AVP candidate promotes personal approach

TaJuan Wilson wants more diverse staff, diversity training



TaJuan Wilson, executive director of student programs and student diversity at the Medical University of South Carolina, talks about his qualifications.

ZARA CRUDEN, Evergreen reporter

The position of associate vice president for community, equity and inclusive excellence is open, and candidates have started to make their cases for why they should be hired.

TaJuan Wilson, an assistant professor and Executive Director of Student Programs and Student Diversity at the Medical University of South Carolina, is the third candidate to visit Pullman.

Wilson, an Arkansas native, said he hoped to join the ranks of WSU administrators in Pullman, and had many ideas for improving the school’s diversity. He said his administrative philosophy centers around people, and finding the best ways to help them.

“My leadership style is to serve and transform,” Wilson said.

He said there is an opportunity to be impactful at WSU, and hopes to seize it. Wilson plans to do so with a two-part pathway, he said. The first part involved committing to equity and expanding opportunities. This would include hiring diverse faculty and staff, as well as expanding diversity training for staff and students. Wilson said training and approaches may vary depending on the situation.

“It’s not a one-size-fits-all model,” he said. “It’s what works for you.”

The second part of his plan is to commit to inclusive excellence. Wilson said this involved making sure every student felt not only welcome, but appreciated.

“You have to validate student experiences,” Wilson said. “Trauma is real.”

He repeated this point several times throughout his talk, emphasizing that students should not be brushed aside or belittled.

Wilson’s alma mater, Ouachita Baptist University, asked him for a donation after the Springfield Business Journal named him among 40 prominent rising professionals under the age of 40. He said he denied Ouachita Baptist’s request because he thought the university did not have sufficient inclusivity measures in place.

Wilson has many plans to improve WSU if he is hired, but he knows that it will take time. Results will not be seen overnight, he said.

“Becoming a top-25 university is a marathon,” Wilson said, “not a sprint.”