Office of Outreach and Education finalist hopes to promote diversity, inclusion

Applicant shares vision for new student involvement opportunities



Allen Sutton, finalist in the Office of Outreach and Education leadership search, gives a presentation on how to drive the OOE further on Monday afternoon in Butch’s Den.

JAYCE CARRAL, Evergreen reporter

WSU will hold presentations this week to host finalists for the Office of Outreach and Education (OOE) executive director position.

Allen Sutton, current director of the Cross Cultural Center for Excellence at Auburn University and prospective OOE executive director, said he wants to drive OOE forward to help achieve WSU’s Drive to 25 plan.

Sutton said he has over 15 years of experience working with students, faculty, staff and administration. He also worked over 10 years in diversity centers within universities.

“My ultimate goal is to transform [WSU] into a national model for diversity, equity and inclusion,” he said. “To do that, we have to make sure we are utilizing [WSU] community values. We have to make sure they value and engage with the diversity that is on campus.”

Sutton said he does not want his goal to be a short-term project. He said diversity, equity and inclusivity should be incorporated into every institution on campus, not just the OOE.

Sutton said the process to become a more diverse, equal and inclusive campus begins with understanding the students at WSU. He said WSU students belong to a generation more diverse than ever but are raised in a homogenous environment.

“If they don’t agree with it they will ask you a question about it. If they don’t like it, they’re going to question it,” he said. “They’re more politically and socially engaged, so college campuses can expect to see a resurgence in activism.”

Sutton said he would use the C.L.A.S.S framework to promote a diverse community. He said the framework fosters cultural competence, mutual development, advocacy, sense of belonging and student success.

Sutton said he plans to implement a six-month assessment of OOE to gather data from WSU on how OOE is meeting or should meet their needs. He said the data gathered will help the office understand and evaluate whether it is operating well and which areas it needs to improve.

He said he would want to apply a diversity certificate program for students. The program would include classes and cultural events where after, students will be encouraged to explain the importance of the class or event.

Sutton said he wants to also implement the excelling and transitioning student program, which would be a two-day student experience to help incoming, diverse and first-generation students define their academic, social and personal balance while in college.

He said the program will help students navigate their first year of college and become engaged with student leaders and faculty. He said the program would include resource fairs and panel discussions.

Sutton said the programs and events will be funded by campus climate grants. The grants will also fund community building projects like study circles, seminars and film festivals.

Sutton said he wants to begin to offer diversity awards for students, faculty, staff and administration who demonstrate their commitment to WSU and its community.

“We are all on the same team working toward the same goals,” he said, “to achieve diversity, equity and inclusion.”