New director of diversity discusses future plans

Anthony Kelley, the new director of diversity and outreach, is excited to be a part of Washington State University Vancouver and for the opportunity his position provides to create a positive influence on the campus community. Having previously worked at the University of Washington Bothell as the assistant director of diversity outreach and recruitment, as well as in various countries including Taiwan, South Africa, Europe and Brazil, Kelley said the experiences equipped him with insight that can be applied at WSU Vancouver.

Rather than introducing sweeping changes, Kelley wants to examine what is currently being done, find where the gaps are and understand how he can deepen the work to improve.

One of Kelley’s roles on campus is to improve the recruitment process of minority populations, which he hopes to accomplish by strengthening partnerships with local Native American tribes and high school programs. Once these students come to this campus, it is vital that they, and the students who are already enrolled, have support.

Kelley hopes to build something inclusive, so that “acknowledging culture is a part of our inherent culture, not just a center on campus.” This will be accomplished by making minor tweaks to the curriculum and providing space for difficult conversations to take place.

According to Kelley, “People on our campus have experienced trauma whether through gender or race, but we’ve gotten complacent and comfortable.” Kelley said that part of his job is to effectively bring up these uncomfortable issues, keep people at the table and help people realize the need for such conversations to take place.

He encourages people to be honest with themselves and be able to engage in conversations about the past in order to move into the future. Through this, Kelley hopes that WSU Vancouver can become a local example of how such discussions can facilitate learning to negotiate through problems, issues and tensions.

Kelley’s current projects include press conferences to raise awareness about what WSU Vancouver stands for as well as providing workshops to educate students about their rights regarding immigration. In order for these honest conversations to take place, workshops and next year’s events have already been planned out. The Diversity Center recently opened applications for positions for next year, and Kelley is currently developing the training for these applicants. Through these trainings, Kelley will be heavily involved with the students this summer.

When asked how students can get involved, Kelley advised that students and faculty participate in events on campus. He emphasized that student voices on campus really do mean something and encouraged students to stop by his office in VSSC 111 to share their stories and help him to better understand the WSU Vancouver climate.

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