After several months of debating, discussing and interviewing, Bellevue College has found a new Vice President of Diversity, Yoshiko Harden. Harden was interviewed on May 21 and came to Bellevue College in order to see the campus. She also had the opportunity to meet with several of the college’s groups and forums, as well as speak with faculty and students.
“We took their [the students’] feedback into consideration. I was very pleased to see the high level of student participation. They asked great questions,” said Cesar Portillo, Vice President of Human Resources and chair of the search committee, in reference to the May 21 open forum.
“I am delighted to announce that Yoshiko Harden has accepted the position of Vice President of Diversity at Bellevue College,” wrote Interim President Laura Saunders, in an e-mail to BC faculty. “I am very excited about the energy, enthusiasm and commitment that Yoshiko brings to us, and I know she will provide leadership for crystallizing our vision as well as helping us move forward with respect to diversity, equity, pluralism and cultural competence.”
The search for a new vice president started last year, when Jim Bennet, Vice President for Equity and Pluralism, retired. The college spent five months discussing what to do with the position before deciding to keep it.
“Where do we want to go with this position?” explained Saunders. “We looked at the strengths and weaknesses of this position. We looked at the vision for moving forward.”
A Vision Task Force, headed by Allison Lau, was created. The college also created a search advisory committee in order to find the best possible candidate. In looking ahead at what was needed for this position, the college decided to change its name. Harden will be the first at Bellevue College to hold this new title.
“One of the many recommendations [of the search committee] was changing the title from Equity and Pluralism to Diversity,” said Portillo.“ We were looking for someone with a deep commitment to diversity, someone with leadership and a deep commitment to the same values the institution has in regards to diversity.”
“I’m really excited she’s joining the team,” said Saunders.
Harden received her undergraduate degree in Communications and Women’s Studies at the University of California, San Diego. She then earned her master’s degree in Education from Seattle University in Student Development Administration.
Harden was the Director of Multicultural Services and Student Development at Highline Community College since 2001. She has over ten years of experience working in student affairs and program development, beginning programs like SCORE (Students of Color Opting to Reach Excellence) and an Inter-Cultural Center at Highline.
“I know you will find her expert in helping us advance our commitment to making BC a truly inclusive equitable and pluralistic institution,” wrote Saunders. “…Diversity is a priority for all of us, and I know that Yoshiko will add to our efforts and help us become who we want to be.”
The position includes managing the office of diversity programs, developing seminars, conferences and training for faculty about diversity, coordinating speakers for classroom and open forum presentations, working with the Provost, deans and chairs of various programs, providing reports and coordinating the President’s award on diversity. The Vice President’s position reports directly to the President of the college.
Harden will begin her position July 9.