RVCC recognized as diversity leader for fourth year
Reposted from NJ.com
BRANCHBURG — Raritan Valley Community College was recognized in 2012 for excellence in diversity initiatives for the first time, but not the last.
2017 marked the college’s fourth year of being honored with the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, a diversity-focused publication in higher education.
The award is a national honor which recognizes the nation’s college and universities that demonstrates commitment to diversity and inclusion. Some 80 schools were chosen as recipients, with RVCC being the only New Jersey college to be honored.
Richeleen Dashield, dean of Multicultural Affairs, said it’s an honor to be recognized as a national leader in diversity efforts.
“We’re excited because it’s our fourth year we received the award, and I think for us in particular it really recommits us back to providing access in terms of education opportunities,” she said.
She pointed to outreach initiatives the colleges completes with middle and high school students in Somerset and Hunterdon counties, including the Paul Robeson Institute for Leadership and Sanofi Corporate Mentor Program, dedicated to helping first-generation and underrepresented students.
The college is also proud of its number of diverse student clubs and organization, comprised of Black Student Allicance, Orgullo Latino, Filipino PEACE, Muslim Student Association and others, she said.
In the future, the college is looking to embark on a revaluation of mission values and strategic plans, looking at past practices and policies, she said.
“For us, the HEED award encourages us to do more of what we’ve already done,” Dashield noted, focusing on an increased initiative on mentorshop programs for first-generation and underrepresented students with pharmacy companies.
Academically, the 49-year old college has partnerships encouraging high school students to take college classes to prepare them for their future transition, Dashield said.
The campus is trying extremely hard to increase services and teaching for its students and provide them with quality, affordable education, she said.
The school has also been responsive to increasing diversity on campus, a key to being a pioneer in inclusiveness.
“The enrollment reflects that 41 percent of our students are students of color and it has increased substantially over the years,” she said.
RVCC, a two-year public community college, offers associate degree programs to students, who then pursue bachelor degrees at universities including Rutgers, TCNJ, Montclair State University, Cornell and University of Pennsylvania.
“They really have expanded across the country to competitive local schools. Students have just been exceptional in the terms of opportunities they’ve had,” she said.
Dashield, who’s worked at RVCC for seven years and spent 27 years working in higher education, said the community college has been one of her favorite places to work.
“Raritan students are the most exceptional because they’re so open to engaging and exploring possibilities you provide them with and they get excited to apply them in the classroom,” she said.