Published on 1/29/2016 6:00:00 AM
Clyde Wilson Pickett
Special Assistant to the President for Diversity & Inclusion at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC)
Area of Concentration (ARCO) :
Doctorate of Education (EdD) in Language, Literacy and Culture
Problem of Practice:
“To explore what institutions can do to better support African-American male student success at community colleges, specifically assessing it from an Anti-Achievement Deficit framework. We’re making sure institutions are examining best practices in terms of research and data so that they are intentional in providing support to assist students in being successful holistically.”
While studying as an undergraduate student at the University of Kentucky, Clyde Wilson Pickett was an active student leader. Pickett served as the president to both the Black Student Union and his fraternity, while working for the Black Cultural Center. These experiences laid the foundation for his career of focusing on diversity in higher education and subsequently led to his current role as Special Assistant to the President for Diversity & Inclusion at the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC).
After graduating from the University of Kentucky, Pickett began a financially successful career in corporate sales, but quickly realized his true passion was serving others. He decided to pursue a career in higher education and to direct his energy toward engaging students of diverse backgrounds. “I knew I wanted to make a difference by working to tackle difficult issues in education and working to promote spaces accessible for all populations,” says Pickett.
Pickett chose to return to school to earn his master’s degree at Morehead State University in Higher Education Leadership while working in the Office of Minority Student Services. After completing his degree, he accepted a position at Ohio Northern University, where he was charged with overseeing campus diversity programming and new student orientation.
After several years in Ohio, Pickett was ready for a change of pace, which led him to CCAC as its Chief Diversity Officer. This change of leadership positions transitioned him from a four-year, private, comprehensive university to an urban, public community college that enrolls approximately 26,000 students each year.
“It is definitely a more diverse student population in terms of the volume and types of student we serve. CCAC is an open access point of education for all. We work to change lives.” Pickett says, “The average age of our student is 28, so we’re serving and meeting the needs of a wide variety of students. It is the ability to provide so much for so many that keeps me connected to and passionate about this work.”
Over the past three years, Pickett has helped develop a comprehensive tactical plan at CCAC, which serves as the framework for diversity and inclusion at the college. “The primary foundation for our diversity plan is a model called Transformative Inclusion. This model helps guide what our institutional support for diversity should look like,” shares Pickett. “We have the largest and most diverse population of students in our region; more notably, we are credited with having the fourth largest population of African-American male students in the state. It is our duty to make our institution a place where all learners thrive.” CCAC has also been honored with Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Awards in 2013 and 2014.
Given Pickett’s rise within higher education, what then persuaded him to return to school to pursue an EdD? “If you look at progression in higher education administration, certainly a terminal education is a requirement,” he says. “When I looked around the country, the EdD program at the University of Pittsburgh was the perfect marriage. It provided me with the opportunity to be affiliated with a first-class institution and to engage with first-class faculty in my backyard.”
Beginning his studies in summer 2014, Pickett has most enjoyed the cohort structure of the EdD program. “My cohort meets frequently, stays in contact with each other and even has a group on social media to engage with one another and share information,” Pickett says. “Having a community of learners who are committed to education, ensure accountability and support one another is definitely something I have found valuable and appreciate.”
Pickett’s favorite part of working in higher education? “I think simply being a champion of change for all people,” he says. “I really like the fact that my office and position are in a place to advocate for people to have an environment where they can pursue their education and be valued.”
To get a full scope of the EdD program, you can view our videos. Discover why we created the new EdD program, how our programs allow for a work/life balance, the importance of a cohort model, and the benefits of studying with students in other disciplines.