Lee College a finalist for three national AACC Awards of Excellence

A large group of people stands before the Board of Regents holding awards.
Lee College was presented with three awards from the American Association of Community Colleges as a finalist for national Awards of Excellence in three separate categories: Advancing Diversity, Faculty Innovation and Outstanding College/Corporate Partnership. The awards were displayed to the community at the May meeting of the Lee College Board of Regents. Pictured, from left: Connie Tilton, Woody Paul and Brian Nagel of ExxonMobil; Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown; Interim Vice President of Instruction DeDe Griffith; former Board of Regents Chairman Ronn Haddox; Grant Director Victoria Marron; Interim Dean of Academic Studies David Jaroszewski; Executive Vice Pres. Dr. Christina Ponce; Director of Workforce Development Marsha Tuha; 2017 graduate Jazmine Rodriguez; and Dean of Applied Sciences Layton Childress.

BAYTOWN, TX — Lee College has been honored as a finalist for the 2017 American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Awards of Excellence for Advancing Diversity, Faculty Innovation and Outstanding College/Corporate Partnership. It is the second consecutive year that Lee College has earned national recognition as an AACC Awards of Excellence finalist in three of five total categories — a rare feat among the nearly 1,200 community colleges that are members of the association and eligible for the awards each year.

The AACC presented Lee College with the three finalist award trophies in April at its annual convention in New Orleans. The awards were displayed to the community this month at the regular meeting of the Lee College Board of Regents.

The AACC Advancing Diversity Award recognizes the college that has contributed significantly and over a sustained period of time to advancing diversity in community college leadership, the community and within higher education as a whole. Lee College was honored for the success of the Puente Project, an academic mentoring program that aims to increase the number of educationally under-served students who transfer to and enroll in four-year colleges and universities, earn college degrees and return to their communities as leaders and role models for new generations. Puente students — many of whom are low-income or the first generation in their families to attend college — have presented research at academic conferences, taken leadership roles on campus, advocated for social justice and volunteered their time and talents to serve and uplift the local community. More than a dozen Puente graduates have gone on to pursue bachelor’s degrees at universities around the state since Lee College became the fourth community college district in Texas to host the program.

Treva Brown-Askey, chairwoman of the Developmental Education Division, was the college’s nominee to receive the AACC Faculty Innovation Award, which recognizes faculty members who have demonstrated leadership in the development and implementation of a campus program that has had positive impact on the learning experience for students. The outcome of the program must result in the improvement of student completion numbers within a course or degree field, and nominees for the award are expected to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to student access and success. Brown-Askey was also nominated and named a finalist for the Faculty Innovation Award in 2016, due in large part to her efforts to make educational opportunities more equitable for all students and create opportunities for students to learn and be successful both inside and outside of the classroom. Additionally, she has led and coordinated the “College Bound School” partnership with Drew Elementary School in the Crosby Independent School District, which is part of the ongoing Cradle to Career Network effort to create a college-going culture for local youth by engaging all members of the community in providing wraparound support as students transition into college.

The AACC Outstanding College/Corporate Partnership Award honors local, regional and national collaboration between a college and corporate partner that has achieved demonstrable, multi-year success in advancing the mission of the institution; the economic prosperity of a community, region or the nation; and the learning excellence of students. Lee College highlighted its longstanding partnership with ExxonMobil, which has provided resources to support the education and workforce needs of Lee College students and the community for 82 years. In just the last 5 years, ExxonMobil has enhanced its support by sponsoring the Lee College EnergyVenture camp for middle-school students exploring careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics; continuing to provide 3-to-1 matching gifts from its foundation for donations made to colleges and universities by employees and retirees; providing annual gifts of $125,000 to help meet the needs of the college’s petrochemical and technical studies programs; supporting capstone internships for students; and providing $1.8 million for the Community College Petrochemical Initiative. ExxonMobil staff members also come to classes to share their insights and experiences with students, participate in panel discussions and serve on college committees.

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 15 school systems. To learn more, visit www.lee.edu.

Lee recognizes top students for academic and extracurricular achievements

Honors Day
Lauralyn Dickerson (left) smiles as she accepts the Safety Management Award from Dr. Charles Thomas, chairman of the Process Technology Division, at the 2017 Lee College Presidential Honors Day held Tuesday, April 11, 2017. The annual event recognizes the top students in every Academic Studies and Applied Sciences discipline at the college.

BAYTOWN, TX — As Lee College prepares for the end of the semester and the 2017 Spring Commencement Ceremony, dozens of the best and brightest students received awards and recognition for achieving excellence this year in academic programs and extracurricular activities.

At the annual Presidential Honors Day in the Performing Arts Center, top students in every Academic Studies and Applied Sciences discipline were called on stage one by one to receive plaques and certificates. Faculty members selected many of the honorees for their outstanding grades and performance in the classroom or laboratory, mastery of key course concepts and skills and display of intellectual curiosity and growth. Others were chosen for having a strong work ethic and enthusiasm for subject matter, helping and encouraging their classmates and being persistent in overcoming obstacles to reach success.

“Lee College has positively impacted our lives and the least we can do is represent it well. You all have met that mark,” said Kyle Diamond, a 2016 Hall of Fame inductee and president of the Student Government Association for the 2016-17 school year. “Your excellence in service and academics guarantees that Lee College will maintain its spot as a point of pride in this community.”

The first-ever Presidential Recognition Luncheon in the Rundell Hall Conference Center complemented the traditional Honors Day ceremony, celebrating students for high achievement in co-curricular and extracurricular activities – from presenting original research at academic conferences, to performing in a national theatre festival and playing well on the basketball and volleyball courts. Students received medallions and certificates for winning campus, district, regional, state and national awards and scholarships through participation in the Honors Program, Webb Historical Society, Mendoza Debate Society, Model United Nations, Visual and Performing Arts, Athletics and Service Learning.

Honors Luncheon
New inductees into the Lee College Hall of Fame were honored at the first-ever Presidential Recognition Luncheon, held Thursday, April 20, 2017, to celebrate student success in co-curricular and extracurricular activities. Pictured (l-r): Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown; Hall of Fame inductees Justin Mathews, Adrian Touchstone and Brenna Sallee; and Vice Pres. of Student Affairs Dr. Donnetta Suchon. Not pictured: Hall of Fame inductees JaVonte Cooper and Cynthia Rose Pizana.

The five newest inductees into the Lee College Hall of Fame were recognized at both Honors Day and the Recognition Luncheon: JaVonte Cooper; Justin Mathews; Cynthia Rose Pizana; Brenna Sallee, who was named Most Representative; and Adrian Touchstone. Hall of Fame honorees are the students who best represent academic excellence, extracurricular involvement, campus leadership and dedication to community service.

“You take Lee College far beyond Baytown — throughout the region, into the state and even to the nation’s capital and New York City — and you have made this institution something very special,” said Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown, who presented the awards to each honoree at the luncheon. “Your involvement has made a difference in your life, and the tools you’ve gathered here will serve you well today and into the future. One day, someone will follow in your footsteps and thank you for leading the way.”

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.

VP DeDe Griffith awarded Aspen Presidential Fellowship

Griffith is one of only 40 nationwide selected for community college leadership program

DeDe Griffith
DeDe Griffith

BAYTOWN, TX — DeDe Griffith, interim Vice President of Learning at Lee College, has been awarded the prestigious Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence and will participate in a highly selective leadership program aimed at developing a new cadre of outstanding leaders capable of transforming student success at community colleges across the United States.

The Aspen Institute, an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, announced today that Griffith joins the 2017-18 class of  Aspen Presidential Fellows, a diverse group of 40 extraordinary administrators from around the country who will embark on a year-long fellowship in July. Delivered in collaboration with the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative and top community college leaders, the program focuses on a new vision of leadership and aims to guide new and aspiring community college presidents to dramatically change student outcomes in four areas: learning; completion while in community college and of bachelor’s degrees after transfer; employment and earnings after graduation; and equitable access and success for underrepresented minority and low-income students.

“As an administrator and faculty member at Lee College for the past two decades, DeDe has been instrumental in developing and implementing innovative strategies and programs that enhance student success,” said Pres. Dr. Dennis Brown. “Her selection as an Aspen Presidential Fellow is a testament to the effectiveness of her student-centered philosophy and her commitment to strengthening community college education to ensure future generations of students are able to achieve their dreams.”

According to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), 365 presidents left their posts over the last year. This staggering rate of turnover is happening at the same time that increasing numbers of students — including growing numbers of minority, low-income and first-generation college students — are flocking to community colleges to earn degrees that lead to good jobs and careers.

The 2017-18 Aspen Presidential Fellows hail from 24 states and 38 community colleges of varying sizes. Griffith was selected through a rigorous process that considered her abilities to take strategic risks, lead strong teams and cultivate partnerships and focus on results-oriented improvements in student success and access. A past recipient of the Lee  College Faculty Excellence Award and the John & Suanne Roueche Excellence Award, Griffith also shared in institutional recognition through the AACC Award of Excellence of Student Success and coordinates and oversees many initiatives to provide greater access and completion support to all students. She is currently completing a Doctorate of Education in Professional Leadership in Education. For more information, visit http:///as.pn/1ky.

The Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, College Futures Foundation, ECMC Foundation, Greater Texas Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, and the Kresge 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 finalist for three national awards honoring excellence

BAYTOWN, TX — Lee College has been announced today as a national finalist for the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Awards of Excellence in three separate categories: Advancing Diversity, Faculty Innovation and Outstanding College/Corporate Partnership. It is the second consecutive year that Lee College has been named an AACC Award of Excellence triple finalist.

Nearly 1,200 two-year, associate degree-granting institutions across the United States are members of the AACC and eligible for the Awards of Excellence each year. The winners for the 2017 awards cycle will be announced in April at the 97th annual AACC convention in New Orleans.

The AACC Advancing Diversity Award recognizes the college that has contributed significantly and over a sustained period of time to advancing diversity in community college leadership, the community and within higher education as a whole. This is the first year that Lee College has been named a finalist in the Advancing Diversity category.

Treva Brown-Askey, chairwoman of the Developmental Education Division, has been nominated to receive the AACC Faculty Innovation Award, which recognizes faculty members who have demonstrated leadership in the development and implementation of a campus program that has had positive impact on the learning experience for students. The outcome of the program must also result in the improvement of student completion numbers within a course or degree field, and nominees for the award are expected to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to student access and success. Brown-Askey was previously named a finalist in the Faculty Innovation category in 2016.

The AACC Outstanding College/Corporate Partnership Award honors local, regional and national collaboration between a college and corporate partner that has achieved demonstrable, multi-year success in advancing the mission of the institution; the economic prosperity of a community, region or the nation; and the learning excellence of students. Lee College was previously named a finalist in the Outstanding College/Corporate Partnership category in 2016.

Lee College was chosen as the winner of the 2015 AACC Award of Excellence for Student Success for its work to engage the entire campus and community in creating a college-going culture that ensures a successful student experience from high school through higher education. Lee College was also a national finalist for the AACC Award of Excellence in the Exemplary Board/CEO category in both 2015 and 2016.

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.

Honors Program & Baytown Animal Shelter bringing dogs to campus

Pet therapy event Dec. 12-13 designed to help students relieve stress during finals

Pet Therapy 2016
Lee College Honors Program student Brenna Sallee (second from left) and the Student Honors Council came up with the idea to help students combat stress during Finals Week by bringing dogs from the Baytown Animal Shelter to campus. The pet therapy event is set for Dec. 12-13, 2016. Also pictured at the shelter (l-r): Cesar Lozoya, Honors Program student; Georgeann Ward, Honors Program coordinator; and Kevin Cummings, manager of Animal Services for the city of Baytown.

BAYTOWN, TX — Faced with end-of-semester essays and final exams as they enter the hectic holiday season, students in the Lee College Honors Program have partnered with the Baytown Animal Shelter to bring a little four-legged stress relief to campus during finals week.

The Student Honors Council will host a pet therapy event with dogs from the shelter from 12:30-2 p.m., Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 12-13, in an enclosed area between John Britt Hall and the Advanced Technology Center. In addition to students, faculty and staff, members of the community are also welcome to pet, walk and even play fetch with the animals during their stay.

“I thought it would be a good idea to reach out to the Baytown Animal Shelter to see if they would be willing to sponsor a pet therapy event at Lee College,” said Student Honors Council President Brenna Sallee, who got the idea after seeing that other colleges and universities have helped students combat feelings of stress and anxiety by bringing dogs and puppies to campus.

“Their dogs would benefit from love and attention from the students at the college, and the students would benefit from getting outdoors to play with the animals,” she said.

According to the American College Health Association, pet activity programs have provided students with a safe opportunity to perform diverse connections, provided a healthy outlet for positive touch and promoted relaxation. Of 400-600 students who participated in a pet program at the University of Chicago, 89-94 percent strongly agreed or agreed the event helped decrease their overall level of stress.

Kevin Cummings, manager of Animal Services for the city of Baytown, jumped at the opportunity to showcase shelter animals at Lee College and raise awareness of adoption as an option. The shelter will also collect donations at the pet therapy event; toys are especially needed, and participants will be able to make their own toys at a creation station set up on site.

“Human companionship keeps the dogs alert and responsive, which improves their chances of being adopted,” Cummings said. “It also helps us advertise the wonderful dogs and cats looking to be part of a new family. Any exposure is good for our animals, especially during the holiday season.”

Georgeann Ward, coordinator of the Honors Program, helped the students pull together campus and community resources, but praised their initiative in bringing the pet therapy event to their peers. “Creating student leaders is one of the goals of the Honors Program,” she said.

For more information about the Lee College Honors Program or the pet therapy event during Finals Week, contact Ward at gward@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 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.

Honors Program students and faculty present at national conference

BAYTOWN, TX — Imagine a place where tweed jackets, black-rimmed glasses and excitement for learning abound. Three Lee College faculty members and two Honors Program students immersed themselves in this culture of ideas during the 51st annual National Collegiate Honors Council Conference held this month in Seattle, Washington.

Honors Program presents at national conference
After earning selection from hundreds of applicants at colleges and universities across the country, a group of faculty and students from the Lee College Honors Program presented research at the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference held Oct. 12-16, 2016, in Seattle, Washington. Pictured (l-r): Instructor Jerry Hamby, students Mandy Ray and Drew MacKenzie, and instructor and Honors Program coordinator Georgeann Ward.

Instructors Georgeann Ward and Jerry Hamby, along with former students Drew MacKenzie and Mandy Ray, were invited to present a session on a unit that Ward and Hamby teach in the unique Honors course, “The Human Condition.” The seminar-style class combines the disciplines of English and Humanities, emphasizing open discussion and encouraging students to ask bold questions and engage in critical thinking about the world in which they live.

The Lee College group — which also included instructor and conference attendee Dr. Portia Hopkins — was selected to present from hundreds of applicants at colleges and universities around the country. Hamby and Ward discussed the pedagogical and logistic aspects of using experiential learning in their class, while MacKenzie and Ray discussed its impact on students.

“When I started the Human Condition, I thought I wanted to get my certificate,” said Ray, who is majoring in Drug and Alcohol Abuse Counseling. “However, after a month in the class, something in me shifted and I realized I wanted a degree — letters that would follow my name.”

A first-time participant in the conference, Hamby was most impressed by how well established and accomplished the Lee College Honors Program is in comparison to many other schools. MacKenzie shared similar sentiments after reflecting on his experience.

“I had never been to a conference like this before, so it was exciting to see such a community of scholars,” MacKenzie said. “To be welcomed into that community was quite an honor.”

In addition to presenting their work to colleagues and peers, the Lee College faculty and students listened to a keynote address by award-winning author Sherman Alexie, visited museums, took walking tours of downtown Seattle and absorbed as much information as possible on their four-day trip.

“Lee College provides amazing opportunities for students, showing them just how far their education can take them,” said Ward, who also serves as coordinator of the Honors Program. “I am grateful to have such a supportive administration that values student learning both inside and outside of the classroom.”

For more information about the opportunities available to students in the Lee College Honors Program, visit www.lee.edu/honors.

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.

V.P. Ponce noted among rising Baytown leaders

Dr. Christina Ponce
Dr. Christina Ponce

BAYTOWN, TX – Dr. Christina Ponce, Vice President of Student Success, Workforce and Resource Development at Lee College, has been named by The Baytown Sun newspaper as one of 20 young and rising leaders in the Baytown area.

The Baytown Sun “20 Under 40” recognizes those who have had business success, made a significant community impact and represent the next generation of city leaders. As part of her selection, Ponce was featured this week in a special section of the newspaper and honored at a reception.

Ponce brings to Lee College more than 15 years of experience in student services, instruction and resource development. Prior to coming to Baytown, she served as the Executive Director for Foundation & Resource Development at El Paso Community College. She has also worked with the Early College Start program at Austin Community College; the Gear UP program with Austin Independent School District; the College for Texas and Texas Scholars programs at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board; and as a professor teaching Texas and U.S. Government.

A strong advocate of expanding student success and access to education, Ponce was recently awarded the prestigious Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence and is involved with several national organizations that promote progress at community colleges. She has served as a faculty resident for the Community College Survey of Student Engagement, and is the recent past chairwoman of the board for Junior Achievement of the Desert Southwest. In addition, she currently sits on the National Advisory Board for the Center for Minority-Serving Institutions at Penn State University.

Within the community, Ponce is board chairwoman of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and an active member of Baytown Habitat for Humanity and the Baytown Kiwanis. She is also a member of several local and regional workforce development committees.

Ponce earned her doctorate degree in Educational Administration from the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas at Austin, where she also completed a bachelor’s degree in education with a minor in Spanish and worked in various capacities around campus. She also earned a master’s degree in political science from Texas State University, with a minor in legal studies.

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.