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Whitworth Associate Dean Roberta Wilburn Named YWCA Woman of Achievement Award Winner

September 8, 2016
Whitworth University is proud to announce that this year, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies in Education & Diversity Initiatives Roberta Wilburn, Ed.D., won the YWCA Woman of Achievement Carl Maxey Racial & Social Justice Award. Wilburn joined Whitworth University 10 years ago and has devoted more than 35 years in the field of education.

“It is very humbling and affirming to receive such significant recognition for my life’s passion with an award named after Carl Maxey, Spokane’s premier racial and social justice champion,” says Wilburn. “I do the work that I do not for recognition but because I hate to see people marginalized and I believe in the inherent value of every human being and the right to justice for all.”

Under her leadership, the education graduate programs have grown to 14 graduate programs and the population of minority ethnicity students, professors and staff on the campus of Whitworth University has increased. Wilburn teaches courses on diversity, equity, inclusion and cultural competence. Her creativity and innovation as an educator have led to the development programs that benefit not only Whitworth’s students, but the community as well. She created the Actualizing Our Commitment to Diversity Initiative in the School of Education and, as a result of her passion for increasing cultural awareness and social justice, her job title was changed to include diversity initiatives.

In thinking about what advice she would give to others passionate about social issues and eliminating racism, Wilburn shared the importance of jumping in and participating in the work. “I have learned that it is not enough to say that you are committed to diversity and social justice - you must do something about it,” she said. “Inaction perpetuates the status quo and reinforces discrimination and other social ills that exist in our communities. We must advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion in all areas of our lives. It is an ongoing battle that requires everyone to take a stand.”

Wilburn provides oversight for all diversity initiatives in the School of Education and also serves on the Institutional Diversity Committee at the recommendation of the president and the provost. She has also taken her diversity work into the community, where she advocates for parents and children of color in Spokane Public Schools (SPS) by accompanying parents to conferences, meeting with the superintendent, and serving as a part of the SPS Community Action Team.

Woman of Achievement awards are given out in six categories, and recipients embody the YWCA’s mission to eliminate racism, empower women, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all by giving generously of themselves to make Spokane a better place for all of its citizens.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Lauren Clark, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or