Five instructors at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges have been selected by their peers as the academic year’s best faculty members. The honorees were lauded at fall convocations for exemplary service to the East County campuses.
At Grossmont College, art history professor Marion de Koning received the Distinguished Faculty Award, and Administration of Justice instructor Shaun Donelson was picked for the adjunct award. At Cuyamaca College, English instructor Lauren Halsted and math instructor Terrie Nichols are co-winners of the Outstanding Faculty Member Award, and Arabic instructor Aklas Sheai received the award for adjunct faculty.
Here's a profile of one of the recipients, the first of an occasional series:
Marion de Koning
Art historian and a Grossmont College instructor for 18 years, Marion de Koning’s credentials as an art scholar are impressive, but when asked if she is herself an artist, she responds with a laugh.
“I have a few paintings at home, but they are only for my personal viewing,” said the Netherlands native, who emigrated to the United States in mid-‘80s, earning her associate degree from Palomar College, her bachelor’s and master’s in art history from San Diego State University and her doctorate, also in art history, from the University of Southern California. The Phi Beta Kappa member speaks English, Dutch, French, German and conversational Spanish.
“Marion’s unique vision and strong voice exudes enthusiasm, energy and passion for the arts,” Academic Senate President Tate Hurvitz said when presenting de Koning’s award. “Her classes are performances that captivate and invigorate her students.”
De Koning is credited for her efforts to develop an associate degree for transfer in art history at Grossmont and is also lauded for her service as an honor society advisor, Study Abroad coordinator, Academic Senate officer, and her extensive committee work.
Currently serving as chair of the Visual Arts and Humanities Department, de Koning’s career as an educator began in 1975 as an elementary school teacher in her native country and as a cultural guide for Study Abroad programs in Europe. Although she has a master’s degree from a teacher’s college in the Netherlands, she started her U.S. education as a community college student to gain writing proficiency. De Koning credits her community college experience for her commitment to teaching at Grossmont College.
“My best instructors were from my time as a community college student,” she said. “Community college instructors are truly the most devoted to the profession of teaching.”
The multifaceted lives and challenges faced by community college students continue to motivate her as an educator, said de Koning, who in 2010 received Grossmont College’s Excellence in Teaching Award.
“I am constantly amazed by their strength and commitment,” she said. “The impact I am able to have on them as an educator, in addition to the support of my colleagues and the strength of the arts program, are what have kept me here.”