Lee College to hold 2016 Fall Commencement Ceremony on Dec. 16

Ceremony will also be streamed live online via the Lee College website

Sen. Sylvia Garcia
Sen. Sylvia Garcia

BAYTOWN, TX – Lee College will recognize the achievements of more than 450 graduates at the 2016 Fall Commencement Ceremony to be held at 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 16, in the Sports Arena on campus. Texas State Sen. Sylvia R. Garcia will deliver the keynote address.

A livestream of the ceremony will also be available online via the Lee College website at www.lee.edu.

A native of the South Texas farming community of Palito Blanco, Garcia has represented Senate District 6 since 2013 and is chairwoman of the Texas Senate Hispanic Caucus. During the 84th Legislative Session, she passed 37 of her bills and served on the Education, Intergovernmental Relations, Transportation and Veterans Affairs & Military Installations committees.

After protecting children and the elderly as a social worker early in her professional career, Garcia entered public service with the city of Houston as director and presiding judge of the Houston Municipal System for an unprecedented five terms under two mayors. There, she worked to make the city court system more effective and efficient for the community. Garcia was later elected to city controller, earning a reputation as the taxpayers’ watchdog, and in 2002 was the first Hispanic and first woman to be elected in her own right to the Harris County Commissioners Court. As a commissioner, she continued her advocacy for working families and the most vulnerable, while also pushing for new jobs and economic development.

Garcia remains active in the Houston community, serving on more than 25 community boards and commissions including the San Jacinto Girl Scouts, which gave her the Board Award; Houston Hispanic Forum; American Leadership Forum; Battleship Texas; and the Museum of Fine Arts – Houston. She has been named “Humanitarian of the Year” by the National Conference of Communities and Justice and chosen as one of “Houston’s 25 Power People” by Inside Houston magazine.

The eighth of 10 children, Garcia’s parents taught her from an early age the value of education and hard work. She is a graduate of Texas Women’s University, which awarded her the Board of Regents Woman of Distinction Award, and earned a Juris Doctor degree from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University.

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.

‘Nutcracker’ and ‘Sugar Plum Fairy’ return to Lee College

The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker at Lee College in 2012

BAYTOWN, TX — After performing holiday favorite “The Nutcracker” for three years in front of sold-out crowds – and with live accompaniment from the Baytown Symphony Orchestra since 2013 — the Bay Area Houston Ballet and Theatre (BAHBT) will return to Lee College this month to delight audiences with the beloved story of young Clara and her magical Christmas toy.

Three performances of “The Nutcracker” are scheduled for the Main Performance Hall at the Lee College Performing Arts Center (PAC): 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16, and Saturday, Dec. 17, and a matinee set for 2:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 18. Tickets are priced at $20-45 and available for purchase online at www.lee.edu/pac or by calling the Box Office at 281.425.6255.

Tea Time with the Sugar Plum Fairy, 2013
Tea Time with the Sugar Plum Fairy, 2013

The only professional ballet company in the Bay Area with residence at the University of Houston Clear Lake, BAHBT has performed “The Nutcracker” for audiences in the Houston area for more than 40 years. The group produces a season each year in their performing residence at the University of Houston-Clear Lake that includes an eclectic array of ballets and musicals.

Families can create a special Christmas memory or start a new holiday tradition at “Tea Time with the Sugar Plum Fairy,” where children will meet and have their photo taken with one of the most iconic characters in “The Nutcracker,” known for her beautiful dance in the second act.

The ruler of the Kingdom of Sweets will greet, dance and spend time with children at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m. in the PAC lobby, before the Saturday evening performance of “The Nutcracker.” Tickets for the tea are $25 and can also be purchased at www.lee.edu/pac or by contacting the Box Office.

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.

Lee College Vice President Debi Jordan to retire in January 2017

Debi Jordan and the Lee College leadership
Debi Jordan, second from the left, with Lee College President Dr. Dennis Brown, Lee College’s Community College Petrochemical Initiative (CCPI) 2016 scholarship recipients, Executive Vice President Dr. Christina Ponce and CCPI Grant Coordinator Kelly Dando at the 2016 CCPI Scholarship Reception. Jordan will retire from her position as Vice President of Workforce and Corporate Partnerships in January 2017.

BAYTOWN, TX When Debi Jordan was given the task of researching self-sustaining training programs at community colleges in 2005, she had no idea where it would end up. Seven years later, Lee College President Dr. Dennis Brown and its Board of Regents gave the go-ahead to launch the Lee College Center for Workforce and Community Development, and after a nationwide search, Jordan was selected to lead.

Now Jordan, the Vice President of Workforce and Corporate Partnerships, is ready to experience another new chapter: retirement. Jordan’s daughter is expecting a little girl in December, and she said though the decision was difficult, it became much easier with each ultrasound she saw.

“Being able to watch my daughter becoming a mom to her own daughter — it is coming full circle. I feel so blessed to have had such a great career, and Lee College really is my home,” Jordan said. “But this next part of my life feels so natural. With the help of a lot of great people, I believe this center — my third child — is in a great place. The foundation is stable, and under new leadership it’s poised to move to the next level. I’m ready to be a BeBe to my sweet Ella Rae, and to watch the center continue to grow.”

Over the past four years, the center has hosted 1,710 classes, served 7,694 different students and boasts a total enrollment count of 17,559 thanks to repeat students.

“Lee College is full of great people and Debi definitely shines in that group,” said Executive Vice President Dr. Christina Ponce. “She is one of the most professional, dedicated and hard-working individuals I have ever met. She has made such a tremendous difference not only at Lee College’s Center for Workforce and Community Development, but the entire community and the college as a whole. She is extremely loved and appreciated in our community for being an incredible civic oriented leader, a friend to all and a pioneer in workforce education. We are indebted to Debi for all she has been able to accomplish.”

Jordan helped establish and maintain partnerships with organizations like the Baytown/West Chambers County Economic Development Foundation, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, East Harris County Manufacturers Association, Economic Alliance Houston Port Region and the Greater Houston Partnership, as well as industry partners such as ExxonMobil, ChevronPhillips Chemical, Enterprise Products, Covestro, Shell, Bechtel and Jacobs.

“ExxonMobil deeply appreciates the support that Debi Jordan has provided our company during her time at Lee College, especially regarding our Community College Petrochemical Initiative (CCPI) workforce development program,” said Connie Tilton of ExxonMobil Public and Government Affairs. “CCPI has been recognized across the state and nationally as a premiere program, and Debi’s leadership and vision has been the driving force behind it. Our workforce and community are better due to her dedication and hard work. Debi is leaving a legacy at Lee College, and it’s been our honor and privilege to work with her.”

Pam Warford, Executive Director of the Lee College Foundation, Director of Foundation and Donor Relations and a lifelong friend, described Jordan’s contributions to the college as intangible.

“She has increased our reach through relationships with individuals, organizations and consortiums.  These relationships have benefited the college in a huge way,” Warford said. “In addition, she has worked hard to bring the types of courses to Lee College that our partners in the industry have asked for — customized, fast-tracked training.”

Jordan helped organize and lead ExxonMobil’s initial $500,000 grant that established the CCPI. The grant, which has since increased to a total of total of $1.8 million, funds workforce development for the Houston-area petrochemical industry through nine local community colleges.

“Debi has been a unique asset to Lee College, and though we’re happy for her next chapter, we’re deeply saddened about losing her. Her networking skills, business acumen and passion for improving the lives of those around her will be missed,” Brown said. “We will conduct a national search for her replacement.”

In the interim, leadership of regional workforce initiatives will transition to Ponce. The Center’s leadership, which includes Interim Director of Corporate Services Marsha Tuha, Community Education Director Kimberlee Techeira and Business Operations Manager Delma Garcia, will lead the teams and day-to-day operations of the center under Ponce’s direction.

“I’ve known Debi for 10 years, and we’ve worked together for four years. I was a part of the center’s team when it began, so I’ve had a unique opportunity to witness and be part of the great things she’s done. She’s a special person to work for, because she’s so passionate and skilled at what she does. She isn’t just a boss, she’s a leader with a big heart,” Tuha said. “I’m happy that she’ll be able to spend time with her new grandbaby, but I’m definitely going to miss her. We all are.”

Jordan’s retirement is effective Jan. 1, 2017. She has also been a partner in an independent insurance agency in West Texas for nearly 30 years. She is a licensed agent, and plans on becoming more involved in the business.

Lee College thanks Jordan for her dedication & long-lasting impact in the community and workforce training.

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.

Grant director chosen for national program for Hispanic community college leaders

Victoria Marron
Victoria Marron

BAYTOWN, TX — Lee College grant director Victoria Marron was one of 22 community college administrators from around the country selected for the 2016 National Community College Hispanic Council’s (NCCHC) Leadership Fellows Program, which aims to develop a pool of highly qualified Hispanics and assist them in attaining high-level positions in community colleges.

As part of the program, Marron traveled to the University of San Diego School of Leadership and Education Sciences for two residential seminars. She prepared an individualized professional development plan, engaged in a mentoring relationship with a Hispanic community college leader and attended the NCCHC Leadership Symposium, where she also completed online activities between sessions.

“Assisting in creating policies, offering services and helping students is part of my core,” said Marron, who oversees the college’s $2.7 million U.S. Department of Education First in the World Grant and more than $5.3 million in federal Hispanic-Serving Institutions STEM Grant funding, while also serving as coordinator of the Puente Project mentoring program for academically under-served students.

“I myself had been a Lee College student in developmental education courses, fresh out of high school with a newborn baby. I walk across campus and understand the struggles our students face,” Marron said. “I look forward to continuing my growth and having the ability to continue to learn how to serve all of our students better. Lee College is truly a family and I am very appreciative of the ongoing support from my teams, faculty, staff and administration.”

NCCHC is an affiliated council of the American Association of Community Colleges, a national organization that has provided leadership to the community college movement for more than 50 years. The council works to promote the educational interests and success of the Hispanic community and emphasizes access, equity and excellence for students and staff in community colleges.

Marron is one of more than 250 NCCHC Leadership Fellows who have graduated from the program since its inception. Of the original 72 Fellows, more than 15 are now community college presidents and many others have moved to positions of increased responsibility as executive-level administrators.

“Preparing strong leaders for the future is the primary purpose of the NCCHC Leadership Fellows Program,” said council Pres. Maria Harper Marinick. “A demographic shift is occurring in the United States and we need leaders who can model the way for the growing Hispanic population. Through this program, Fellows gain the knowledge and skills they need to lead higher education into the future and positively impact the economic and civic success of their respective communities.”

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 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.

Lee College Foundation Gala raises record $175,000 for scholarships and support

Foundation Board will award a total of more than $470,000 to students this academic year

Gala Fundraiser
The Thursday Night Band, a Lee College ensemble featuring students Emily Vaughan, Simon Flores, and Andrew Adams-Whitehead, performs at the 31st annual Lee College Foundation Gala, held in September at Sylvan Beach Pavilion in LaPorte. The gala raised a record $175,000 that will be used for student scholarships and other forms of support.

BAYTOWN, TX — With nearly 400 guests in attendance and $175,000 raised, the 31st annual Lee College Foundation Gala was a record-breaking success that will help ensure deserving students at all levels will have the scholarships and other forms of support they need to pursue higher education.

And while many college and university foundations only offer scholarships to students attending school full-time, the Lee College Foundation will  instead focus on meeting students’ needs wherever they are.

Under the leadership of its Board of Directors, the foundation will award more than $470,000 to students this academic year, and all are eligible: those enrolled full-time; part-time; in dual-credit classes for high-school students to earn college credits; in non-credit classes offered by the Center for Workforce and Community Development; and in the Lee College Huntsville Center prison program.

“Many of our students are surprised and amazed that somebody they don’t know is willing to donate funds to help them get an education,” said Pam Warford, executive director of the Lee College Foundation and director of Foundation and Donor Relations. “The gala provides an opportunity for industry and the community to celebrate together and gives us the chance to thank those donors, who are so loyal and proud to have their own community college that’s doing so well.”

Tax-deductible contributions from industry and private donors are also used to support the Student Success Fund, created to help those facing extraordinary circumstances pay for college-related expenses. When a student was notified that she would receive a Pell Grant for her tuition — but not before the deadline when her classes would be dropped for non-payment — the Student Success Fund helped bridge the gap. When a student received a $400 textbook scholarship but still lacked several books she needed for her rigorous coursework in the nursing program, the Student Success Fund provided the additional money to buy all the books required for her class.

“Enrollment is one thing, but students have to persist, stay the course and graduate,” said Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown. “So many little things can impede a student’s progress and we have to be able to step in and help them. Financial contributions are immensely important — more important now than ever.”

As the foundation continues in its mission to provide financial support to Lee College students, board members hope to see more donors choosing planned giving by setting up bequests, charitable trusts and annuities that will allow them to make a lasting difference for generations to come.

“I’m excited about my future,” said Emily Vaughan, a native Baytonian and foundation scholarship recipient who is active in Lee College Theatre and plans to attend Sam Houston State University to earn a bachelor’s degree in music education at Sam Houston State University. “None of this would be possible without donations. They really lightened my load.”

For more information about giving to the Lee College Foundation, contact Warford at pwarford@lee.edu or visit 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.

Lee named a Military Friendly® School fifth year running

Selection comes as Veterans Center hosts fifth anniversary celebration & Veterans Job Fair

BAYTOWN, TX — As the Lee College Veterans Center celebrates its fifth year of helping military students and their families successfully pursue higher education and transition into civilian careers, Lee College has again earned designation as a national Military Friendly® School.

Victory Media released Thursday the 2017 Military Friendly® Schools list, which recognizes the colleges, universities and trade schools around the country that are doing the most to embrace military students and dedicate resources to ensure their success in the classroom and beyond. Those that received the Military Friendly® School credential were evaluated using public data sources and responses from a proprietary, data-driven survey in which more than 1,600 institutions participated.

With input from the Military Friendly® School Advisory Council of independent leaders in higher education and military recruitment, Victory Media assessed institutions’ ability to meet thresholds in several areas: student retention, graduation, job placement, loan repayment, persistence and loan default rates for all students and student-veterans, specifically.

Ehab Mustafa, a U.S. Army veteran and licensed counselor who serves as director of the Lee College Veterans Center, attributes the college’s continued effectiveness with student veterans to the one-on-one support they are given during their educational journey and beyond.

“We work as a team,” said Mustafa, who was recently named to U.S. Rep. Brian Babin’s Veterans Advisory Council. “It’s not just a job for us, and it’s not about recognition. We care about the veteran.”

Established in 2011 as part of the College Credit for Heroes program and a grant from the Texas Workforce Commission, the Lee College Veterans Center strives to be a warm and friendly home away from home for more than 450 military students and their dependents. The center provides academic advising and development of individual education plans; advising about educational benefits, like the G.I. Bill and Hazlewood Exemption, and the certification process; and moral and mental health support that includes career guidance, peer tutoring and individualized counseling. The center also works to ensure military students are connected with prospective employers through special job fairs, workshops and networks for internships and other opportunities.

Students are always welcome to drop by the Veterans Center, grab a snack or a cup of coffee, study from one of the textbooks in the Veterans Library, use the computers and free printing, and spend time with their fellow veterans. They can join the Student Veterans of Lee College and the nationally recognized Student Veterans Honor Society, and are encouraged to continue their service to others through participation in events like regular visits to local hospice and nursing home facilities, and fundraising for veterans in need.

As a 2017 Military Friendly® School, Lee College will be showcased in Victory Media’s annual Guide to Military Friendly® Schools, special education issues of G.I. Jobs and Military Spouse magazines and on www.militaryfriendly.com.

“Our ability to apply a clear, consistent standard to the majority of colleges gives veterans a comprehensive view of which schools are striving to provide the best opportunities and conditions for our nation’s student-veterans,” said Daniel Nichols, a Navy Reserve veteran and chief product officer at Victory Media. “Military Friendly® helps military families make the best use of the Post-9/11 GI Bill and other federal benefits while allowing us to further our goal of assisting them in finding success in their chosen career fields.”

For more information about the Lee College Veterans Center and its support of military students and their dependents, visit www.lee.edu/veterans or call 832.556.4300.

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 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.

Lee looking for part-time instructors at Nov. 17 job fair

BAYTOWN, TX — Lee College is looking for part-time instructors for multiple subjects. These new hires will add to its pool of talented faculty members and advance the legacy of quality teaching and learning for a growing student body.

Interested candidates are invited to discuss available part-time teaching opportunities at the Adjunct Job Fair, to be held from 5-7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 17, in the Rundell Hall Conference Center on campus. Job fair participants are encouraged to bring their résumés to the event to share with current faculty members, who will be available to answer questions and share insights from their own experiences in the classroom.

Adjunct instructors are needed to teach day, evening and/or weekend classes in a wide range of fields across the Academic Division, Applied Sciences Division and Center for Workforce and Community Education — from government, psychology, and art appreciation to pipefitting, millwrighting, and electrical.

Those who want to teach academic courses like English, history, and mathematics must have a master’s degree and 18 graduate hours in the discipline being taught. Instructors for technical courses like process technology, instrumentation, and welding typically require an associate’s degree and three years of related work experience in the teaching discipline.

Part-time faculty may teach traditional face-to-face classes, online classes, or in a hybrid format at multiple locations: the main campus and McNair Center in Baytown, the newly opened Lee College Education Center – South Liberty County, the prison education program in Huntsville, and in dual-credit classes offered at several local high schools.

For more information about the upcoming Adjunct Job Fair or available positions, contact the Office of Human Resources at 281.425.6875 or hr@lee.edu.

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 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.