Kishwaukee College earns ICCTA Equity and Diversity Award

Kishwaukee College was recognized as the recipient of the Illinois Community College Trustees Association 2022 Equity and Diversity Award. Kish earned the recognition by implementing strategies to improve the college’s diversity, equity and inclusion over the past several years. College board members, leadership, faculty and staff were present at the ICCTA’s annual banquet to accept the honor.

MALTA — Recognizing Kishwaukee College's commitment to equity, the Illinois Community College Trustees Association (ICCTA) has recognized Kish with the 2022 Equity and Diversity Award. The honor recognizes the commitment of Kish’s board of trustees and leadership to achieve diversity, equity and inclusion in the college's education programs.

ICCTA officials announced the award at the organization's annual banquet on June 10 in Chicago. At the banquet, Dr. Laurie Borowicz, president of Kishwaukee College, accepted the award and recognized the effort the college has made over the past several years to improve the achievement gaps for all Kish students.

“In 2019, we produced our first annual data book. It pointed out some of the challenges we had as a college in student success. While our overall student college completion rate was increasing by double digits, this was not the case for some of our student populations,” Dr. Borowicz said. “It’s hard to argue with numbers — we had work to do.”

In the same year, Kishwaukee College joined the Illinois Equity in Attainment Initiative (ILEA), the signature initiative of the Partnership for College Completion (PCC). This partnership between 25 other colleges and universities in Illinois allowed Kish leadership to take a hard look at the institution’s achievement data. Matching trends with the rest of the state, it was clear Kishwaukee College needed to provide more assistance to its low-income students and students of color.

The first step was creating a strategy. Kish officials worked with the ILEA and sought feedback from students and the community to design the Kishwaukee College Equity Plan, including a new equity statement: “We are committed to a sustainable culture of equity, focused on respect and fairness, in all aspects of the Kishwaukee College experience.”

Along with the college’s commitment to equity, the plan focused on six strategies, including developing an Intercultural Center, cultural competency training for employees, improved hiring practices, enhanced wrap-around services, creation of a math success program, and implementation of the Office of Instruction retention project.

ICCTA President Jon Looney praised Kishwaukee for its record of accomplishment in its equity endeavors.

“Three years ago, Kishwaukee College made a bold commitment to inclusion, accessibility and success for all students,” Looney said at the award ceremony. "We applaud the work of the Kishwaukee Board and staff to reflect the needs of an increasingly diverse world."

Early returns on Kish’s initiatives are positive. Students have received mentorship, tutoring, textbooks, supplies, financial support, food support and more. Completion and retention rates among underrepresented groups are improving.

“In the last three years, I am proud to say we have made considerable progress in improving the outcomes of all of our students. We have not arrived but are on our way,” Dr. Borowicz said. 

Many activities and processes are now systemized into Kish’s operations, and planning continues to expand under the leadership of a nine-member diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) core team.

“The Illinois community college system is truly one of the leaders in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Looney said. “The work of Kishwaukee College and other community colleges is so important at a time when public discourse is too often filled with divisiveness and disunity.”

The Illinois Community College Trustees Association was founded in 1970 to support all public community college trustees through information exchange, training, and advocacy to assist them in effective leadership locally and statewide.

To learn more about equity at Kish and the College’s initiatives over the past several years, visit kish.edu/equity.

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