The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs retiring this semester

Ellen Taylor retiring at the end of the semester, four candidates in the running to succeed her.
Ellen Taylor, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, will be retiring after serving at WSU since 2018.

Editors note – Reporter Collin Bannister is also involved with ASWSU as Legislative Affairs Director, but is not involved in any aspects of this story

Ellen Taylor, WSU Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, will be retiring at the end of the fall 2023 semester after five years at WSU and one as Vice Chancellor.

Taylor started at WSU in 2018 as the associate vice president of student engagement.  In July 2022, Taylor was appointed the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs. In this role, she has been very involved with the student body and administrative efforts in student life and engagement, she said.

Some notable accomplishments in her term include supporting students through the pandemic, helping establish a first-generation student center and in general supporting students where needed, Taylor said.

Before coming to WSU, Taylor earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from Stetson University and her doctorate in clinical psychology from University of Illinois according to WSU.

Taylor said she chose this field of study because she fell in love with psychology. She applied these skills to helping students in her various roles over the years. 

“Once I chose a major I actually got straight A’s the rest of the way – Once you have a goal, like, that’s the main motivator,” Taylor said. “I knew I wanted to go to graduate school and I knew I had to work hard to be able to get in” 

After her education, she worked at OSU as their Director of Clinical Psychology and then eventually at UW, she said. She started in their psychology services like she had at OSU and moved on to become the Vice President for Student Life at UW. 

“Personality-wise, I am pretty extraverted and pretty high energy,” Taylor said. “My natural energy and extraversion led me to want to be involved at broader levels.” 

Taylor said her focus at UW was on student wellness and wellbeing along with civil discourse centered around common ground. She was also involved with implementing Title IX policies. 

In 2018, while at UW, was approached about applying to work at WSU as the Senior Associate Vice President of Student Engagement. Taylor said she decided to take an interview and fell in love with the people here. WSU hired her in 2018 for the role.

“This position came open and it was a lateral move. I was an associate vice president there and I came here as an associate vice president but I had different things, that’s where I really got into getting to do the student engagement and involvement,” she said. 

In 2022, Taylor was asked to step into the role of Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, which is the role she has held since then. As Vice Chancellor, she is proud of how she and her team helped get students through the pandemic specifically by helping increase morale and deliver resources to students in need.

“[As] we were coming out of the pandemic, everything was changing even again,” Taylor said. “What I feel proudest of is kinda helping the team recover then from the pandemic and the stress that was involved.

Outside of helping with COVID-19 transitions, much of her role as the Vice Chancellor involves lots of meetings, she said. Often she tried to hold meetings with people to open up communication and collaboration efforts.

“Early in my career, I started calling those Same Page Meetings,” she said. “We need to all know what each other is talking about, what we’re doing and what our focus is.”

Much of her role is also centered around supporting her team to make key decisions that impact and influence student lives. Taylor said she believes in supporting students not just academically but in life as a whole.

Taylor said her office was meant to be an open door for students and that she and her colleagues were here for us and ready to help, which she hoped to students were aware of.

ASWSU President Luke Deschenes said Taylor never failed to put a smile on people’s faces and that her leadership style inspired him a lot in his role as ASWSU President.

“[The Vice Chancellor’s] job is to support students, I think Ellen just brought an incredible energy and passion to the role,” Deschenes said. “The average student should know that the Vice Chancellor is easily accessible.”

After six years at WSU and decades serving students in the PNW, Taylor will retire this December at the end of the academic semester. Looking forward to after she leaves WSU, Taylor said more investments are needed in student housing and dining facilities.

“My successor will get to take that up and I’m excited to watch that,” she said.

When asked about her after-retirement plans, Taylor said she is not making any hard commitments for six months per advice from others, but she does want to continue being involved in community efforts and also take some time to explore some of her hobbies like painting, reading and hiking.

With her retirement, a search committee has been assembled which is led by Pullman Chancellor Elizabeth Chilton. They have narrowed their search down to four candidates. A summary of these candidates along with interview recordings can be found on Chilton’s WSU page.

Deschenes and Vice President Maccabee Werndorf serve on the search committee. Deschenes said that it is likely a choice will be made by the end of the semester but that it is ultimately up to Chilton.

“It’s gonna be tough shoes to fill but I’m sure whoever fills them will do a great job as well,” Deschenes said.

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OLIVIA WOLF, Photojournalist
Olivia Wolf is a sophomore studying zoology. She wants to be a small animal vet. She is also currently writing a book.