Honors students shine at GCIC Conference

Congratulations to five Lee College honors students who were selected to present their research at the Gulf Coast Intercollegiate Consortium (GCIC) in Houston recently. The annual academic conference brings together educators and honors students from across the Gulf Coast region to encourage and promote student presentations and publication.

According to Dr. Georgann Ward, Honors Program Coordinator at Lee College, few students have the opportunity to present their work at academic conferences like this one. In fact, faculty members typically begin this type of work in graduate school or once they become professional educators.

“One of the most exciting parts of my job is to see how students grow in the process of revising work for a ‘real’ audience at an academic conference. Through this process, they understand how their ideas truly matter and devise the best ways of expressing those ideas to others,” said Ward. “Lee College’s commitment to student presentations at conferences shows that it is important to our college to professionalize students and also to make them most competitive as they transfer to a four-year institution.”

The students applied to the conference and were selected in a “blind scoring” by judges associated with the Gulf Coast Intercollegiate Honors Council. Judges selected their research based on a high level of interest, purpose and appeal.

Ryan Lara, Noe Sanchez, Lindsey Sanford, and Amber Fanning shared their papers from the Human Condition, a combined English and Humanities class at Lee College. Their work used a philosophical “lens” to analyze a film or work of literature. Each semester, students in the Human Condition complete this type of paper – called a seminar paper – and present their work to the Lee College community as a practice for potential conferences they might be invited to attend.

Dinah Lemonier wrote her paper in Steve Showalter’s honors Government class, and though it was a film analysis, she used research about the Red Scare to analyze themes in the film more deeply.

“It is always a thrill to see how our students have grown over the course of a semester or year,” said Jerry Hamby, co-instructor of the Human Condition. “Their papers demonstrate increasing levels of sophistication, and their level of confidence is markedly greater. The students also get a chance to compete with the best and brightest peers from other colleges. Our honors students always make us proud.”

The Lee College Honors Program serves academically talented and highly motivated students. Students entering the nationally recognized program will experience enrichment of course materials and the freedom to work independently and collaboratively with faculty members who encourage lively, engaging discourse and activity both inside and outside the classroom. Enrollment in Honors classes is limited and classes are taught in a seminar format.

  • Noe Sanchez, The Complex and Versatile “Boy Codes” in “Vulgaria”
  • Lindsey Sandford, Bohemian Rhapsody and Freddy Mercury: The Un-Masculine Man
  • Amber Fanning, The Conditioning of Choice: Existentialism in a Clockwork Orange
  • Ryan Lara, Hardening of a Soul: Racism, Masculinity, and Dehumanization in Fences
  • Dinah Lemonier, More than Black and White: A Film Analysis of Good Night and Good Luck

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Board of Regents names Villanueva next president of Lee College

Dr. Lynda Villanueva portrait
Dr. Lynda Villanueva

At its regular meeting last Thursday, the Lee College Board of Regents finalized the hiring of Dr. Lynda Villanueva as the next president of Lee College. Dr. Villanueva is scheduled to begin her new position at the college on Jan. 5, 2020. Dr. Dennis Brown will be available to assist in transitioning the role until his official retirement date on Jan. 31, 2020.

Dr. Villanueva was named sole finalist for the position in September. After the required 21-day waiting period, the board officially voted to appoint Villanueva as the next president of Lee College. Dr. Villanueva will be the tenth president of Lee College since it was formed in 1934.

Lynda Villanueva, Ph.D., most recently served as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Affairs at Brazosport College in Lake Jackson, Texas. She previously served as Dean of Instruction at Brazosport College. Dr. Villanueva earned a doctor of philosophy degree in industrial/organizational psychology; a master of arts in psychology from the University of Houston; and a bachelor of science in psychology from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colo.

Mental health a top priority for students, staff

College isn’t just about essays and exams. It’s also about learning how to care for yourself mentally, physically and emotionally. Enter Stress Relief Week at Lee College. This event, sponsored by a Title V grant from the U.S. Department of Education, encouraged students and faculty at the college to take a break from their normal routine and practice self-care and stress management. Activities like color walls, spa treatments, games and animal therapy were all part of the mix.

“The idea behind Stress Relief Week was to create spaces and activities to help reduce stress levels of students and to cultivate awareness of ways to help their minds relax and manage stress,” said Diana Aslin, Lee College Title V Project Director.

“By offering these events, we hope students will know we care about them as people. We aren’t just here to help them pass their classes, but we want them to be the best versions of themselves by taking a moment to take care of themselves. The students are worth it, and they deserve it,” said Aslin.

Originally intended to help students cope with anxiety the week before finals, Stress Relief Week was moved to October because faculty and students said they would benefit more from an event mid-way through the semester.

“As we know, it is very difficult to perform at our best when we feel stressed or overwhelmed. We want students to know that self-care, in moderation, is just as important as homework and other responsibilities,” said Kassandra Flores, Coordinator for the Puente Program at Lee College.

One of the most popular activities on campus was called “Cat Therapy,” in which students and employees were invited to interact with rescue kittens from the City of Baytown Animal Shelter.

Jessica Polvadore, a second-year art and education student at Lee College, said the interaction with the animals couldn’t have come at a better time.

“I am literally about to take my midterms, and this is helping me stay calm before the test,” said Polvadore. “Now I feel relaxed and I can focus. I’m ready.”

Good mental health is a top priority for Lee College. Since 2017, 150 staff members have been certified in Mental Health First Aid, which trains individuals to provide support services until professional mental health care is available. The training also teaches people to look for signs of mental health problems or crises, while understanding the warning signs of illnesses such as anxiety, depression and addiction.

To help reduce stress experts recommend getting plenty of sleep, practicing deep-breathing exercises, and spending time with friends and family. If students or instructors find they are overwhelmed by stress, they are encouraged to reach out to their academic dean or counselors for help with community referrals. A list of helpful mental health resources can also be found at http://www.lee.edu/behavioral-intervention-team/mental-health-resources/

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Foundation Gala raises record $204,458 for student financial assistance

Baytown, TX – The Lee College Foundation’s 34th annual gala raised $204,458, making it the most successful fundraising gala in the organization’s history. The gala was held Sept. 27 at the Sylvan Beach Pavilion in La Porte, Texas, where more than 300 supporters, community members, and industry leaders attended.

Dr. Dennis Brown, Pam Warford, Jennifer Marcontell
From left, Dr. Dennis Brown, Pam Warford, Jennifer Marcontell 

Ignacio Ramirez, Carol Bartz, Joan Linares, Donna Mohlman, David Mohlman, and Virginia Miller
From left, Ignacio Ramirez, Carol Bartz, Joan Linares, Donna Mohlman, David Mohlman, and Virginia Miller

Suzanne Heinrich, Diane Englert, Lauren Williams, Kelly Regian and Judy Wheat
From left, Suzanne Heinrich, Diane Englert, Lauren Williams, Kelly Regian, and Judy Wheat

The money raised during the event will go directly to deserving Lee College students for tuition scholarships, textbooks, equipment and supplies. Some of the money will also go toward the Student Success fund, which helps students with unexpected expenses directly related to enrollment and persistence in class.

“We are proud to say that the Lee College Foundation is healthy and going strong,” said Pam Warford, Executive Director of Foundation & Resource Development at Lee College. “But the need in our community is still great, and we won’t stop striving until that need is met for every student possible.”

“There is still room for anyone who wants to join us in making a difference in our community and changing lives for generations,” Warford said.

Miguel Lopez, Lee College alumnus and past recipient of the Pat Mann Memorial Scholarship, spoke to the crowd about how pivotal the Foundation has been in his life.

“You made my dream of graduating into a reality,” Lopez told donors. “Your impact on my life has inspired me and many other students to be the next generation of donors.”

Some of the top-selling items in the evening’s live auction included a photo and baseball bat signed by Houston Astros first-baseman Yordan Alvarez, which sold for $1,800; a dinner at the home of Junior and Robin Forrest, owners of Ainsworth & Co. and Junior’s Smokehouse in Highlands, which sold for $2,100; and a catered Super Bowl party at the home of Lee College Board Vice Chairman Gilbert Santana, which sold for $2,000.

Last academic year, the Lee College Foundation raised a total of $1.2 million through donations and investment returns. Established in 1968, the Lee College Foundation is committed to making a difference in the lives of students by providing financial assistance wherever it is needed. For more information, contact Pam Warford at 281.425.6361 or visit http://www.lee.edu/foundation/.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Sole Finalist for College President Selected

TO: Lee College Community

FROM: Mark Hall, Board Chair, Board of Regents, Lee College 

DATE: September 24, 2019 

RE: Announcement of the Next President of Lee College

I am pleased to inform you that the Lee College Board of Regents has asked Dr. Lynda Villanueva to assume the position of President of Lee College and is expected to begin duties on February 1, 2020. We hope to welcome her in January for a transitional month with President Dennis Brown who retires January 31, 2020. We look forward to Dr. Villanueva’s leadership as we enter the next chapter of Lee College’s history. 

The Lee College Presidential Search provided the Board of Regents four very qualified and competitive candidates.  Ultimately, the Board chose Dr. Villanueva, in part for her demonstrated leadership with many of the student success programs and initiatives already underway at Lee College and the vision she shared to move Lee College forward in the years to come.  

Lynda Villanueva, Ph.D., is Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Affairs at Brazosport College in Lake Jackson, TX. She previously served as Dean of Instruction at Brazosport College in Lake Jackson, TX. Dr. Villanueva earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and a Master of Arts in Psychology from the University of Houston in Houston, TX; and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO.

On behalf of the Lee College Board of Regents, I would like to share my appreciation to every member of the Presidential Search Committee for their time, dedication and thoughtful work on behalf of Lee College. I would also like to extend my appreciation to the College community for your participation at the recent presidential forums. As well, I extend my appreciation to my fellow Regents for their time and consideration of all of the applicants.  Everyone’s input was reviewed and greatly valued by the Board. Your collaborative work truly enriched the search process. 

Dr. Lynda Villanueva
Dr. Lynda Villanueva

“I’m honored to be named as the sole finalist for the presidency at Lee College.  I have received such positive responses from faculty, staff, and the community and I see such potential.  I cannot wait to work to realize that potential for our students, our business and industry partners, and everyone who cares about Lee College and this community.” – Dr. Lynda Villanueva

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to our ACCT Search Consultants: 

  • Bill Holda, Ed.D., ACCT Search Consultant, wmholda@gmail.com or (903) 987-3332 (mobile)
  • Julie Golder, J.D., Vice President of Search Services, jgolder@acct.org or (202) 384-5816 (mobile) 

‘One College, One Book’ & Creative Contests

One College, One Book

The Lee College community is preparing to read American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures, by America Ferrera.

The book has been chosen as the 2019-2020 Lee College Common Read Experience. It is a collection of short, personal essays by members of marginalized communities written by Ferrera and 31 of her friends. We invite you to check out the book in the library and join the conversation to explore the different identities and common experiences of Americans.

Join the Conversation

Participate in the Campus Discussions

  • 9/17 & 9/18
  • 10/15 & 10/16
  • 11/12 & 11/13

12:30-1:30 p.m. & 5-6 p.m.
Gazebo by Moler Hall
Popcorn and drinks

Enter the Contests

Win one or two $550 textbook scholarships, and get your work published!

For more information:

Samantha Johnson, Lee College Library, sajohnson@lee.edu, 281.425.6380.

Creative Contests — Win a $550 textbook scholarship, and get your work published!

The following contests are open to all currently enrolled Lee College students.

Essay Competition

Prompt: Everyone has experiences in which they feel as though they don’t truly belong. In 1,000 words or less, write an essay that reflects how you navigate experiences of living between cultures.

Submit essays via email to Samantha Johnson at sajohnson@lee.edu by Nov. 20.

Visual Arts

Prompt: Works should address one of the themes of the One College, One Book title, American Like Me, including:

Being part of more than one culture

Navigating how to belong in a culture or social environment when you are different

Criteria: Artwork should be in a 2- or 3-dimensional format, such as:

  • Drawing
  • Painting
  • Sculpture
  • Textile
  • Collage
  • Assemblage

The bases of any 3D works should  be no larger than 24×36 inches. Any 2D works should be no wider than 20 inches. Any 2D works on paper or other non-rigid material should be mounted on a rigid backing, so they can be displayed on an easel.

Artwork must be submitted to Samantha Johnson in the Lee College Library by Nov. 20.

Samantha Johnson, Lee College Library, sajohnson@lee.edu, 281.425.6380.

Funded by Department of Education Title V Grant P031S160051

2019 Lee College distinguished alumni announced

BAYTOWN, TX — Lee College named its 2019 Distinguished Alumni at the annual Lee College Alliance members’ meeting and dinner reception on Aug. 6. This year, the Distinguished Alumni awards were divided into three categories: John Britt ‘57, Distinguished Alumnus; Mary Beth Wendel Woods ‘75, Meritorious Award; and Melanie Stewart ‘08, CRNA, DNP, APRN, Outstanding Young Alumnus.

The Distinguished Alumni award is the most prestigious honor given by the Lee College Alliance. The title is reserved for alumni and friends who have worked to advance the mission of Lee College and excelled in their profession, life’s work or service to the community.

The guest speaker for the evening was author and Lee College alumnus, Glenn Blake, who shared an excerpt from his latest book, The Old and The Lost.

Donna Britt accepted the Distinguished Alumnus award on behalf of her late husband, John Britt, who passed away in 2018. Britt was a well-known and beloved historian and professor at Lee College for over 50 years, and was instrumental in forming many of the college’s educational programs that still thrive today.

“Lee College presented him with an opportunity,” Britt said. “And it was here he wanted to make a difference in this community.”

Mary Beth Wendel Woods, Meritorious Award winner and president of Peach Marketing and Communications in Austin, said Lee College gave her the vision she needed to succeed in her education and career.

“Lee College gave me an incredible foundation,” said Woods. “Students who are here now will see: Lee College will form your future.”

Lee College Alliance plans to recognize future noteworthy alumni and friends by selecting Distinguished Alumni award winners on an annual basis. To nominate an individual for a future award, go to www.lee.edu/alumni/.

The association for former students and friends of Lee College began in 2006 under the name, “Former-Lee,” and was renamed Lee College Alliance in 2013. Since then, the organization has expanded to more than 360 members, and the network of alumni and friends continues to grow. The goal of the Lee College Alliance is to build a spirit of school pride and provide alumni with opportunities for social networking, personal enrichment, community involvement and life-long learning.

Lee College offers more than 100 associate degree and certificate programs, as well as non-credit workforce and community education courses, that prepare its diverse student body for advanced higher education; successful entry into the workforce; and a variety of in-demand careers. With the main campus and McNair Center located in Baytown, Texas, and a satellite education center in nearby South Liberty County, the college serves a geographic area of more than 220,000 residents that includes 14 independent school districts. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.