Dr. Alexander Patrick is taking on the new role of Glendale Community College director of diversity, equity and inclusion for three years.
He is in his fifth year serving as part-time residential faculty in the college’s social studies department.
“I see this role as working to improve the success of all students, especially the ones who have been marginalized or let out of the system — not just students, though,” Patrick said.
“I want to change the culture and equity mindedness. When I’m speaking of equity mindedness, I’m thinking how can we target these areas in the institution that may not be at a place where they are not able to serve not only our students but also our faculty and staff and the other community members. How do we make our college more equitable?”
President Teresa Leyba Ruiz said she’s excited about adding “this very important leadership role.”
“We are thrilled that Dr. Patrick is willing to apply his thoughtfulness, intelligence, passion and energy to this position,” she added.
Patrick said the application process was similar to any job within the college and that the position — in his words — was created because people were seeing that others within the college and surrounding community value the importance of “diversity, equity and inclusion on campuses.”
“I think some people were like, ‘Oh, we are going to hire someone to work with (DEI). This person is going to come up with this mind-blowing idea that is going to fit and correct everything that we have done up until this point, and it will always be the idea that we go to,’” he said.
“I’m not going to say that that is a possibility.”
He said formerly the college’s main goal was to “get more people in the door for college education.” Now, that has changed.
“Now the conversation has shifted. Really, within the past five to 10 years, the conversation has seriously shifted from looking at just access to looking at access with success included,” Patrick said.
“Meaning that now that we have people in the door, are we trying to get people to jump to where we are in the field of academia or are we going to mold on how we are going to create services to make sure that those people, who are now present in our college classrooms, are able to be successful — not just we threw them in the classroom and we expect that they learn everything quickly.”
Patrick hopes to shift the way teachers communicate with students, how the syllabi are worded and who does the material in the class serve.
“If we are asking who is served by this particular thing regardless of what our position is in the realm of higher education, then our methods, our solutions, our services will always shift with our population, so we won’t have to worry about the creation of some new major idea,” Patrick said. “We will take inventory of the students in front of us and say, ‘OK, what is it that these students come with and what do they not come with? What is it that I’m offering, and are the things that I’m offering going to serve a need for these people in front of me?’
“I will always be updating financial aid. I will always be updating institutional research. I will be updating assessments. It’s a very vulnerable process, too, where we have to be patient with each other and with ourselves and we have to be vulnerable to open ourselves to say maybe there is something that I could improve on.”
Patrick said he works in this field because he was the recipient of “equity-minded thinking” prior to today’s popularity of the idea.
“I had faculty members, family members, friends, they all saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself, and with that I wasn’t thinking of having a career in academia/higher education,” Patrick said.
“But because people reached out to me and they said, ‘Hey, we think that you have something and we want to nourish that thing. We want to help you grow.’
“So many times, as faculty members, we think we can’t help students because they don’t reach out to us and let us know that they need help — but we can. I do this work because I know the impact that it can have not only on students but as a faculty member, as an employee as well. I know how important it is to have people reach out to you, to help you thrive in that institution.”
Patrick earned his undergraduate degree in anthropology from Louisiana State University and earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in sociology and women’s and gender studies, with specializations in intersectionality, gender and sexuality studies, criminology, race/ethnicity and qualitative research methodologies.
—Staff writer Annika Tomlin can be reached at atomlin@