2005 Regina Stanback Stroud Award

2005 Winners

Area A: Deanna Herrera-Thomas, College of the Redwoods

Herrera-Thomas, professor of psychology, was born to an immigrant Latino father and a Jewish-American mother. Growing up in a conservative, largely homogeneous, suburb with this heritage, she faced prejudice and oppression, as well as a lack of role models for her advanced academic and vocational aspirations. These circumstances first pushed her to assimilate, dampening her cultural identity; but eventually, she transformed her experiences and herself into an activist, working toward a truly inclusive and equitable pluralistic society. This she accomplishes in a number of ways. She serves as a direct role model to diverse students who might feel out of place in academia, and she has established many close mentoring relationships with such students. She also raises consciousness of diversity in the classroom by forthrightly presenting issues of human variability, tolerance, and oppression. Also, within the faculty and administrative spheres of her campus, Herrera-Thomas continually makes strides to ensure that curricula, policies, and procedures include deference to the cause of diversity. Some of her efforts to this end include: the creation of a multicultural and diversity resource center; providing consultation in faculty hiring to establish interview techniques and questions that are culturally equitable; and, spearheading the development of the Multicultural and Diversity Committee, which she now chairs, within her academic senate. This committee has overseen the inclusion of multicultural references in curriculum proposals, a proposal to promote diversity requirements in degrees, a bid to institute a womens studies program, and the creation of a website that addresses and provides resources for multiculturalism in various disciplines, among many other innovations. Herrera-Thomas was also the greatest single contributor to her school's Student Equity Plan: she did a surpassing amount of research, and drafted numerous solid and detailed recommendations for recruiting students from under-represented populations, integrating disenfranchised students into mainstream campus curriculum and society, and for incorporating multiculturalism into the general education program. Beyond this, she is regularly active in the surrounding community, as well, giving lectures and providing consultation on topics ranging from the mental health needs of Latinos, to violence against women, homophobia, and cultural competency. As her colleagues attest, Herrera-Thomas has been both inspirational and catalytic, making ground-breaking advancements in fostering diversity throughout her campus - and this in just the four short years that she has been at College of the Redwoods!

Area B: Jonathan Brennan, Mission College

Brennan, an English instructor at Mission College, primarily focuses on education to deal with diversity issues. Opening a discussion about diversity, he defines it as a reality which is not necessarily a detrimental or a beneficial, but it is an opportunity for learning, potentially leading to tolerance and a unifying awareness of human commonalities amongst differing groups. He then seeks to intimate positive experiences of diversity through his lessons and his promotion of events that provide exposure to varying cultural practices and historical backgrounds. Toward this end, Brennan continuously pursues myriad venues and an assortment of techniques. He has composed several course outlines at his campus that present content on diverse cultural viewpoints, including Native American, African American, and Asian American literature, and often incorporating cultural histories. In harmony with his belief that a diversity of classroom materials enables broader discussions which can encompass a broader demographic of the student body, Brennan uses more traditionally alternative texts as the foundation of his lessons: books such as Ronald Takaki's A Different Mirror and Stephen Steinberg's Ethnic Myth present unusually multicultural historical perspectives, and examine common misconceptions that tend to emphasize the disparity and difficulties of understanding between groups. As the chair of Mission's Student Success Committee, he developed strategies to better recruit students from under-represented communities; and, in his work with the Chancellor's Committee on Faculty and Staff Diversity, he likewise enhanced diversity in faculty hiring. Additionally, for Title III and Title V committees, Brennan prevailed in writing grant proposals for projects that would bolster the Latino student body on his campus. He has also served as a Fund for Student Success and PFE project director, launching a two extensive academic mentoring programs to assist under-represented students which have proven to increase their retention and success rates. Similarly, he brought forth a First Year Experience seminar that links a counseling course with a basic skills or ESL class; this seminar is led by both counselors and instructors, and teaches developmental students how to develop and sustain positive commitments, goals, and study skills. Beyond all this, Brennan regularly organizes campus events and forums, speaks on topics of diversity, and has even written a play for African History Month which portrayed and examined the American slave experience. His numerous published writings - articles, essays, plays, and books - all function to bring increased multicultural awareness to much broader audience, as well. In the words of a colleague, His vision, energy, persistence, and dedication to the success of our diverse student population are to be commended.

Area C: Saadia Lagarde Porche, Citrus College

Porche, now a member of the counseling faculty at Citrus College, came from a background that would qualify her as one of the minorities when she reached her higher levels of education, and so she came to have first-hand knowledge of how such groups may be made to feel marginalized in the mainstream college culture. Early experiences such as this sparked Porche's initial interest in issues of diversity and equity. Since then, she has developed into an active and determined proponent of cultural competence, which she defines as a dynamic state of understanding and profound respect for the richness of cultural differences, as well as an awareness of the common elements shared by all peoples. Ever since her beginnings at Citrus College, Porche has sought out avenues in which to be a role model to students and faculty in creating a campus climate that is tolerant and supportive of all. She has been involved with the Student Equity Committee on her campus since its infancy, and she served as faculty advisor to the Black Student Union/African American Alliance Club for five years; she is also regularly enlists appropriate authorities to speak at Womens History and African American History months, as well as supports activities for the annual Disabled Students Programs and Services Day, to name just of few of the more social and over-arching ways that Porche works to advance cultural competence. Additionally, for all 13 years of her full-time status at Citrus College, she has been a member of the Institutional Diversity Committee (previously the Affirmative Action Committee), a group that advises on revisions to the school's employment practices and policies in the interest of equity, arranges for sensitivity training for diversity monitors serving on faculty hiring committees, and makes diversity training and education available campus-wide. Furthermore, she has been intimately involved with Extended Opportunity Programs and Services (EOP&S) for eight years - four as a counselor and four as the Director. EOP&S is a counseling and retention program for disadvantaged students of all sorts. In addition to generally working toward increasing inter-cultural understanding for all, during her time there, Porche instituted a student outcomes tracking database, implemented support groups to enhance student confidence and success, and developed a program to increase transfer rates for underprivileged groups. One of Porche's most recent and remarkable activities is her role as the Student Services Team Leader for the work of her campus' Title V Hispanic Serving Institutions Grant. This grant supports the Growth in Outcomes and Academic Learning program, which aims to increase retention and academic success in Hispanic and low-income, first generation students entering at the basic skills level. Plainly, Porche has devoted herself and her passion to issues of social justice and pluralistic community, and her success in these areas has been outstanding.

Area D: Ruth Dills, Coastline College

Dills has been a reputable community college faculty member for 30 years, the last 18 of which she has been employed at Coastline College as a counselor and EOPS coordinator. She asserts a basic belief that as a society and a people we have an obligation to work to eliminate poverty and discrimination. It is Dills' philosophy that diversity must be acknowledged and valued as being in conjunction with the awareness of the commonalities of being human regardless of interpersonal distinctions. To this end, Dills has made herself a champion of the community college mission to extend the opportunities and benefits of higher education to all, and as such, she is an especial asset to Coastline College, the student population of which is especially non-traditional, largely made up of older adults and others facing additional obstacles to their education. Upon arriving at Coastline, Dills found their EOPS program to be in rather deteriorated and ineffectual condition; through her efforts since then, she has managed to transform it into a strong and competent resource for underprivileged students. Under her leadership, her department has gone from serving 53 students to serving 325, over 80% of whom are from traditionally under-represented populations. She has managed to put together a multicultural EOPS staff that reflects the proportion of diversity within the population that it serves, and which has been so successful in welcoming and serving students that there are now more participants than State funding can support. In response to this, Dills is also active on the State level of EOPS, and was one of the advocates that successfully procured exemption from proposed funding cuts to that program in 2003. Beyond EOPS, she directly drove the evolution of the ACCESS Program, which makes a full-time course of study available at convenient times and locations so that transfer to four-year institution is possible in timely manner for the greatest number of students. She is also a consistent member of various college committees, including the Matriculation Committee, the Professional Development Institute, and the Student Equity and Diversity Committee. In addition, Dills continuously works to support a variety of distinct groups, both on campus and off: she maintains programs that ensure practical access to higher education for welfare mothers and that reach out to the Latino community; she organizes food drives and special events for the poverty-stricken; she works with halfway houses; and she collaborates with city councils to seek out myriad assistances to diverse populations of the local community. Dills' unwavering devotion and compassionate direction is broadly recognized by students and faculty as an extraordinarily positive influence on all around her, realizing her modest aspiration to make life in the world around her at least a little kinder and more accepting.