May 6: Vancouver presenting top awards at commencement

Goucher - Rivas - Brouwer
Goucher, Rivas, Brouwer (l-r)

VANCOUVER, Wash. – WSU Vancouver will present its 2017 awards for research, student achievement and teaching at this year’s commencement ceremony on May 6.

The following three individuals will each receive a Chancellor’s Medallion:

  • Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence: Candice Goucher, professor of history
  • Chancellor’s Award for Student Achievement: Julian Rivas, A., social sciences, with a concentration in human resources administration and a certificate in case management
  • Students’ Award for Teaching Excellence: Enrique Brouwer, instructor of psychology, and foreign languages and cultures

Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence

Each year, WSU Vancouver gives its highest research honor to recognize a faculty member’s exemplary research quality and quantity as well as positive influence on the broader community.

This year’s awardee, Candice Goucher, professor of history, joined WSU Vancouver in 2000. Her research on Africa and the African diaspora is consistently creative, cutting edge and interdisciplinary. Her many outstanding books, films and articles explore African foodways, metallurgy, and popular and political culture, as well as global themes in world history. She is also a founder of the Center for Social and Environmental Justice, an initiative for WSU Vancouver faculty to collaborate across disciplines.

Goucher’s work has received honors and awards from numerous organizations, including the World History Association, the Society for Visual Anthropology, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Huntington Library. Her 2014 book “Congotay! Congotay!” won both the National and the World Gourmand Awards for Best Book on Caribbean Food.

Goucher has been instrumental in shifting the teaching of world history from an outdated rise-and-fall-of-civilizations approach to a more engaged thematic approach to the past. Her online multimedia project “Bridging World History” has been viewed on public television stations and classrooms in nearly every state.

Trained as a historian and archaeologist, Goucher holds a master’s degree in art history and archaeology from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in African history from the University of California Los Angeles.

Chancellor’s Award for Student Achievement

The student achievement award annually recognizes a student’s love of learning, persistence to overcome barriers in pursuit of academic goals, leadership potential and involvement in campus life.

Julian Rivas never gave up on himself. Once a troubled youth, he is this year’s student honoree and will graduate summa cum laude, with a goal of mentoring others who are facing the kinds of challenges he had to overcome.

Rivas changed his life after enrolling in Lower Columbia College. While also working full-time, he earned his associate’s degree and decided to transfer to WSU Vancouver. Not only has he inspired friends and family members to attend college, but he has helped other students as well. An intern with WSU’s Student Financial Services and Admissions, and a technical research assistant in the human development department, Rivas is active in the Latino Student Association, Latino Outreach Committee and Human Resources Society. He volunteers with several organizations that support low-income families.

Rivas chose to earn a well-rounded degree that would advance his employment prospects in human resources with a knowledge of business essentials. Finding a job has been difficult, he said, because many employers turn him down after conducting a background screening. But, he said, “I feel that someday my hard work will pay off.” He holds himself to high standards. “The past does not define me,” he said, adding, “I wouldn’t be where I am today without my support system.” He considers it one of his highest honors to be able to look out at the commencement audience and see his loved ones smile proudly for his milestone achievement.

Students’ Award for Teaching Excellence

Students honor a faculty member each year with the teaching excellence award. The award recognizes exceptional dedication to students and infectious enthusiasm for the subject matter.

When Enrique Brouwer joined WSU Vancouver in 2011 after a career as an executive coach, he brought along his drive, his people skills and his powerful desire to help people to do their best. The skills that had made him such an effective coach for executives wishing to succeed in international business have made him a popular teacher on campus. In nominating him for the 2017 teaching award, students wrote that Brouwer believes in his students, makes learning fun, and is always available for a meeting or a phone call.

Brouwer has taught personnel psychology, human resources administration, as well as cross-cultural communications. Time and again, students noted that he was motivational and inspirational, had helped to launch the careers of many, and “equipped his students with the tools to be successful in the real world,” as a nominator said.

Brouwer retired as managing director for Brouwer Executive Coaching International, a consultancy serving top executives. Throughout his career he worked with such companies as Eastman Kodak, Xerox Global Services and the Visiting Nurse Service of Rochester, N.Y., helping to drive organizational innovation, product excellence and customer loyalty.

Brouwer holds an undergraduate degree in administrative and legal studies from La Salle University’s Extension campus in Chicago and a master’s degree in human services administration from Goddard College in Plainfield, Vt. He holds advanced certificates in leadership, management and Lean practices.

Commencement details

Commencement will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 6, at the Sunlight Supply Amphitheater located at 17200 NE Delfel Road, Ridgefield, Wash. The event is free and open to the public. No tickets are required.

About WSU Vancouver

As one of six campuses of the WSU system, WSU Vancouver offers big-school resources in a small-school environment. The university provides affordable, high-quality baccalaureate- and graduate-level education to benefit the people and communities it serves. As the only four-year research university in Southwest Washington, WSU Vancouver helps drive economic growth through relationships with local businesses and industries, schools and nonprofit organizations.


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