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The Pitre Dish: 2.28.23

Greetings EverCoug Community,

February was quite a busy month for me, and not just because I lead a vibrant and bustling campus. As the month designated for celebrating Black history, every venue and stage teamed with African American speakers and events.  Every spoken and written word included a nod to the perspectives and contributions of black Americans. I appreciated it and enjoyed it. But on this last day of February, I implore us not to stop now. Keep the music going. Keep the conversations and reflections going because Black history is American history. They are one and the same. The time to learn, teach and reflect upon the African American experience is today, tomorrow, or any day we choose.

When Carter G. Woodson launched what was then known as Negro History Week in 1924, his goal was to broaden the view of American history to include the contributions of African Americans. Woodson is known as the father of Black History Month because he gave birth to the recorded history of Black people in the United States. A single week became a month.  Now, a month can extend year-round in our hearts and minds. As an educational leader, I know students have the best learning experience when subjects are not taught in isolation but with a full and critical context of the many things with which they intersect. Viewing black history as American history allows us all to better understand the past, present, and future of this great country.  The best way I can honor Dr. Woodson is by doing my part to extend the conversation beyond a single month to the rest of the year.

Recently, my wife and I visited our daughter at college during Parents Weekend. One evening, we watched the NAACP Image Awards, an important annual showcasing of black talent and accomplishments that might otherwise go unnoticed. Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump received the Social Justice Impact Award for his remarkable achievements as a social justice advocate. He used his acceptance speech to remind us of our collective obligation to celebrate Black History and ensure the contributions of African Americans in science, history, literature, culture, and more grow in relevance and understanding in our schools and American life.

As Crump told the audience, “Black history matters because Black history is American history.”  

In Everett, we will continue to celebrate our rich, diverse, and shared history. We will continue to encourage critical conversations. Here are just a few exciting ways that we’re extending the conversation:

ASWSUE’s Diversity Committee is actively opening discussions and creating initiatives through Student Government that promote the values of the EverCoug community and the broader WSU System. Chaired by Business Administration and Management senior Zainab Alarape, our students are building the committee to address current issues impacting our campus and community. In March, they will participate in BaCE training with Obie Ford, Associate Vice Chancellor of DEI for WSU Vancouver.

When speaking about the ASWSUE Diversity Committee, I must take a moment to congratulate their current president, senior Software Engineering student Arlo Jones. In addition to his commitment to our diversity work, Arlo will head to Sweden for a semester abroad in fall 2023 to support the international development of Boeing’s and Saab’s new T-7A Red Hawk training aircraft. Zainab, Arlo, and all committee members are dedicated to creating a campus where everyone is respected, included, and understands their unique contribution to WSU Everett. I couldn’t be prouder of the dedication and drive our students bring to campus each day. Watching them build life and leadership experiences on top of earning a degree is one of the highlights of my role.

Faculty and staff also work to keep up our DEI momentum. Our Everett Anti-Racism Project began at the beginning of the month and will continue indefinitely. Today, Trymaine Gaither shared his work in Mindfulness-Based Anti-Racism, leading our staff in carefully exploring our beliefs and implicit biases, identifying microaggressions, and working toward a robust and inclusive campus community. We are fortunate to learn and grow with Trymaine’s guidance!

As WSU Everett grows in knowledge, we also grow in numbers. I am pleased to welcome three outstanding new members of the EverCoug team: Hayley Statema, Director of Development; Lisa Hunter, Registrar; and Kate Brodland, Admissions Counselor and Recruiter. They each bring passion, experience, and expertise that will keep us growing and thriving. Also gracing our halls is Professor Tyron Love, visiting Fulbright Scholar visiting from the University of Canterbury. Dr. Love researches the academic careers of Native Māori faculty in New Zealand. Dr. Joe S. Gladstone and Dr. Love will explore the career progress of university faculty who identify as Native American, commencing with doctoral study application through to retirement/emerita.

Finally, we look forward to hosting the Board of Regents on March 22. Almost all members, President Schulz, and staff will be on campus for a panel discussion with our accomplished students to share in their experiences and successes.

To paraphrase the writer bell hooks, we are stepping into March and into the rest of the year, building a learning community focused on diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. I invite you to join us. Please see our website for events and ways that you can engage with us.
Go Cougs!
Dr. Paul Pitre, Chancellor
WSU Everett & Everett University Center