2008 Regina Stanback Stroud Award

2008 Winner

Janelle C. Williams Melendrez, Southwestern College

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. - April 25, 2008 - The Academic Senate proudly conferred the 2008 Stanback Stroud Diversity Award on Janelle C. Williams Melendrez, a Counselor from Southwestern College, in Chula Vista, California. Past President Regina Stanback Stroud (1993-95) presented Melendrez with the Diversity Award on April 18, 2008, at the annual Spring Plenary Session.

I'm always very thankful that the faculty are honoring work done on behalf of our students, Past President Stanback Stroud said at the luncheon honoring Melendrez.

Melendrez has actively tackled issues of diversity on her campus. She has worked with her campus' Speaker Series Committee to bring prominent speakers to her college, such as Dr. Cornell West and Edward James Olmos, to speak about diversity and cultural competencies. Additionally, Melendrez has helped create organizations on her campus such as the African American Alliance, an organization for employees, students and community members that focuses on improving students' college experience.

Committing to diversity is the process of undoing the effects of growing up in an imperfect, discriminatory society, Melendrez said in her application letter.

Melendrez has done more than just craft an eloquent philosophy on diversity; she has put it into action. When she saw there was a need for African American students to feel like they had a place on her campus, Melendrez responded, creating The Exponential Learning Academy (TELA), a learning community focused on the African American experience and university transfer. When she saw morale issues affecting her colleagues, she created a conference focused on improving relations for the campus and community, as well as serving as an opportunity to enrich student learning outside of the classroom. This conference, called A Speaker Series for Global Understanding, was so successful that 93% of participants indicated they were very likely to attend a future conference, and the Interim Superintendent President adopted the conference as an annual event.

Basically, I believe in education as a model for freedom, Melendrez said in her acceptance speech.

Ultimately, all of Melendrez's actions to address diversity on her campus are centered on one of her basic principles in her philosophy on diversity:

Diversity is not about diminishing differences by overshadowing it with similarities. It is about creating active learning environments where fostering appreciation of both differences and similarities is paramount.