Faculty and Staff Receive Awards

K. Patricia Bouweraerts
TMCC Faculty Awards Image

NSHE Regents' Awards for 2016 were presented by Regent Jason Geddes, left, to Natalie Brown, Lindsay Wilson and Engrid Barnett. Kyle Dalpe, Acting President of TMCC, right.

At the Annual Awards and Recognition Ceremony on May 10, Barbara Buchanan, PhD, Vice President of Academic Affairs said that Truckee Meadows Community College is fortunate to have some of the finest faculty and staff in the country.

TMCC professionals have recently received numerous honors — from state Regents’ awards and recognition by the Carnegie Foundation, to accolades by regional and community organizations. The awards have been given to staff in many different departments, offices and classrooms of the College.

In November, Ana Douglass, PhD, English Professor, was chosen as the 2015 Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Nevada Professor of the Year.

Reno Gazette-Journal TMCC Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award

The RGJ TMCC Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award honors an outstanding instructor each academic year. The recipient for the 2015-2016 year is Kathleen Kolbet, Professor of Chemistry.

Kolbet has taught college-level chemistry since 1993, and began teaching courses at TMCC in 2005. She teaches lecture and lab sections of chemistry, and is now creating an online interactive text for one of the chemistry courses. The text is planned to launch in Fall 2017.

“I think the greatest feeling in the world is watching the students ‘get it ’— that look on their faces when the light-bulb clicks on is what keeps me going,” she said. “It inspires me to come up with new ways to make it click and to help students understand.”

During her time as lead faculty for the chemistry program, five new courses have been created, and existing course offerings have nearly doubled the number of sections being offered. She has developed new laboratory and course activities, revised the existing laboratory materials, and implemented the assessment protocols for all of TMCC’s chemistry courses through the use of the American Chemical Society Test Bank.

Kolbet employs group activities and inquiry-based class worksheets in her classroom. She also leads a Supplemental Instruction session for students in the Tutoring and Learning Center (TLC).

“In my department, my colleagues John Clevenger and Dan Loranz have been great models on how to build course materials around student engagement,” she said. “I've taken what I've seen both of them do in the classroom and run with it on a larger scale to make the activities easy to use for the other faculty in chemistry.”

Model Dairy TMCC Faculty Excellence in Service Award

Elena Bubnova, Executive Director of Institutional Research, Analysis and Effectiveness, is the recipient of the 2016 Model Dairy Faculty Excellence in Service Award. She has worked in the Institutional Research, Analysis and Effectiveness Office since 1999.

“Data can be dry numbers or it can be a roadmap to success and goal fulfillment,” Bubnova said. “We want students to have absolutely the best experience at TMCC. We want to be smart, strategic and intentional about every part of the students’ educational journey. Researching best practices, identifying core ingredients of student success and using the data to create an educational environment where every student will thrive is what my office tries to contribute every day.”

In addition to doing research and data analysis, she has served on multiple college committees, including co-chairing the Enrollment Management Team, serving on the Planning Council, and with the Accreditation Steering Committee.

“My position allows me to have a broad and comprehensive knowledge of student data, various aspects of college operations, external requirements and mandates, broad policies as well as detailed information,” she said. “Participating in various college committees is also a wonderful opportunity to learn from colleagues and look at an issue from a whole different perspective, which can be very enlightening. When working with educational groups in Reno-Sparks, I consider representing TMCC a privilege. I am deeply committed to improving educational opportunities in the local community at all levels.”

Bubnova works with community education partners including Washoe County School District (WCSD), State of Nevada Department of Education, University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) and other NSHE institutions. Dr. Dalpe said her commitment in the community is exceptional.

"Elena's dedication to this institution is not just in her competence as the Director of Institutional Research, Analysis and Effectiveness, but also in her tireless work ethic, her sharp insight, her professional attitude and her constant willingness to serve the best interests of TMCC's students and employees," he added.

Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Regents’ Teaching Award

Engrid Barnett, PhD, who instructs humanities and French courses at TMCC and cultural geography and humanities classes at UNR is the recipient of the Nevada Regents’ Teaching Award for 2015-2016.

Only two Regents’ Teaching Awards are given each year in Nevada, one at the university level and one to a community college professor or instructor.

In addition to her teaching work, Dr. Barnett also conducts research, presents at national conferences and publishes articles. In 2015, she curated an exhibit at the Nevada Historical Society commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Red Dog Saloon and the Comstock’s role in influencing the legendary psychedelic scene of 1960s San Francisco.

Her work on the Red Dog Saloon has been published in Pacifica, a publication of the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers and Nevada magazine. She has given guest lectures on the subject at the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers, the Historic Reno Preservation Society and the UNR Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI).

Nevada Regents’ Creative Activities Award

The NSHE Board of Regents also present two Regents' Awards for Creative Activities each year. One is given to a university or state college staff member, and another to a community college professional. The 2016 honorees are Eunkang Koh, UNR; and Lindsay Wilson, TMCC.

Wilson has been teaching at TMCC since 2006, and earned tenure in 2010. He holds a master’s degree in English from the University of Wyoming and an M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Idaho.

“He is responsible for transforming the school’s literary journal, The Meadow, since 2006,” according to his official NSHE bio. “He has published over a hundred poems in The Minnesota Review, Verse Daily, The Bellevue Literary Review, Pank, The Portland Review, among others. He has published five chapbooks, and in 2014 he won the Quercus Review Press Spring Book Award for his collection, No Elegies.”

The Creative Activities Award recognizes national and international achievements in the arts that bring increased stature to the Nevada System of Higher Education.

Nevada Regents’ Academic Advisor Award

Natalie Brown, PhD, Director of Academic Advisement, Transfer Center and International Student Advising Services, has been awarded the Nevada Regents’ Academic Advisor Award for 2015-2016. Only three of these honors are awarded each year in Nevada.

Brown earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Spanish from UNR, and completed her PhD in Educational Leadership and Policy from the University of Utah. Before joining the staff of TMCC in 2013, she held advising positions at Salt Lake Community College and the University of Utah.

“I was fortunate to have so many great mentors help navigate my own higher education experience through Upward Bound and TRiO Scholars — they inspired me in my work with students,” Brown said. “I’m committed to helping students identify their interests and achieve their academic and personal goals.”

She has also received the Western Association of Educational Opportunity Personnel (WESTOP) TRiO Achievers Award at the 38th Annual WESTOP Conference on April 4. The WESTOP TRiO Achievers Award is given to professionals who have completed their undergraduate degree, are now employed in an education-related field and are active volunteering in the community.

Teachers of the Year, Phi Theta Kappa

Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) is the International Honor Society for two-year colleges. Each year, PTK Teacher of the Year student committee members accept nominations for two awards; one for a full-time faculty member, and one for a part-time college instructor. The committee then evaluates a folder of information provided by nominees and selects a winner in each of the two categories.

At the Annual Awards and Recognition Ceremony on May 10, Remy Velardez, President of the Alpha Pi Gamma Chapter at TMCC, presented plaques to the honorees:

  • Olga Katkova, Chemistry Professor
  • Christopher Reynolds, Computer Science Instructor

Katkova also volunteers as a science coach at the Honors Academy of Literature, in Reno. Daniel Fuller, Level 8 Teacher, Science and Technology Lead, wrote a thank you letter to TMCC in January.

“Professor Katkova’s love of chemistry truly inspired our middle school scholars as they explored basic fundamentals of chemistry through the creation of hard water,” Fuller wrote. “The young scholars were able to have that necessary hands-on experience in a science lab through the help of the TMCC Physical Sciences Department.”

The newest PTK Teachers of the Year, Katkova and Reynolds will be added to the complete PTK Teacher of the Year Award Recipients list.

Five TMCC Faculty are Newly Tenured

There are five professors who have achieved tenure this year at TMCC:

  • Lisa Buehler, J.D., Professor of Accounting
  • Precious Hall, PhD, Professor of Political Science
  • Olga Katkova, Professor of Chemistry
  • Robert Kirchman, Professor of Management
  • Michelle Noreen, D.V.M., Professor of Veterinary Technology

The word "tenure" was first used in the Middle Ages within the feudal system that governed land and property in Europe. Academic tenure has come to mean the freedom from fear of retribution or loss of job for arbitrary reasons, and has led to the concept called academic freedom.

Part of the meaning of tenure is that professors are entrusted with knowledge of the ages – knowledge handed down from generation to generation. Professors add their own contribution and then pass this responsibility on to the next set of capable hands. Tenure suggests that professors serve their students, community and college as educators and experts in their disciplines.

Workforce Development and Community Education (WDCE) Instructors of the Year

Two outstanding educators have been honored for their work at WDCE. Amy Williams, Director, WDCE, and Rain Donohue, Adult Basic Education (ABE) Coordinator presented awards at the May 10 ceremony to:

“Nora is an advanced ELL instructor who has taught for TMCC ABE since 2013,” Donohue said. “Her students consistently comment on her creativity and her classes are always dynamic, interactive and engaging. In addition to being outstanding in the classroom, Nora also takes the time to advise her students on their next steps. She provides guidance, resources and encouragement as her students’ transition from our program to post-secondary education or a career.”

Williams said that Linda Schneider-Erger brings a standard of excellence to whatever she does.

“Linda has taught all levels of math in our HSE program since 2005,” she said. “From the most basic level to our accelerated boot camp, Linda’s students consistently comment on her patience. She also has the unique ability to explain complex topics in a variety of ways and therefore makes math accessible to all students.”

Classified Employee of the Year

Classified staff members are many times called the backbone of educational organizations, and they accomplish a large array of administrative and other important tasks that support students’ instruction.

Nominees for the Classified Employee of the Year include Heather Combs-Salley, Amanda Sagun and Erin Sullivan; and the winner of the award is Jackie Draper. TMCC Foundation Board Member Gigi Chisel presented the honor to Draper at the 2016 Annual Awards and Recognition Ceremony on May 10. Both TMCC and Washoe County School District (WCSD) staff members contributed complements to Draper's nomination.

"Her mission is to make sure every contact she has with a person leaves that person knowing he or she was well-taken-care-of,” said Melissa Deadmond, PhD, Associate Dean of Assessment and Planning.

Vangie Russell, Project Manager, WCSD agrees.

"Because of her proven abilities, she exemplifies what the Classified Employee of the Year Award is about,” Russell said. “She is a strong role model for staff.”

Classified staff members say that Draper demonstrates a high level of leadership and is committed to making a positive impact within her department and the TMCC community.

"WCSD loves working with Jackie and has brought all their administrative meetings here on campus,” said Vicky Davis, Program Officer, Scheduling Office at TMCC. “Because of the partnership Jackie has created, WCSD recently decided to even bring their small graduations to the TMCC student Center.”

For information about the TMCC Classified Council, please call 775-673-7814, or to find out more about the NSHE Regents’ Awards visit the NSHE website. For instruction at TMCC, divisions and programs are listed and described on the Instruction: Academics Web pages.