Joliet Junior College wins national award for advancing diversity

College has focused on hiring more faculty and staff members of color

Joliet Junior College earned recognition from a national community college education organization for its efforts to enhance diversity.

The American Association of Community Colleges presented JJC with its Award for Excellence in Advancing Diversity, according to a news release.

“We are building a network of diversity, equity and inclusion champions,” JJC President Judy Mitchell said in a statement. “Our work is an intersection of so many areas: recruiting, hiring and retention; business and procurement; marketing; student and employee programming and support; advocacy in the community.”

Mitchell noted the increase in the number of faculty and staff applicants of color at JJC. That accomplishment has earned the school’s distinction as a “top employer for diversity jobs.”

JJC also has seen a bump in student retention rates due to greater accessibility related to compliance with the American with Disabilities Act and Spanish language opportunities.

Mitchell said the COVID-19 pandemic and the national attention to police violence against Black Americans last year “opened up more listening opportunities” with employees and students.

“We needed to create spaces for our employees and students to be vulnerable and have meaningful exchanges,” she said in a statement. “To be meaningful, they needed to be real. We needed to understand the lived experiences of those around us, and to be able to tell our own stories of unconscious bias, racism and inequity.”

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet. Originally from Romeoville, Ill., he joined The Herald-News in 2017 and mostly covers Will County government, politics, education and more. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree from Northwestern University.