2017 Winners: Elizabeth Partolan-Fray & Francisco Rios

Elizabeth (Liz) Partolan-Fray
Director, International Programs & Exchanges, Institute for Global Engagement

Elizabeth Partolan-Fray

Liz Partolan-Fray began her career at Western in 1980 at the Multicultural Services Center where she advised international students, students with disabilities, veterans, and mature returning students. From 1997 to 2016, Liz served as Director of International Programs & Exchanges (now Education Abroad). During her tenure, the number of Western students studying abroad annually more than doubled, and the number of international students at Western increased significantly as well. She was an outstanding advocate for increasing diversity on university campuses, receiving the Women of Color Empowerment Aware in 2010, and being appointed to the NAFSA: Association of International Educators 2016-2017 Diversity Network Tas Force.

Liz was a Fullbright grantee for International Education Administrators to both India and Japan. At Western she served on the Affirmative Action Advisory Committee, the Strategic Planning Committee on Ethnic and Cultural Pluralism, and on the Diversity Achievement Award Committee, among other similarly-focused groups. Her roles as a trainer and committee chair in NAFSA and with the Northwest Council of Study Abroad gave her a national reputation as a leader who cared about students. Her work with colleagues on campus earned respect and admiration as a mentor who cared about them as people.

Liz spent a lifetime advocating for those who were underrepresented at the university. From developing policies to satisfy immigration regulations, to teaching a course designed for students preparing to study abroad, Liz brought leadership and dedication to Western's services for international students and those leaving from Western to study abroad.

Liz passed away in the summer of 2016 and is dearly missed by her family, friends, and former colleagues at Western and in the international education field.


Francisco Rios
Dean, Woodring College of Education

Francisco Rios

Francisco Rios came to Western in 2011 to serve as the Dean of the Woodring College of Education, a six year tenure that he completed this past summer when he returned to the faculty. As Dean of the College, he led numerous initiatives, including: recruitment of a Diversity Recruitment and Retention Specialist; the hiring of a more diverse faculty; the partnership program "Maestros Para el Pueblo"; the Fairhaven-Woodring Education and Social Justice minor; three alternate route to teaching programs; parternships for after-school and service learning programs with the Bellingham School District; and new international partnerships for Woodring College, most notably in Chile, China, Taiwan, and Mongolia.

Beyond Western, Francisco serves as the Senior Associate Editor of Multicultural Perspectives, the Journal of the National Association for Multicultural Education, and was the founding director of the University of Wyoming's Social Justice Research Center. In 2008, he recieved the Distinguished Scholar Mid-Career Award, from the Committee of Scholars of Color in Education from the American Educational Research Association. Francisco served as President of the National Assocaition for Multicultural Education from November 2014 - November 2016 and currently serves as the Immediate Past-President. He is a founding member of the World Coalition for Equity and Diversity in Education.

Francisco recieved his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


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Page Updated 11.22.2017