Social justice master’s program launches

Remy Hogan
taff Writer

The University of La Verne has added a new master of arts in social justice higher education administration. The program, which stated in the fall of 2017, is designed to train “culturally competent” student affairs professionals.

The program was developed by Issac Carter, assistant professor of education, who currently serves as the program chair for the new degree. He said it is the first graduate program of its kind.

“The process that has been used in the past (in higher education) is to try to treat all students a certain way,” Carter said. “What this program tries to do is make room for intersections (of students). We want to support today’s students and tomorrow’s student.”

The program, also known as SJHE, provides the professional knowledge, skills, and abilities needed to be successful in a wide range of student affairs settings, according to the University website.

“The new mission for the La Fetra College of Education is to champion social equity for youth, adults, families and communities by equipping and empowering scholarly, highly skilled practitioners, advocates and leaders,” said Kimberly White-Smith, dean of the La Fetra College of Education.“This program really is the first to evolve from that new sense of purpose that we have as a college.”

Because the SJHE program adheres to the competencies of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, the American College Personnel Association and the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education’s guidelines, the program is designed to prepare graduates to meet the needs of diverse student populations at different institutions.

There are currently six students enrolled in the program.

Jasmine Marchbanks-Owens graduated from the University with a degree in communications before applying for an assistantship through the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life that would allow her to work for the University and get her graduate degree paid for.

Marchbanks-Owens hopes to work for the Peace Corps after graduating with her Master’s degree in Social Justice Higher Ed and then pursue a Doctorate in Education Policy.

“A lot of the stuff that we’re looking at is different theories for marginalized groups,” Marchbanks-Owens said. “As a black woman those things really hit home to me because (they are) things that I’ve always felt, there’s now theories to back that up.”

Irene Beltran is also a ULV, alumna She has a background working with student services and nonprofit organizations that have an emphasis in child development and social services.

She currently works at the University of La Verne as a Teaching Pathways educator for the La Fetra College of Education credential program, and she is also a student in the new SJHE.

“Even if you think you are an advocate for social justice and for students, there is so much more internal exploration that has to happen that I think you’re granted through this program,” Beltran said.

To create this program, Carter had to adhere to the guidelines set forth by the University for how to go about changing and adding to the curriculum. Carter drafted the necessary documentation. Then the draft was vetted through different channels within the University.

The draft went through the department, to the college, to the Faculty Senate and finally to the Faculty Assembly.

The whole process lasted from November 2016 to early March 2017 before getting approval.

For those wishing to applying for the SJHE program, admission requires a GPA of 3.0 or above, a personal interview, a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university, two reference letters, a statement of purpose and a current resume.

The program consists of seven 10-week terms, or 42 units total.

“I would hope that these people graduate and see themselves as educators as much as organizers and activists on college campuses,” Carter said.

The start date for this coming fall term is Sept. 24.

Remy Hogan can be reached at

Remy Hogan
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