Heather Lang, PCC’s VP of Student Affairs, given Legacy of Excellence Award
Photos and Story by James Hill
Heather Lang was awarded the inaugural 2023 Student Success and Retention, Legacy of Excellence Award. This award was given in front of more than 300 student affairs practitioners from around the state and southern Washington at the Student Success and Retention Conference on Feb. 2.
“Over her 25-plus year career, Heather has been a leader in higher education with a profound commitment to social justice, equity and inclusion, and the mission of Oregon community colleges,” said Tara Sprehe, dean of the Academic Foundations and Connections division at Clackamas Community College and past chair of the Council of Student Services Administrators. “Thank you, Heather. For your dedication, commitment, and excellence, in the field of student affairs, and student success and retention.”
The group published accolades from students and staff who have worked with Lang during her tenure and included one that read, “When she gets excited about something, you can clearly see the fire in her eyes, the wheels turning, and a plan being formulated. Some of my fondest memories are strategizing with her, throwing out wild ideas to see what sticks, and giggling about what nerds we are for this work.”
Lang started at PCC in 2007 as Associate Dean of Student Development at the Rock Creek Campus. She transitioned to the position of Dean of Student Development at Sylvania, then to the newly created Dean of Student Success role in 2018. Lang has served as the interim Vice President of Student Affairs for more than three years. Prior to PCC, she spent 15 years coordinating and managing academic and student affairs programs at Mt. Hood Community College.
“Working in community colleges for the past 30 years has offered me the opportunity to center my career on social justice,” said Lang. “I’ve been motivated by the many hundreds of students who have shared their personal stories and journeys with me over the years – and believing I have played a role in positively impacting some of those journeys.”
She said she is most proud of her work expanding on and strengthening student retention programs – at both campus and collegewide levels – that have improved the experience for PCC’s diverse community of students. Lang has been instrumental in co-leading the Yes to Equitable Student Success (YESS) institutional reform efforts.
Other areas of “Panther” pride she noted were:
- Developing the “Panther Path” framework with colleagues across the college – an early version of today’s Academic and Career Pathways that puts the student journey at the center of what PCC does.
- Leading significant organizational structure change in student affairs to support consistent, accessible, quality services and programs across the college.
- Spending many hours in creative partnering and collaborating with student affairs professionals, faculty, and other managers to improve the student experience.
- Leading the division through a period of significant change and transition over the past few years due to external conditions.
“I have always been drawn to understanding and improving the systems that drive student and staff experience,” Lang said. “I see connections, relationships and synergies in all of the work we do. I feel very privileged to have been able to work and grow – professionally and personally – with like-minded colleagues within the critical field of education. And within PCC specifically!”