City College looking to approach diversity with a new point of view


Image courtesy of Anselmo Villanueva.

Dylan Harrison, Staff Writer

Being teased in elementary school paved the way to an illustrious career for the newly hired Executive Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Anselmo Villanueva.

Villanueva found his passion for diversity while immersing himself with other non-white students in high school and at Santa Barbara City College which allowed him to see things through a different lens.

His first experience with inclusion and equity came when he first started teaching at a bilingual elementary school in La Colonia, a neighborhood in Oxnard, California.

“I noticed the discrepancies among the services my school compared to the services being offered across town,” Villanueva said.

Villaneuva graduated from UCLA following City College then attended the University of Southern California. Here he received a master’s in bilingual education. He later earned his doctorate in multicultural education from the University of Oregon.

Villanueva spent the majority of his career in Oregon. He held the first position as Multicultural Specialist in the public school district in Eugene, Oregon.

“There was a series of racial incidents in a school with different responses each time and people were scrambling,” said Villanueva. “So they said we need to hire someone to be a point person and respond to these incidents of racism.”

Dr. Villanueva’s expertise in working on boards, commissions, nonprofits and community-based organizations has given him the tools needed to incorporate equality as the Executive Director.

“I have these kinds of lenses to look at programs, policies, and meetings,” he said. “I like to look at who’s not at the table. Is the student voice there?”

He said he hopes to bring his experience and inflict change by meeting people from the college and listening to others.

“The first three months, six months, maybe up to a year I want to do a lot of listening and begin to work with people to help like naming a building or name a meeting hall,” he said.

Dr. Villanueva pledges his support to City College students who embrace their multicultural ethnicity and have goals to create groups.

“If there is a group of students who identify as multiethnic and they want to form a student union, I am there to support that,” Dr. Villanueva said.

He also added how the pandemic and the use of Zoom altered his work and how different diversity officers work online.

“The overall part of this line of work is about people and relationships,” he said. “I’ve already told people in my office that we need to be seen and not only that but to hear what the concerns are of the different constituents that we will be serving.”

When looking to the future and his potential legacy at City College, Villanueva hopes to instill ideas that become permanent.

“I hope that these initiatives become institutionalized and not wither away while promoting positive, long-lasting change,” Villanueva said.