Utah State University Uintah Basin is pleased to announce the addition of Melanie Brunson to the campus faculty. Brunson has been hired as a lecturer in the Business Education department.
Since the fall of 2017, Latrisha Fall, the director of Events, Engagement & Inclusion at Utah State University Uintah Basin, has been working with the USU Inclusion Center and with local administration to offer ally training to USU Uintah Basin students, faculty and staff. Fall saw the need for more training for the campus community even before she officially became the director of inclusion at USU Uintah Basin, going beyond her official job duties to also lead the efforts at the campus.
Starting as a staff assistant, Fall would later become the director of Events, Engagement, and Inclusion at USU Uintah Basin and got even more involved in the campus’ inclusion efforts, coordinating ally training, unconscious bias training, upstander diversity and inclusion training as well as hosting the campus’ first ever Diversity Dinner.
“As the Vernal and Roosevelt Campuses have endeavored to be more inclusive and meet the needs of a more diversified student population, we created a director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion position,” said James Y. Taylor, Associate Vice President for USU Uintah Basin. “Latrisha Fall has been amazing and has exceeded all expectations. We have seen great strides in being inclusive and respectful to the entire Uintah Basin community and our campus. Latrisha has defined and supported our mission and actually taken huge steps forward to align our campus actions with our commitment. I could not be more pleased with her passion and purpose to assist the campus and community.”
This past year, USU Uintah Basin has done even more to offer training and to create a more inclusive environment. Fall coordinated trainings including LGBT 101, Trans 101 and Ally training. These voluntary and free trainings were received well by students, faculty, staff, community members and local business attendees.
“We have received incredible feedback from our community members, students, and faculty and staff,” Fall said. “Students and community members recognize that there is still much work to be done in the community and USU still has room for improvement but they have reported that they feel seen and know they are welcome at our campus. The campus itself has become one of the safe spaces for many in the community.”
Fall has especially loved seeing the university hire full-time benefitted staff members to run the inclusion center.
“The decision to make positions at the Inclusion Center full-time benefited has been the single most impactful step toward real change here at USU,” Fall said. “Committing dollars toward efforts of diversity and inclusion has allowed those that provide these trainings to focus on what matters the most and to deliver incredible trainings.”
Fall has also been a huge supporter of Project Rainbow, an organization that hosts flag campaigns throughout Utah to spread love and awareness to LGBTQIA+ issues. The flags go to support the Community Fund, which provides grants and sponsorships for projects, organizations and events that further increase LGBTQIA+ support and visibility. Fall also is a consistent contributor to the local radio program USU & You, a weekly program with guests with a broad spectrum of interests which help to inform community residents on open dialogue and discussion.
Fall started as a neighborhood liaison after seeing the need in the Uintah Basin to show friends in the LGBTQIA+ community that they are seen and loved and to bring awareness to the local Uintah Basin community. In 2021, Project Rainbow invited Fall to join its board. She accepted and began the role in 2022.
“Joining the board has been an incredible experience; each one of the board members are amazing and working every day to do great things for Utah,” Fall said. “I have loved learning about all the impactful things the Queer community is doing, through the community grants we fund and the outreach to Project Rainbow. But I cry, I mean really cry, each time someone tells me or I hear third party of how impactful it is to them when they see the flags flying in the community. It is hard to grow up Queer in the Uintah Basin and I just want everyone to feel valued and find those that rally for them and celebrate them. Project Rainbows mission to spread love throughout the state.”
In addition, Fall has also been active in USU Uintah Basin’s Speaker Series, co-coordinating the series. During the 2021 series, Jenn Tuckett, director of Events and Activities, Uintah Basin Equality Center, was a guest speaker, addressing “Loving our Rainbows in a Black and White World.” The entire lecture is available for viewing on the USU Uintah Basin Speaker Series website, statewide.usu.edu/uintahbasin/speaker-series.
Operating campuses in Vernal and Roosevelt for more than 50 years, Utah State University Uintah Basin gives students the personalized attention and small class sizes of a small-town college with the resources of a large university, all in the backdrop of the outdoor oasis that is the Uinta Mountains and Ashley National Forest. With degree options ranging from associate to doctorate degrees and more than 125 programs available, as well as access to the renowned Bingham Research Center, USU Uintah Basin offers programs that help fuel local economies and empower individuals and their communities. Learn more at uintahbasin.usu.edu.
Members of LGBTQIA+ communities pose for a group picture as they pose on the steps of the Utah Capitol in 2022. (Cat Palmer photo.)
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Director of Events, Engagement & Inclusion
USU Uintah Basin