CWU News

CWU honored for its Student Success Diversity Action Team

CWU's Fiona Corner accepting the NWASAP award from the association’s President Bruce Smith.CWU continues to win accolades for its commitment to student diversity and inclusion.

New recognition has come from the Northwest Association of Student Affairs Professionals (NWASAP), which named CWU the 2017 winner of the May Dunn Ward Innovative Program Award in honor of the university’s Office of Student Success Diversity Action Team.

Fiona Corner, CWU residence hall coordinator, who served as the team’s chair, said its goal was to expand campus dialogue pertaining to equity and social justice issues being raised in conjunction with a variety of national and worldwide events.

“The primary challenge I saw was that there were few opportunities for staff to discuss equity and justice issues,” said Corner, who oversee CWU’s Barto Hall. “We were talking about them [in Student Success] and I knew that people in other departments were talking about them too. I thought, if we talked about them together, we could advocate for students better.”

Those discussions, which now include representatives of all 26 Student Success units, revolved around various topics, such as renewed campus activism, free speech, and microaggression, with a goal “to be better able to care for and support students who bring concerns about equity and diversity on campus while also promoting an institutional response,” Corner explained.

Conducting focus groups and campus-climate surveys are among the team’s directives during the current academic year.

“As long as diversity and inclusion are strategic goals of the university, then this committee will continue to exist,” Corner said.

Corner had previous experience with a similar diversity action unit at the University of Dayton. While their student bodies are markedly different, Corner says there are areas common to both.

“I think that students at both Central and Dayton are trying to negotiate how they feel about equity and justice in very similar ways,” she added. “Central is a much more diverse institution, racially and in socio-economic status. The issues at this institution are about what is needed to thrive here and persist toward graduation.”

This is the third time CWU has received the NWASAP Innovative Program Award, which includes 1997 for the Home Run Residence Hall Contract Renewal Campaign and 1987 for the Intrusive Advising Program, which led to a decline in student attrition rates. 

The annual honor is named for Ward, an early educator and student affairs pioneer, in acknowledgment of her career contributions to higher education, NWASAP, and American Association of Women.

NWASAP is the oldest regional college student personnel organization in North America. It is comprised of administrators, counselors, and instructors in student affairs positions within career planning and placement, counseling, financial aid, food services, student activities, student health, student housing, and related activities.

Earlier this year, CWU also received the prestigious Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. The award recognized a demonstrated outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion, and was the second straight year--and third time in last four years--that CWU has earned the honor. The university is featured in the publication’s November issue.

Media contact: Robert Lowery, Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-1487,

Photo: (L. to R.) Corner accepting the NWASAP award from the association’s President Bruce Smith.