Faculty, staff, and administrators at San Diego Mesa College have a new center for developing innovative strategies on student success, a center that underscores why the campus has become a national leader for equity and excellence in higher education.
Mesa College unveiled the new home for professional development and training, dubbed “The LOFT,” on April 27. LOFT is an acronym for Learning Opportunities For Transformation.
“The LOFT is the culmination of research and self-evaluation, and puts into practice our commitment to professional development for all Mesa College employees, said Dr. Pamela T. Luster, president.
"Over the past several years, Mesa College has worked with the Center for Urban Education and San Diego State University Minority Male Community College Collaborative (M2C3) to research our impact on students from underrepresented minority populations,” Luster explains. “It was through this research that the college identified the need to expand professional development and training for all staff.”
The LOFT will have specific programming for faculty, staff and administrators to support equity minded and inclusive practices. It will be staffed by a Professional Development Coordinator, an Instructional Designer, an Instructional Lab and Learning Resources Technician, and a Senior Clerical Assistant.
The new center includes small and large group and individual training spaces, gathering spaces for discussion, mobile workstations, computer stations, a Zen zone, and quiet rooms.
The $254,000 cost was covered by a Title V grant as part of the college’s designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution. Mesa College in 2014 secured the five-year, $2.62 million, Developing Hispanic Serving Institutions/Title V grant. Mesa’s research department reports that in 2014/15, Latino students represented 44% of Mesa’s first-time students entering the college from high school.
According to Monica Romero, Mesa College’s Title V Grant Coordinator, part of the grant was set aside for creating a professional development center to help faculty members incorporate new learning strategies into their lesson plans and understand the latest teaching techniques known to promote success of diverse students.
“You really can’t overstate the importance of a center like this,” noted Romero. “It will be vital for professional development, interdisciplinary discussions, and workshops on pedagogy related to culturally relevant teaching and instructional design.”
Dr. Leticia López, a Mesa College Spanish professor who is also the Title V Professional Development Coordinator, agrees.
“The LOFT is a wonderful addition that will help spur conversation in creating strategies to cut down on attrition and boost the success rates of our Hispanic students,” López said.
The LOFT is on the top floor of Mesa College's Learning Resource Center (Building LR).