Highline College

Thursday, September 24, 2020

VP candidates will make their cases in online forums

Izzy AndersonStaff Reporter April 16

The final three finalists for the Vice President of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion position will soon go online to make their pitches.

The VP of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion is a brand new position for Highline.

Candidates John Eklof, Dr. Verónica Guajardo, and Dr. Vik Bahl’s forums will be over Zoom today, April 17, and April 23, respectively.

Student forums will run on these days from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., faculty and staff forums will go from 2:30 to 3:45 p.m.

Emails with a link to the Zoom forums have been sent out to students, staff, and faculty.

The three candidates were very deliberately chosen for the VP role, said Screening Committee Chair Iesha Valencia.

“We are looking for someone who will be able to acknowledge and honor the diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts of Highline College, while also being excited to provide visionary leadership in addressing areas that need improvement,” said Valencia. “It is also important that this candidate is relatable to students and is able to help us deliver equitable outcomes that are student-centered.”

The process of whittling it down to three finalists was not an easy one, she said.

“This is one of the most comprehensive and rigorous processes that I have ever been a part of,” Valencia said. “When you have a well-rounded team with many years of combined experience, who have dedicated countless hours to have a process that reflects the position, you end up with a process that reflects the integrity of its members.”

And each selected candidate brings a different perspective and vision to the table, she said.

“Each finalist brings a unique perspective in approaching this work and has vastly different professional backgrounds and life experiences that strengthen their ability to perform what is being asked of this position,” Valencia said.

Eklof currently works as the executive director of equity and inclusion at Cascadia College. He received his bachelor’s degree in American ethnic studies, and a master’s degree in multicultural education from the University of Washington.

He is currently getting his law degree at Seattle University.

Dr. Guajardo received her bachelor’s degree at the University of California, her master’s degree in information science at the University of Washington, and her doctorate’s, also at the University of Washington.

She has more than 20 years of experience in K12 and higher education.

Dr. Vik Bahl works as a tenured faculty member in the English division at Green River College, where he has been since 1998. He co-founded both the Green River Diversity and Equity Council, and the Diversity and Equity in Hiring and Professional Development.

He received his doctorate’s in English from the University of Texas.

Overall, Valencia said that she’s excited to see what comes out of these forums, and to see students helping in choosing their new vice president.

“I am eager to have our campus community involved in the campus forums and provide the screening committee with their valuable feedback that will inform our final recommendations to Dr. Mosby,” Valencia said. “Both Dr. Mosby and the committee highly value community participation, and their input will be an important part of the final phase in this process.”