Morton College’s Administrators selected for HACU’s 2nd Academia de Liderazgo/Leadership Academy

Morton College’s Dr. Lydia Falbo and Blanca Jara are among 26 fellows selected for the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities’ second cohort of its Leadership Academy/ La Academia de Liderazgo. 

The program is designed to increase diverse representation in executive and senior-level positions in higher education. HACU announced the names of the fellows today, August 20th. 

Falbo is the Dean of Nursing and Health Science, and Jara is the Executive Director of Institutional Advancement. Both are honored to be selected and representing Morton College. 

“I am honored to represent Morton College and the community we serve in HACU’s La Academia de Liderazgo,” Jara said. “It’s important for our community to be represented in national organizations.” 

“As my doctorate is in Nursing Leadership, I am looking forward to learning more and expanding my leadership abilities,” Falbo added. “Working in a HSI, it is important to be recognized by an organization like HACU as a leader.” 

Morton College and Texas A & M University were the only schools with multiple fellows in this year’s cohort. Falbo and Jara bring the number of fellows from Morton College in the cohort to three as Marisol Velázquez, the Dean of Student Success, was part of last year’s inaugural class. 

“It says that we have amazing people working at Morton College who truly care about student success,” Falbo said. 

“This speaks volumes,” Jara added. “The work we are doing is for the betterment of the community we serve. We have a responsibility to our community and we have to lead by example.” 

Velázquez, along with President Dr. Stan Fields and Provost Dr. Keith McLaughlin, were among those at Morton College encouraging Jara to apply for the program. 

“I am extremely thankful for their encouragement and support,” Jara said. “Marisol is a huge proponent of Latinos in higher education; therefore, a lot of our values align. She encourages me to continue my educational journey and service to our community.” 

Fields, a strong proponent of his administrative team getting involved in national leadership organizations, sought out Falbo to apply for the program as well. 

“I applied because it is important to have mentoring and resources for the position I am in at Morton College,” Falbo said. “As a dean, leadership is very important and assists with running a successful nursing program.” 

Jara has been at Morton College since August of 2016. She started as the Director of Public Relations and now serves as the Executive Director of Institutional Advancement. She also is a 1997 graduate of Morton West High School and a 2005 graduate of Morton College. 

Falbo has been the Dean of Nursing and Health Sciences for four years. She previously served as an adjunct instructor at Morton College from 2009 to 2014. 

La Academia seeks to increase the number of talented individuals who aspire to leadership positions at Hispanic- Serving Institutions (HSIs) and Emerging HSIs. Fellows selected participate in an array of leadership development activities designed to prepare them for leadership roles in the full spectrum of institutions of higher learning, but with a focus on leadership positions within Hispanic-Serving Institutions and Emerging HSIs. 

“I am expecting to learn more leadership strategies and get assistance with skills I may be lacking,” Falbo said. 

“I am looking to become a more successful leader. I also look forward to growing and using this fellowship to provide me with more career opportunities. It is important to take everything I learn and try to relate it to my position. This only helps my department be more successful.” 

“I am looking forward to experience the leadership development activities that will not only prepare me for leadership roles in the full spectrum of institutions of higher learning, specifically leadership positions in HSIs and Emerging HSIs,” added Jara, who plans on starting the doctorate program in Higher Education Leadership at National Louis University in the Spring of 2021. “La Academia will help prepare me in expanding my leadership capacity at Morton College for the benefit of the community we serve.” 

The one-year fellowship program includes three seminars, with the first taking place in October 2020, in conjunction with HACU’s 34th annual conference, “Fostering Excellence and Social Justice.” The second seminar leads into HACU’s 26th annual Capitol Forum on Hispanic Higher Education in Washington, D.C., in April 2021. The third seminar in late spring or early summer of 2021 focuses on international collaborations. 

More than a dozen nationally recognized current and emeriti presidents and senior-level administrators will serve on the faculty. Mentorship with a university president will be a key component, as will be the development of a special project designed to have an impact at the fellow’s current institution.

In addition to Morton College, the following institutions are part of HACU’s second Presidential Leadership Academy: 

American Federation of Teachers; Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania; California State University, Sacramento; Chapman University; De Paul University; Indiana University South Bend; Mountain View College; New Jersey City University; North Lake College; Phoenix College; Pima Community College; Texas A & M University; 2U, Inc.; West Chester University of Pennsylvania; University of California, Davis; University of California, Merced; University of California, San Diego; University of Houston; University of Illinois at Chicago; University of Michigan; University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; University of Texas; and University of Texas at San Antonio. 

Other fellows selected and their home institutions are: 

  • Cynthia Aguilar Mountain View College 
  • Mindy Suzanne Andino, Ed.D. Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania 
  • Gerardo N. Arellano, Ph.D. University of California, San Diego 
  • Gabriela Castañeda, Ed.D. Chapman University 
  • Antonio Delgado, Ed.D. West Chester University of Pennsylvania 
  • Viridiana Diaz, Ed.D. California State University, Sacramento 
  • Dolores Durán-Cerda, Ph.D. Pima Community College 
  • Maria C. Escobar-Lemmon, Ph.D. Texas A & M University 
  • Michelle Ferrez, Ed.D. University of Michigan 
  • Rhonda M. Gonzalez, Ph.D. University of Texas at San Antonio 
  • John Morán Gonzalez, Ph.D. University of Texas 
  • Araceli Lepe Moreno Indiana University South Bend 
  • Dania Matos, J.D. University of California, Merced 
  • Virginia Meléndez, Ed.D. New Jersey City University 
  • Edwin Murillo, Ed.D. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga 
  • Lorena Oropeza, Ph.D. University of California, Davis 
  • Amalia V. Pallares, Ph.D. University of Illinois at Chicago 
  • Rubén D. Parra, Ph.D. DePaul University 
  • Marisa E. Pierce, Ed.D. North Lake College 
  • Pamela Anne Quiroz, Ph.D. University of Houston 
  • Steven M. Salcido California State University, Sacramento 
  • José L. Santos, Ph.D. 2U, Inc. 
  • Mario S. Torres Jr., Ph.D. Texas A & M University 

Information about the program is available at 

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