Clouds blanket the Rogue Valley, from where I write this morning, but I still believe I am going to win the bet with my husband for no “real” snowfall in Pullman before November 1. Time (and the weather app) will tell.

Earlier this month we hosted the first in-person Dean’s Celebration of Excellence since my arrival as Dean more than two years ago. Our faculty and students from the Pullman and Vancouver campuses shared an evening with alumni, friends, and donors at Emerald Downs on the westside of the state.

Allison Coffin, left, an Associate Professor of Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience at Washington State University, talks with Maurice Cottman, right, Director for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
Attendees listen to speakers at the Dean’s Celebration of Excellence reception.
Dori Borjesson, right, Dean of the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University, talks with Mike Murphy.
Samantha Gizerian, right, an Associate Professor of Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience, visits with guests at the Dean’s Celebration of Excellence reception.

The evening was hosted by a very dynamic Maurice Cottman, the college’s director for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and faculty speakers engaged in access, outreach, and inclusion at the college for our undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs. These speakers provided inspiring personal stories and specific examples of programmatic excellence they have created here at WSU.

Finding excellence in all locations has been a goal for faculty with new programs targeting rural and underserved communities. Being represented matters. Specifically in veterinary medicine, we are falling behind in our ability to meet the needs of all our communities. And by community, I mean veterinarians who will pursue high level research, who will teach the next generation of students, who will lead in food safety, public health, and the Department of Agriculture. Veterinarians who will work in rural America and in inner cities, veterinarians who will serve the pets of people experiencing homelessness, veterinarians with a focus on international work, and veterinarians that will serve native American communities, to name a few. Students who are not exposed to or have not lived in dense urban areas, sparsely populated rural areas, or in tribal nations are unlikely to fully commit to that life after graduation. This is analogous to the reality that veterinary students with no exposure to horses are unlikely to choose to be an equine veterinarian. Exposure matters. Access matters.

The audience was engaged and delighted. Words and actions matter. We have received feedback and ideas from many. One attendee wrote: “I truly hope many people who are like me that couldn’t afford to go to college can have the opportunity to go to WSU and I do believe after hearing you and Maurice talk that you’ll make it happen! Thank you for not just talking about changes but for making those changes happen.” We will continue to create opportunities for people to donate to college programs that enhance our outreach and make a difference, one student at a time. We are One College, One Community with many different pathways.

Go Cougs!

Learn more about our initiatives

Watch this video, One College. One Community. Different Paths. on Youtube.

and read these stories