Chancellor's Award for Advancing Equity

The Chancellor’s Award for Advancing Equity honors a faculty or staff member for excellence in contributing to a community of equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging at WSU Vancouver. The award recognizes the individual for helping to infuse equity-mindedness throughout the campus and/or helping to build and maintain a safe, welcoming campus environment.

Pavithra Narayanan

Professor of English; Academic Director and Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences

Image of Pavithra Narayanan

As an engaging teacher and a hard-working academic director, Pavithra Narayanan advocates passionately for equitable treatment for students, faculty and staff alike. Whether teaching film history, global literature, women’s and gender studies or postcolonial studies, she introduces students to Indigenous and non-Western histories, texts and authors who are not part of their regular reading or course material. Her scholarship, leadership and service are guided by the philosophy that “it is possible to create a more just world,” she said, “and although some of us may not witness it during our lifetimes, we must never give up the struggle.”

Narayanan has increased WSU Vancouver’s cultural diversity at all levels. She has recruited and hired both staff and faculty of color and actively supports professional development and career growth of all CAS employees. She has worked at both the individual and departmental levels to ensure that all faculty are fairly considered for career opportunities, such as awards and promotions.

In the interests of making the College of Arts and Sciences more welcome and inclusive, Narayanan also seeks to improve working conditions and opportunities for graduate students, adjunct faculty and support staff. She encourages all staff and faculty to attend equity workshops (called BaCE, for Building a Community of Equity) and earn certificates.

When she took over the Creative Writing Series in 2021, she brought in a more diverse group of writers than had been part of previous series, providing what one observer called “a much richer experience for students and the community.” She collaborated with colleagues to merge Vancouver’s and Pullman’s writers’ series into one stronger series, presented online to a larger audience. “Without her natural ability to see an opportunity and seize it, and put in the work to make it happen, the partnership would not have materialized,” a Pullman colleague said.

Narayanan, who joined WSU Vancouver in 2004, has an eclectic educational background. She completed most of her education in India, with an undergraduate degree in zoology. Prompted by a love for books and writing, she earned a master’s degree in English, and a second master’s in American literature. She earned her Ph.D. at Bharathidasan University with a focus on Australian literature, then a third master’s degree in mass communication from Miami University of Ohio.

Narayanan is an affiliate of the Collective for Social and Environmental Justice and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, focusing on economic and social policies, civil liberties, gender and globalization. She has made documentary films (including “BAM! Chicago’s Black Arts Movement,” co-produced with her WSU Vancouver colleague Tabithi Lewis), and has written and done research on social movements, women’s and gender issues, race, colonialism, film, global literature and more.

Past award recipients

Thabiti Lewis

Cynthia Cooper

Katherine Rodela

Luz Rocío Sotomayor

Shameem Rakha