Mt. San Antonio College
2013 Regina Stanback Stroud Diversity Award Winner
Professor Liesel Reinhart has dedicated her life and education to giving underrepresented students a voice. Her contributions continue to make a great impact for any disadvantaged group on Mt. San Antonio College’s (Mt. SAC) campus.
In 2013 Professor Reinhart was award the RSSDA because of her work with developing inventive multicultural learning activities for her Communication courses and the creation of an associate’s degree with an Intercultural Studies emphasis. Other projects include her work with Mt. SAC’s African-American Student Success Program, the creation of a Black History Month speech contest, the writer and director of several locally produced plays on the lives of undocumented and LGBT students. Professor Reinhart works to support equity programs with Mt. SAC’s professional learning team to develop faculty who understand the need for systemic change as well as individual change to help our students succeed equitably.
Equity work is coordinated through Mt. SAC’s Academic Senate via its Faculty Professional Development Committee, and the senate supported the recommendations from its LGBT Task Force.
Working with the Community
Professor Reinhart attributes her success to working collaboratively with faculty and administrators. She credits cooperation with Mt. SAC’s Vice President of Student Services Dr. Audrey Yamagata-Noji, the Vice President of Instruction Dr. Irene Malmgren, and a host of faculty, staff and managers who have collaborated on these broad-scale projects.
Where Are They Now?
A lot has happened in the last four years. Long-awaited funding of equity initiatives from the State has opened up a whole new avenue of work to support diverse student populations.
Professor Reinhart is leading the creation of a new equity professional learning center for faculty and staff which includes certificates such as a 36-hour year-long program for new faculty to prepare them to better serve students through an understanding of the campus equity plan and initiatives and understanding of classroom practices to support equity student populations. Professor Reinhart was instrumental in bringing Dr. Cornel West to Mt. SAC and creating a “Leading for Equity” program of 40 learners who did critical readings, discussions, and writing – including development of a personal mission statement as a campus leader for equity. Her sabbatical project in 2015 included writing and directing a play and creating a week of outreach activities for LGBT youth. The play, it gets better, has toured in 12 states and the program has conducted more than 120 community outreach sessions across the country, to date. This led to a campus LGBT Task Force, multiple funding requests, Mt. SAC’s first-ever Lavender Graduation event, and the opening of the first Pride Center on campus in the fall of 2016 with a reassigned faculty adviser. Plans for 2017-2018 include a year-long employee certificate in equity pathways that includes a campus-wide reading and discussion practice using Colson Whitehead’s book, The Underground Railroad as a core text and ally training for employees to better support AB 540/dream students.
You Can Do It Too!
Professor Reinhart offers the following advice for faculty who want to create their own projects to support diversity:
“It’s important to connect your work to campus plans and initiatives so they have real staying power and so you have a place to document your results that everyone can see. If the right goals aren’t in the plan, get on the committee that writes the plan and add those goals. 2) Also look for funding and resources from multiple places. Creating an initiative from just one funding source can be dangerous in a world where funding can ebb and flow. Tie your work to other initiatives, too. If there is workplace development funding, build out a component of your work to include a piece that supports the objectives of that funding. 3) Data, data, data. You need to assess frequently and report constantly. Even if you know your work is meaningful, the ability for others to understand that requires substantiation. There are lots of creative ways to assess. Partner with people who love doing it if it’s not your cup of tea. It makes so much difference.”