TMCC Celebrates Faculty and Staff

President Hilgersom stands on stage with faculty members being recognized.
Rebecca A. Eckland

Early last month, TMCC hosted its first in-person Employee Awards and Recognition ceremony since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020. The ceremony recognized excellence across several domains including service, longevity and tenure, to name a few. And while the faculty and staff who were recognized were many, each exemplified by this famous quote, likely from The Story of Philosophy (1926): “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” 

Each faculty and staff member recognized has created opportunities for learning, growth and innovation out of challenging post-pandemic times. Whether that has been through the adoption of effective ways to teach in online platforms, increasing access to targeted student support, excellent customer service or dedicated, longtime service, this year’s Awards and Recognition ceremony clearly shows that the hashtag does not lie: #TMCCisCommunity.

Classified Employee of the Year and Finalists

Dr. Mindy Lokshin, Chair of the TMCC Foundation Board, read the nominations for the six nominees for the Classified Employee of the Year award. Sarah Gill, who serves as the Executive Assistant for the Business and Social Sciences Division, received the 2022 Classified Employee of the Year Award, which included a monetary stipend from the TMCC Board of Trustees. 

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. 

The 2022 finalists included: 

  • Rachel Blackburn
  • Renee Caudill
  • Sara Gill
  • Krystyna Sokowski
  • Diane St. Jacques
  • Leone Thierman

Additionally, the Classified Council oversees the Classified Employee of the Month Awards. These are the 2022 recipients of that honor: 

  • Shari Mathiesen
  • Steven Meyer
  • Nicole Tuxon
  • David Misner
  • Barbara Evans
  • Lana Reeves
  • Tashayla Parada
  • Katt Warner
  • Krystyna Sokowski
  • Alex Stathes
  • Amber Ka’Ai’Ai

Distinguished Retired Classified Employees included Ruth Fiori (2022), Julia Bledsoe (2021) and Dawn Ingraham (2021). 

Distinguished Faculty Excellence in Service and In Teaching

These two prestigious awards were announced by TMCC President Dr. Karin Hilgersom, who was joined by TMCC Foundation Executive Director Gretchen Sawyer and Dr. Lokshin. Dr. Hilgersom explained the rigorous selection for nominees and scoring process that, this year, came down to a quarter of a point. 

Those who are nominated for the awards demonstrate exemplary leadership, innovation, creativity and work ethic to elevate the educational opportunities and community ambiance at the college. This year, award recipients included: 

  • Andy Hughes, Distinguished Faculty Excellence in Service Award
  • Dr. Micaela Rubalcava, Distinguished Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award

Phi Theta Kappa Teachers of the Year

This student-driven award organized by the PTK Honors Society honors a part-time and a full-time faculty for 2022.  This year, Dr. Aaron Kenneston received the honor for part-time faculty and Dr. Archana Kumar for full-time faculty. 

“Dr. Kenneston does not follow a traditional teaching method, and he strives to make the material more accessible for everyone,” said PTK member Amelia Gloawniak, who presented the awards. 

Of Kumar, she said: “Dr. Kumar goes above and beyond to help us inside and out of class… her enthusiasm for teaching makes all of her lectures and labs fun and interactive. She truly cares about her students’ successes.” 

Regents’ Advisor of the Year

Nevada System of Higher Education Regent Jason Geddes presented TMCC Academic Advisor Courtney Schachter with the Regents’ Academic Advisor Award. Only three of these awards are presented throughout NSHE, and therefore the award recognizes a particular and outstanding kind of dedication to supporting student success. 

Schachter, who advises military-connected students and serves as the liaison to the Life Sciences, Allied Health and Public Safety Division was recognized, in part, for “...[being] a strong believer that achieving post-secondary education can have a significant impact on a student’s life, both professionally and personally,” said Regent Geddes. 

Faculty Receiving Tenure

The dedication of TMCC faculty to their students was noted throughout the awards ceremony. For an academic faculty member, the process for reaching tenure is neither a simple nor a short path, but instead indicates achievement in an individual’s discipline while also honoring the absolute importance of student success. 

“The honor of tenure comes with great responsibility,” said President Hilgersom. “The responsibility to never violate the sacred trust between student and professor, to place the needs of your student far above your own personal needs and desires, the responsibility to stay current in your discipline, and the responsibility to remain firmly dedicated to your students and wholly invested in their success.” 

Each faculty member who received tenure also received a clock to symbolize the time and dedication they will give to TMCC students in the years to come. Faculty who received tenure included: 

  • Lenaya Andersen
  • Rebecca McCleary
  • Rossitza Todorova
  • Dr. Sharif Rumjahn
  • Dr. Cecilia Vigil

EPIC (Educational Programs Inspiring the Community) and English Language Learner Instructors of the Year

TMCC’s noncredit educational enrichment program (Educational Programs Inspiring the Community, a.k.a.: EPIC) and Adult Basic Education Programs offer students courses to reach their goals outside of a traditional college degree or certificate. Sometimes that includes an accelerated training certificate that prepares them for targeted tasks, enrichment courses to develop hobbies and passions, or classes that support English language skills, high school equivalency testing, specialty training programs or career search and placement services. 

EPIC Instructors of the Year included Brad Hayes, Steve Sutherland and Toby Marble who teach woodworking courses and whose above-and-beyond attitude supported a student in need. 

ABE Instructors of the year included Silvia Rodriguez and Jenny Weisberg.

Student Government Association Outstanding Advisor of the Year

Recognized Student Organizations (RSOs) offer students opportunities to connect with others who hold similar interests while developing communication, interpersonal and leadership skills. These unique opportunities would not be present, however, if it wasn’t for faculty who step in to act as club advisors. 

SGA President Darian Richards presented the Outstanding Advisor of the Year to Felipe Gutierrez De Alba for his stewardship of the Truckee Meadows Veterans Club. Gutierrez’s nomination outlined his dedication to this group of students and to TMCC’s mission to support student success. 

“Felipe cares deeply about our campus and this community…he brings resources and his expertise to every member of the TMVC to create better students and leaders for this community’s future,” his nominator wrote. 

Professional of the Month

TMCC’s Recognition and Activities Committee oversees the Professional of the Month awards. For the 2021-22 academic year, the following individuals received his honor: 

  • Debi Pezutto
  • Andy Hughes
  • Tara Hawkins
  • Jimmy Roque
  • Melissa Deadmond
  • Sidney Sullivan
  • Stephanie Mead
  • Katie Kolbet
  • Adrienne Villegas
  • Cynthia Pierrott

Part-Time Faculty Awards

Part-time faculty are an incredible asset to TMCC. Often, they bring their professional insights, passions and specialized knowledge to the classroom, giving students real-world perspectives paired alongside their dedication to education and professional development. The Part-Time Faculty Committee offers support as well as a recognition program for these essential members of our college community.  

Part-time faculty who were recognized included: 

  • Heather Haddox
  • Gwendolyn Clancy
  • Sierra Gill
  • Kayla Avera