Walla Walla University follows the biblical instruction, holding in our philosophy that every person is created in the image of God as a being of inestimable value and worth. This belief leads us to oppose barriers that separate people from opportunities. We strive to provide every student and employee a safe environment and an atmosphere of inclusion in harmony with the mission of Walla Walla University.
Therefore the university maintains an Office of Diversity and Inclusion, led by an individual who reports directly to the president and sits on the president's cabinet. Our diversity efforts focus on preparing students and employees to challenge inequality by teaching and modeling cultural competency throughout our university community.
What is WWU doing to promote diversity and to educate the campus about racism and other issues related to diversity?
Our commitment in action
Walla Walla University is on an important journey, one that brings focus to our mission statement, which affirms that “every person is created in the image of God as a being of inestimable value and worth.”
In April of 2018, WWU president John McVay announced eight areas of diversity focus that the university would immediately pursue in keeping with its mission. Since then, students, faculty, and staff have developed implementation steps and measurement opportunities for each of these areas:
- Modifications to curriculum, both inside and outside our classrooms, to support diversity education.
- Expanded diversity education for university faculty and staff.
- Policy and procedure revisions to remove barriers to progress in diversity.
- Improved feedback mechanisms for our campus family.
- Recruiting enhancements that will attract diverse students, faculty, and staff.
- Regular diversity conversations and engagement with stakeholders.
- Assessment and annual reporting through a diversity scorecard.
- Increased resources and staffing committed to diversity-linked events and roles.
This plan, called Our Commitment to Diversity, is being shepherded into action, and progress will be reported annually. “The specifics of the plan aren’t just talk; they are an important foundation from which the campus family can take positive, deliberate, measurable steps toward fostering a more diverse campus community—the kind of community that inspires creativity and compassion and that develops young professionals equipped for a diverse world and future,” says McVay.
Pedrito Maynard-Reid, WWU assistant to the president for diversity since 2008, says, “Our university family has committed to fostering a respectful and durable pattern of diversity that will enrich each individual, strengthen Walla Walla University, and bless the world we serve. This plan is our roadmap and holds us accountable as we work to provide every student and employee with a safe environment and to model an atmosphere of inclusion and harmony.”
A decade ago Walla Walla University established the role of chief diversity officer on the WWU campus called the assistant to the president for diversity. This position reports directly to the WWU president and sits on the president’s Cabinet.
The WWU assistant to the president for diversity leads the activities of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, which include:
- Sponsoring faculty, staff, and student affinity networks and clubs.
- Providing support to the Black Alumni of Walla Walla University (BAWWU).
- Attending and remaining actively involved in the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE).
- Participating in local civic groups and diversity coalitions.
- Benchmarking the university’s diversity, inclusion, and equity statistics and efforts with other higher education institutions.
- Helping to attract ethnic minority employees and recruit minority students to Walla Walla University.
- Serving on the Student Life Behavioral Intervention Team, with special responsibility for diversity issues.
- Overseeing the Donald Blake Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Culture.
- Serving as the university’s chief representative for personal and corporate issues regarding diversity, inclusion, and equity, both on and off our five campuses.
The assistant to the president for diversity also leads an active Diversity Council on campus. The council membership includes:
- The university president.
- Vice presidents from student life, academics, and enrollment/alumni.
- Student leaders.
- Our human resources director.
- Elected faculty and staff.
- Community members.
The council regularly receives training on topics such as unconscious bias, tokenism, harassment, perpetual foreigner, mansplaining, implicit bias, and cultural humility to name a few of the most recent. The council holds an open forum yearly, inviting members of our university campus to share ideas or concerns. Additionally, the council provides guidance and helps organize a range of activities such as Berean Fellowship, Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, Martin Luther King, Jr. CommUnity, Peacekeeping Week, and Women’s History Month.
The council’s strategic plan is updated and reviewed at least yearly by the president’s Cabinet and the Walla Walla University Board of Trustees. The 2017–2020 plan prioritizes five goals:
- Identify and acquire existing and needed resources to prioritize diversity.
- Attract and nurture first-generation college students by meeting their unique needs.
- Recruit and nurture minority students, faculty, and staff to foster a climate that goes beyond tolerance and tokenism to inclusion and equity.
- Prepare students who come from homogenous and privileged backgrounds to identify and confront unequal treatment, practice, and policy.
- Provide regular diversity training for all employees.
Included among student leaders on the council are leaders from the Associated Students of Walla Walla University’s Inclusive Committee, which meets regularly to address student questions or concerns and to facilitate efforts to improve diversity in student leadership and activities to better nurture diversity on our campuses. Members of the council also participate in most employee search committees, and our human resources team intentionally strives for diversity among the membership of our search committees.
In addition to our diversity conversations and planning related to ethnicity, we also consider gender, socioeconomic status, family education, age, and ability/disability diversity, among others. To that end, we require routine training for our employees, covering topics such as:
- Collaboration skills for diversity.
- Building a supportive workplace community.
- Accommodating employees with disabilities.
- Recognizing and avoiding workplace retaliation.
- Recognizing and addressing workplace bullying.
We also frequently remind our employees about our standards of conduct to ensure health and safety on our campuses, including expectations for and policies regarding discrimination or harassment. In addition to routine training, special training and presentations often address diversity themes.
Hispanic Heritage Month (October)
In October we gather for a special campus-wide assembly celebrating Hispanic heritage. This program is a joint effort between Hispanic Ministries, LatinX Club, the Hispanic fellowship of faculty and staff, and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January)
This annual, day-long celebration is the largest event in the region honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Special speakers are invited to this event who advocate for social equity. In the evening we join with Whitman College for an MLK Jr. Day march through downtown Walla Walla and a candlelight vigil.
Peacemaking Week (January)
This week is dedicated to promoting peace through presentations, panel discussions, and a vigil. This is done in cooperation with Adventist Peace Fellowship.
Black History Month (February)
Black History Sabbath: One weekend in February is dedicated to the celebration of Black History. This includes a special vespers and church services that celebrate Black culture through music and message. This event draws visitors from throughout the region who come to join us in celebration and sing in a mass gospel choir. Watch the 2018 Black History Sabbath service >
Black History CommUnity: As a campus we gather for a special assembly to celebrate Black History.
Women’s History Month (March)
Women’s History Month is celebrated through film screenings, book readings, and open mic opportunities.
There are numerous organizations on campus that celebrate diverse cultures and promote issues related to diversity:
Asian and Pacific Islander Club (APIC)
Asian and Pacific Islander Club provides fun-filled events for students, faculty and staff related to Asian and Pacific Islander culture and heritage.
Every Sabbath during the school year a group of student leaders and faculty/staff sponsors organize and produce a church service in the Berean style with a worship team and guest speakers.
Black Student Christian Forum (BSCF)
BSCF is a social club open to all students that focuses on fellowship, entertainment, and getting involved. Lead by a dedicated and hardworking team, the club puts on many events such as BBQ's, Christmas parties, picnics, and more.
Center for Educational Equity and Diversity (CEED)
The Center for Educational Equity and Diversity was established to increase research and improve practice on issues of diversity and equity in the School of Education and Psychology. It is a center founded to interact with the public, both on the WWU campus and the greater Walla Walla Valley community. Learn more about CEED >
Led by the university's chief diversity officer, Diversity Council meets monthly and is comprised of key university leaders, elected faculty and staff; student leaders; and community members. The council regularly receives training, holds an open forum yearly, provides guidance for annual organizations and annual events, and develops a strategic plan, updated and reviewed at least yearly by the president’s cabinet and Board of Trustees. Learn more about Diversity Council >
Donald Blake Center
The Donald Blake Center promotes academic research through annual conferences featuring keynote speakers who are leading academics on subject matter related to the study of race, ethnicity, and culture. Learn more about the Donald Blake Center history and upcoming events >
First Nations Club
Walla Walla University aims to engage with biblical faithfulness and Christ-like compassion to students who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community. We at Walla Walla University recognize the vulnerable situation of LGBTQ+ students on our campus and are committed to creating an environment of understanding and acceptance. For this reason, we at Walla Walla University establish Haven as a place of engagement and emotional support for the well-being and success of LGBTQ+ students. Learn more about Haven >
A student-led ministry out of the Chaplain's Office, Hispanic Ministries plans a weekly worship.
The Associated Students of Walla Walla University (ASWWU) employs a student diversity and wellness officer who reports directly to their president. This officer facilitates the Inclusive Committee, comprised of students, which discusses issues related to inclusion and diversity within ASWWU. Learn more about ASWWU's diversity and wellness initiatives >
LatinX Club is a campus club that promotes interests related to Hispanic cultures in Latin America; provides opportunities to experience these cultures through music, food, and fellowship; and promotes goodwill within our local communities.
Walla Walla University is ranked in the top 10% of all schools in the country for diversity. WWU earned this ranking by having one of the most diverse student populations in the country with respect to race, age, gender, and geographic origin.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:3
Walla Walla University is ranked third out of 42 colleges in the state of Washington for diversity. That puts WWU in the top 5% of all colleges in the state.
The mission of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion is to promote learning and working environments free of discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, age, ability, or veteran's status. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion at WWU exists to:
- Meet the particular needs of a diverse student population.
- Educate the college community on matters of diversity.
- Foster understanding and constructive relations among members of this diverse community.
- Support and encourage recruitment of faculty, staff, and students from diverse backgrounds.
- Encourage understanding and respect for differences in culture, ability, and thinking patterns.
- Direct/coordinate programs and activities that provide an inclusive and Christ like spirit among groups, clubs, and organizations of WWU.