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Progress on creating an inclusive and welcoming WSU community

'Washington State University' sign at entrance to the Pullman campus.
Washington State University

“We are moving forward,” said WSU Vice President for Student Affairs Mary Jo Gonzales. “We’re not just talking about issues affecting our community. We are finding sustainable long-term solutions, putting staff and systems in place to ensure progress is made in building the inclusive and welcoming learning environment our students, faculty, and staff deserve.”

Two associate vice presidents key to fostering greater student engagement and continuing WSU’s advancements in improving overall system and campus culture will assume their new roles this summer. Additionally, the first scholar in residence for the Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center has been selected. Progress is also being made among the faculty, students and staff serving on five working groups addressing campus culture and climate concerns.

Joining the leadership team at the Division of Student Affairs, for example, are two accomplished higher education professionals.

Community, equity, and inclusive excellence

close-up of Jaime Nolan
Jaime Nolan

Jaime Nolan, who has 20 years of diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice experience, will serve as WSU’s associate vice president for community, equity, and inclusive excellence.

“Jaime’s career has been dedicated to meeting the needs of students,” Gonzales said. “Her proven success in collaborating and partnering with faculty and staff as they developed equitable and inclusive educational environments was unparalleled.”

The associate vice president for community, equity, and inclusive excellence was created as part of the Campus Culture and Climate initiative announced in May 2017 by WSU President Kirk Schulz.

On the WSU Pullman campus, Nolan will oversee the Gender Identity/Expression Sexual Orientation and Resource Center, Women’s Resource Center, Multicultural Student Services, Access Center, Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center, as well as the Office of Equity and Diversity which was moved to the Division of Student Affairs in January, 2018. Nolan will also lead and coordinate WSU system-wide culture and climate efforts.

Nolan earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees in American studies at WSU. Currently serving in a similar position at the University of New Hampshire, Nolan’s experience also includes serving as chief diversity officer at South Dakota State University and director of the Office for Diversity, Equity and Community. At the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, she served as director for multicultural affairs, held the role of associate dean for diversity and director of the Office of Undergraduate Studies at Colgate University, and served as special assistant to the vice president for multicultural affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Nolan was named to the WSU post following a nationwide search and will begin her new role on June 1.

Student engagement

close-up of Ellen Taylor
Ellen Taylor

Ellen Taylor will join WSU on July 11 as associate vice president of student engagement.

In this refocused Student Affairs leadership position, Taylor will create a comprehensive student engagement strategy that is both proactive and responsive to the emerging and evolving needs of students. Under Taylor’s leadership on the WSU Pullman campus will be Access and Opportunity, Health and Wellness, and Student Involvement. Taylor will also coordinate WSU system-wide student engagement efforts.

“Ellen is widely recognized for her commitment to the health and wellness of undergraduate and graduate students,” Gonzales said. “She understands student engagement is holistic and expansive. She knows how to build effective teams and create seamless learning environments where students thrive.”

Currently serving as associate vice president for student life at University of Washington, Taylor was hired following a national search. She has led institution-wide efforts in the mental, physical, and social wellbeing of students at UW including the Student Well-Being Collaborative, Bias Incident Advisory Committee, and the President’s Task Force on Sexual Assault Prevention and Response. Taylor also brings over 16 years of experience serving in counseling center leadership roles at UW and Oregon State University.

She is an experienced trainer for community organizations on issues relating to college mental health, leadership development, organizational change, and creating inclusive workplaces.

Scholar in residence

close-up of Paula Groves Price
Paula Groves Price

Meanwhile, the inaugural Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center Scholar-in-Residence has been named. Paula Groves Price, who is currently the associate dean for diversity and international programs at WSU’s College of Education and professor of cultural studies and social thought in education, will serve in this role in August 2018.

“Paula led development of the cultural center from an idea sketched on a napkin to the phenomenal building we have today,” Gonzales said. “This appointment leverages her talents and expertise, focusing her energies on strategic initiatives related to our Drive to 25.”

Groves Price teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in diversity, multicultural education, and social and cultural foundations of education. Her research explores issues of equity, including fairness, social justice, and equality of both access and opportunity.

Among her duties as the cultural center’s first scholar in residence, Groves Price will oversee the launch of WSU’s inaugural Inclusive Excellence Lecture Series, which is made possible by the financial support of Jesse and Carmi Lyon.

Culture and Climate Initiative

Elsewhere, work has begun to address issues identified as part of the Campus Culture and Climate initiative. Five working groups, consisting of more than 110 students, faculty and staff from across the WSU System, will be providing regular updates on their efforts and outlining their recommendations for moving forward.

Their progress can be followed online at the Campus, Culture, and Climate website.

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