Dr. Mosby attracted by Highline's diversity

By Mitchell Roland - Staff Reporter



Dr. John Mosby said that one of the things that drew him to Highline College was the diversity on campus.

One of three finalists for the position of president of the college and the students, faculty and staff had an opportunity during his in-person forums on campus Wednesday to ask him questions and to meet him.

Dr. Mosby made it clear that he intends to be the president of a college in the future, if he is not given the opportunity here.

"If it's not going to be here, it's going to be somewhere else," he said.

But Dr. Mosby also made it clear that he wants the job here, for a variety of reasons. Chief among them was the diversity, as the community looks like the one he grew up in.

"I felt like [Highline] aligned pretty much with my values," Dr. Mosby said, adding that "looking on campus and seeing people that look like me and not like me is wonderful."

The diversity here is one of the things that drew him to the job.

"I like institutions being recognized on their work in diversity," Dr. Mosby said.

Currently the vice president for Student Services at Mission College in Santa Clara, Calif., Mosby talked about a variety of issues and ideas.

One thing that Dr. Mosby wants is to be accessible to students and be in frequent communication with the campus. Currently, his assistant blocks out an hour in his schedule each week for him to walk around his campus to interact with students.

"I would go on a listening tour," Dr. Mosby said, adding that he wants to "really communicate with students early on."

If he were to become president, he made his goal for the college very clear: he wants Highline "to be the best community college in the United States," and to become a "model for the country."

On the topic of the recent white supremacist fliers that were found on campus, Dr. Mosby said that he is "someone who likes to address things head on."

He wants to talk with the community about what can be done in instances in like this and communicate with students how to handle situations that come up and try to "educate folks."

But he said that "the possibility of things happening is going to exist."

One plan that Dr. Mosby would do if he became president would be to "set the tone" by creating an equity plan to deal with situations like that.

"I think having a dedicated equity plan would be very important," Dr. Mosby said.

The plan would "Allow the college to chart its own path."

But, he said, he needed to be strategic about the conversations about access and equity because he did not "want to be the angry black guy."

Another idea that Dr. Mosby had for connecting with the community was going to various places to talk about Highline.

"The way you got to my community was church," he said.

Dr. Mosby called landing at SeaTac on Tuesday his "Hollywood moment," saying that his Uber driver recognized him and had a 20-minute conversation with him about being an alumnus of the college and what Highline means to him and the community.

When he got to his hotel, one of the workers talked about her mom working here and how much she loves it.

"This is a place of major place of love and family for folks," Dr. Mosby said.

Dr. Mosby recently completed the Aspen Presidential Fellow for Community College Excellence. One Hundred fifty people applied, and only 38 were selected. Dr. Mosby was the only African American male selected for the program, something he was "very proud" of.

Dr. Mosby spent 10 months learning among other community college president hopefuls about what the job entails.

"We learned everything from negotiations to working with a [college trustees] board," Dr. Mosby said.

Dr. Mosby is confident in his abilities but said that people have always doubted him. Growing up, he had people tell him that he wouldn't graduate from high school, college, get a doctorate, or become a dean of a college.

One of the things that also drew him to the campus was having 800 international students, which he called "exceptional."

Dr. Mosby has a teaching background, having taught at two and four-year schools, and had even taught doctorate level classes. He has also worked in the advancement office at St. Mary's College.

He said he wants to be here for the long haul, saying that "it's really hard to move things forward when you're dealing with transition every year."

Dr. Mosby's pitch boiled down to one simple line.

"If I was president at Highline college, I'm here for your success," he said.

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