In early May 2017, WSU President Kirk Schulz directed Provost and Executive Vice President Dan Bernardo and Vice President for Student Affairs Mary Jo Gonzales to engage the University’s students, faculty, and staff in formulating a comprehensive plan to improve WSU’s campus culture and climate.
The president’s directive originated from his commitment to building a more welcoming and inclusive environment at WSU. Creating a more diverse WSU also is one of the key elements in the University’s Drive to 25, the system-wide initiative to advance WSU to recognized status as one of the nation’s top 25 public research universities by 2030.
Key system and campus culture and climate issues
After reviewing the recent concerns expressed and the formal requests made by WSU students, faculty, and staff to become a more inclusive and welcoming university, Daniel Bernardo, provost and executive vice president, and Mary Jo Gonzales, vice president of student affairs, identified several areas in which the University needs to better support its community.
Some of the highest priority concerns identified to date include:
- The unavailability of annual progress reports from WSU departments and committees responsible for enhancing faculty and staff diversity
- Poor internal communication about progress regarding the recruitment, persistence, and graduation of diverse student populations
- The need for more frequent and comprehensive cultural competency training for students, faculty, staff, and administration
- The need for additional training and education about WSU Executive Policy 15, specifically sections about free speech, discrimination and harassment, and the section describing available reporting mechanisms when incidents occur
- The lack of consistent institutional support for student diversity-related events, activities, and programs, including the need to invite contemporary and relevant speakers to campus
- The need to examine the courses that qualify for UCORE Diversity general education requirements for all students