DAESA STAR: Fall 2021 Issue

DAESA STAR enewsletter: Fall 2021 issue.
Official enewsletter of the WSU Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement (DAESA).

Message from William B. “Bill” Davis, Interim Vice Provost for Academic Engagement and Student Achievement

“You are where you are today because you stand on somebody’s shoulders. And wherever you are heading, you cannot get there by yourself. If you stand on the shoulders of others, you have a reciprocal responsibility to live your life so that others may stand on your shoulders. It’s the quid pro quo of life. We exist temporarily through what we take, but we live forever through what we give.” —Vernon Jordan

Bill Davis.Happy Fall!

I wanted to start my first issue of the DAESA STAR with a quote from Vernon Jordan, a lawyer and powerful advocate for civil rights throughout his career. This quote resonates with me on many levels right now. Personally, I feel I am standing on the shoulders of the recently retired Dr. Mary F. Wack, who was an inspirational and strong leader for DAESA during her 15 years of service in the Provost’s Office. In my new role as an Interim Vice Provost, I am helping support the DAESA leadership and staff on my shoulders as they work to help ensure that every student who walks through the door of WSU has a fighting chance for success at achieving their dreams of obtaining a degree and a future career of distinction.

As we move into the fall semester, the people within DAESA are eager to continue our transformative work to support the students at WSU on our shoulders through our work with undergraduates engaged in mentored research and pursuing distinguished scholarships, our delivery of first-year programs, our production of broadly educated graduates through the UCORE general education program and Writing Program, our academic advising and career services, our commitment to transfer student success, our programs that provide financial and academic support to students from first-generation and other non-privileged backgrounds, and assessments.

While the 2020-2021 academic year will long remain in our collective memory for its challenges and trauma, for many of our DAESA programs it also brought important milestones to celebrate. Each of these programs is an essential element of our commitment to fully institutionalize academic support for all WSU students.  We celebrate these anniversaries this year:

  • 40 years of academic tutoring, beginning in Student Advising and Learning Center (SALC) and now in the Academic Success and Career Center (ASCC).
  • 35 years of writing tutoring, assessment, and faculty development in The Writing Program
  • 20 years since the inception of the Smith Teaching and Learning grants.
  • 15 years since the Office of Undergraduate Education was formed (later, University College and now DAESA). This includes 15 years of Common Reading and First-Year Focus, as well as the Office of Undergraduate Research.
  • 10 years since the new general education program—University Common Requirements (UCORE)—was approved
  • 10 years since the creation of the Distinguished Scholarships Program
  • 5 years since the formation of the Transfer Clearinghouse (now Transfer Center for Policy and Resources)
  • 5 years since the formation of the Office of Academic Engagement

As we look toward the future, you will read about some ground-breaking new grants and success stories about DAESA efforts. In the future, we hope to continue to bolster these programs through private support to take our programs to the next level of excellence. We hope that these stories motivate you to take this journey with us!

William B. “Bill” Davis
Interim Vice Provost for Academic Engagement and Student Achievement


Meet Our People

Jeannie Holt.
For 14 years, Jeannie Holt served as the invaluable resource, colleague, and can-do expert for all things large and small in DAESA. She provided wide-ranging administrative support to the vice provost; oversaw special reports, projects, and events; maintained financial, travel, personnel, and payroll records for DAESA and ASCC; supervised and trained employees; was a Modernization Initiative representative and WorkDay expert; oversaw donor stewardship; and problem-solved on personnel, technology, and process issues. She did it all with her characteristic smile.

Jeannie came to WSU in 1995 from the Bank of Whitman in Colfax, and progressively expanded her administrative and professional skill set over the years since. Prior to DAESA, she worked in Residence Life and the Office of New Student Programs. Always one to seek “consistent challenges and interesting new endeavors,” said a colleague, she recently took the position of Assistant to the Associate Dean for Academic Programs in the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences (CAHNRS).

Every member of DAESA wishes Jeannie the very best in her new role. As one DAESA member said, “Jeannie will be remembered as the go-to person, the universal helper for all units and problems, the person who could make even high administrators laugh. She was our cosmic glue.”


A Round of Applause

Congratulations to Josefina Galvan, coordinator for Teacher Prep SSS in the Office of Academic Engagement, who received the 2021 APAC Employee Contribution Award.

The OAE Staff Excellence Award was presented in spring to Ali Bretthauer, director of College Success Programs. The award heralds the OAE team member whose exceptional contributions over the past year have advanced student success, and who exemplifies the characteristic spirit of its community.


Hellos and Farewells

Jenifer Lira is the new Dare to Dream coordinator in OAE. After a three-year hiatus, Dare to Dream Summer Academies returned to WSU Pullman under the College Access Programs unit. Dare to Dream is funded by the Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public instruction.

Colin Mannex is the new associate director for the Office of Undergraduate Research. Most recently he chaired the English department at Bentley Upper School in Lafayette, CA, where he also taught English and was class dean and varsity head coach for the cross country and track and field team.

Lateasha Meyer, OAE STEM SSS leader, took a position at Cal State-Chico.

Cesar Munguia, OAE Cougs Rise coordinator since the program’s inception in 2017, took a position as site coordinator for another educational program in Wenatchee.

Zachary Rost (’19 Business Administration/International Business) is the new administrative assistant for both the Office of Assessment for Curricular Effectiveness and the University Common Requirements (UCORE) program. He worked at the WSU Foundation as a clerical assistant in its gift planning department.

Omar Urbano-Rendon (’18 Criminal Justice, Political Science minor) joined the Academic Success and Career Center as a program coordinator, serving as part of the reception team and backing up the reinstatement program coordinator. He worked for the Compton Union Building and interned with the WSU Police as a student.

Laura Welch is new as a coordinator for the Transfer Center for Policy and Resources. She most recently worked at Western Oregon University and brings to WSU eight years of professional higher-ed experience related to residence life and student affairs.



Be sure to check DAESA’s calendar page for 2021-22 programming. Due to COVID-19 pandemic cautions and restrictions, some events listed may be virtual. Upcoming and recent events include:

  • WSU’s Passport Program, in the Office of Academic Engagement (OAE), joined the nation in celebrating May as National Foster Care Month, a time dedicated to recognizing those who play an essential role in the lives of those who’ve experienced out-of-home care.
  • Scholar applications were accepted for OAE’s Passport Program, STEM SSS, Teacher Prep SSS, and Veterans SSS for the 2021-22 academic year. College Success Programs offer individualized holistic advising, peer mentoring, exclusive experiential opportunities, and emergency grant aid for former foster youth, unaccompanied homeless youth, and students from low-income, first-gen backgrounds and those with disabilities who are student veterans or pursuing degrees in teacher education or STEM and health sciences.
  • June 4: Alive Advisor Training Day was organized by Ruth Ryan, ASCC assistant director. The focus was on academically advising new incoming students in preparation for course registration and major requirements during Alive orientation programs.
  • June into August: The Office of Undergraduate Research helped 10  programs funded by NSF and USDA grants and faculty programs to host nearly 60 summer researchers from more than 30 universities. The students participated in in-person and virtual or hybrid summer sessions with faculty mentors in STEM fields. They presented results at three symposia at the close of the summer.
  • Many DAESA faculty and staff served as advisors, presenters, writing assessment experts, and more at several Alive orientation sessions for new and transfer students and families.
  • June 18-26: Virtual summer Dare to Dream Summer Academies was hosted by College Access Programs in OAE and led by Jenifer Lira.
  • July 5-30: OAE’s Cougs Rise welcomed participants—30 high school seniors plus 30 new graduates—to WSU Pullman for in-person summer program experiences during the Coug Tracks and Bridge Program.
  • July 12-start of Fall classes: A summer bridge program helped the first five Motivating Innovation and Research Achievement (MIRA) students transition from high school into their academic lives at WSU as future biomedical researchers. MIRA is funded by a federal National Institutes of Health grant, as is WSU’s first NIH MARC 34 (Maximizing Access to Research Careers) grant for undergraduates seeking a biomedical, research-focused Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D.program. Together grants total $2 million to boost underrepresented students in STEM and biomedical fields. Grant funding was sought by representatives from DAESA plus several colleges, programs, and offices.
  • Aug. 15-17: The WSU LSAMP (Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation) program welcomed new students to campus at a summer bridge program.
  • Oct 1: WSU Advising Fall Forum is designed for anyone with an academic advising role across the WSU system. Visit the Advising 411 website for more details.
  • Oct. 4-5: ASCC’s annual fall Career Expo & VCEA Technical Fair will cover two days, with virtual sessions for students and employers on day one, and in-person sessions on day two in Beasley Coliseum.
  • Oct. 22: The Distinguished Scholarships Program‘s annual Celebration will recognize students who received prestigious, national awards this past year and their mentors.
  • April 7-9, 2022: Planning is underway for the 2022 Pacific Northwest LSAMP conference which will be held at WSU, hosted by WSU LSAMP.

News Briefs


Support Our Needs

Every year, top students consider embarking on the process to apply for prestigious, nationally competitive awards, such as the Fulbright, the Goldwater, the Udall, the Rhodes, and many more. Throughout the process, great opportunities arise that entail additional expenses beyond tuition and fees that many students cannot afford on their own. In that way, their financial situation may stand in the way of them attaining impactful experiences and pursuing these awards. The Distinguished Scholarships Opportunity Fund is designed to help WSU students cover costs to help them become more qualified for top awards and acquire life-changing experiences to become more competitive for awards.