Faculty Retirements & Transitions
Professor of Comparative Ethnic Studies and American Studies and Culture
Vice-Chancellor for Equity and Inclusive Excellence
Lisa Guerrero started teaching at WSU in 2004, and has always been dedicated to thinking about the impact of intersectionalities and the relationships between culture and power in both her scholarly work and her classrooms. Last year, we congratulated her as she moved from our academic unit into her new role as associate vice provost for equity and inclusive excellence within WSU’s Office of the Provost; this year, she has been appointed vice-chancellor for equity and inclusive excellence for the Pullman campus!
When we asked her what this new appointment meant for her, and whether she missed teaching—something she has always been passionate about—this is what she said:
I am very excited for my new position as it offers an opportunity to imagine ways to integrate equity-minded practices into the institution in structural and substantive ways. For the short time I have been in an administrative position, it has provided a different view of the institution that has been instructive about the relationships between the various communities that make up the institution. And while being in the classroom has always been a great passion of mine, I am enjoying using my skills, expertise, and perspectives on systems of marginalization and equity practices in a new way that can serve multiple communities of WSU and hopefully be impactful for students, faculty, and staff… although I do miss talking to students about literature. Once a lit geek, always a lit geek.
As with all significant change, while we are in the midst of it, doing the work, it always seems incremental and not fast enough. It is only after it begins to coalesce and take shape that can we step back and see what it actually has impacted. From the vantage point of 18 years, I can say there has been quite a bit of change at WSU since 2004. That there is still much change to be made does not discount the movement that has happened. It’s just encouragement for me that change can happen if people keep pushing for it.
We are immensely proud of her achievements and wish her the best of luck in her new position!
Professor of French Language and Culture
Joan Grenier-Winther has retired after 30 years with us. She came to WSU Pullman in 1991 and relocated to the Vancouver campus in 2008.
Professor Sabine Davis, who joined WSU in 2001 and found in Joan a mentor who hugely impacted her career, had this to say about Joan in last year’s awards ceremony:
You had a great vision for all things academic and you were not afraid of change. And with your determination and work ethic, you were very active in shaping the French section and the department as a whole. You were instrumental in renaming the department from “Foreign Languages” to “Foreign Languages and Cultures”; in renumbering the courses of the whole department in a streamlined and coherent manner; in restructuring the major; in creating the minor in French & Francophone Studies: and in other important initiatives. It was very inspiring to see someone so involved in and caring about the department, how it functions, and how it is perceived. Quality and clarity were two hallmarks of every change you proposed. The French section and the department as a whole owe much to your vision and work.
You opened doors for us, for me, and the faculty members in the French section. You provided me with incredible opportunities, especially during my first few years at WSU. You trusted me in doing so many things I probably would not have dared to undertake on my own, and I benefitted extremely from them: teaching at the upper level, organizing a faculty-led program in France, launching online courses, developing brand new courses, and reshaping the French major and minor. You also invited me to the regional professional organization, Rocky Mountain MLA, where I met many wonderful colleagues. You encouraged me to present a few times and later on you convinced me to work for the association as an editor for the Rocky Mountain Review. These were incredible times, busy times but so fulfilling professionally. I can never thank you enough for all these opportunities.
Finally, I would like to highlight your positivity: you always saw a silver lining in any situation or found ways to make people feel better when something did not go quite right in the classroom, in a meeting, or in life. You also cared about the well-being of the faculty in the French section. I’ll always remember the dinners we had at your house, talking about work-and-life balance. It was a place of friendship where we always felt a huge amount of support from you!
Cassandra Gulam, associate professor of Spanish, highlighted, in the same ceremony, Joan’s incredible teaching skills.
After 31 years of teaching, research, and service at WSU, across two campuses, Joan Grenier-Winther, professor of French, is almost an institution unto herself. She has held positions from language section lead, to chair, to associate dean; she was the executive director of the Rocky Mountain Modern Language Association for nearly 15 years; and has served on committees of every possible nature and level, from curriculum to recruitment to academic affairs. Her name is well known and highly respected across the WSU system. And while I won’t subject you to my nonexistent French accent by reading the names of her many publications, which encompass conference presentations, invited papers, journal articles, book chapters, and entire books, I will mention that, among other grants and honors, the National Endowment for the Humanities has supported her work on at least four different occasions; she was also recognized with the Marianna M. and Donald S. Matteson Distinguished Professorship in 2015.
Perhaps unusual for faculty of her rank and accomplishment, Joan is an adept teacher and engaged pedagogist. At WSU Vancouver, she teaches as many as seven different courses in a year, has developed new curricula and formats for the department, and is the backbone of our film studies minor. She does not shy away from new technologies or strategies, regularly attends and presents at pedagogically focused workshops, and was on the cutting edge of online and technology-supported instruction long before WSU adopted any of Canvas, Blackboard, or Angel. Despite her decades of experience, Joan remains open to feedback on how to improve her syllabi, her teaching, and her course structures.
We wish Joan all the best in this new chapter in her life. We will miss you!