OSU-Cascades to honor leader of High Desert Museum with special recognition at commencement

Dana Whitelaw
Dana Whitelaw will receive the 2024 Distinguished Service Award at OSU-Cascades 23rd Commencement.
May 30, 2024

Oregon State University – Cascades will honor Dana Whitelaw, executive director of the High Desert Museum, during its 23rd annual commencement ceremony on Sunday, June 16.

Whitelaw will receive the OSU-Cascades Distinguished Service Award, which honors individuals, businesses or organizations that have made exceptional contributions to OSU-Cascades, Central Oregon, Oregon or the world.

“During Dana’s 16-year career at the High Desert Museum, including the last decade serving as its executive director, she has elevated the role of the museum,” said Sherm Bloomer, chancellor and dean of OSU-Cascades. “She has dedicated her career to the founder’s vision for the institution, creating a national and regional treasure, inspiring countless visitors and area residents to deepen their appreciation for the history, culture, people, diverse voices, and flora and fauna found in our high deserts.”

Under Whitelaw’s leadership, the High Desert Museum was named a Smithsonian Affiliate, has experienced record attendance and earned the prestigious 2021 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The medal recognizes museums with exceptional commitment and contributions to their community. The museum also received the 2019 Western Museums Association’s Charles Redd Award for Exhibition Excellence.

Born and raised in Oregon, Whitelaw received a doctorate in biological anthropology from the University of Colorado Boulder.  She serves on the boards of the Western Museums Association, the Cultural Advocacy Coalition of Oregon, Visit Central Oregon and Art in Public Places.

About OSU-Cascades:  Oregon State University’s campus in Bend brings higher education to Central Oregon, the fastest growing region in the state. Surrounded by mountains, forest and high desert, OSU-Cascades is a highly innovative campus of a top-tier land grant research university, offering small classes that accelerate faculty-student mentoring and experiential learning. Degree programs meet industry and economic needs in areas such as innovation and entrepreneurship, natural ecosystems, health and wellness, and arts and sciences, and prepare students for tomorrow’s challenges. OSU-Cascades is expanding to serve 3,000 to 5,000 students, building a 128-acre campus with net-zero goals.