Angeli Francois, a College of the Canyons English adjunct instructor, has received a 2023 Hayward Award for Excellence in Education from the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges for her dedication and commitment to serving and empowering students from diverse backgrounds and experiences, COC announced in a prepared statement.
Francois was one of four California faculty members to receive the prestigious statewide award at the board of governors meeting held on March 20 in Sacramento.
“I was in awe of my colleagues and peers just to nominate me and send my name forward to qualify for the award,” Francois, who started teaching at COC in 2016, said in the COC release. “It’s such a collaborative effort to do equity work. It can’t be done without collaborating and the school has given me the space to do that.”
Sponsored annually by the Foundation for California Community Colleges, the Hayward Award recognizes community college full-time and part-time faculty members who demonstrate the highest level of commitment to their students, college and profession.
“I wish to congratulate Angeli Francois for her passionate equity advocacy at College of the Canyons,” said Chancellor Dianne G. Van Hook. “Her work has helped pave the way for more inclusivity, which is of vital importance for the success and well-being of our entire campus community. She does what she does from her heart and with dignifying care and high standards.”
Award recipients are nominated by their college academic senate for also having a record of outstanding performance of professional activities and on-campus participation.
In May 2022, Francois was honored by the COC Academic Senate with its own local excellence in education award. COC Academic Senate President David Andrus said in the college’s statement that the Academic Senate’s executive committee voted unanimously to forward Francois’ name for consideration of the statewide Hayward Award.
“On behalf of the Academic Senate and the entire faculty, I want to offer my congratulations to Professor Angeli Francois for being honored with the Hayward Award recognizing excellence in education,” said Andrus. “Because over 100 community colleges are eligible to nominate faculty for this award, the honor is quite significant.”
Francois added the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder in 2020 inspired her to get more involved closing equity gaps by creating spaces for students to celebrate their identity and help them succeed.
“As a person of color, it’s something that I have to deal with every day,” said Francois. “When I started to see all those students and people in the streets in 2020 and they were just so moved by that loss of life and by the fact that things just weren’t fair or equal, it just motivated me. I just turned all that I had into it because it felt so dire. It still is, but it was so vital and dire at the time to amplify voices.”
In 2020, COC also started laying the groundwork to create alliances, which are affinity groups where students learn to navigate college, connect with faculty and staff mentors, meet with resource specialists, and discuss issues in a safe and brave space.
Francois was instrumental in the creation of the STEM Equity Alliance and Native American Indigenous Alliance.
“Professor Francois distinguished herself by her ability to create an inclusive and effective learning environment in multiple teaching modalities,” said Andrus. “She has continually exhibited a commitment to her students by founding two student alliances, leading efforts at creating sustainable learning communities, collaborating on new course designs intended to broaden the cultural competency of students, as well as many other student-centered efforts. She is an excellent educator and even better person.”
Francois also served on the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee and worked to help launch the Multicultural Center, which provides safe and brave spaces for historically minoritized and marginalized groups on campus with the goal of increased diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the college’s fabric.
“I would like thank COC for providing the space to work through that,” said Francois. “These were tough conversations, tough work that we all had to pull together to do, and to just have the space and flexibility for an organization to support that.”