College of Arts and Humanities finds new dean

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College of Arts and Humanities finds new dean

Dez Rodriguez, Staff Reporter

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Jill Graper Hernandez will become the next dean of the College of Arts and Humanities (CAH) starting Aug. 1. Hernandez is currently at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) as the associate dean of University College.

Hernandez was born in Mason City, Iowa, but has been moving around most of her life because her father was in the Air Force. She graduated from Lakenheath American High School in England, a department of defense school mostly made up of dependents of military personnel. She lived there for three years before graduating and deciding on where to go to college without knowing where her parents were going to be stationed.

A first generation college student, she knew that she wanted to go into law school. Hernandez enrolled at Taylor University in Upland, Indiana. She started in political science where she described it as the “single most boring class” in her life.

On a camping trip she overheard a professor telling a student that law majors should major in philosophy because philosophy majors have the highest average score on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT).

“I didn’t know what philosophy was, but I needed to major in it,” Hernandez said.

The first semester Hernandez got two B letter grades. She was used to getting good grades easily and was attracted to the challenge philosophy presented.

Hernandez went on to finish her bachelor’s, obtained her Master of Arts in philosophy from Texas A&M University and her Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Memphis.

Now on the verge of stepping in at CWU, Hernandez said she is excited to have a unified vision with the university to be able to create innovative programs.

“I think there’s some room for program growth, new programs that meet market demand,” Hernandez said. “I’m really excited to be a leader in the college for diversity.”

Hernandez said CWU wants to increase the number of students that are students of color, Pell Grant eligible and military students.

“I know the challenges that face students of color,” Hernandez said. “Of all the strategic visions that the university has, I’m really excited about that and I feel like I can actually be a leader in recruiting and retaining students.”

At UTSA, Hernandez coached the team that participated in the Ethics Bowl, a national intercollegiate question competition across different disciplines. She started the program there, and wants to bring similar programs to CWU to encourage students to meet new people studying different majors.

Hernandez gives a lot of credit for where she is now to her thesis mentor, John McDermitt, who passed away earlier this year. Hernandez said one of the main reasons why she chose CWU is because faculty at CWU are committed to student success the way McDermitt was committed to her success back at Texas A&M.

“I just had a colleague email me today… he said McDermitt would be proud,” Hernandez said. “That is really important to me.”

Hernandez is moving to Ellensburg with her husband, Gustavo Hernandez, and two daughters, Allie and Sofie Hernandez. Gustavo Hernandez is a chef who may open a restaurant close by. Allie Hernandez is going to be a freshman at CWU next fall as an art design student.

“The very first thing that I’m going to do is going to be listening. Creating generation geographical change for our students, I am committed to that,” Hernandez said. “Every decision that we’ll make as a college will be with an aim towards that. Every one. If it doesn’t fit, we won’t do it.”