Equal Opportunity Office

Diversity Achievement Award

Each year at Fall Convocation, the Diversity Achievement Award is presented to recognize an individual (faculty, staff or student) or office whose distinguished efforts have enhanced diversity and multicultural understanding at Western. The deadline to nominate for the 2018 Diversity Achievement Award is Thursday, May 17, 2018.

Diversity Achievement Award Poster

Nomination Criteria and Guidelines


  • Integrates diversity concepts and values into academic curriculum, management and/or operational functions.
  • Develops methods for increasing and valuing diversity among students, faculty, and/or staff.
  • Maximizes opportunities to achieve diversity.
  • Contributes to promoting an understanding and appreciation of differences by contributing to the body of research on diversity or through other endeavors.


  • Provide a nomination letter (not to exceed 3 pages) by Thursday, May 17, 2018 addressing one or more of the above listed criteria to the Equal Opportunity Office, Old Main 345 or MS-9021.

2017 Diversity Achievement Award Winners

Francisco Rios
Professor, 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.


Liz Partolan-Fray (1948-2016)
Director of 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.


Past Award Recipients
































Francisco Rios, Professor, Woodring College of Education

Liz Partolan-Fray, Director of International Programs & Exchanges, Institute for Global Engagement

Joseph E. Trimble, Professor, Department of Psychology, Woodring College of Education

Trula Nicholas, Associate Professor, Department of Health & Community Studies

Marie Eaton, Professor, Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies

Korry Harvey, Senior Instructor and Assistant Director of Forensics, Department of Communication Studies

Steve Sulkin, Director, Shannon Point Marine Center

Willy Hart, Director, University Residences

Joan Ullin, Coordinator, Academic Support, Student Outreach Services

Kathy Kitto, Professor, College of Sciences & Technology

Lorraine Kasprisin, Professor, Secondary Education

Admissions Office, Karen Copetas, Director

Tom Nerini, Director, Student Outreach Services

Dr. Robert Hyung-chan Kim, Professor Emeritus

Jesse Moore, AS VP for Diversity

Lynn Robbins, Department of Environmental Studies

Gigi Berardi, Department of Environmental Studies

Brian Bingham, Shannon Point Marine Center

Ted Pratt, Director of Student Life/Dean of Students

Karen Hoelscher, Elementary Education

Joseph Garcia, Management

Roland L. De Lorme, Provost (retired)

Larry Estrada, Fairhaven/American Cultural Studies

Vernon Johnson, Political Science

Law and Diversity Program, Fairhaven College

The Ethnic Student Center Student Organizations

Dal Symes

Ray McInnis, Wilson Librarians for the Development of Ethnic Minority Research Guides, Wilson Library Diversity Section, and Diversity Resource Collections

Woodring College of Education, the Center for Educational Pluralism

The Department of English/Curricular Transformation Project

Saundra Taylor, Vice President for Student Affairs