The 23-school Virginia community college system has announced an expansion of its Chancellor’s Graduate Student Fellowship program to enhance the initiative’s capacity to increase faculty diversity. Dr. Glenn Dubois, the chancellor of the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), says the program will target Virginia’s minority professional organizations as part of the program’s outreach efforts.
Since getting under way in fall 2006, the Graduate Student Fellowship initiative has provided more than 100 graduate students at seven Virginia universities with community college-level teaching experience. The program pairs university students with teaching assignments at community colleges around the state. In addition to gaining teaching experience, the students receive mentorship from full-time faculty members at the community college where they have their assignments.
“We believe our community colleges should, in all aspects, look like Virginia. And it does when you look at student enrollment — a little over a third of our students are from minority backgrounds. But if you look at the teacher standing in front of the classroom, it falls far short of a third. It’s around 11 to 12 percent,” DuBois says.
DuBois explains that while the fellowship program has been and remains open to Virginia graduate students of any racial or ethnic background one of the program’s goals has been to increase faculty diversity. Officials believe that minority professional organizations include substantial numbers of individuals who have the credentials and qualifications to join the adjunct teaching ranks at community colleges, eventually becoming full-time faculty members.
“We’re looking to find these great pools of talent and entice them into the community college experience,” says Dr. Christopher Lee, VCCS associate vice chancellor for human resource services.
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