TMCC Faculty and Staff Awards 2018

K. Patricia Bouweraerts
Meeghan Gray Receives Award Image

Biology Professor Meeghan Gray, PhD, was awarded as full-time PTK Teacher of the Year by Alpha Pi Gamma officers Yvonne Wedding (left) and Rachel Holderread (right).

“There's a lot of laughter always coming out of his classroom—his curriculum is incredible,” said ABE Coordinator Rain Donohue about Nick Purewal, one of the honorees in this year’s Annual Awards and Recognition Ceremony.

Each spring, Truckee Meadows Community College recognizes its newly-tenured faculty, presents awards for teaching and service excellence, and applauds those selected for honors by the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) Board of Regents.

For 2018, the Annual Awards and Recognition Ceremony and Reception was celebrated on May 8 in the V. James Eardley Student Center.

Faculty Tenure

Academic tenure is given to instructors who are highly committed to excellence in education, show dedication to their students, and demonstrate loyalty to the institution. After receiving tenure at TMCC, they are given the title of professor.

To achieve tenure, instructors take on a rigorous multi-year process demonstrating their high-level subject expertise and involvement in college activities. The 2017-2018 tenure recipients are listed in alphabetical order:

  • Jonathan Bailey, Radiologic Technology
  • Sam Byington, Automotive Technology
  • Candace Garlock, Visual Arts
  • Matthew Leathen, PhD, Chemistry
  • Kreg Mebust, Construction and Design
  • Haley Orthel-Clark, Psychology
  • Michael Schulz, Emergency Medical Services
  • Corina Weidinger, PhD, Visual Arts

Classified Employee of the Year

In Nevada public higher education, faculty members are supported by a large and expert group of classified staff members who serve in a wide range of roles—from administrative and academic support, to media services, and many other positions that directly and indirectly impact fellow staff members and students.

The finalists for Classified Employee of the Year include the following:

  • Barbara Evans, Technical Sciences Division
  • Shari Mathiesen, Financial Aid, Scholarships and Student Employment
  • Donna Maxfield, Disability Resource Center

Evans was named Classified Employee of the Year at the Annual Awards Ceremony.

“’Consummate professional’ and ‘irreplaceable’ is how Barb Evans’ colleagues describe her,” said Sean French, TMCC Foundation Board Member. “While Barb Evans’ job title is Executive Assistant to the Dean, this year she has taken on so much more. This semester Barb completed all of the many tasks normally completed with two other admins—managed all of the apprenticeship enrollments and contracts, and addressed all student and staff needs in the Applied Technology Center, all while searching, hiring, and training new administrative assistants for the Division.”

WDCE Instructors of the Year

The Workforce Development and Community Education Instructor of the Year is Judy Wilson, who teaches line dancing, choreographed movement to music with a repeated sequence of steps.

“She has been one of our most popular instructors with us since about 2011,” said Johanna Bell, WDCE Specialist. “Some of her students call her ‘just awesome,’ ‘an excellent instructor who makes it easy to learn a complicated string of steps.’ Also, that she's ‘great fun’ and ‘super patient.’”

Adult Basic Education Coordinator Rain Donohue announced the English Language Learner (ELL) Instructor of the Year, Kara Taormina.

“Words like passion, enthusiasm, compassion, and energy come to mind when I think of Kara,” Donohue said. “Her classroom is just alive and amazing. She has rich in language, workforce development skills. She sometimes sings, and it's a great place to be.”

Gurnek (Nick) Purewal won the title of 2017-2018 ELL Transitions Instructor of the Year.

“He's willing to go above and beyond the classroom—he’ll have a cup of coffee with anybody who's willing to talk to him about business, regardless if it’s a student of his,” Donohue said.

Part-Time Faculty of the Year

Seven part-time instructors were recognized for commendable service and superlative teaching during this academic year. Psychology Instructor Diane McMillan is one of the honorees.

“Diane’s students appreciate how knowledgeable, but also how very approachable and compassionate she is,” said Psychology and Sociology Coordinator Marynia Giren-Navarro. “Her classes are captivating, informative, engaging, and fun.”

Resource Librarian Neil Siegel nominated Humanities Instructor Joe Domitrovich.

“Mr. Domitrovich personifies the art of teaching, contending he ‘was born to teach,’” Siegel said. “Passion and enthusiasm fills the atmosphere of his classroom, whether it be traditional or online. As Mr. D. contends, ‘I've got the best job in the world.’”

Dean of Technical Sciences Kyle Dalpe, PhD, nominated Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Instructor Rick Reynolds for the award.

“His willingness to help build, structure, and write curriculum for the program speaks volumes to his dedication to TMCC,” Dalpe wrote. “His dedication to the program shows in how he helps the students succeed in their educational goals.”

Dental Assisting Professor Julie Muhle nominated Instructor Tracy Byers for recognition in her department.

“She is an advocate for students and has made it a point to see each student as an individual with needs unique to their learning style,” Muhle said. “Students have commented how much they enjoy Tracy's calm and supportive personality as well as the wealth of knowledge she brings to the clinic from her many years as an orthodontic dental assistant.”

In Administrative Assistant Scottie Lockrem’s nomination of Art Instructor Aimee Kelly, she wrote that Kelly is student-centered and understands the demands students face during their college education.

“She sculpts the left brain business side of being an artist while feeding the right-brained creative approaches to managing a gallery, and working with diverse populations,” Lockrem wrote.

Humanities Professor Julia Hammett, PhD, nominated Verla Jackson for honors in teaching Humanities courses.

“This semester when another instructor had to drop her assignments two weeks before the semester began, Verla got permission from her day job supervisor to use her lunch hour to teach for us,” Dr. Hammett said. “So twice a week she is racing to our campus, probably eating a sandwich on the way. And by the way, this semester her load includes the lunch class plus two night classes.”

Suzanne Malek, Reference Librarian, was recognized for her work teaching a genealogy class.

“My inspiration came from a co-worker who about 15 years ago came to work one day with her ancestor’s marriage record from the 1800s,” Malek said. “She showed it to me, I was so inspired. So I set out on my own journey to see if I could find the same type of records for my ancestors. From that point forward I was hooked. It has become a passion that I want to share with everyone.”

PTK Teachers of the Year

The Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Teacher of the Year is a TMCC tradition, a student-led project sponsored by the College’s honor society chapter, Alpha Pi Gamma. Each year the chapter honors a full-time and a part-time faculty member for excellence in teaching.

PTK officers and members surprise the winners with the award plaque, arriving unannounced in the middle of a lesson so that students may applaud the teacher they have nominated.

Biology Professor Meeghan Gray, PhD, was awarded the full-time PTK Teacher of the Year, and Psychology Instructor Andre Walton received the part-time award.

“Dr. Gray is caring and compassionate, yet she is a tough grader with high expectations,” said Yvonne Wedding, Alpha Pi Gamma Treasurer. “Gray's knowledge and enthusiasm are incorporated into a variety of teaching techniques to reach students of all learning styles. Her willingness to work with students, especially on difficult concepts, provides so much encouragement that all thoughts of giving up disappear.”

Fellow PTK member, Director of Leadership Rachel Holderread announced the part-time teaching award.

“Dr. Walton brings in real-life examples to analyze how our own experiences tie in to the concepts we are working on in class to make it more accessible and easier to understand," she said. "He is a teacher, a mentor, and inspiration as an incredibly supportive and patient person who I believe impacts nearly everyone he meets in a positive way.”

Student Government Association (SGA) Outstanding Club Advisor of the Year

SGA Outstanding Club Advisor of the Year was presented to Theresa Dessert by SGA Clubs and Organizations Chair Karina Sissom.

“We wanted to honor her at the ceremony for all of her hard work and dedication as an advisor to the Maxine S. Jacobs Student Nurses’ Association,” Sissom said.

Distinguished Faculty Awards

RGJ TMCC Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award

The Reno Gazette-Journal (RGJ) TMCC Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award goes to an individual who has made outstanding achievements in instruction.

Professor Gray was named as the TMCC Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award honoree for 2017-2018. She has been teaching at TMCC since 2012.

One of her favorite parts of the job is getting to know her students and helping them accomplish their goals—letting students know that they will not be anonymous, Gray said. Her teaching philosophy is widely known as “just try it,” and she is often observed creating a sense of community in her classroom, including having students practice problems and work in groups before an exam. Gray is so enthusiastic about biology that she will even do push-ups if it will help students better understand a concept, fellow faculty members have said.

Model Dairy Excellence in Service Award

The Model Dairy TMCC Faculty Excellence in Service Award is given to a staff member who has contributed exemplary service and dedication to the College.

Visual Arts Professor Candace Garlock is this year’s Excellence in Service Award winner.

She has been teaching at TMCC since 2005, and became the TMCC Galleries Curator in 2010. In 2011 Garlock started the TMCC Art Club, and in 2012 she established the Visiting Artist Program. She implemented two new galleries that focus on student shows and community artists.

Professor Garlock has been an active member of many TMCC committees, including the Distinguished Speaker Series, and an annual learning community called FREE, the Faculty for Radical Education and Enlightenment.

She is a member of the State of Nevada Integrating Arts and Culture into STEM subcommittee of the STEM Advisory Council. Garlock actively volunteers in the community, including as a Nevada Promise Scholarship Mentor, and with fundraising projects at the Sparks Museum and Cultural Center.

For more information about annual awards, please contact the TMCC Professional Development Office at 775-674-7965, or the Faculty Senate Recognition and Activities Committee at 775-674-7912.