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The inaugural recipients of Whitman's new Diversity Innovation Grants reflect the college's commitment to equipping students for a rapidly changing, multicultural world. The recipients address topics ranging from indigenous studies to local healthcare to curriculum development. The grants support scholarly and community-based initiatives in the areas of diversity and inclusion and provide better access to resources for faculty, staff and students.

"We recognize that there are many people including these perspectives of diversity and inclusion in their work," said Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Kazi Joshua. "These grants function both as a recognition of the work people put into these efforts and as a source of encouragement to persist in this work."

Six proposals were submitted last semester, and all received funding, which came from a Mellon Foundation New Presidents Grant. This was the first call for proposals; a second went out earlier this spring. Below is a synopsis of each project.

  • The Whitman swim team visited Paepae o He'eia, an ancient fishpond undergoing restoration in Oahu, Hawaii, during a winter training trip with Head Swimming Coach Jenn Blomme. Keli'i Kotubetey '00 is a founder of the nonprofit group leading the restoration.
  • Students in Rhetoric 110: Fundamentals of Public Address, with Visiting Assistant Professor of Rhetoric Studies Kaitlyn Patia, hosted civic forums at the Walla Walla Public Library in mid-April. Topics included civil rights education in public schools, area homelessness and helping The Health Center expand its reach.
  • Associate Professor of Anthropology and Interdisciplinary Studies Jason Pribilsky '93 will attend the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association annual conference in Vancouver, B.C., this month to learn about community-based participatory research models and collaborations between institutions of higher learning and indigenous groups.
  • Pribilsky and Associate Dean for Student Engagement Noah Leavitt head efforts to host a pair of historic gatherings between the Whitman community and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation in fall 2017. Delegations from both sides will facilitate an open, face-to-face exchange of ideas.
  • Whitman's Department of Rhetoric Studies hosted the second annual Northwest Rhetoric, Race and Media Symposium in early April. It featured two public lectures: "Rhetoric, Coloniality, and Critique: Toward an Ethics of Decolonial Love" and "Thinking about Journalism from Within Conflict Zones."
  • Assistant Professor of Art History & Visual Culture Studies Lisa Uddin is developing a course titled Discourses of Black Art. It draws from discourses about blackness emerging from Afrodiasporic communities since the early 20th century in relation to Euro-American canons, museums, decolonization, deindustrialization and transnational markets.