President's Taskforce on Equity, Inclusion and Diversity

As the stewards of a proudly public university, we at Western must recognize the history and culture we are embedded in and embrace our responsibility to increase access for those who have been historically and structurally excluded from our society’s opportunities, resources, and rewards.  The job of the President’s Task Force on Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity is to rigorously review campus climate, recruitment and retention practices, curriculum, and community outreach efforts in order to develop a comprehensive strategic plan and to recommend initiatives, policies, and procedures that will increase equity and inclusion and allow Western to embrace and reflect a truly diverse society.

Taskforce Charge



Taskforce Members

Eric Alexander, Associate Dean of Student Engagement, Director of Viking Union Facilities

Ann Beck, Assistant Director of Veteran Services

Rich Brown, Associate Professor, Department of Theatre and Dance

Aleyda Cervantes-Gutierrez, Associated Students Vice President for Diversity

Stephanie Cheng, Associated Students President

Catherine Clark, Dean of the College of Science and Engineering

Timothy Costello, Director, Center for Service Learning

Karen Dade, Associate Dean of Woodring College of Education, Taskforce Co-Chair

Joanne DeMark, Leadership Development Specialist, Leadership Advantage Program

Dawn Dietrich, Associate Professor, Department of English

Larry Estrada, Associate Professor, Fairhaven College

Kristen French, Associate Professor, Department of Elementary Education

Joseph Garcia, Professor, Department of Management

Shar Garo, Program Manager, Compass to Campus, Woodring College of Education

Sue Guenther-Schlesinger, Vice Provost, Equal Opportunity & Employment Diversity

Vicki Hamblin, Executive Director, Center for International Studies; Professor, Modern & Classical Languages

Vicki Hsueh, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science; Director, Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies

Leonard Jones, Director, University Residences

Jason Kanov, Associate Professor, Department of Management

Jeff King, Professor, Department of Psychology

Kathleen Kitto, Vice Provost for Research/Dean of the Graduate School; Special Assistant to the Provost for Strategic Initiatives

L.K. Langley, Equal Opportunity/Equal Employment Diversity Associate, Equal Opportunity Office

Ee Lin Lee, Associate Professor, Department of Communication Studies

Baozhen Luo, Professor, Department of Sociology

Rebecca Marrall, Diversity and Disability Services Librarian

Trula Nicholas, Associate Professor, Department of Health and Community Studies

Kunle Ojikutu, Assistant Vice President for Student Services and Special Assistant to the President for Diversity

Tara Perry, Professor, Department of Communication Studies

Abby Ramos, Student-At-Large Member, WWU Trustee

Francisco Rios, Dean of Woodring College of Education

Shari Robinson, Director, Counseling Center

Nick Sanchez, Employment Inclusion Manager, Human Resources

Joan Ullin, Assistant Director, Student Outreach Services

Veronica Velez, Assistant Professor, Department of Secondary Education




President's Taskforce on Equity, Inclusion & Diversity: Assigned Work, Accomplishments and Recommendations: 2013-2017

Taskforce members presented its recommendations for the coming year, as well as a review of past accomplishments, to the President's Cabinet on June 6, 2017.


Diversity Taskforce Endorses New Report: The Experiences of Faculty of Color at Western Washington University

Taskforce co-chair Raine Dozier, Ph.D., conducted interviews with 25 tenured and tenure-track faculty in the spring of 2014 to better undertsand the experience of racial and ethnic minority faculty at Western. Approximately two thirds of faculty reported few or no negative incidents related to their race or ethnicity. The remaining third reported numerous incidents of prejudice and discrimination. These were generally experienced as ongoing microagressions that questions faculty competence, devalued scholarship, made cultural assumptions about ethnic groups, and trivialized diversity and diversity efforts at the institution. Participants had several suggestions that could improve the climate for faculty of color at Westenr Washington University and the report concludes with a list of recommendations.


Permanent process now in place for students to indicate preferred first name

Students may now indicate a preferred first name for use at Western whether or not they have obtained a legal name change.  Indicating a preferred first name automatically changes the student’s first name appearing in many Western locations, including class rosters, email display names, Western Cards, and unofficial transcripts.  Further details are available on the Equal Opportunity Office website. Many thanks to the Equal Opportunity Office, the Resistrar's Office and Administrative and Computing Services for creating this new process!


2013-14 University Operating Budget Includes Several Taskforce Recommendations

The 2013-14 operating budget approved by Western’s Board of Trustees at its July 18 meeting includes the following recommendations from the President’s Diversity Taskforce:

  • Permanent funding for a Director of Women’s Studies, including a half time course release and summer stipend.
  • Two tenured faculty lines with half appointments in American Cultural Studies, the home department for a series of courses and minors devoted to ethnic, racial and cultural minorities.
  • Two summer teaching grants for faculty proposing to revise current courses to include diversity.
  • A Diversity Teaching and Research Fellowship for a current faculty member conducting research on some aspect of diversity. The recipient of the fellowship would receive one course release for two quarters and would teach a seminar on some aspect of their research.
  • Bridge funding to support early opportunity hires, i.e., outstanding candidates who do not fulfill an immediate need but would provide a great fit for a position expected to soon come open through retirement, expansion, or other circumstances.  Where those individuals advance the diversity priorities of the University, this fund would allow for hiring earlier than would otherwise be possible, and before the opportunity would disappear.

Professor Vicki Hsueh named Director of Women's Studies

After an extensive search process including many strong candidates, Political Science Professor Vicki Hsueh has been selected to serve as the new Director of Women's Studies. More details are available here.

Staff Engagement and Diversity Climate Survey Results Available

In order to facilitate continual improvement of Western's campus climate and enhance the University's commitment to diversity, a survey of classified and professional staff regarding these important issues was conducted during Fall 2012. As Western has recently conducted similar studies for faculty and students, it was critical that the views and opinions of classified and professional staff also be gathered to identify areas in need of improvement and to gauge progress. Please see the Fall 2012 Staff Engagement and Diversity Climate Survey Report for details.

Temporary Procedure Implemented for Preferred First Name on Western Cards

The Registrar's Office, Western Card Office and Equal Opportunity Office have together implemented a temporary procedure for students and employees to obtain a Western Card indicating preferred first name. As the Temporary Procedure for First Name Changes on Western ID Cards states, enrolled students and employees wishing to use a preferred first name instead of a legal name on their Western Card may make such a request through any of these offices. The temporary procedure will be in place until a permanent process has been established across university systems.

President Shepard Approves Initial Taskforce Recommendations

President Shepard has approved the Taskforce's first set of recommendations:

  • The University should reimburse employees in same sex couples for the federal taxation on same sex partners’ health and wellness benefits. The process, termed a “gross-up benefit,” increases salaries by the amount taxed by the federal government plus the amount taxes would increase due to the increased income, effectively eliminating the penalty incurred by same sex couples. 
  • The University should add the following statement to the Dual Career Assistance policy: “These policies apply to same sex couples.”  Further, the University should add the same sentence to any form or policy that references “spouse/partner.”
  • The University should take steps to facilitate the ability for faculty, staff, and students to change their gender marker and preferred name without going through the time and expense of legally changing their name and/or gender with other governing bodies.


Additional recommendations from the Taskforce will be forthcoming. More details on the rationale and implementation schedule for these initial recommendations are available in President Shepard's letter to the Taskforce.


Assessing Diversity and Climate at Western: Results of Faculty Surveys

PDF icon 2010 - 2011 Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) Faculty Survey: DIVERSITY CLIMATE REPORT

Further Analyses

Links of Interest