Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees meets monthly throughout the year to oversee the business and promote the well-being of HCC.
Board Statement of Anti-Racism
As members of the Board of Trustees, we are committed, both individually and collectively, to creating an anti-racist community at Holyoke Community College (HCC). As fiduciaries, we are responsible for ensuring that the College fulfills its mission and lives up to its promise of equity for our students and all members of the College community. We pledge to lead the way in taking a bold stand to live up to this commitment as we work to build a truly just and equitable society.
We acknowledge that structural and institutional systems of oppression have harmed-and continue to harm-many members of our community. It is the responsibility of each one of us to educate ourselves and others, to engage in difficult conversations, and to listen to and engage with our students, faculty, staff, donors, community partners, and alumni of color. The core of our work in equity, diversity, and inclusion must center around viewing our practices and policies through an anti-racism lens. As a Board, we have taken the following steps while continuing to work towards becoming an anti-racist institution:
- Approved the College's first Strategic Plan, focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Established the Board of Trustees Equity Committee which includes Trustees and College leaders who serve as advisors to the Committee and ensure alignment with the College's Strategic Plan
- Participated in a series of Board Equity Trainings, with workshops centered on microaggression, implicit biases, equity, anti-racism, and systemic racism in higher education
- Conducted a Board Self-Assessment Survey to evaluate our progress toward strategic goals
- Prioritize equity within the Audit & Finance Committee of the College's Board of Trustees as it relates to financial decision-making in order to best retain students and support their success
- Continued our commitment to BIPOC representation on the HCC Board of Trustees
We fully support President Royal and the College administration, whose anti-racism efforts we acknowledge and embrace, including:
- Developed culturally responsive pedagogies with special emphasis on the College's status as a Hispanic Serving Institution, as part of HCC's Strategic Plan Strategy #1
- Collaborated with the communities we serve to increase equity, as part of HCC's Strategic Plan Strategy #2
- Diversified our faculty and staff to better reflect the students we serve
- Created a Vice President for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion position
- Formed a Campus Safety Task Force, consisting of students, faculty, and staff, with membership from the BIPOC community, to review current events involving police agencies, provide opportunities for dialogue and community feedback, and advise the Director of Public Safety
- Launched the Itsy Bitsy Child Watch, a free drop-in childcare program that provides short term care for children while their parents are learning on campus
- Maintain an agreement with the Holyoke Housing Authority that allows the College to provide housing options to students
- Continued to provide all students with a PVTA bus pass that can be used across the Pioneer Valley
- Provide all students who need one with a laptop and/or Wi-Fi hotspot
- Opened the Homestead Market, a campus store providing students with access to fresh produce, pantry essentials and quick meals. The market is the first at any public college or university in Massachusetts to accept federal SNAP benefits
- Dismissed more than $1 million in student debt using some of the institutional portion of the Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds
- Established the Bienvenidos Latinx Scholarship and President's Student Emergency Fund through the HCC Foundation to help students overcome barriers to academic success, and further address students' financial needs through initiatives led by the college's division of Administration & Finance
- Eliminated holds on registration for students with unpaid balances
- Secured funding from Supporting Urgent Community College Equity through Student Services (SUCCESS) grants program providing wraparound supports and services to improve outcomes for low-income, first- generation, minority, and disabled students, and LGBTQ+ students.
- Expanded the work of ALANA, a program providing men of color with personalized support with academics, financial aid, and academic/career planning through specialized orientation, one-on-one mentoring, field trips, and workshops
- Established mental health support services for students through a collaboration with Center for Human Development
- Launched the Student Ambassador & Mentorship Program (SAMP), which provides academic support to women, nonbinary and transgender students, as well as book stipends and CougarCash to be used while on the HCC campus
- Enhanced the work and services provided through El Centro in order to create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for HCC's Latinx students
The road to creating an anti-racist community is long and challenging. It requires an ongoing commitment to listening, self-reflection, and thoughtful action. By taking the measures listed here, allocating resources, and changing the way we at HCC go about our work, we hope we have taken the first steps on that road. We remain committed to this vital work, and look forward to updating you on our progress.
Robert W. Gilbert, Jr.
Chair, HCC Board of Trustees
This statement was created in our Board Equity Committee and approved by the full board at the meeting on March 22, 2022. We continue to engage in conversations about equity, and appreciate the dialogue happening in all aspects of the institution.
About the Board
The board of trustees meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 8 a.m. in FR 309. No meetings are held in July, February, or December. Occasionally meetings may need to be rescheduled. The complete schedule, as well as agendas, minutes, and related materials may be found in the public records section of this website. If you have questions, please contact Karen Desjeans at email@example.com or 413.552.2168.
Trustees By-Laws are available for download here.
Chair: Robert W. Gilbert, Jr., West Springfield, MA
Vice-Chair: Eleanor Williams, Longmeadow, MA
Secretary: Ivonne Vidal, Belchertown, MA
Trustee: Charles D. Epstein, East Longmeadow, MA
Trustee: Ted Hebert, Chicopee, MA
Trustee: Yolanda D. Johnson, East Longmeadow, MA
Trustee: Nayroby Rosa '10, Holyoke, MA
Trustee: Evan Plotkin, Somers, CT
Trustee: Vanessa L. Smith, Holyoke, MA
Student Trustee: Joni George, Chicopee, MA