Highland Faculty and Staff receive Excellence Awards

 Highland Community College employees joined fellow colleagues on January 8, 2015, to honor individuals with this year's Excellence Awards. The awards recognize employees for quality work, creativity, honesty, integrity, self-development and excellence in their professional relationships.

A committee, made up of Excellence Awards recipients from the previous two years, selected the winners in the following categories: classified staff, part-time employee, full-time faculty and administrative/professional staff. This year's recipients were Dr. Brendan Dutmer, Pam Harrison, Ellen Rice, and Vicki Schulz. The annual Opel award was presented to Renee Welch.

Full-Time Faculty: Dr. Brendan Dutmer of Freeport is a chemistry instructor and chairman of Natural Science and Math. One of the first things Brendan tackled in his chairman role was to develop a coordinated schedule between chemistry, physics, biology and math. This was to ensure that students, especially CollegeNow students, could complete their chosen degree on time. He is also focused on the College's goal of increasing the number of those completing their degrees. Brenden saw huge potential in Highland's engineering program. He began discussions with NIU's Engineering School to develop an articulation agreement. He arranged for representatives from NIU to come to Highland for a meeting to further discuss opportunities for the College's students. He is all about taking down the barriers for students and setting them up for success.

Classified Staff: Pam Harrison of Dixon is the Office Coordinator for Business and Technology. While Pam is new to the position in the past year, she coordinates and works well with faculty, oversees and leads a large portion of the College's dual credit efforts, and assists the dean with several grant related projects. In her position, she has created promotion materials for most of the programs in Business and Technology. She has also created several varied styles of brochures for the Equine Program.

Part-time Employee: Ellen Rice of Freeport is a part-time instructor teaching Business Institute classes. Ellen is a master at balancing her relationships within the Business Institute partnership triangle between the company contact, the instructor and the Business Institute. Many participants in Business Institute are adult education students that have not been in a classroom setting for many years. Ellen makes them feel non-threatened and comfortable. She also incorporates specific spreadsheets into the curriculum.

Administrative/Professional Staff: Vicki Schulz of Stockton is a student advisor. Vicki goes beyond the support she offers the student seeking her advice. Students are comfortable talking to her about any issue, knowing she is also looking out for their best interests. She works closely with the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the Adult Student Network, and has chaperoned events for Student Senate. She also helped coordinate the Festival of Giving the past two years. She also works tirelessly with her colleagues in the CollegeNow program. She has taken on teaching extra classes, meeting with prospective students after hours, and co-coordinating the program as it continues to expand.

Opel Award: The Highland Community College Foundation annually recognizes one employee with the Opel Award, named for one of Highland's founders, Don Opel. The award recognizes employees who go "above and beyond" in serving or promoting the College. This year the Foundation presented the award to Renee Welch of Freeport, payroll specialist at HCC. Renee exemplifies what this award is all about: caring about other people, and being respectful. Renee supports Cougar athletics to the point of taking in several basketball players to support them during the academic year. She readily volunteers to make food for the hospitality room for Highland basketball tournaments, and can often be seen volunteering at the gates. Her support for Highland athletics does not stop at home games, often attending away games.

(Left to Right) Ellen Rice, Brenden Dutmer, Renee Welch, Vicki Schulz and Pam Harrison

2998 W. Pearl City Road
Freeport, IL 61032-9341

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