Professor, director among MLK service award recipients

By Steve Nakata, Student Affairs and Enrollment

MLK-twoPULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University history professor Ken Faunce and Women’s Resource Center director Turea Erwin are among those selected to receive the university’s Martin Luther King Jr. Distinguished Service Award.

They will be honored at WSU’s free, public MLK Community Celebration at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 22, in the CUB ballroom. Civil rights leader Diane Nash will give the keynote address.

Also receiving the award will be Vanessa Delgado, a junior sociology major, the Black Graduate Student Association and the Palouse chapter of World Computer Exchange.

Winners were selected from nominations submitted by the community based upon their demonstrated altruism, community service, efforts to advance diversity and educational commitment to inclusion.

Ken Faunce

Faunce-80Faunce leads up to 10 sections each year of History 105, which focuses on the roots of contemporary issues.

He has chaired the City of Moscow Human Rights Commission and the annual 300-participant Moscow CommUNITY Walk, which promotes diversity. The walk was recognized in 2012 as a “most worthy community event” by the American Planning Association.

Faunce frequently moderates events that focus on social justice in education, bullying in public schools and human rights.

“He brings his passion about human rights to the themes he helped develop for History 105 – humans and the environment, our shrinking world, inequality and diverse ways of thinking,” wrote nominator Karen Weathermon, director of WSU Learning Communities. “Likewise, he brings his skills as a teacher to his activism.”

Turea Erwin

Erwin-80Erwin’s vision and leadership have inspired WSU’s Campus Safety Project, Women’s Transit, Women Speakers Series, Women of Distinction Awards and Cougar Women Professional Development Program.

But according to nominator Faith Lutze, associate professor of criminal justice and criminology, it is Erwin’s work with students that is most impressive.

“I believe Turea’s greatest strength is motivating young people to become leaders in creating equality and therefore producing the most credible, noticeable and enduring change,” Lutze wrote.

She described Erwin as fearless in taking on racism, sexism and all of the other “isms” that stifle the university’s goals of critical thinking, discovery, innovation, community engagement and change.

“She does it with sincerity, honesty, dedication and, if you know Turea, laughter,” Lutze wrote.

Vanessa Delgado

Delgado-80Delgado is a mentor for WSU’s First Scholars Program and Multicultural Student Services. She organizes student recruitment conferences, volunteers with Women’s Transit, helps organize WSU’s Week Without Violence and has served as a child advocate intern for Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse.

At times, she is the only bilingual volunteer staffing ATVP’s 24-hour crisis hotline.

“During my final year in high school, I was seen as unfit for a university because I came from a farm worker background,” Delgado wrote to the awards selection committee. “Through those who believed in me, I was able to demonstrate what I am capable of, which is why I have been passionate to encourage education to disadvantaged populations.”

As a McNair Scholar, Delgado was just selected to present her research at the Ivy-Plus Symposium in March. Ivy-Plus is a prestigious event hosted by Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Black Graduate Student Association

WSU’s Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA) members seek to be proactive to heighten community awareness of culture and diversity. The group organizes a Cultural Awareness Week using art and music to teach about African American history.

BGSA finds value in connecting with other organizations on campus, wrote nominator Yvonne Thompson, a graduate student and group member. For example, it partners with the Chicano/Latino Graduate and Professional Student Association to present during the annual Encuentros/Encounters Research Symposium.

It partners with the Black Student Union to sponsor panel discussions about the transition into graduate school. It works with Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity to assist with registration, essay review and workshop presentation during VIBES African American student recruitment.

WSU World Computer Exchange

The international nonprofit World Computer Exchange gathers and refurbishes donated computers for shipment to developing nations.

Since summer 2012, the dozen members of the WSU chapter donated 1,000 hours to collect repair and ship more than 170 computers and many pieces of equipment, said John Kalu Osiri, College of Business clinical assistant professor.

WSU’s MLK celebration will continue at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29, in the CUB ballroom with a lecture by Michael Eric Dyson, an American Book Award recipient and two-time NAACP Image Award Winner.



Donna Arnold, WSU Office of Multicultural Student Services, 509-335-4315,

Steve Nakata, manager of communications, WSU Student Affairs and Enrollment, 509-335-1774,