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.

Logistics program partners with Walmart on employee training project

Warehouse managers offered custom course to strengthen technical & leadership skills

Posed photo of nine people involved in the partnership
Lee College has partnered with Walmart to offer a customized logistics training program for managers at the company’s Baytown distribution center to improve their on-the-job skills and strengthen knowledge of what it means to be a logistics professional. Back row, from left: Donald Martin; Sergio Rangel; Kevin Ross; Pablo Reyes; Daniel Rexford, Logistics Program coordinator; and instructors Keith Coleman and Cornell Greene. Front: Jerry Duarte, Tatiana Mack, Amanda Erne, and Stacy Tucker.

BAYTOWN, TX — Daniel Rexford had been out of school for more than 20 years when he learned the Lee College Logistics Program was offering a training course specifically designed for him and his fellow managers at the Walmart Distribution Center in Baytown. The company would provide support to help established and up-and-coming leaders keep up with their full-time work while taking advantage of the new opportunity.

Within weeks of enrolling in the class, Rexford had more advanced knowledge of how rail, air, maritime, warehousing and e-commerce are used to meet key business objectives. He knew the importance of accounting for weather, vibration and other factors when getting a product from one point to another. He started looking at ways to optimize how freight was handled at the distribution center. He began to make plans to complete an Associate of Applied Science degree in logistics and supply chain technology at Lee College, and he persuaded his son to sign up for the training course and pursue a degree, too.

“You’re not just moving a box,” said Rexford, one of 17 Walmart warehouse managers who will be the first to graduate from the training program in December. “You’re learning how to move a box differently, in the face of different obstacles and to achieve different goals.”

It’s the primary lesson that Keith Coleman, director of the Lee College logistics program, intended to impart to his students when he designed and launched the Walmart training course: logistics encompasses a broad spectrum of transportation, storage and distribution activities that companies use to move products as cheaply and quickly as possible. With the development and implementation of new technologies, like drones and driverless vehicles, successful logistics professionals will need the vision and understanding to think beyond the traditional.

“In the military, the faster and more effectively you can move things, the more lives are saved. In the business world, money is saved — but industry executives are not trained logisticians,” said Coleman, a retired U.S. Marine Corps officer who has overseen steady growth of the logistics program at Lee College and will soon open a full-scale Logistics Training Center on campus.

“Logisticians see the whole picture,” Coleman said. “They create the game plan. They are the problem solvers. Being in this program allows these students to get hands-on and see a future for themselves. They’ll remember Lee College as the place where they got the training that made a difference.”

In addition to technical knowledge, the logistics training for Walmart managers also aims to help strengthen leadership and communication skills. Coleman frequently assigns role-playing exercises that simulate a wide range of on-the-job scenarios between supervisors and employees, as well as presentations that require students to dress professionally and practice public speaking. Many say their confidence and ability to guide and instruct others have improved as a result.

“When you come to work, you know who has been taking the training because you can see that we’re growing and learning,” said Jerry Duarte. “We’re using different terminology, thinking more quickly and being more creative.”

For Amanda Erne, getting back into the classroom for logistics training at Lee College made her realize that seeking additional education was long overdue. The encouragement from Walmart and camaraderie she and her colleagues in the program have built made returning to college less intimidating and more rewarding than she expected.

“We tend to have a more narrow view of our jobs; we know what we do, but we don’t know why we do it,” said Erne, who now aspires to a life-long career as a logistician — just like all the Baytown Distribution Center managers in the class. “This program has given us a wider perspective and deeper understanding of how logistics works.”

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 adopts Drew Elementary as ‘College Bound’

Partnership expands commitment to create college-going culture throughout service area

BAYTOWN, TX – With the support and resources of Lee College and  the mentorship and involvement of dedicated residents of historic Barrett Station, every student at Charles R. Drew Elementary School in the Crosby Independent School District has set their sights on achieving a new goal for the future: attending college and earning a degree.

Rooty Rebel at Drew Elementary
Lee College brought Rooty the Rebel, the Runnin’ Rebels Basketball Team, the Rebel Heat Dance Team and a host of faculty, staff and administrators to Charles R. Drew Elementary in Barrett Station for a pep rally to kick off the new “College Bound School” partnership. As part of the effort, Lee College will provide Drew with support and resources to help ensure every student goes to college and earns a degree.

Lee College has adopted Drew Elementary as a “College Bound School” as part of the Cradle to Career Network, an ongoing effort to create a college-going culture for local youth by engaging all members of the community in providing wrap-around support as students transition into college – from schools and educators to non-profit organizations, health and human services agencies, business and industry, local government and residents at large.

“Congratulations on being future college graduates! We stand together as a community committed to you, and you have to be committed to excellence in everything you do,” DeDe Griffith, Interim Vice President of Instruction, told hundreds of cheering Drew students at a recent pep rally held in their gym to kick off the new partnership between the college and elementary school.

At the rally, Rooty the Rebel, the Runnin’ Rebels Basketball Team and the Rebel Heat dancers showed off dazzling dunks and delivered special performances. Crosby ISD Superintendent Keith Moore, Lee College President Dr. Dennis Brown and other administrators and faculty offered words of welcome and encouragement, and enthusiastic students – all clad in red T-shirts emblazoned with “Lee College” and “Future College Graduate” – raised their hands and voices to pledge to go to college.

“We are so very excited to have you as part of Lee College,” Brown said. “If you put forth the effort, you will be a success story. All of you can walk across that stage and receive that college degree.”

For the College Bound partnership, Lee College will provide Drew Elementary with regular programming and opportunities to help students and their families learn more about the value and importance of higher education. Students at every grade level will learn about science concepts from college faculty, and the Lee College Mobile Go Center – a 42-foot, air-conditioned trailer outfitted with high-speed Internet, satellite dishes, remote printers, laptops and LCD televisions – will visit the elementary campus each month. On board the center, students will learn about the wide variety of rewarding and interesting careers available to college graduates and have access to a library of more than 500 e-books on science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.

Parents at Drew Elementary will also be involved in the effort, participating in a common reading program and receiving guidance and information about how best to prepare their children for college success.

“You’re part of a team and you’re part of a family,” said Drew Elementary School Principal Walter Berringer. “We have an obligation to each other to make sure we’re successful. We have to make great decisions and work as hard as we can every single day. There is no doubt in my mind that we are going to start college, and there is no doubt in my mind that we are going to finish college.”

As he looked at the sea of red tees and smiling faces at the pep rally kick-off, Jerry Bluitt realized he had come full circle. An alumnus of Drew Elementary who was instrumental in helping get the College Bound partnership in place, Bluitt retired from a 30-year career as an IBM engineer and returned to his native Barrett Station to help usher the historically African-American enclave into a brighter and better future. The program will help recreate the loving and unified family atmosphere he remembered and benefitted from as a child, he said.

“After they saw the model, the community said it was long overdue,” said Bluitt, who has helped raise support for and awareness of the College Bound School and Cradle to Career Network programs with faith-based organizations and local businesses in the area. “For our kids to be successful, we’ve got to shape them in good and positive ways. We have to walk with them.”

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.