When Frank Chong took the helm at Santa Rosa Junior College two years ago, Latinos comprised 25percent of the school's student body.
By the end of this year, Latinos will make up 35 percent, Chong said Tuesday, speaking at a luncheon in Santa Rosa attended by dozens of local Latino business and community leaders.
Chong said this demographic will continue to redefine the college community and force the institution to address the lack of diversity on both the board of trustees and among the school's faculty.
"Without diversity, there is no excellence," Chong said, citing a new directive at one of his alma maters, Harvard University. "I grew up disenfranchised. I grew up marginalized. I grew up with people telling me you can't do this and you can't do that."
Chong, the latest speaker to address the growing Latino leadership group known as Los Cien, touched on a broad range of issues concerning the local Latino community.
Aside from the lack of representation among the school's staff and faculty, these included local hiring practices for school construction projects; strategies for improving Latino student success and retention rates; the possibility of a new more accessible college site in the Roseland neighborhood; and ongoing efforts to restore education programs, such as those targeting English learners, lost during recession-era budget cuts.
But it was the subject of representation among faculty and the college board that resonated among many Los Cien members.
Chong said that 51 percent of all new students are Latino. In contrast, only 7.1 percent of the school's faculty was Latino as of fall 2012, according to the school's human resources department. The entire Latino workforce at the campus is similarly only 7.3 percent as of the fall of 2013.
At the meeting, a group of SRJC students disseminated a flier asking the college district to consider changing key electoral "areas" as a way of improving minority representation on the school's board of trustees.
The Sonoma County Junior College District currently has an eight-member board, which has one student board member. Four of the remaining board members are elected in large geographic areas every four years, while three are elected to represent one central district.