Spring is in the air, and faculty are, as always, focused on providing the best experience possible for their students. Examples of amazing faculty work and dedication to students are recognized with submissions for statewide awards. The following recipients have been recognized for the 2022-23 academic year by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors and the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, along with a legislator award for outstanding advocacy for the California Community Colleges system.
EXEMPLARY PROGRAM AWARD
The Exemplary Program Award was established by the Board of Governors in 1991 to recognize outstanding community college programs. For the 2022-23 cycle, the theme was “Walk a Mile in Someone Else’s Shoes: An Ethnic Studies Approach to California Community Colleges Curriculum.” Insufficient submissions aligned with this theme were received, preventing the completion of the process for this cycle. The ASCCC Standards and Practices Committee and the ASCCC Executive Committee are committed to revisiting a theme around Ethnic Studies, as defined in Resolution 09.07 S21, for the 2023-24 cycle and very much look forward to celebrating the incredible work around this critical field and new general education requirement. Look for forthcoming details in early October, with a due date in early November.
The Hayward Award for Excellence in Education honors community college full-time and part-time faculty who demonstrate the highest level of commitment to their students, colleges, and profession. All faculty, classroom and non-classroom, are eligible for consideration. This year’s recipients were recognized at the March Board of Governors meeting along with excerpts from their applications.
ANGELI FRANCOIS is a part-time faculty member at the nominating college, College of the Canyons, and is now a first-year full-time English faculty member at Long Beach City College. Professor Francois has a natural ability to engage others and bring people into the conversation without presumption and judgment. She is an avid listener and often looks to see how the college can improve processes, student support services, and instructional deliveries to students. It is a pleasure to witness Angeli embrace her natural ability to lead others. In her capacity as a lead presenter on several campus presentations, she has demonstrated compassion for others and a willingness to collaborate with others on ideas shared, and she is brilliant at executing a collective mindset that may exist in the room. Angeli performs as a support, co-lead, and lead facilitator in campus presentations with mindfulness and ease toward her audience members. She has a strong presence and continues to amaze campus community members with her creativity, determination, and willingness to always put students first.
JANE LE SKAIFE is a part-time sociology faculty member at Sierra College. Professor Le Skaife has been a strong advocate for historically marginalized students. She is a true equity champion and has contributed significantly in advancing equity work. Her work to integrate equity initiatives and voices has been critical to the overall climate and progress of the campus. Even though she is a part time faculty member and teaches at multiple campuses, she always makes time for students and colleagues. She co-facilitated the first ever Sierra College Equitized Instruction Workshop and served as a peer mentor for several faculty as they completed equitizing their courses. She has demonstrated strong leadership skills in many spaces. She leads with humility and is not afraid to be vulnerable when necessary. She is a tireless and relentless voice for equity and antiracism in the classroom and institution. She is rapidly emerging as a dynamic and charismatic leader who is actively engaged in participatory governance. She is well respected by her students, and her love and passion for her students and her commitment to teaching is unparalleled.
KENNETH CHAIRPRASERT is a full-time political science faculty member at East Los Angeles College. As a political science professor and director of the pre-law program, he learns from his students’ diverse identities as he helps them find empowerment from their diversity. His students have immigrant backgrounds, many of them undocumented, are non-traditional, have families, have disabilities, and were formerly incarcerated. Professor Chairprasert asks them what law and politics personally mean to who they are and where they come from. He then designs pedagogical strategies to help them harness the power of their unique backgrounds to make a difference in their communities. He integrates readings, activities, and guest speakers who share the students’ backgrounds to show the students how their unique histories and challenges can become the strengths that can help them transfer, continue in higher education, and earn degrees to become the advocates for their communities that have been underserved and left voiceless. He tells his students that everything about them—whether they are undocumented, have a physical disability, or were formerly incarcerated—makes up the strengths that will help them become the awesome champions for immigrant, disabled or differently-abled, and system-impacted communities.
TAMARA CHESHIRE is a full-time ethnic studies faculty member at Folsom Lake College. She empowers students to achieve their educational goals and to further their careers that may translate into higher earnings; more importantly, she encourages students to work beyond themselves and to transform their communities. She works with her colleagues to transform education systems by identifying barriers that prevent disproportionately impacted students from succeeding and by establishing open and inclusive access. She states that ethnic studies is liberatory, anti-racist, equity-minded education that is accessible for all and reflective of voices previously silenced. Open access includes affordability, transportation, and access to and training in technology used to provide content and to assess student knowledge and skills. Issues such as food insecurity, lack of affordable housing, affordable childcare, and limited physical and mental health resources are pressing. Professor Cheshire believes that faculty and colleges must recognize that these issues exist, discuss them in the classroom, and empower students and provide them with resources, knowledge, and skills.
REGINA STANBACK STROUD DIVERSITY AWARD
Serving the most diverse student population of any higher education system in the country, the California Community Colleges system is largely comprised of demographic groups that have traditionally faced barriers to education. The prestigious Regina Stanback Stroud Diversity Award acknowledges an individual or group that is exceptional in contributing to the advancement of intercultural harmony, equity, and campus diversity at their college.
The recipient of the Stanback Stroud Award this year is Veronica Gerace, communications studies faculty member at San Diego Mesa College. The following is an excerpt from the local academic senate letter of support: “An experienced instructor for more than two decades, our nominee helped create a number of classroom and non-classroom initiatives to foster diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). In addition, the nominee has endeavored to institutionally embed DEI both locally and throughout California. Professor Gerace conceived of the Common Grounds Initiative that gathers students, faculty members, classified professionals, and administrators for informal conversations that build trust among the college’s stakeholders. She founded the Regional Chapter of the American Association for Women in Community Colleges that currently includes more than 150 members. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, Professor Gereace and a colleague launched Propelled by Protests, a project that encouraged African American student leadership to host substantive dialogue among all the College’s stakeholders. Propelled by Protests activities included guest speakers who addressed concerns specific to Mesa’s African American students.”
CCC ADVOCACY AWARD
The CCC Advocacy Award is presented to legislators who have demonstrated commitment to the California Community Colleges system and its unique mission and role within the state’s public postsecondary educational system. Recipients are nominated by ASCCC Executive Committee members and approved by the ASCCC Executive Committee. The award has no set cycle and is a rare honor. For 2022-23, the ASCCC Executive Committee recognizes Assemblymember Jose Medina for his dedication to and advocacy for students’ success and well-being. Medina served the 61st district in the California State Assembly over the years 2012-2022. Though he and faculty did not always entirely agree, the ASCCC very much appreciates that his door was always open and he was always willing to engage in collegial and productive conversations with faculty, keeping the focus always on students. At the time of this writing, the ASCCC Office Team is coordinating with Medina’s office to find an appropriate ASCCC event to bestow this recognition and award.
Despite various challenges and continued fatigue, faculty persevere, innovate, and foster student learning and success. Congratulations to all of the award recipients for this academic year. All faculty should pause, reflect, and applaud all of the work and dedication of the over 55,000 faculty in the California Community Colleges system on behalf of students.
1. The text of the resolution can be found at https://asccc.org/resolutions/defining-ethnic-studies-and-its-four-core-disciplines.