Dr. Rula Awwad-Rafferty, Professor of Architecture and Interior Design in the College of Art and Architecture has taught at the University of Idaho since August 1998. She received her Interdisciplinary Ph.D. from Washington State University in 1995. Dean Mark Hoversten and Department Head Shauna Corry state that “Rula exemplifies a faculty member who values, practices and teaches inclusivity in the classroom, on our campus, and within the community and the world. From the time she began her graduate coursework in 1990, Rula has been engaged in research and teaching that seeks to increase awareness and provide solutions for issues facing diverse populations. Her work with Mexican migrant farmworkers focused on housing needs in relation to cultural needs, and influenced the focus on her teaching two of the first Core Discovery courses, Cultural Encounters: Spain and the United States and Cultural Encounters: The Latino Story.”
One of Dr. Awwad-Rafferty’s colleagues, Ellen McKenzie, says that Rula is an inspiration to all of us here at the University of Idaho and within the Moscow community. Every day we see evidence of her commitment and dedication to enhancing life quality for all through her understanding and recognition of diversity in teaching, committee service and service learning. She has championed the rights of people who need an advocate across all cultures and strives to create positive change. She does this not because it is the right thing to do, but because it is part of her beliefs and value set. She is passionate about inclusivity and focusing on “where we can go” to create a world that embraces all.
Dr. Awwad-Rafferty has embraced hands-on pedagogy to facilitate engagement in a variety of service learning projects that have been successful in helping at risk communities such as Kendrick and St. Maries, the Fort Hall Shoshone Bannock Tribes and people with disabilities here in Moscow. She advocates responsibility in and out of the classroom. Responsible design that pays attention to the commonalities of local and global scales, divergent narratives, pressing needs and visions, interdisciplinary creative problem solving, richness of difference, connectedness, beauty, and inclusive participation of all. As a Service Learning Fellow, a Human Rights Commissioner, a Presidential Diversity Council Committee Co-Chair and as a human being she seeks to forward the concept of responsible design thinking and action not only in the classroom, but weaves it throughout everything she does. She has worked tirelessly on issues of race, ethnicity, gender and religion and has been an advocate for both students and community members.