New Cultural Center Supports Student Diversity
“It really reflects a lot of what Elson Floyd stood for as President and as a human being”
— Dan Bernardo, WSU Provost
A new WSU student cultural center will welcome and serve a diverse student population and
prepare them to be well- rounded and engaged citizens.
The late President Floyd, along with the project steering committee, established a clear vision for the new center as an iconic symbol and gateway to campus. It is intended to encourage people of diverse identities to connect, collaborate, and experience “Cougar” culture.
“The Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center is an innovative space that reflects the culture and character of Washington State University while acknowledging students the opportunity to share diverse experiences and the opportunity to expand their global knowledge,” says Maria de Jesus Dixon, who will manage the center.
Dixon says goals for the center include hosting the first national conference on diversity education; cultural celebrations, such as powwows, Dia de los Muertos, Juneteenth, Chinese NewYear, etc.; the Washington State Commission Summit; monthly cooking demonstrations; and an annual fundraising event celebrating Dr. Floyd’s legacy.
Center Communicates Commitment to Diversity
Construction of the 16,000-square-foot building, near the intersection of NE Stadium Way and SE Spokane Street, is underway and planned to be completed by summer 2017. The center will house the staff of the Office of Equity and Diversity, which oversees diversity education programs and the Culture and Heritage Houses at WSU. The Office of Multicultural Student Services will remain in the CUB.
At the hub of the design is an indoor living room, a large, open space where gatherings and performances can take place. Connected to the living room will be four knowledge rooms devoted to transmitting knowledge and preserving history. This will take place in a myriad of approaches, Dixon says, including visiting scholar presentations, diversity trainings, student-led activities and meetings, alumni meetings and events, professional development, workshops, and faculty presentations. Rounding out the plan is a large kitchen, a gallery, a meditation pavilion, and offices.
“President Floyd wanted a state-of-the- art building different from others that clearly communicates that WSU embraces diversity in a serious way,” says J. Manuel Acevedo, director of the WSU Office of Multicultural Student Services.
“It really reflects a lot of what Elson Floyd stood for as president and as a human being,” says WSU Provost Dan Bernardo.
Design Builds on Past, Embraces Future
“Not only is the building a lens of how to review the past, it also signals to WSU students how they can leverage their education to create dynamic change for a promising future,” says Lucila Loera, steering committee member and associate vice president for the Office of Access, Equity, and Achievement.
Others on the project steering committee include Acevedo, Barbara Aston, director and special assistant to the provost/tribal liaison; Jeff Guillory, director of the Office of Equity and Diversity; and Paula Groves-Price, associate dean for diversity and international programs inthe College of Education.