Eastern Washington University (EWU) is a regional, comprehensive public university located in Cheney and Spokane, Washington with satellite programs in Vancouver, Everett and Bellevue, Washington. EWU is dedicated to providing quality education and access to opportunity for all students. Because our diversity makes EWU a stronger community, we aim to foster a culture of respect, integrity and inclusiveness. EWU seeks to achieve our mission to expand opportunities for personal transformation through excellence in learning by providing critical access to first-generation students, underrepresented populations and other students who may not have the opportunity for higher education.
The strategic plan for diversity had its beginnings in an institutional history that comprises various multicultural academic units and diverse initiatives designed to reflect the history of multicultural populations, culturally reaffirm underrepresented students and to provide awareness on issues of difference. Our desire that EWU reflect the nation’s diversity led to a concerted effort to create a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment for the entire campus community. Eastern Washington University President, Mary Cullinan, PhD, recognized a need for the addition of a Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) at EWU and announced to the campus in early 2016 that a search for a CDO would commence in the fall of 2016. In March 2016, President Cullinan appointed a diversity and inclusion task force. As a result of their research, it was decided that an executive level vice president for diversity and inclusion would be hired with a direct reporting line to the president.
The full inclusion and representation of underrepresented faculty, staff and students has been a nationwide dilemma within higher education since the academy’s inception. Historically higher education served to educate the gentry or wealthy landowning males. No other populations were included. The challenge of diversifying the academy continues to plague higher education institutions and ultimately the workforce. Diversity of people, ideas, thoughts and beliefs have become central in the nation’s fabric with demands for equality for all people taking center stage within every facet of the academy.
To remain a viable global institution, it is imperative that higher education reflect the diversity of the nation to remain economically competitive. A lack of diversity results in misperceptions that only the majority faculty hold the keys to academic learning. When students do not see diversity reflected within the university, the results can have a staggeringly negative impact on the overall climate and on the recruitment and retention of diverse students, faculty and staff.
The Office for Diversity and Inclusion will establish itself as a state and regional resource for diversity expertise and inclusive excellence. Our vision for inclusive excellence includes attracting and retaining the talents of diverse faculty,
students and staff to facilitate teaching, learning, scholarship and service in a welcoming climate.