Brian McNeill’s supportive colleagues and a passion for his work keep him going strong as he enters his 30th year at WSU.
A founding member of the Chicanx Latinx Faculty Staff Association (CLFSA), McNeill is a professor in the College of Education who had led the counseling psychology program, but the program is being phased out. He’s poured his energy into research on migrant farm workers in Washington and issues affecting Mexican Americans in general, studying the resilience they display in the face of so many obstacles.
“We found the people that scored higher in terms of connection to cultural values like familismo – dedication, commitment and loyalty to family – and other spiritual factors were more likely to show resilience,” McNeill said. “Those connections and family factors kind of keep them going.”
The CLFSA got its start in 1996 as faculty and staff began to seek out community and cultural connection.
“The student groups were organized and we had fraternities and sororities here (for Chicanx and Latinx students), but it wasn’t until 1996 that we started a small group,” McNeil said. “We wanted to organize to support each other, but also to push for recruitment of more faculty, staff and students of color.”
The group’s been instrumental in increasing diversity throughout WSU and served as a voice for underrepresented minorities.
“It’s very important a have a group on a professional level and a social justice level that includes staff and faculty from all departments and from all of our campuses,” McNeill said. “We’ve helped to push WSU to attend to the issues concerning Chicanx and Latinx people. It’s also important for Latinx candidates to see that we do have a community here.”
McNeill applauds the University for its efforts to recruit and retain Chicanx and Latinx students. Recruitment of faculty and staff has not kept pace with the demographics of the state. There are many complex factors, but McNeill said programs like Chicanx studies and bilingual education could help attract more faculty and staff with those backgrounds.
McNeill, who grew up in southern California and earned his Ph.D. at Texas Tech, said the social factors, much like familismo, is perhaps the most important reason he’s remained involved in CLFSA through the years.
“It’s just a good place for us to get together,” McNeill said. “We’re able to support each other and offer a sense of community.”