Our Story

In 2016, WWU established The Ray Wolpow Institute for the Study of the Holcoaust, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity to honor and continue the work of Prof. Emeritus Ray Wolpow.

Dr. Wolpow created The Northwest Center for Holocaust, Genocide and Ethnocide Education (NWCHGEE) in September of 1998 to assist educators in the design and implementation of Holocaust, genocide and ethnocide-related studies. NWCHGEE is dedicated to remembering and learning from the past in order to promote the human rights of all people. After Dr. Wolpow’s retirement, NWCHGEE continued to be housed in the Woodring College of Education, administered by the Center for Education, Equity, and Diversity under the leadership of Dr. Kristen French.

In May 2014, members of the campus community started discussing how the NWCHGEE  could continue and expand its work and how other departments and colleges could aid in furthering the center’s mission and visibility on-and off-campus.

The creation of a university-wide institute came after a two-year faculty driven process that involved staff, faculty, and administrative colleagues from across campus. The final proposal was submitted to the Provost’s Office in March 2016 by Babafemi Akinrinade, Sandra Alfers, Jeanne Armstrong, Amanda Eurich, Margaret Fast, Petra Fiero, Kristen French, Steven Garfinkle, Mark Greenberg, Vicki Hamblin, Kevin Leonard, LeaAnn Martin, Ed Mathieu, Sebastian Mendes, Paqui Paredes, Cornelius Partsch, Francisco Rios, Kathleen Young, Sheila Webb, Ray Wolpow, and Angela Vandenhaak, with support from acclaimed scholars and community members,  internal units as well as external non-profit and government organizations, such as the Portuguese Consulate in San Francisco and the German Honorary Consulate in Seattle.

The newly created institute will support, expand, and carry forward the NWCHGEE’s mission, which is central to the university’s commitment to being an international leader in active learning, critical thinking, and societal problem solving. This is particularly important as the university continues to grow and build its reputation as a premier undergraduate institution strongly rooted in the liberal arts tradition.