Trustees Approve Naming New Residence Hall After Alma Clark Glass
Editor’s Note: After each Board of Trustees meeting, Western Today provides a recap of decisions and discussion.
Western’s Board of Trustees on Friday unanimously approved naming the University’s new residence hall, now under construction, after Alma Clark Glass, the first Black student to attend Western.
Western President Sabah Randhawa said the resolution passed by the trustees affirms that “history matters on our campus” and “unfinished business” remains in recognizing the achievements of Black, Indigenous and other people of color in Western’s history.
According to University records, Alma Clark Glass attended Washington State Normal School, a prior name for what eventually became Western Washington University, during the winter and spring of 1906. She completed coursework in psychology, geography, physical culture, biology and botany, as well as observation and practice teaching. She went on to become an assistant librarian in the Seattle Public Library System in November 1906, having achieved the highest score on the civil service examination, according to the Seattle Republican newspaper.
She was a founding member of the Seattle chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1913, was part of an effort seeking to block public showing of the racist film “Birth of a Nation” and served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Seattle Urban League in 1946. “She led a life of public service,” said Melynda Huskey, WWU vice present for Enrollment and Student Services.
Alma Clark Glass Hall is located among the Ridgeway complex of residence halls, on the site of the former Highland Hall and Lounge. The new residence hall of approximately 85,000 square feet will offer 400 beds in a mix of room types. The completion date for student occupancy is September 2021.
Leonard Jones, director of University Residences, said the new residence hall is designed with accessibility, sustainability and inclusion in mind. The new building uses a series of ramps and an elevator to make the Ridgeway community Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible for the first time. Among sustainability features in the building, Jones also noted that concrete from the demolished Highland Hall was used in construction of new sidewalks bordering the residence hall
The resolution passed by the trustees says Western aspires to make its residence halls a welcoming “home away from home,” a place where individuals of all identities feel a sense of belonging, safety and support for their personal growth. The resolution also notes that a letter submitted by leaders of Black Student Organizations in June 2020 expressed a desire to see Western consider how the names of buildings fail to reflect the experiences of Black and other diverse students.
Trustees expressed strong support for the new name. Trustee Karen Lee said she was “excited and proud of the institution.”
Huskey also thanked Elizabeth Joffrion, director of Heritage Resources, University Archivist Tony Kurtz, and David Schlitt, Heritage Resources Judaica Project archivist and interim Special Collections manager, for their assistance in research on Alma Clark Glass.
For more information, please see: 03 Naming of New Residence Hall for Alma Clark Glass_0.pdf (wwu.edu).
In other business,
President Randhawa briefed the trustees on the many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. He cited the success of the Student Health Center’s batch testing of students; mostly remote instruction during winter quarter, and reviews under way to determine decisions on teaching modality for spring and summer quarters. Board Chair John Meyer praised the “resilience of students, faculty and staff” during the pandemic. With introduction of COVID-19 vaccines in the U.S. and the state, Trustee Chase Franklin said that, “It feels like we’re at the beginning of the end” of the pandemic.
Trustees held a discussion regarding University governance and student representation on the Board of Trustees. A student trustee, named by the governor, and the Associated Students president now are part of trustee meetings. However, with the creation of the Student Senate the discussion - which included Sargun Handa, chair, AS Student Senate, and AS President Malik Ford - focused on a request that a representative of the Student Senate also be part of the board’s public meetings. Trustee Meyer said that as the trustees work toward amending board bylaws, they will also consider the impact of changes in student governance. For more information, see: 08 Associated Students Report_0.pdf (wwu.edu)
During the public comment portion of the meeting, trustees heard from several members of the student group Shred the Contract, who expressed their disappointment with the University’s move to extend its dining contract with Aramark for two more years. The students urged the University to switch to a self-operating dining system, which they said nearly all other public universities in the state have done. However, due to the many pressing issues caused by the pandemic University officials said at this time they lack the financial resources to support the significant upfront investment for self-operation, and the current business environment makes it extraordinarily difficult to negotiate a new business contract. The two-year extension provides time for further analysis and to make a long-term decision in a less challenging environment. President Randhawa said that University administration is committed to an open process that will engage different student groups, as well as other constituents interested in and impacted by the decision.
Trustees heard from Becca Kenna-Schenk, WWU executive director of Government Relations, on the upcoming state legislative session to start in January. Kenna-Schenk noted that a projected state budget deficit of $9 billion forecast during the summer, due to the effects of the pandemic, has declined to about $3.6 billion as the state has seen more revenue come in. Rich Van Den Hul, vice president for Business and Financial Affairs, and Faye Gallant, executive director for Budget and Financial Planning, also updated the trustees about the ongoing effects on University revenues due to the pandemic, including a sharp reduction in revenues from dining and housing as well as the bookstore.
Trustees heard a presentation by Rayne Rambo, assistant secretary to the Board of Trustees, and Student Trustee Hunter Stuehm on Western’s second annual Kindness Day on Nov. 13, which included a virtual panel and video interviews of people extolling the many psychological benefits of kindness, especially now in the midst of the pandemic. See SPECIAL INFORMATION SHEET (wwu.edu).
Trustees heard a report from Michael Sledge, associate dean of Student Support Services, and Darin Rasmussen, chief of University Police, on myriad improvements made to Western’s response to the federally mandated Clery Act. See: 13 2019 Annual Security and Fire Safety Report.pdf (wwu.edu).
Trustee Faith Pettis, chair of the Finance, Audit and Enterprise Risk Management Committee, noted “squeaky clean” recent state audits of the University.
Jeff Young, Faculty Senate president, discussed activities of the Faculty Senate, including continued planning and review of remote learning and changes to General University Requirements (GURs) to include a set of courses around issues of power, equity and justice in the U.S. and in the broader world.
Trustee Mo West, chair of the board Student Success Committee, described a presentation and discussion of Western’s new Structural Equity and Bias Response Team with team members. See: WWU Announces New Structural Equity and Bias Response Team | Western Today.
Trustees discussed formation of a Legacy Review Task Force to review current building and college names. Provost Brent Carbajal noted that such reviews are going on at colleges and universities across the nation. See: 14 Legacy Review Task Force_0.pdf (wwu.edu).
Trustees heard an update from Jack Herring, vice provost for Undergraduate Education, on accreditation with the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) and new federal regulations that relate to accreditation requirements in higher education. He also discussed student retention during the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing efforts to support first-year students. See: 11 Accreditation Update and Undergraduate Student Sucess.pdf (wwu.edu).
The trustees approved an extension of emergency rule changes in response to new Title IX guidance from the federal government. See. WESTERN WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY (wwu.edu).
The trustees approved Fall Quarter degrees.
The next regular meeting of the Board of Trustees will be Feb. 11 and 12, 2021. Meeting documents are available at the Board of Trustees website at https://trustees.wwu.edu/meeting-materials.