May 11, 2018 12:04 pm

Thanks in part to the cross-institutional Faculty of Color Mentorship program, community and technical colleges throughout Washington are making great strides in recruiting and retaining talented and diverse faculty members. Created by Pierce College Dean for Business and Social Sciences Sachi Horback, Ph.D., the program seeks to provide the support faculty of color need to thrive in the higher education environment. Horback was recently honored with the Bernice Joseph Award, a national award given annually by the Western Alliance of Community College Academic Leaders (the Alliance).

Horback is committed to helping colleges improve their efforts in recruiting and retaining faculty of color, by providing much-needed personal and professional development opportunities. The Faculty of Color Mentorship program is in its second year, supporting 83 faculty members from colleges throughout the state, with a waiting list for additional participants.  

Horback serves as the chair of the program’s advisory board, which is also comprised of community and technical college leaders from around the state. Participants meet three times per year for quarterly retreats that provide opportunities for relationship building, professional development and networking opportunities.

“It’s really exciting to see that we’re making a difference not just for our faculty of color, but also for our students of color,” Horback said. “When faculty return from these retreats feeling enlivened and strengthened in their work, it truly benefits all students.”

The Faculty of Color Mentorship program is the first cross-institutional program of its kind in the nation. For Horback, as an administrator of color and former tenured faculty member, this work is especially important to her both personally and professionally.

“To be able to support my colleagues and support faculty of color coming into higher education means everything to me,” she said. “This has been one of the greatest honors of my career to serve with such an amazing advisory board to support our faculty of color to thrive, not just survive, in their institutions.”

The Bernice Joseph Award is given annually by the Alliance and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. By receiving this award, the program gains broad recognition among two-year colleges in the organizations’ 16-state region.

“This recognition will inherently help with the sustainability of this program,” Horback said. “I accepted the award on behalf of all the participants who bring their whole, authentic selves to our retreats, our highly experienced and dedicated advisory board that do much of this work on their own time, and also on behalf of our community and technical college system, because as a system, we need to continue the work necessary to break down the barriers.”