DAESA STAR: Fall 2022 Issue

DAESA STAR enewsletter: Fall 2022 issue. Brought to you by the Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement at Washington State University.
Official enewsletter of the WSU Division of Academic Engagement and Student Achievement (DAESA).

Student Supports by DAESA Teams

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

Greetings from Pullman! The fall semester is in full swing here and as I look out my window, the campus looks familiar and strange at the same time. Bill Davis. Familiar in the sense that parts of the rhythms of academic life seem to have returned this Fall as we move into the next stage of the pandemic—I see many more students, faculty, and staff moving around this semester on campus and the energy levels at events I’ve attended so far are much higher than last year. I believe this is because people are learning how to reconnect and finding value in the critical social foundations of human existence. However, the strangeness comes in moments when thoughts turn to those we’ve lost from WSU and those whose lives are not the same as before. This truly is a time with ample opportunities for practicing compassion and acceptance for others, and within ourselves, as well.

This summer, I embarked on a journey to uncover some of the deeper truths about higher education in the 2020s and what I discovered has me thinking deeply about WSU and indeed higher education in the America that we inhabit today. One area of exploration was the political and socioeconomic polarization of how our citizens view higher education. A recent book by the Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Will Bunch, called After the Ivory Tower Falls: How College Broke the American Dream and Blew Up Our Politicsand How to Fix It, captured my attention. While I am not sure that I agree with all of Will’s arguments and conclusions, I was fascinated to read about how what we are experiencing today fits into a longer arc of history as our society wrestles with deep, thorny questions around what a college degree is worth, who establishes the value proposition for a college education, and whether a college education is a “public good” in the same vein as K-12 education.

Further complicating this topic are issues related to inclusion, diversity, and equity in access and success in higher education and how these have influenced the tenor and nature of the debates. Despite many articles in Inside Higher Education and the Chronicle of Higher Education that state that this debate may not be going well for our colleges and universities, recent polls from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education, 28 September 2022) show that in a recent sample of students of college-going age 46% were definitely planning on going or returning to college and 41% of them were unsure about their future plans. That is a lot of people who are on the fence that we can impact! The other part of that study from the Gates Foundation looked at the supports that students think would be helpful to their success.

I was pleased to note that many of these supports are offered each and every day to students at WSU by our teams in DAESA. They include 1) having access to financial literacy tools which can lead to help with financial aid, scholarships, and questions about managing money, 2) having staff and information to help students make connections, prepare for interviews, and find jobs, 3) access to specialists who help them figure out what to study and the courses to take, and 4) having opportunities to get real-world, hands-on experience while in school. Read more about these and other supports in the stories that follow!

Signature of Bill Davis, Ph.D.

Meet Our People

Ali Bretthauer.
Ali Bretthauer decided early that her life’s work would be in education, and that she would endeavor to make that field ever better. To that end, she’s made it a point to experience many sides of it as a student, teacher, and administrator. Bretthauer is director of College Success Programs (CSP), one of three large focus areas in DAESA’s Office of Academic Engagement. She has co-written grants, and led programs that impact hundreds of WSU students annually and service activities that advance professionalism and the educational community.

Her team of 25 professional staff and specially trained students run programs that promote academic engagement and overall student success. The programs include three Student Support Services (SSS) initiatives—STEM, Veterans, and Teacher Preparation—that are funded by U.S. Dept. of Education grants and help limited-income, first-generation students and those with disabilities, to flourish throughout college to graduation and beyond. College Success Programs also oversees the Passport Program, which is designed for college students who have experienced foster care or unaccompanied houselessness, as well as the National Student Exchange for students wishing to study away at a partner institution in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Guam, or the U.S. Virgin Islands for up to a year.

“Through these programs we work to meet the needs of students who have historically experienced barriers, and to fill gaps in their participation, engagement, and achievement,” said Bretthauer. “My job allows me to think critically and strategically, and we’ve built a team whose members are empowered to do their best. We’re strong and work well together and share a vision.”

Bretthauer grew up in a military family that lived around the world before settling in Sandpoint, Idaho, when she was 10 years old. She was inspired by her own teachers who made learning fun and interesting. “I found I love to read, want to be a lifelong learner, and pass good things on to other people. That’s why I choose to be an educator.”

She attended North Idaho College and the University of Idaho (UI), where she earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. Prior to her current position, she was project director for Aspiring Teacher Leadership and Success (ATLAS) at WSU, manager of Tutoring and College Success at UI, and program coordinator for Upward Bound in north Idaho’s Silver Valley. Her service activities include being the conduct advisor for the WSU Office of Community Standards, chair of the UI Academic Advising Association, and chair of the UI Staff Council. She co-authored the SSS grants at WSU, and even one to build a community center in Viola, Idaho.

“Looking back, I never really pictured myself not in a classroom as a teacher, but I sort of fell into management and in love with the possibilities that come with educational programming.”

Bretthauer also earned her private pilot’s license at age 16 through a scholarship flight school, and certified as a yoga instructor at age 22. “Those experiences specifically molded my belief that, given the appropriate resources and willingness to take risks, we can be and do so much more than we imagined possible. It’s why programs like those in CSP are so important as we strive to support students in accessing resources as well as belief in their success.”

Bretthauer lives in Moscow with her husband Aaron, who works for Atlas Concrete, and daughter Malia, 11, who attends Moscow Charter School.

Hellos and Farewells


Randall Bennett has been hired at the Office of Academic Engagement (OAE) as the new director of College Access and Transition Programs. His most recent position was as director of three college access programs at the University of Idaho, having served in that capacity since 2019. Prior to that he was both associate director and outreach coordinator for the same programs, serving and working on the Nez Perce Reservation and in the Clearwater Valley of Idaho since 2006. He has also served as athletic director and Gear Up coordinator for Lapwai School District. He received his M.S. in Adult, Organization, Learning and Leadership from UI.

Jacob Osborn (’19 Sociology) joins OAE as coordinator for Cougs Rise, serving students in western Washington. Jake was one of the first Cougs Rise mentors when he was an undergraduate at WSU and has since earned his B.A. in Sociology and served as admissions counselor at WSU Tri-Cities.

Cheyenne Brown joins OAE as coordinator for Cougs Rise, focusing on STEM programming. Chey earned an M.A. from the University of Minnesota, having studied as an undergraduate and graduate student in environmental studies and working as an instructor both at WSU and at outdoor leadership schools.

Tishara Day (’21 Psychology) joins OAE as coordinator for Cougs Rise, serving students in eastern Washington. Tishara earned her B.S. Psychology from WSU and has worked for both WSU Admissions as a Cougar Connector and the Carson College of Business as student engagement coordinator.

The WSU Writing Program welcomes Amy Whitcomb as an instructor of WRIT courses and as the Graduate Writing Center (GWC) coordinator. A New England native, Amy earned bachelor’s degrees in Spanish and environmental studies at the University of Virginia, and an MFA in creative writing and MS in environmental science at the University of Idaho. Prior to her new WSU position, she worked seasonally for the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service in vegetation management; was an editorial assistant at the interdisciplinary research journals PLoS ONE and PNAS; was a writing consultant for the UI Writing Center, the University of Washington-Tacoma, and University of California-Davis’s School of Medicine; and published original creative nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and scholarly articles. The GWC assists graduate students from all disciplines with all types of written communications, including theses and dissertations. Professional consultants offer online and in-person meetings to work with students to learn to revise their own writing.

The MARC-WSU and the ESTEEMED MIRA programs welcome Genevieve Localio as their program coordinator. The programs are funded by NIH grants and designed to provide academic opportunities and experiences for undergraduate students from underrepresented groups in STEM fields. Genevieve is owner/operator of Miss Genny’s Wondertown, an in-home daycare business in Moscow, and is also a realtor with Beasley Realty. She founded the Jubilee School in Moscow, and previously worked as a junior underwriter with Lehman Brothers Bank in Lynnwood, Wash., and as an escrow closer for Latah Title in Moscow. She is earning her B.S. in business with a small business-management and entrepreneur certificate from the University of Phoenix.


Ray Acuña-Luna, former director of OAE’s College Access and Transition Programs, has joined the staff at the University of Texas-Austin, on Oct. 15. WSU’s College Access Programs include Cougs Rise, Coug Cast, College Success Foundation Achievers, and Dare to Dream.

Kelly Demand, OAE director of College Affordability Programs, has accepted a job with the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine in Spokane as the director of financial education and scholarship services. Her last day with OAE is Nov. 15. Demand was the recipient of OAE’s first staff excellence award, was instrumental in securing a BECU partnership for OAE, directed WSU’s Invest in Cougs program—a first-in-the-nation educational matched-savings program—implemented WSU’s financial education platform, and managed the Crimson Community Grants to assist students in times of need.

OAE’s Lilliana Navarro, former OAE Cougs Rise coordinator, departed Sept. 30.

Upcoming Events

  • Nov. 8: Celebration of Assessment Excellence will recognize nine undergraduate programs for strong practices in assessment of student learning to improve curriculum or instruction. Hosting the event of the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President/WSU Pullman Chancellor, Vice Provost Bill Davis, and DAESA’s Office of Assessment for Curricular Effectiveness. Read more about the programs recognized.
  • Jan. 31, 2023 (Save-the-Date): The Common Reading Invited Lecture will be delivered by virtually by Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of the 2022-23 academic year’s common book, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants. Details of the event will be shared soon. Co-sponsors include the Native American Programs, the Visiting Writers Series, and the Global Campus.
  • Feb. 6-7, 2023 (Save-the-Date): Spring Career Expo, to connect students, faculty, and staff, with employers offering jobs and internships.
  • March 27, 2023 (Save-the-Date): Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (SURCA), featuring students’ research, scholarship, and creative activities across nine categories. SURCA this year kicks off WSU Showcase Week.

Also read DAESA’s calendar page and website for more 2022-23 programming and student supports information and updates.

DAESA Happenings

  • Fall: The WSU Common Reading Program hosts and co-hosts programming that ties to the 2022-23 academic year’s common book, Braiding Sweetgrass. Expert guest lectures, activities, film showings, and more focus on one or more aspects from the book that’s used by first-year and other students in classes across disciplines. In January 2023, the program and co-sponsors will offer the Common Reading Invited Lecture related to the book. Check the Common Reading Program calendar for the latest information and plan to attend events at no cost.
  • Oct. 3 and 4: The Academic Success and Career Center (ASCC) hosted with the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture the fall Career Expo and Technical Fair. Open to all students in every major and class standing across WSU, the Oct. 3 event was virtual from 3-6 p.m., while the Oct. 4 Expo was in-person from noon-4 p.m. in Beasley Coliseum. Attending the in-person event were 1,368 students with 351 at the virtual event. More than 250 employers met with WSU students, and about 70% were offering internship opportunities. Faculty and staff were also invited to attend to connect academics with employers, and learn directly from recruiters what job skills are in demand for WSU students and graduates.
  • Oct. 12 and 13: OAE offered the seventh annual FAFSA-WASFA Fest for all WSU students, providing information and help to complete official forms required to apply for financial aid through WSU. Each day, OAE staff and peer mentors were on hand from 3-5:30 p.m.—both in-person in the Commons Student Center 210 and via Zoom. Students also arranged to meet OAE representatives later to work toward meeting the Nov. 30 deadline for submitting necessary forms. This year’s FAFAS-WASFA Fest was led by OAE’s College Affordability Programs  in partnership with WSU Student Financial Services and Carson Edge. Other OAE College Affordability Programs include Invest in Cougs, Cougar Money Matters, Crimson Community Grants, and Washington State Opportunity Scholars.
  • Oct. 19: The WSU Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program co-hosted the Research Opportunity Fair from 4-5:30 p.m. in CUE 203. Students met faculty and graduate students engaged in STEM research across many fields, and explored possibilities to partner in those efforts. Hosting with WSU LSAMP were the Team Mentoring Program and DAESA’s Office of Undergraduate Research.
  • Oct. 21: WSU’s first TEACHxWSU ran all day, from 9 a.m.-6 p.m., in the CUB Senior Ballroom for registrants who wanted to delve deeply into discussions and ways to improve their teaching and student learning. Hosted by the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President, the topic of the first TEACHxWSU was “Universal Design for Learning” (UDL). The event was sponsored by the Teaching Academy, Access Center, and Academic Office of Innovation, with generous support from numerous WSU colleges and units.
  • Oct. 21: The Distinguished Scholarships Program invited the community to the annual Distinguished Scholars Celebration from 3-5:30 p.m. in the Gallery on the ground level of the CUB. This year, 27 students and alumni were recognized for receiving prestigious, nationally competitive awards to support their personal and professional academic goals in the U.S. or abroad. Celebrated were recipients of Fulbright U.S. Student, Fulbright-Hays, Goldwater, and Gilman awards, and finalists for Truman and Rhodes awards.

News Briefs

In addition to Upcoming Events and the programming noted in DAESA Happenings, the following DAESA and DAESA-related recent news is worthy of note:


  • WSU’s first Transformation Change Initiative Grants were awarded to four projects focused on inclusion, diversity, equity, and access (IDEA) to advance teaching and learning systemwide.
  • Undergraduate research awards totaling nearly $38,000 were presented by the Office of Undergraduate Research to 23 students in support of their mentored research, scholarship, and creative activities in the 2022-23 academic year. These include awards such as the Auvil Scholars Fellowship, WSU Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP), DeVlieg Foundation, Team Mentoring Program (TMP) Research, TMP/LSAMP awards, Emeritus Society Grant in Arts and Humanities awards, and general undergraduate research awards.


  • WSU held its inaugural, annual ELEVATE conference Aug. 16 on the topic of inclusive teaching. The Transformational Change Initiative in the provost’s office hosted the event to support faculty and graduate students to “engage learners, enhance voices, and advance teaching excellence.”
  • The Common Reading Teaching Guide made its online debut. For the first time in its 16-year existence, the Common Reading Program produced a guide to help faculty and staff better use the year’s common book strategically and effectively in classes, assignments, activities, and programming. The 58-page booklet resides on the common reading website and is packed with information, ideas, examples, and references to bring to life the 2022-23/2023-24 book, Braiding Sweetgrass. Support for the guide came from a competitive Transformational Change Initiative (TCI) Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) grant from the provost’s office. DAESA members of the project team include Samantha Solomon and Karen Weathermon, both from First-Year Programs.


  • The Office of Assessment for Curricular Effectiveness (ACE) prepared the WSU-wide Summary of 2021 Undergraduate Degree Program Assessment Reports. Undergraduate-degree programs report annually on their activities to assess student learning and use results to improve curriculum and instruction. The summary provides a snapshot for university leadership of assessment activities. Online also are examples of how programs have used assessment. Annual assessment reporting also supports university accreditation.
  • Assessment activities and results are intended to inform faculty reflection and discussion about effective teaching, learning, and curricula, and ultimately contribute to decision-making to support student learning. For University Common Requirements [UCORE], recent [CAPS] Assessment summary results show that most seniors are meeting or exceeding faculty expectations on the WSU Learning Goals demonstrated in [CAPS] courses—a positive reflection on UCORE’s curriculum and instruction. [CAPS] assessment results have also helped inform decisions intended to improve the quality of the undergraduate experience at WSU.


  • The Office of Academic Engagement was approved for the College Reading and Learning Association’s Peer Educator Training Program. OAE is now able to certify peer mentors and advisors at Levels I and II through an internationally recognized peer educator training program. OAE plans to build out a program to eventually provide foundational training for other peer support roles on campus. Staff member Josefina Galvan-Barajas, assistant director of College Success Programs and lead for the Teacher Prep SSS program, is credited with championing the effort to secure the certification program.
  • The WSU Faculty Senate approved a new course designation called “Inquiry into Equity and Justice” (EQJS) that expands the University Common Requirements (UCORE) general education curriculum for the first time in a decade. Set to be in place for fall 2023, the new designation does not impact UCORE credits necessary for graduation. Courses in EQJS will equip students with intellectual tools and social contexts necessary to critically examine power dynamics, and to recognize, question, and understand structural inequities and privileges. A set of courses will be determined over the coming months and will provide students with intellectual foundations, tools, and literacies to assess and evaluate ideologies and narratives to ethnically pursue inclusive and just societies.

Support Our Needs

For more than a decade, the annual Showcase for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (SURCA) has provided WSU’s sole opportunity for students from all majors, years in college, and campuses to present publicly their hands-on, high-impact research, scholarship, and creative activities. Each year, students share research posters with judges and the community that detail their projects and results. Also, each year, top presenters are eligible for awards that can be used to further support their efforts. Gifts to SURCA have a direct impact on dozens of students’ success and recognition. Mary Sanchez Lanier is available to answer questions and provide information.

Every gift makes a difference. Thank you for your support!