Washington State program supporting minority faculty wins regional higher education award

  • Year Published : 2018
  • Month Published : April

A Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) program to aid retention and mentorship of underrepresented faculty throughout the system was honored by the Western Alliance of Community College Academic Leaders (the Alliance) at its annual meeting last Thursday in Seattle.

Sachi Horback, PhD—who led the effort to develop the winning Cross-Institution Faculty of Color Mentorship Program—accepted the Bernice Joseph Award, given annually by the Alliance for the best academic-leadership resource submitted this past year to its online resource known as the Academic Leaders Toolkit. This peer-reviewed repository is hosted by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), the Colorado-based regional higher education agency where the Alliance (whose members are the senior academic leaders at Western U.S. two-year-colleges) is based.

“I am thrilled to see this program honored with the Bernice Joseph Award,” says Alliance chair Lita Burns, PhD, vice president for instruction at North Idaho College. “It exemplifies the value our Alliance provides by illuminating innovations that improve peer institutions’ ability to serve students and communities.”

Horback, district dean for business and social sciences at Pierce College, remarked that the difficulty of recruiting and retaining faculty of color is a common thread among the 34 schools in the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges system. Just 14 to 17 percent of system faculty fall into this category. Since they may be the sole representatives of color in their department or division, often in remote physical locations, a critical mass of peer support can be lacking.

The program addresses this problem by providing one-on-one and group mentors, professional development, and support. Drawing upon individuals at more than 30 colleges statewide, a critical mass emerges that can mean the difference between career satisfaction and attrition. Now in its second year, the program supports 83 faculty members and has a waitlist for participation.

In receiving this award, SBCTC’s program gains broad recognition among the two-year-college senior academic officials that comprise Alliance membership across WICHE’s 16-state region. The award has been given annually by the Alliance since 2013, and it was renamed recently to honor Bernice Joseph, an influential University of Alaska educator who passed away in 2014.

About the Alliance: The Western Alliance of Community College Academic Leaders is a membership organization based at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). Alliance members are the chief academic officers of the community colleges and technical schools and their associated system and state agencies in the WICHE region. Through the Alliance, these leaders share perspectives on current issues, work together on regional projects beyond the scope of a single institution or state, and contribute resources and expertise to build a stronger future for higher education in the West. The Alliance was founded in 2010 with seed money provided by the Western Academic Leadership Forum, also based at WICHE.

About WICHE: Established by Congress in 1953, WICHE is one of four regional interstate compacts in the U.S. WICHE’s programs include the Western Undergraduate Exchange, which saves more than 40,000 students more than $375 million annually in tuition; a report, Knocking at the College Door, that’s the nation’s preeminent resource for demography projections of college-age students; and WCET, the leading U.S. convener for innovation in educational technology. Visit our website for more information.


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