Strategic Plan

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies

A commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion is an integral part of the foundation of the college.  Our mission is to

cultivate critical consciousness through transformative, creative, inquiry-based learning to empower students to pursue social, economic, and environmental justice.  Our students practice accountability and leadership in their quest for critical interdisciplinary understanding by developing their own areas of study.

Our strategic plan includes an ambitious set of goals and objectives related to equity, diversity and inclusion, which are listed below in outline form:

Improving efforts to recruit and support diverse students, faculty and staff

  • Create a culture built upon critical consciousness with active efforts at allyship across multiple dimensions of power and privilege
    • Continue to refine introductory coursework in social power relations and broaden the overall level of literacy across the faculty, staff and students of the College
    • Active and public leadership by individuals and Fairhaven College to those events which clearly demonstrate the dynamics of racism and other forms of oppression
  • Reinforce commitment to social justice through clear signals in the curriculum
    • Title more courses with clear, explicit, anti-racist, anti-colonialist, pro-queer language
    • Provide all faculty with a pedagogical toolbox for realizing this in the classroom
    • Have as desired qualification for all new faculty hires being conversant and experienced in these areas of discourse
  • Reduce the financial burden of attendance for low-income students
    • Prioritize fundraising for the Fairhaven College Opportunity Fund
      • Build endowment to $1,000,000 by 2023, with ultimate goal of $3,000,000
      • Funds scholarships for low-income, first-generation students.
        • Some funds directed toward providing incentive to first-generation students to live on-campus (see discussion of living-learning community, below)
  • Recruit and retain faculty of color and other underrepresented groups
    • Seek bridge funding from Provosts Office for Opportunity Hire
    • Work with other departments to develop better orientation and networking opportunities for faculty of color
    • Support tenure and promotion for faculty critically engaging with communities of color
  • Enhance the recruiting process for Fairhaven College to meet our goal to enroll a diverse student body.
    • While Fairhaven College students represent a greater diversity than the University-at-large, the racial diversity at Fairhaven College has remained roughly constant, while the population of graduating seniors in the state and the rest of Western are both becoming less white.
    • Through targeted recruitment, we seek to reverse this trend and to demonstrate that Fairhaven is a leader in serving a diverse student body, with that diversity recognized in multiple dimensions of race, socioeconomic status, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, and abilities.

Over the first five years of this strategic plan, Fairhaven College has made notable progress in some of these areas and has a long way to go in others.  For example, from the fall of 2015 through the fall of 2019, the majority of tenure-track faculty hired by the college were people of color, making Fairhaven College a faculty where people of color constitute the majority of tenured and tenure-track faculty positions.  We were not, however, successful in retaining all the faculty of color we hired during this time period, and this highlighted continuing deficiencies in support that the College needs to address. 

Another area of significant progress is in fundraising for scholarships.  The Opportunity Fund for first-generation college students serves those with the highest financial needs who might otherwise be forced to choose not to attend Fairhaven College for financial reasons.  Overall, we’ve raised in excess of $300,000 for these scholarships since 2015, including a new scholarship for students in Law, Diversity and Justice and another for “Student Leaders for Undocumented Students”. 

More recently, in 2019 the college reaffirmed its strategic priorities; those which relate directly to equity, diversity and inclusion are outlined below, as are the WWU strategic plan elements they align with:

  1. Support ethnic studies at WWU through the creation of a new organizational unit in Academic Affairs that houses curriculum (e.g. an Ethnic Studies Major) and faculty teaching in this area through multiple disciplinary lenses.  Aligns with WWU Objectives  1A, 1F, 2A, 2B, 2C, 2D, 4A, 4B, 4C, 4D, 4F. 


  1. Implement structures to better support recruitment and retention of students of color.  Aligns with WWU Objectives 4A, 4B, 4C and 4D


  1. Raise funds for scholarships aimed at eliminating the financial gap faced by students in the high-need category.  Aligns with WWU Objectives 4C and 4E



  1. A. Address inequities in faculty workload and implement structures for recognizing and supporting “invisible” work that is crucial for the success of the most vulnerable students. 

                B. Implement structures to better support recruitment and retention of staff and faculty of color.  Aligns with WWU Objectives 3D, 3E, 3A, 3C, 3D, 4A, 4B, 4C and 4D                                       


While the University has not yet secured additional funding to adequately support Ethnic Studies, I’m pleased that Fairhaven is adding a new faculty member in Comparative Ethnic Studies in fall 2020.  Our American Cultural Studies program provides key support for students across campus studying a variety of topics or seeking to fulfill the GUR requirement for cultural knowledge.