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Faculty and Staff Honored with Awards

Rebecca A. Eckland
employee recognition ceremony

The Employee Recognition ceremony acknowledged the many and diverse accomplishments of TMCC faculty and staff.

Every year on the cusp of Commencement, TMCC recognizes the dedication and service that faculty and staff play into making the college a place that transforms the lives of its students. This work is completed through the physical structures and spaces, through the lessons and lectures in its classrooms, and through the one-on-one interactions between students and their teachers, mentors, advisors, and facilities and administrative staff. The recognition ceremonies at this time of year acknowledge the passion every TMCC employee holds for the college’s mission and for the future wellbeing of our students—embodying Aristotle's notion that excellence isn’t so much of a singular act as it is a habit.

Nevada Regents’ Awards

Each year the Nevada System of Higher Education bestows awards upon institutional faculty and staff who, as presenter Regent Carol Del Carlo described it, “Go above and beyond what is expected of them.” Two TMCC employees were honored with recognition for doing exactly that. The Regents Creative Activities award, established by the Board of Regents in 1993, recognizes the significant accomplishments which bring national and international recognition to NSHE. This year’s recipient, Dr. Micaela Rubalcava of the Education Department began her TMCC career in 1999, and received tenure in 2003. She served as coordinator for the Education Department, and also established and continues to organize the annual F.R.E.E. (Faculty for Radical Education and Enlightenment) event which forms an interdisciplinary day of exploring a specific topic. She was named a Fulbright Scholar in 2017, and she was one of 16 Fulbright scholars from the U.S. to study Chilean culture. Within the community, Rubalcava has branched out as well, forming partnerships with local schools—in particular Marvin Picollo School—to enable TMCC students to experience an immersive and transformational learning experience.

Regent Del Carlo also presented a Nevada Regents’ Academic Advisor Award, an award to honor outstanding academic student advising. “Out of all eight of our NSHE institutions, there are only three of these awards granted,” said Del Carlo who named Staci Miller as TMCC’s award recipient. Miller, who is a dedicated educational planner, also serves as a teacher, mentor, advocate and—in her own words—a “voice of reason” for TMCC students. “She is an invaluable member of the TMCC team,” said Del Carlo.

Newly Tenured Faculty

Faculty who have served students, community and the college and who are experts in their field are granted the significant career milestone of tenure, bestowing recipients with the title of “Professor” and with the responsibility to continue their ongoing dedication to the success of our students and to the college community. Faculty who have been recommended for tenure have undergone a rigorous review process and have demonstrated a high level of expertise and commitment. Newly tenured faculty include:

  • Brian Addington, Management
  • Dr. Eric Bullis, Humanities
  • Kellie Carter, Veterinary Technology
  • Dr. Virginia Irintcheva, Biology
  • Robert Lively, English
  • Mark Maynard, English
  • Paul Seybold, Automotive Technology
  • Dr. Karen Wikander, English

Phi Theta Kappa Teachers of the Year

Every year, Phi Theta Kappa (PTK)—the International Honor Society for two-year colleges—honors a full-time and part-time faculty for their excellence in the classroom. Through a student-driven nomination process, award winners were presented at the Employee Recognition ceremony by PTK President Rachel Holderread and Cheryl Guinan, PTK Director of Service. Management Instructor Robert Kirchman, who received the PTK Teacher of the Year Award for full-time faculty, “...prepares students for life after college by blending education and situations...so they can succeed,” said Holderread.

The PTK Teacher of the Year award for part-time faculty was given to Michael Leonard, who is known for his dedicated teaching methods and attention to providing students what they need in the classroom. “Michael knows how to teach so well, and keeps classroom distractions at bay,” said Guinan.

Part-time Faculty Recognition Awards

With nearly 70% of TMCC’s teaching faculty as part-time, it’s no wonder that award presenter Marynia Giren-Navarro—who is also the Chair of the Part-time Faculty Committee—said: “You are the pillar of our college.”

Part-time faculty add immeasurable value to the college by bringing their passion for teaching, their “real-world” skills and experiential knowledge to TMCC’s classrooms. Part-time faculty honored with this award include:

  • Virginia Castleman
  • Vanina Coudriet
  • Jennifer Kaplan
  • Kerry Kuster
  • Michael Leonard
  • Rob McLaughlin
  • Kathryn Mickey
  • Erin Shearin
  • Kaitlyn Smith

Classified and Professional Employees of the Year Finalists

The Recognition Ceremony also recognized employees that support student success in ways outside of the classroom through support and administrative services. The Classified Employee of the Month Committee—overseen by the Classified Council—recognizes classified employees each month of the year. Monthly nominees are scored based on specific criteria; awardees are those with the highest numeric scores. From these award-winners, the committee selects a single classified employee to be named the Classified Employee of the Year.

Alex Mathiesen, in the Operations and Maintenance Department, was named the Classified Employee of the Year. Mathiesen, who has been a TMCC employee since 1999 possesses “...a great depth of knowledge and skills paired with initiative and problem-solving skills that he applies to his job every single day. Alex is a huge asset to the college,” said Jesse Murray, Vice-Chair of the TMCC Foundation Board and NV Energy Director of Renewable Energy Programs, who presented the award.

Classified Employees of the Month who have been honored in the 2018-2019 Academic Year include:

  • Gloria Brizuela
  • Gracie De La Torre
  • Scottie Lockrem
  • Laura Meacham
  • David Misner
  • Jaime Muhle
  • Hannah Thomas
  • Donna Saunders

Professional Employees—either academic or administrative faculty—are also recognized during the Academic year for going above and beyond their duties for students, colleagues, and staff. Those named Professional Employees of the month include:

  • Johanna Bell
  • Natalie Fisher
  • Marynia Giren-Navarro
  • Ron Marston
  • Marcus Ollom
  • Joshua Shinn
  • Laura Vargas

Workforce Development and Community Education Instructors of the Year

The TMCC Workforce Development and Community Education Program honors several instructors across its variety of program offerings including Workforce Development, Community Education and Adult Basic Education (ABE). Jessica Mora, who serves as a Clinical/Medical Assistant was named the Workforce Development Instructor of the Year.

Richard Lee, who has taught voice classes for TMCC since 1990 and who has helped thousands of students “...to do things they didn’t know they were capable of doing” was named the Community Education Instructor of the Year.

Adult Basic Education (ABE) bestowed two awards: an English Language Learner Instructor of the Year and a High School Equivalency Instructor of the Year. “Both honorees teach full time in the Washoe County School District, and each teaches 2-3 hours at night for us,” said Rain Donahue, Coordinator of the Adult Basic Education program.

Julie Henderson, who was named English Language Learner Instructor of the Year, is known for “taking challenges and turning them into opportunities” for her students.

David Huffmire, the High School Equivalency Instructor of the Year, “Is a talented and fluid instructor,” said Donahue. “He began by teaching English, and now he teaches math—an example of that fluidity in the classroom. He is changing lives, by believing in his students, and not letting them give up on themselves.”

ACUE-Credentialed Faculty

The Fall of 2018 saw the first Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) faculty cohort assume and complete the training modules. This intensive course is intended to support student success in the classroom by disseminating evidence-based teaching methods to prepare faculty to implement these proven approaches. Of the 46 faculty who began the course, 45 completed it, resulting in a 99% completion rate—well above the national average. English faculty Martha Johnson-Olin and Jacquie Carroll acted as Facilitators for the pilot program that Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Marie Murgolo said, “represents a huge win for the college.”

The number of participants and their impressive success rate is indicative of our campus culture at TMCC: our faculty and staff are dedicated to promoting student success, academic excellence, and access to lifelong learning by supporting high-quality education and services within our diverse community. In other words, the mission of the college is the mission each employee carries—not like an afterthought, but as a habit.