BY TAYLOR ROBINSON
Although the Washtenaw Community College Board of Trustees expressed respect for the two gentlemen eyeing the vacant seat, Dilip Das and Alex Milshteyn, only one could be chosen. At the end of a long debate amongst the board members, Das was selected for the position.
A man who’s been involved with education all his life, Das obtained a teaching certificate in secondary science and has taught both at the public school level, as well as at an international school in India. Throughout his career, he’s also gained experience in fundraising. He says he’s used to talking to prospective donors and asking them for support focused on education and learning.
“That’s a pretty easy discussion to have because as we all know education, generally speaking, has been underfunded,” Das said. “And support, state support particularly, has declined for both K-12 and college sectors.”
While taking a seat on the board, he continues to be the assistant vice provost for equity, inclusion and academic affairs at the University of Michigan. For the last 10 years, he’s been involved in a number of projects and issues particularly focused on student access to higher education and increasing graduation success.
“I’ve been fortunate in working with many talented people and thinking about ways of reducing barriers for students to attend college and to succeed there, too,” Das said.
Now, Das has the opportunity to further work with the talented people tied to WCC. Das’ experience with education particularly interested some of the board members and swayed their reasoning to support him with their vote. Trustee David DeVarti expressed his appreciation of the work done by Das at U-M.
“I’m deeply impressed by the work that he does with the university’s initiatives to engage and to increase opportunities for economically disadvantaged communities around the state,” DeVarti said. “And to further the possibilities for students to successfully move from K-12 education into postsecondary education, and those are the kinds of things I think we should be partnering with and engaging deeply with at the community college here, as I think all community colleges should.”
Concerning the issues of diversity, the board’s secretary, Christina Fleming articulated her appreciation of Das’ stance.
“My generation is going to have deal with so many issues of racial inequality,” Fleming said. “These are things I feel really strongly about attacking and I’m really deeply concerned about how we are going to raise up people of color into a more equitable position in our society so we can move forward and fix these social ills.”
Das was officially sworn in on Monday, Nov. 9 and will take part in his first meeting with the rest of the board on Nov. 17. His role, he says, would be to maintain WCC’s excellence into the future and see how he can contribute toward furthering the success of students rising up and into the many offered programs.
“I think of Washtenaw Community College as really a sparkling jewel of the community,” Das said.