The San Mateo County Community College District (SMCCCD) Board of Trustees unanimously approved the new position of chief diversity officer/ombuds at an April 26 meeting to advance collective equity and antiracism, highlight the need for eradication of racism and anti-Blackness, and bridge gaps in diversity and equity advancing opportunities in the district.
SMCCCD has partnered with Equity Forward and received a $30,000 grant to pilot the position for one year. Equity Forward is an initiative in partnership with Stanford University funded by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation to close the racial wealth divide in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. The grant will help pilot the position for one year. An ombuds acts as a neutral party who assists individuals and groups in the resolution of conflicts or concerns, according to the The International Ombuds Association.
"Community feedback bolstered the district's action that takes our support of educational and racial equity to the next level," said board President Lisa Petrides in a statement. "As an educational institution we are committed to supporting diversity and educational equity so that our students, community and employees prosper."
Interim Chancellor Melissa Moreno said the diversity officer will engage with populations that don't necessarily see themselves as college-bound so the district can determine how it can help this population attend college.
"We continue the work to eradicate racism and the associated inequities in higher education, and this position is the start of a new pillar of support for our students and community," she said in a statement.
The hiring of the new officer won't affect the district's budget since the director of public affairs position was eliminated after Ana Maria Pulido left the role, according to district spokesperson Rolando Bonilla.
The pay range as a chief officer is between $217,920 to $270,780, he said. Placement on this salary schedule is normally at the starting salary, but also depends on a number of other factors including previous experience, he said.