Throughout the year in The Easterner’s Diversity section we will offer profiles of some of the professors, staff and students who make-up the diverse culture at EWU. The first in this series of ongoing articles is a profile of two professors, one from the African American Studies and another from the Chicano Education Program. Each professor is responsible for the introductory level 100 course, among others in their respective departments.
EWU’s diversity is a successful work in progress. The Easterner, through this series and others, will do its part to provide a voice for the diverse culture of our campus. Describing EWU and hopes for this year, student Peggy McIntosh said, “We are in an environment that supports and favors the majority. For instance, right-hand privilege. Our desks, our handshakes, our automobiles, our scissors, and our camcorders are all right-handed; but the world of right-handers goes through life with out ever being aware of their right-handed privilege. So, I ask that we raise our awareness, understanding and appreciation for those around us and make EWU a more ambidextrous campus this year.”
Dr. Gilberto Garcia
By Sariah Barnes
Some professors at EWU offer something unique and Doctor Gilberto Garcia is one of those unique people. Born in Mexico, he has lived in San Antonio and Houston, Texas and Chicago, before moving to Los Angeles where he spent a large part of his life, including college. Garcia started teaching in 1974 at East Valley College in Los Angeles as a part-time instructor and at EWU in 1988.
Garcia wanted to be a lawyer because it was a popular field for Mexicans at that time. But as he advanced in school he realized that it wasn’t for him and decided instead on political science.
As part of his Ph.D. project he studied Chicano history. During Garcia’s study for his degree in political science he came to admire his professors, and that admiration, along with some childhood experiences inspired him to be a teacher.
One of the unique things about Garcia is his first-hand experience during the civil rights movement, when he participated in Chicano movements and wrote a book about Chicanos in America.
Garcia said that when he was in 10th grade he was doing badly in an English class and the teacher told him to write an essay on why he was failing and why he was going to drop out. Garcia became angry because the teacher thought he was going to drop out just because he was Mexican. When he decided to be a teacher, he told himself he was not going to be like that. Garcia is a great professor with an interesting life perspective that enriches the courses he teaches.
Dr. Scott Finney
By Nate Jackson, Jr.
Dr. Scott Finney, professor in the African American Studies department at EWU, is an energetic and fun presence in the classroom. Finney, who prefers to be called “Big Daddy,” is a former member of the Gonzaga Bulldogs basketball team. He received his B.A. in English from Gonzaga in 1979, his M.A. in History from EWU in 1992 and his Ph.D. in Leadership Studies in 2000 from Gonzaga. His education and life experiences allow him to lecture on a variety of topics including the introductory level course in African American History as well as lectures and seminars on Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr. and racial sensitivity in the workplace.
Finney, addressing the issue of campus diversity and EWU said, “The issue of diversity is an issue of awareness and openness and willingness to listen and learn. This is a dynamic that takes place not only in the classroom, where we get diversity in instruction, but also in personal interaction; face-to-face, one-on-one, small group to small group. That all takes place in the classroom, but I anticipate it would also take place informally outside the classroom.”
Globalization of our economy and the realities of life in the 21st century necessitate greater cultural awareness and education. Finney said, “As we consider present, national, and worldwide issues that impact the lives of everyday college students-such as, the Bush Presidency, the Iraqi War, racial controversy over the Hurricane Katrina evacuation, changes in Supreme Court Justices that will affect privacy rights and affirmative action-the voice of college students will have an impact.”
Finney said, “Incoming freshmen will find out, as our present students have, that Eastern Washington is a community that provides some unique open doors and some unique closed doors to opportunity and access, with regards to self awareness and cross-cultural understanding. I would hope that our student body would not notice differences as liabilities, but as assets-assets for personal growth, individual development and unlimited field(s) for exploration and learning.”