate was appointed by President V. Lane Rawlins to fill a new position aimed at strengthening WSU’s diversity programs and activities.

“Recognizing and appreciating the diversity in our culture is an important ingredient in quality higher education,” Rawlins said. “The new position of vice president for Equity and Diversity was created to help us identify the necessary steps we must take to be a recognized leader in promoting understanding and fairness for all people.”

Since stepping into his position in September, Tate has secured a suite of offices in French Administration Building and has begun assembling a team of individuals who will provide the initial foundation for this work.

Moving under Tate’s leadership are all the units formerly housed within Human Relations and Diversity (HRD). These include Americans with Disabilities Act Compliance; the Center for Human Rights; Disability Resource Center; Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Allies Program; Human Relations and Educational Services; Talmadge Anderson Heritage House; and the Women’s Resource Center. Also moving is the Office of Multicultural Student Services. This unit resided in the Division of Student Affairs, while those in HRD reported to the Provost’s Office.

Provost Robert Bates and Charlene Jaeger, vice president for Student Affairs, voiced their support of the reorganization during a special luncheon Tate organized for all Equity and Diversity staff members on Oct 1.

“I am bringing together all of the units that have a natural affinity for this type of work,” Tate said. “Staff members in these offices have lots of good experience from which to build upon. With increased coordination and advocacy, we will be working towards a higher level of excellence.”

Tate will be meeting with leadership in all of the academic colleges to discuss their diversity plans and build new partnerships with his area.

Personnel changes
In an effort to maximize the expertise and experience of several employees within this new office, Tate has made a few key changes among some of his senior staff. First, Felicia Gaskins, formerly associate vice provost for Human Relations and Diversity, is now associate vice president for Equity and Diversity. She will continue to provide direct supervision for many of the offices within the area, as well as serve as interim director for the Center for Human Rights.

Steve Nakata, formerly director for the Office of Multicultural Student Services, is now director of communications and public relations for Tate’s office. Nakata will work to increase the visibility of the many diversity efforts at WSU.

J. Manuel Acevedo, formerly associate director for the Office of Multicultural Student Services, has assumed the director position within this office. Acevedo has worked in the office for 13 years.

Joining the staff within the Center for Human Rights on a part-time, temporary basis is Raul Sanchez. Sanchez served as a special assistant to the president for diversity at the University of Idaho until May 2004. He presently is teaching two courses at the University of Idaho Law School.

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