The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

SBCC’s Coleman aims to improve diversity and the opportunity gap

Faculty courtesy image of Joyce Coleman.

Watching the world desegregate taught Joyce Coleman the importance of equity in education.

“At the time I didn’t know it was called that,” she said. “I just knew that there was a small group of Black kids that went over to the white school.”

As a seventh grader, Coleman dreamed of going to a white school where she saw students getting better resources. She was moved to an integrated school after the Brown v. Board of Education II ruling and realized the difference it made to have teachers who look like her.

“I can count on one hand the number of Black teachers I had when I was in eighth grade to graduation from high school,” she said.

Story continues below advertisement

Coleman holds onto these experiences, saying they have guided her leadership style in the 28 years she has worked in community colleges. That experience still continues to do so even now as she begins her new role as the vice president of the School of Extended Learning at City College.

“I think this department really is a gateway to changing people’s lives,” she said.

After high school, Coleman attended Sam Houston State University where she earned a degree in criminology in three years.

“My mom, who had an eighth grade education, worked on campus in the criminology building,” she said. “That was kind of all I knew.”

Coleman’s mother told her to go to university so she could get a good job, but the young Coleman wanted to do more.

“I wanted a chance to make a difference,” she said.

So she went back to school to get a masters degree in social work while employed at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. From there she held a few jobs in correctional education where she soon realized she could work with students before they got to prison and help them stay out.

She took a job at Umpqua Community College in Oregon, but left after a shooting occurred in 2015.

“I needed to take a break to do some introspection to find a way to work through that,” Coleman said.

The school shooting made her realize the importance of connecting with students and being proactive about providing support.

She said the California Community Colleges’ vision for success resonates with her and aligns with her personal goals to increase diversity and eliminate the opportunity gap.

“I’ve worked with four presidents around developing equity plans,” she said. “It’s never really been a part of my job description … but it’s in my DNA.”

Coleman was drawn to City College by Superintendent-President Utpal Goswami’s message attached to every job listing that speaks to the college’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion.

“I found that too many places are aspirational and not actual,” she said. “People do it because it’s so catchy.”

Coleman is mostly looking forward to working on providing personalized and proactive support to students.

“Until we have 100% retention rate, 100% graduation rate, then there’s room for improvement,” she said.

More to Discover