A finals for academic dean said that she wants to keep students at the center of the work, during a forum last week.
Dr. Melana Yanos is one of three finalists for the Dean of Academic Transfer Pathways and Partnerships position last week.
Dr. Yanos spoke at a Zoom forum on Monday, May 10.
The dean role is in charge of ensuring that Highline’s new Guided Pathways program runs smoothly, and can continue to cater to the needs of transferring students.
Guided Pathways is a program that helps match students’ skills and interests, with one of six career pathways, that make up more than 100 certificates and degrees.
The position also oversees 2 transfer degrees and 15 different departments, including the MaST Center, Honors Program, and the Academic Success centers.
Dr. Yanos currently works as the interim associate dean of the arts, humanities and social sciences division at Seattle Central College.
She received her doctorate in psychology from the University of Washington, and her bachelor’s degree in psychological and brain sciences from Dartmouth College.
Dr. Yanos was raised in North Kohala, a small town on the Big Island of Hawaii.
During her forum, Dr. Yanos brought out a presentation showing what she referred to as her guiding wheel. At the center of this wheel, was the word students.
This represented that she is student-centered, she said.
This spreads further than just supporting students as well, Dr. Yanos said.
“For me, what … that means is also upholding values of equity, diversity and inclusion at the center of this work,” she said.
And being there for students isn’t a single-person job either.
“I really like to lead by actively supporting and collaborating with folks,” Dr. Yanos said. “I can’t do this work alone, so I really lean on who I’m collaborating with.”
Furthermore, leading is also about having discussions that might not be very comfortable – such as one’s surrounding racism, Dr. Yanos said.
“I think a leader really has to be ushering in those conversations,” she said.
Especially as of late, bringing these conversations in and learning to adapt, is vital.
“It’s really important to be able to adapt quickly, the past year has really taught me that,” Dr. Yanos said. “[And] I get the impression that Highline is not afraid to do new things.”
To better understand and learn what students need, the community also needs to raise up the voices that often go unheard, she said.
“Hearing the voices of students who are among those that are in underserved communities [is important],” Dr. Yanos said. “We need to know what they need, in order to thrive so we can … address those opportunity gaps, and give everyone the education that we’re promising.”
Regarding Guided Pathways, Dr. Yanos also said that making this program more well-known to those in surrounding high schools would be one thing she would like to change, if hired on.
“Getting a presence in high schools … and showing students hey, look at these pathways, at all these things you could eventually do or pursue” would help greatly, she said. “We’re not just telling students to come to us and get a degree, we’re also telling students to come to us and get a degree in a pathway which will eventually get you in a career.”