Thursday, March 6, 2014

Three from East County college district recognized for contributions to community colleges

A trio of faculty and staff from Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges and the district office are recipients of a national award recognizing community college teaching and leadership.

Cuyamaca College biology professor Kathryn Nette; Grossmont College senior dean of College Planning and Institutional Effectiveness Chris Hill, and Tim Corcoran, the district’s associate vice chancellor for human resources  were presented the John and Suanne Roueche Excellence Awards at a conference in Anaheim this week that drew more than 1,500 community college representatives from across the nation. The award is from the League for Innovation in the Community College, an international consortium of community colleges and districts, and 160 corporate partners.

 Kathryn Nette

Kathryn Nette
Nette, who began teaching at Cuyamaca College 16 years ago, is the chair of the science and engineering department and is a former vice president of the college’s Academic Senate. Her numerous committee assignments and contributions to the college earned her the Outstanding Faculty Member Award in 2013. She was  also on the board of directors of the San Diego Science Alliance, the catalyst for improving K-12 science education in San Diego County.

Nette also receives high praise from students on professor-rating websites.

“She is passionate about this topic (biology) and it shows,” one student said. “She is very real, and doesn’t hide behind a fa├žade if she doesn’t know something. At the end of the semester, she took us all out to eat – awesome professor.”

Wrote another: “Very resourceful! I took this class in the summer. She is very knowledgeable, well respected.”

Nette said she is “humbled” that she was chosen for the Roueche Excellence Award out of the many deserving instructors at Cuyamaca.

“My goal is to impart a passion for science to my students and to ensure that they will be well prepared to continue their education and achieve their goals in their field of study. For me, there is nothing more rewarding than to have a student come back to see me months or years later to let me know how the challenges we provided them made such a great difference in their life.”

An ardent fundraiser for education, Nette recently was featured in a “Thank You” video to the community that moved audiences to tears of appreciation for the stories of how donations transform students’ lives.

Chris Hill

Chris Hill
Since her arrival at Grossmont College in 2002, Chris Hill has worn many hats, first as a geology instructor for 11 years, then three years starting in 2007 as president of the college’s Academic Senate, a leading role for instructional faculty. She was poised to lead the Academic Senate for another year, but she was tapped by the college to serve in a succession of interim administrative posts as the college began feeling the effects of an early-retirement incentive and other departures.

A multi-year assignment as co-chair of the college’s accreditation self-study also ensued.  Most recently, she was named a senior dean and is involved in developing strategies that enable the college to meet goals such as increasing its outreach to underserved communities and assuring that students have the necessary support to complete their studies. She also has a role in  developing grant applications and budget analyses to support these efforts.

Hill’s leadership in chairing Grossmont College’s accreditation effort, as well as her willingness to step up whenever any task was assigned to her, were factors in her selection in August 2013 as Grossmont College’s Distinguished Faculty Member of the Year.

Hill said at her core, she remains a teacher.

“I teach because I love to learn,” she said. “A recent move into administration has seen my teaching shift from a classroom focus to one that supports college-level processes, yet there are still chances to help others learn about those processes and how we can better support student learning and success.”

Tim Corcoran

Tim Corcoran
A longtime professional in the field of human resources, Corcoran joined the college district in spring 2010, his first job in the public sector. He describes his shift into higher education administration as the most rewarding experience in his professional life.

“I am motivated by the feeling that every day we are helping improve lives through education,” he said. “It is an incredible feeling to know that we are helping students by providing them with development and helping them reach their maximum potential. The unity and teamwork that every employee shares in striving for our common goal of student success is something that I have never experienced in an organization.”

Last year, Corcoran filled in as the interim vice chancellor of human resources when the post became suddenly vacant.  Sue Rearic, the district’s vice chancellor of business services, said she was impressed by Corcoran’s ability to assess the big picture and quickly grasp issues outside of his HR expertise.

Marsha Edwards, the district’s vice chancellor of business services, said Corcoran’s strength is his ability to connect with people and an innate talent for dealing with sensitive issues fairly and with discretion.

“Tim has a wonderful ability to develop solutions on complex and sensitive issues in a humanistic way,” Edwards said. 

“This outstanding trio exemplifies the inventive philosophy that the League for Innovation embraces,” said Cindy L. Miles, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, and former chief operating officer for the League. “Our students are better prepared for the future because of the ingenuity and dedication of leaders like these three honorees.”