Statement by WSU President Sam Smith on Passage of Initiative-200

Washington State University has made substantial gains in increasing the diversity of our academic community over the past decade. The passage of I-200 in no way deters WSU’s commitment to people of color and women, and will not lessen WSU’s goal to have a student body and workforce reflective of the diversity of Washington’s population. Diversity makes our university stronger.
To ensure a diverse community, WSU will expand its outreach efforts to all the people of our state to attract students and employees of all backgrounds to our university’s four campuses. WSU’s land-grant mission commits us to fulfill the mandate of a century ago to serve those previously denied educational opportunities.
WSU will continue to attract undergraduate students of color to WSU through our College Knowledge of the Mind program. And, once these students are here, they will benefit from the Multicultural Student Mentor Program, part of Multicultural Student Retention Services. The Future Teacher of Color program in the WSU College of Education will expand opportunities for students and will produce a diverse teacher corps for Washington. We will continue to seek talented women and students of color for our graduate programs.
WSU has been successful in recruiting a diverse student body. On the Pullman campus this fall, the number of students of color is the highest ever at WSU. The percentage of students of color among the total student body is higher than last year at WSU Spokane, Tri-Cities and Vancouver campuses. Also, there are now more women than men undergraduate students in the WSU system.
The memorandum of understanding, signed last fall by Northwest Native American tribal and WSU leaders, improves educational opportunities for Native American students at our university. The WSU administration has strengthened its communication efforts with the WSU Council on Chicana/o and Latina/o Affairs and with the growing Hispanic population in Eastern Washington to assure needs of the Chicana/o and Latina/o population are addressed.
In the spring, we will see the report of the diversity assessment committee appointed by Provost Gretchen Bataille. This report will assess the strengths and weaknesses of our diversity programs, and identify where new efforts are needed.
I join Provost Bataille in calling on WSU faculty, staff and students to sustain our commitment to equal opportunity in education and employment. Her memo sent today to university vice provosts, dean, directors and chairs today says: “…members of the WSU community must reaffirm our allegiance to the principles of fair (employment) searches, equal opportunity in admissions, and a commitment to a curriculum that reflects the broadest view of knowledge and intellectual exploration.”
This is not a time for our university to step back. WSU is stepping forward with a heightened sense of purpose to assure WSU is the best it can be.