Panel: Becoming JEDI: Labor-Management Strategy to Challenge Racism on Campus and Stem Community College Enrollment Decline

Panel Description

This workshop will offer an overview of national statistics on the growth of DEI programs at colleges and universities: Where and why are DEI programs being implemented, in what ways, and how are their successes being measured? The urgency for such equity-focused programs has heightened since 2020, and we will share why this is particularly acute in community colleges. Presenters will situate the development of our grant funded labor-management collaboration, the JEDI Institute, within the larger national contexts of racial and political tensions, the push for more online/remote courses, and the decline in community college enrollment. 

Panelists Bios

Dr. Patty Munsch, SCCC Interim Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs. Having worked at Suffolk County Community College since 2002, Dr. Patty Munsch currently serves as Interim Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs. Dr. Munsch is a recognized leader for and serves on the SUNY Guided Pathways team as a state coach. She has co-authored two chapters in the text, “Working with students in community colleges: Contemporary strategies for bridging theory, research, and practice.” She held national leadership positions for College Educators International-ACPA and has been invited to speak on a broad range of topics including supporting undocumented students, engaging at-risk student populations, identifying appropriate assessment measures, and developing learning outcomes in the co-curricular environment.

CDO Christina Vargas, SCCC Chief Diversity Officer and Title IX Coordinator. Currently Chief Diversity Officer and Title IX Coordinator at Suffolk County Community College, throughout her career Christina Vargas has displayed a commitment to social justice, multiculturalism, equity, and inclusion and has worked to bring communities together in partnership and collaboration. CDO Vargas leads strategic efforts to build a more equitable and diverse academic community and inclusive college climate and provides oversight of faculty and staff diversity recruitment as well as anti-discrimination and sexual violence prevention programs. In 2020, CDO Vargas was named a fellow of the SUNY Hispanic Leadership Institute and served on the Suffolk County Police Reform and Reinvention Task Force. She is also an adjunct lecturer for the higher education administration program at Stony Brook University and serves on the board of directors for ERASE Racism, Inc.

Dean Jennifer Browne, SCCC College Associate Dean of Curriculum Development. Dean Jennifer Browne has been the College Associate Dean of Curriculum Development at Suffolk County Community College since 2014 and also teaches sociology and college seminar as an assistant adjunct professor in both on-campus and online modalities. Prior to joining SCCC, for 15 years Dean Browne served in progressively responsible positions at Long Island University including Associate Provost and Campus Dean and Chief Operating Officer. She earned a BS in Business Administration from Babson College, an MA in Sociology from Arizona State University, an MS in Library and Information Science from Long Island University, and a JD from Suffolk University Law School. Dean Browne’s research interests include issues of student access and equity in higher education, college student housing insecurity, and first-year seminar and academic transition.

Dr. Courtney Brewer, Faculty Association Executive Vice President and Professor of Psychology. Dr. Courtney Brewer has served as Faculty Association Executive Vice President since 2019. In addition to assisting the FA president with all labor matters in a 1,300+ member union, Dr. Brewer also assists members through the promotion process, serves as a trained conflict mediator, and coordinates the FA’s robust nonmember outreach/membership organizing efforts. Dr. Brewer is professor of psychology and a licensed mental health counselor with experience in developmental psychology and youth and family counseling and she has long been integrally involved in curriculum and assessment work at the college.

Dr. Lauren Liburd, Specialist, Suffolk Community College Foundation, Inc.  Dr. Lauren Liburd helps manage the financial operations of the Suffolk Community College Foundation. Holding an EdD in Community College Leadership from Morgan State University and an MBA in Management from Hofstra, Dr. Liburd’s work includes management of the annual external audit process, management reporting, creation of annual operating budget and designing financial control systems. Dr. Liburd serves as a liaison among donors, college faculty and staff, financial institutions, and the Foundation Board of Directors.

Professor Cynthia Eaton, Faculty Association Secretary, Professor of English. Balancing teaching, research, and college and community activism, Cynthia Eaton’s work is defined by a commitment to working with and helping others. With an MA in English/composition from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, her research interests lie at the intersections of composition, distance education, and unionism. Professor Eaton has taught distance ed courses for 24 years and has been a union officer for 15 years. A founding board member of the union-administration JEDI Institute, she was lead writer for a $35,000 grant from the American Federation of Teachers to fund the project. Professor Eaton serves as a SUNY Online Teaching Ambassador (2021) and has received the NYSUT Higher Education Member of the Year Award (2018), SCCC Governance Award for Academic Excellence & Service (2008), and the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching (2003).