Equity Avenger, Mesa College President Pamela T. Luster receives Buttimer Distinguished Administrator Award, Spirit of APAHE Award

Luster was selected for the awards based on her outstanding career and significant contributions to #EquityAvengers, the mission of the California Community Colleges and for being an active ally of the AAPI community 

(San Diego) – San Diego Mesa College President Pamela T. Luster has been awarded the 2022 Harry Buttimer Distinguished Administrator Award from the Association of California Community College Administrators (ACCCA) and the Spirit of APAHE Award from the Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education 

(APAHE). As an instrumental partner of #EquityAvengers, Luster has dedicated her career to impacting equity at San Diego Mesa College, California Community Colleges and nationwide. 

Luster and collaborator Dr. Keith Curry, president and CEO of Compton College and the Compton Community College District (CCCD), established #EquityAvengers in 2019 to recognize their united work addressing community college students’ needs, including diversity, equity and inclusion. In addition to serving in her role as San Diego Mesa College President since 2011, Luster has worked to address students’ basic needs and reduce barriers for all students both inside and beyond the California Community College system. 

“For one of our leading and founding partners to receive such an award speaks to the very virtues our missions was founded on,” said Carmel Malixi. “This is just the start of how this incredible team operates, at a level of greatness.” 

Since 1986, the Harry Buttimer Distinguished Administrator Award has recognized the outstanding achievements of the chief executive officers of California community college institutions. This prestigious, statewide award was established by ACCCA to honor the late Harry Buttimer, founding member of ACCCA, former chancellor of the Contra Costa Community College District and a leading voice in California for the modernization of operating principles and practices and fair funding of its community colleges.

The Harry Buttimer Distinguished Administrator Award symbolizes the history and evolution of the community college movement in California and is an icon for the leadership qualities Harry was known for – integrity, principle, compassion and resilience, as well as meaningful contributions to one’s colleagues, the profession, the institution and the community that the college serves. 

As the recipient of the APAHE Award, Luster was recognized for showing spirit and motivation through her contribution of time and energy to work that has benefited the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities at San Diego Mesa College and throughout the California Community College system. Luster was honored at the 2022 APAHE National Conference in Long Beach on April 8. 

Founded in 1987, APAHE is dedicated to enhancing educational opportunities for AAPI students, promoting and supporting the hiring, retention and advancement of qualified Asian and Pacific American faculty, staff and administrators. The organization strives to create a better understanding of issues in the public affecting Asian and Pacific Americans in higher education. 

Wyman Fong, vice chancellor of human resources at Chabot-Las Positas Community College District, nominated Luster for the Spirit of APAHE Award. 

“As a member of the APAHE Board, I am pleased that we honored Dr. Pamela Luster at our 2022 national conference,” said Fong. “She was chosen in recognition of her dedication to the AAPI community and for being a champion for educational equity.” 

Luster’s #EquityAvengers work to create synergy for change within the California Community College system has included ensuring policies and procedures are equitable so every student has access to opportunities and there is fairness across the board. Her career has exemplified the spirit of the Buttimer’s commitment to integrity, compassion, leadership, collegiality and contributions to the community college system. 

“I am honored to be awarded for initiative work such as this.,” Luster said. “This reflects the efforts not only by me, but the team that supports Equity Avengers and its mission.