Highline College

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Dean finalist says her collaboration skills show through her Highline career

Johnston is one of three finalists up for the dean of Workforce Programs position.

Izzy Anderson Staff Reporter June 1

Jennifer Johnston’s commitment and collaboration skills, as shown through her work at Highline, make her the right fit for the dean of Workforce Programs, she said.

Johnston is one of three finalists for the position, which oversees professional and technical degree programs at Highline.

A forum to let her interact with the campus community took place last Thursday, May 27, over Zoom.

Johnston has worked at Highline for 15 years, and started out teaching.

“I started as an ESL teacher,” she said.

Now, she works as the health care workforce transitions program manager, as well as the prior learning assessment coordinator.

By listening to what attributes coworkers want from the new dean, Johnston said she is able to say that he has them.

“I’ve listened to what my workforce colleagues want from this position,” Johnston said. “The No. 1 thing I keep hearing is collaboration.”

This is something she specializes in, Johnson said.

“My main superpowers seem to align really nicely with what our workforce colleagues … are saying they want from this position,” Johnston said.

But Johnston said that you shouldn’t just take her word for it.

“I know this is not an official part of the process, but gossip, go ahead and gossip with the people on campus,” she said. “I think that you’ll find that the strengths people talk about with me, are the same things that people want for this position.”

Her familiarity with the campuses weaknesses and strengths helps too, Johnston said.

“It's really helpful that I know our community already. I know what the aims are, the goals are, I know who to go to and I know how to collaborate,” she said. “I'm familiar with the Highline community.”

“I value the work that is already being done … and I hope to continue it,” Johnston said.

Another thing Johnston said she would concentrate on as dean, is making sure students have access to what they need through Highline’s programs.

“The programs that we have that are hands on, they need to be accessible to all [students],” Johnston said.

“I personally have spent a lot of time working with students who have been poorly served by education systems,” she said. “We need to ensure that every student at Highline has access to assets. We have these programs already. It's just making sure every student has access to them.”

Improving Highline includes acknowledging where it falls short, she said.

“We also want to address where we are falling short of, our goal is to serve equitably,” Johnston said. “Who’s currently being served and who isn't being served by these programs?”

Another area of growth is representing the student population through who the faculty are, she said.

“[It’s vital] that students of color and immigrants and people of different [groups], that everyone has representation on campus among leadership and campus,” Johnston said.

Currently, about 70 percent of students are people of color, she said.

However, people of color on faculty make up only 30 percent.

“The ratio is opposite,” Johnston said.

These are just a few topics Johnston would like to tackle should she become dean of Workforce Programs, she said.

“I really feel honored that my colleagues sent me to this level of the process,” Johnston said. “I appreciate that I can bring a lot to this position. I hope that you’ll talk to people on campus, and see whether or not I’m right for this position.”