Riverland Community College Biology Instructor Pamela Anne Tranby was one of the four educators presented with the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees’ highest academic honor, Educator of the Year, on Wednesday.
The four honorees were selected from 33 Outstanding Educators nominated by the presidents of their institutions. A panel of judges that included faculty members, presidents, administrators and students reviewed the nominees and recommended the four honorees to the trustees. The board approved the recommendations at its Wednesday meeting.
“These faculty members demonstrate clear and consistent excellence in serving students and their communities,” said Scott Thiss, chair of the Board of Trustees. “When Minnesotans are enrolling in our colleges and universities in greatly increasing numbers, it’s gratifying to know that faculty like these are preparing them for the future.”
Reviewers said Tranby uses engaging methods and innovative assignments: human immunodeficiency virus epidemic simulation, forensic case studies, a “cemetery demographics” exercise in statistics. She has done the hard work of developing biology labs that work for online classes. She applies both qualitative and quantitative methods to evaluate her teaching throughout her courses, not just at the end.
Tranby expects her biology students to be strong critical thinkers. She redesigned and researched the effectiveness of lab skills testing as part of her American Society for Microbiology Scholar in Residence project.
Chancellor James H. McCormick said, “I am proud that we can highlight the depth of excellence of our faculty with these awards. The honorees exemplify what we value most in this system – high-quality teaching, service to students and community, and scholarship and professional expertise.”
This is the fifth year that the board has presented its Excellence in Teaching Awards. Each of the four honorees receives $5,000 and a handcrafted medallion. A short video about the program featuring the four award winners is available at botaward.mnscu.edu.
Dr. Terry Leas, Riverland Community College president (center), presents Judy Enright, physical plant manager and Brad Doss, chief financial officer with their Awards of Excellence in facilities and financial management respectively. Leas presented the awards on behalf of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.
Minnesota State Colleges and Universities recently announced awards recognizing leadership and team effort for excellence in financial and facilities management. Riverland Community College received two awards of excellence: Excellence in Financial Management and Excellence in Facilities Management.
The awards program, which began in 1997, publicly recognizes the outstanding contributions of the system’s college and university employees who work in finance and facilities management.
“We are proud that we have so many outstanding employees,” said Laura King, the system’s vice chancellor and chief financial officer. “With their leadership and the assistance of every employee at every Minnesota state college and university, tremendous progress continues in finance, facilities and administrative excellence.”
Excellence in Financial Management awards honor significant contributions to increased efficiency and effectiveness of finances and administrative services throughout the institution. Riverland has received this honor yearly since the awards began in 1997 save one year.
Excellence in Facilities Management awards are given for successful and timely completion of capital improvement and repair projects, increased efficiency and effective space use throughout the institution and customer service excellence to students, staff and faculty. Riverland has won this award every year since 2001 when the facilities team first submitted an application for award consideration.
“During the last decade, Riverland has repeatedly been recognized for its outstanding and responsible financial management and facilities’ efficiencies,” said Riverland College President Terry Leas. “These awards validate our college’s efforts to be conscientious stewards with the limited public funds we receive.”
Students from the Riverland Community College Choir and Vocal Ensemble attended the Minnesota Two-Year College Fine Arts Festival at Breezy Point Resort April 7 and 8. The festival is an annual event where choirs and bands from the state’s community colleges gather and make music. Riverland student Kristine Iverson (Austin) was selected as “Outstanding Performer.”
A solo vocal clinic was held in conjunction with the festival. 31 students from various colleges each prepared and presented a song that was critiqued by a judge. The six students who finished with the highest ratings were awarded the title “Outstanding Performers.” These performers, including Iverson, presented their songs in recital before the festival participants. Riverland student Victoria Torkelson (Austin) also participated in the solo vocal clinic.
Another highlight of the festival occurred when Riverland’s Vocal Ensemble received a standing ovation after performing selections from their upcoming “Glee” concert for nearly 300 musicians from around the state in a Showcase Concert on Thursday night.
The following students participated in the festival: McKenzie Anderson (Austin), Tucker Besel (Austin), Kaitlyn Cope (Albert Lea), Jena Helmbrecht (Austin), Andrew Hanson (Hayward), Hannah Hemann (Stacyville, IA), Amelia Holcomb (Albert Lea), Kristine Iverson (Austin), Emma Langemo (Kenyon), Ashley Possin (New Richland), Vida Peterson (Owatonna), Victoria Torkelson (Austin), and Jordan Wylde (Elkton).
Audiences will have an opportunity to see an encore of the vocal ensemble’s performance at “A GLEE-ful Evening with a Bunch of Freqs” on May 10 in the Frank W. Bridges Theatre. The concert will start at 7:30 p.m.
Riverland Community College recently announced that they would induct six into the Athletic Hall of Fame at a ceremony on October 29 at the Austin Campus. The 2011 class is the eighth class inducted to the Athletic Hall of Fame since 1997. They join 46 other former athletes and coaches.
This year’s inductees include Greg Carlson, football (1976-78); Nancy (Clemens) Martinz, Softball (1981-83); Denny Lebarron, tennis (1962-64); Don Miller, basketball (1951-54); Darrell Monson, baseball (1970-72); Kevin Wilder, football (1974-76).
Individuals eligible for induction include men golfers, basketball, baseball, football, wrestling, and track athletes and women golfers, basketball, softball, volleyball, and track athletes plus various coaches, athletic directors and others who have made a significant contribution to the athletic program.
Greg Carlson, football lineman (1976-78)
Carlson was a two-year starter at defensive tackle for Austin Community College (ACC). In his sophomore year, he led his team to many team defensive records and has seven defensive records he achieved individually during his career at ACC. He earned All-Conference, All State, All-Region in 1977 for the Blue Devils. He went on to play for Minnesota State University –Mankato for two seasons on defense and was Most Valuable Player (MVP) and team captain as a senior. Carlson was a graduate from Blooming Prairie High School and currently works at Ellis Middle School in Austin.
Nancy (Clemens) Martinz, softball (1981-83)
Martinz was a standout centerfielder and led her team to third place at the state tournament as a freshman. In her sophomore year, her team won the division title, won the regional championship and advanced to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) for a 1-2 record. She played All-Conference both seasons and All-State as a sophomore. Martinz also played point guard for the Lady Blue Devils for two seasons in women’s basketball and her team to fifth place in the state tournament her freshman year then co-division champions and fourth place at state her sophomore season. Nancy went on to play center field at Minnesota State University –Mankato for two seasons. She is a graduate of Owatonna High School and now works for the U.S. Parks Service in Custer, S.D.
Denny Lebarron, tennis (1962-64)
Lebarron led his team to consecutive Minnesota Junior College Conference (MJCC) and Region 13 championships. He qualified as a team for the NJCAA national tournament both seasons. Lebarron played as #1 singles and #1 doubles for ACC. He was runner-up in singles his sophomore year in the regional and lost at the NJCAA Division #1. (There was only one division then.) He won semi-finals in doubles with Bob Jensen. Lebarron is retired and lives in Austin.
Don Miller, basketball (1951-54)
Miller was a point guard standout for three years (The rules allowed for 3 years of eligibility) at Austin Junior College. He was All Conference in 1952-53 and 1953-54 and led his team to SMJCCC championships during his freshman and sophomore years. The New York Yankees drafted Miller in baseball after playing college basketball and playing minor league baseball. Blue Devils Basketball Coach Hal Cuff said he was the best guard he ever had in 15 years of coaching. Miller was a graduate of Austin High School. His induction into the Riverland Athletic Hall of Fame will be awarded posthumously.
Darrell Monson, baseball (1970-72)
Monson was a standout pitcher in baseball. He is the all-time leader in mound victories in the history of baseball at Riverland. His record was 7-2 with 71 strikeouts in 1970-71 and 8-1 with 66 strikeouts his sophomore year. Monson led his team to divisional and state championships his second season. Monson played his junior year at Winona State University, then entered the U.S. Army and continued baseball pitching for the Air Force in Frankfort, Germany. He is a graduate of Glenville High School and currently lives in Winona Minnesota.
Kevin Wilder, football (1974-76)
Wilder was an outstanding wide receiver in football. He holds records for most points in a season and career as well as most touchdowns in a season and career and most catches in a game (11). Wilder twice and led the country in receiving his sophomore year. He was All-Conference, All-State, All-Region his second year. He continued his education at the University of Idaho and graduated in 1979 but did not play football. He is married to Mari and has two children, Cole and Lauren. He is currently working as a pharmaceutical representative for Eli Lilly in Kirkland, Wash.
Riverland Community College is a member of the Minnesota Collegiate Athletic Conference (MCAC) and National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Region XIII. Eligibility requirements are established by the NJCAA and the MCAC. The Riverland athletics program includes men’s baseball, basketball, soccer and women’s volleyball, basketball and softball. Academically, Riverland offers an Associates in Arts degree with a physical education/coaching emphasis and a 9-credit coaching certificate.
Five Riverland students were named to the All-Minnesota Academic Team Celebration in Eagan on March 25. (L to R) Kaylin Wolf, Natasha Spear, Michael Vekich, board of trustees, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, Olena Berezovska, Andrew Howe, Eric Chouinard, Terry Leas, Riverland president; and James McCormick, chancellor, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.
Riverland Community College students Olena Berezovska (Kherson, Ukraine), Eric Chouinard (Brooklyn Center), Andrew Howe (Lakeville), Natasha Spear (Waseca) and Kaylin Wolf (Blooming Prairie) were named to the 2010-2011 All-Minnesota Academic Team in recognition of their academic achievements, leadership accomplishments and service to their college and community. The ceremony, held March 25 in Eagan, honored 45 students from Minnesota’s two-year colleges.
In 1994, state academic teams were introduced as a way to provide scholarships and scholastic recognition to Phi Theta Kappa members while promoting excellence at two-year colleges. Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year colleges, symbolizes excellence in higher education and a commitment to students. The state academic teams are a division of the Academic All-American Team for Community, Technical and Junior Colleges students, an international program sponsored annually by Phi Theta Kappa, USA Today, and the American Association of Community Colleges. Students named to the All-Minnesota Team are not required to be Phi Theta Kappa members.
Future Plans: Pursue a bachelor’s and master’s degree
A native of Kherson, Ukraine, Olena Berezovska is hoping to obtain her education in finance and economics to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree and return to her home country to make an effort to aid its ailing economy.
“I want to make positive contributions and implement changes for better and safer business conditions.” As a student at Riverland Community College, Olena is president of the International Student Club, president of Phi Theta Kappa, member of the Student Senate, found and leader of the Banned Book Club and a volunteer for the Red Cross. Olena is excited about the experiences, skills and knowledge she has acquired as a student in the United States, stating “I now have a variety of skills and knowledge that will benefit my academic and professional life and allow me to contribute to society. My authentic self will continue to meet challenges and opportunities as Iconstantly move toward my goals.”
Future Plans: University of Minnesota Twin Cities
A native of Brooklyn Center, Minn., a Twin Cities suburb of around 30,000 residents, Eric Chouinard chose to head south to obtain his education. He completed an Associate of Arts degree with a business emphasis at Riverland Community College while maintaining a rigorous work schedule. Despite the challenges of balancing work and school, Eric maintained a 4.0 grade point average and is now a student at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. He is studying for a bachelor’s degree in business management and plans to either continue work with his current employer or seek other opportunities in academics or business.
Major: Liberal Arts
Future Plans: University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Andrew Howe hails from Lakeville, Minn., and is earning an associate’s degree in liberal arts from Riverland Community College in Austin, Minn. Andrew plans to transfer to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities after completing his degree, where he says he “hopes to enter the field of ethnoarchaelogy and study Bronze and Viking age Scandinavian religion and folklore.” When he is not studying to find a way to single handedly save the economy, Andrew enjoys reading, bicycling, school, work, and avoiding homework by playing games online.
Major: Kinesiology and Pre-Veterinary Medicine
Future Plans: University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Natasha Spear calls Waseca, Minn., her hometown. She is a kinesiology and pre-veterinarian major who plays guitar and piano and is involved with soccer, volunteering, running, choir, journalism and speech and theater, earning awards for her acting and speaking abilities at both local and national levels. Natasha has a 3.99 grade point average and plans to transfer to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, to earn a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology and, eventually, a doctorate in veterinary medicine. Natasha credits her accomplishments to her internal drive and ambition.
“Hard work and passion are the keys to accomplishment,” Spear said. ” It is about believing in and pursuing the opportunities and letting our ambitions take us on adventures to places where the numbers of lives we touch and the lessons to be learned are endless.”
Future Plans: University of Wisconsin La Crosse
Kaylin is a native of Blooming Prairie, Minn. She is studying theatre with hopes of obtaining both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fine arts. Upon completing her education, her dream is to move to New York City and work on-stage as an actress, or behind the scenes as a costume designer or makeup artist. While at Riverland, Kaylin has demonstrated academic excellence by maintaining a 3.94 grade point average. She is active in Phi Theta Kappa and the Riverland Community College theatre department, acting in nine productions and building sets for five in the last two years. Off-campus, Kaylin is a veteran 4-Her, serving as a member of the Rabbit Project Development Committee, president of Steele County’s 4-H program, a Minnesota State 4-H ambassador, and recipient of 4-H’s highest honor, the Gold Key Award.
Dr. Terry Leas
Another academic year will soon end, and we will celebrate commencement with our 2011 Riverland Community College graduates on May 13. Last August, Riverland began its 70th academic year. This historic milestone has inspired us to take a nostalgic look at past years and kindled a renewed interest in reconnecting with our alumni.
As our state government continues to withdraw financial support for public higher education providers, Riverland’s alumni are more important than ever. A thread in the fabric of Riverland history, each alumnus contributes to our state and nation’s present and future. Riverland’s greatest achievement is the success of its former students. They are the skilled workers who may build our houses, fix our cars, care for our families in the hospital or protect our children. Most stay in our state and become taxpaying citizens who want to give back to the public education system that helped them become skilled workers.
You are Riverland alumnus if you graduated or attended college in Austin, Albert Lea, or Owatonna at Riverland Community College or one of its predecessors. This includes Albert Lea Area Vocational Technical Institute, Albert Lea/Mankato Technical College, Albert Lea Technical College, Albert Lea Technical Institute, Austin Area Vocational School, Austin Community College, Austin Junior College, Austin State Junior College, Austin Technical College, Austin Technical Institute, Minnesota Riverland Technical College, Owatonna Extension Center/Austin State Junior College, Owatonna TTC, and South Central Technical College/Albert Lea.
Riverland also celebrates the financial contributions our alumni have made to the college. While sharing resources is important to the financial well-being of our current students, sharing your stories and successes is equally important. Your successes demonstrate our commitment to teaching and learning, and they become the foundation that encourages us to offer future students the same high-quality public education our alumni received. We invite our alumni to share their stories with us.
Back in the 1940s, Rueben Meland, dean of Austin Junior College, created the first alumni newsletter, “Alumnews.” It quickly became an important communiqué for our students, alumni and faculty by connecting those at home with those who served during WWII.
Our alumni association is now attempting to reconnect our graduates through a new Alumni Newsletter. Whether you graduated last year or have been away for a long time, we want your story. You may have the story that inspires a student to attend or complete college. To help us share your story, contact Marijo Alexander at 507-433-0606 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Riverland’s Alumni Association continues to provide opportunities to reconnect alumni with their alma mater. For example on May 6, the Riverland Community College Alumni Association, Riverland Foundation, and the Riverland Nursing Department are hosting a Nursing Alumni Reunion at the Hormel Historic Home. This event includes great food, live music and dancing, plus a chance to tour Riverland’s world-class Health Science Simulation Lab. Current Riverland nursing students and past graduates of the Practical and Registered Nursing Programs are invited. For more information, contact the Riverland Foundation at 507-433-0630.
(l to r) Steve Bowron, Laurie Cochran, Ellen Kehr, Bobbie Hobbie, Heather Janzig, Nancy Vanderwardt
The Albert Lea Business Women’s Legacy (formerly Albert Lea Business and Professional Women’s -ALBPW) recently donated $40,000 to the Riverland Community College Foundation to sponsor an endowed scholarship that honors the memories of members, Donita King and Bertha Weiks.
Legacy members Ellen Kehr, Nancy Vanderwaerdt, Laurie Cochran, Bobbie Hobbie, and Heather Janzig presented the check to Steve Bowron, dean for institutional advancement, Riverland Community College, and the executive director for the Riverland Community College Foundation on March 9.
King was involved locally with BPW and on the state level. When she died in 1988 she left money to the organization to insure that ALBPW gave no scholarship less than $250.
Weiks, an elementary and special education teacher in area schools, was a member of the local organization for more than 50 years. At 88, she received the Woman of the Year award from ALBPW. She died in 1996 and left money to the organization for scholarships.
Chartered in 1920, the local chapter of BPW addresses the needs of working women within our community. In the 1980s, Albert Lea Business and Professional Women decided that one of their main missions would be to provide scholarships for women.
Endowments are gifts invested by the Foundation. Only the interest income, in accordance with the donors’ wishes, funds a specific purpose or area of greatest need.
“An endowment is a gift that will continually help Riverland students,” Bowron said. “This is a great way to honor two women who believed in the educational opportunities Riverland offers to its students.”
The Riverland Community College Foundation raises, manages, and distributes resources to support, enhance, and promote the educational opportunities Riverland Community College offers the people of the region. Thanks to the generosity of supporters, the Foundation is able to provide scholarship dollars, enhance learning opportunities for students, and assist in supporting projects that enrich lives and the vitality of the region.
Dr. Terry Leas
The national spotlight focused on community colleges recently is not the norm, but it is timely for families and the nation. As the current economic recession drags on and unemployment remains frustratingly high, the issue of jobs tops everyone’s worry list. Economic malaise has also driven an ongoing enrollment surge at the nation’s community colleges—an increase of almost 17% nationally. Riverland’s enrollment grew 11.6 percent from 2009-10, and enrollment of under-represented students rose 27 percent.
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that we must educate our way to recovery, and he, like many business, policy and philanthropic leaders, sees community colleges as the affordable, workable solution to get more people ready for the workplace now and into the future.
Good-paying jobs exist, but employers lack workers with the right skills. A recent study of worker trends over the next eight years found a majority of jobs in high-growth industries will require training beyond high school. Community colleges excel in delivering this kind of education. Many of Riverland’s programs successfully place 100 percent of their graduates in jobs. Average job placement for the last decade has been approximately 86 percent for all Riverland programs.
In October, Dr. Jill Biden, the wife of the vice president and an instructor at a D.C.–area community college, convened the first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges. Joining Dr. Biden in addition to Secretary Duncan were President Obama, Melinda Gates and a who’s who of business, education and philanthropic leaders. They came to examine a challenge the President has given community colleges around the nation: double the number of students completing degrees or certificates within the next decade.
Nationally, community colleges educate almost half of all undergraduates. The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system educates 63 percent of the state’s undergraduates. Community colleges also educate higher proportions of minority, low-income, and adult learners—groups experts say will make up the bulk of our future workforce.
Hard economic times have brought thousands of new students to campuses—deserving and desperate learners who see education as the lifeline to a better future—yet state funding for community colleges continues to decline. Riverland receives about the same state funding as in 2000—$10 million—and the next two years may be lower than 1996 levels, when the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system formed! Two-year colleges are the least resourced of all segments of higher education—receiving just 27% of total local, state, and federal funding.
Unified action is needed to reach the President’s goal. At the federal level, we need more and consistent Pell Grant funding that helps more than 2 million students attend community colleges each year. At the state level, we need Gov. Dayton’s commitment to protect state funding of General Education Aids. The business community can provide the partnerships and innovative thinking that the White House Summit emphasized and for which Riverland Community College is known. As the Completion Commitment signed February 17, 2011 states, “We need every one of us.”
Riverland Community College joined in an unprecedented and unified action, signing a statement of commitment to increase student completion rates by 50 percent over the next decade joining six national organizations representing America’s 1,200 community colleges, their governing boards, their faculty, and their 11.8 million students. Nationally, Riverland became the 34th college to sign.
“The Democracy’s Challenge Call to Action is an extraordinary step forward for the nation’s community colleges,” said Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) Chair Thomas M. Bennett, a trustee at Parkland College, Ill.
“This Call to Action represents the culmination of the community college movement’s renewed commitment to accountability, student success, and completion,” said ACCT President and CEO J. Noah Brown.
The Call to Action has also been signed by the chief executive officers of the American Association of Community Colleges, The Center for Community College Student Engagement, League for Innovation in the Community College, National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development, and Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. These organizations joined forces to represent the voices of community and technical college governing boards, presidents, administrators, faculty members, and students.
The Call to Action expressly commits the partner organizations to student success-oriented actions, including:
- Changing institutional culture from emphasis on access only to emphasis on access and success;
- Engaging in courageous conversations regarding diversity, equity, and excellence reflecting student success and institutional performance;
- Increasing success rates for all students and eliminating the attainment gaps that separate student groups on the basis of race, ethnicity, and family income;
- Acting on facts to make positive changes in the interest of student success and college completion;
- Promoting faculty and staff development focused on evidence-based educational practice; and
- Providing development opportunities for college CEOs, trustees, and future college leaders to build partnerships for student success.
“This call to action aligns perfectly with Riverland’s strategic goals,” said Dr. Terry Leas, Riverland’s college president. “Riverland’s actions and planning are all focused on this preferred future for our students and our college’s academic goals.”
To view Riverland’s Democracy’s Challenge Call to Action, go to www.riverland.edu/CallToAction
Riverland Community College, a member of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system, is a regional comprehensive community college inspiring learning for living through a personalized educational environment. Approximately 4,000 students are served annually through a wide range of credit-based educational opportunities. An additional 5,600 students are annually served in non-credit courses. Facilities are located in Albert Lea, Austin, and Owatonna, Minn. Riverland may be found on the Internet at www.riverland.edu.
The Riverland Community College Farm Business Management (FBM) program and the University of Minnesota Extension collaborate to present the workshop “Farm Transition & Estate Planning: Create Your Farm Legacy” Monday, February 28 at Riverland’s Austin Campus’ West Building, room A-237.
This full-day workshop stresses practical information and strategies to help farm families begin the process of transferring the farm business to the next generation.
Specifically, “Farm Transition & Estate Planning: Create Your Farm Legacy” provides participants a greater understanding of transfer strategies, tax issues related to the transfer process, discusses methods for treatment of heirs in the transfer process, as well as how to develop a written transfer plan. As part of the workshop, participants will complete worksheets related to the application of different transfer strategies and create lists of personal, family, and farm business goals. This written information becomes the basis of the transfer plan.
Estate planning is a crucial part of the transition process. A discussion of subjects like wills and trusts, life insurance, power-of-attorney, long-term health care issues and more will give participants the information necessary to complete the transfer plan.
The workshop is $30 per family if enrolled in Riverland’s FBM program. Other families or businesses pay $60. Space is limited. Registration begins at 9 a.m. The workshop is from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Lunch will be available to purchase at the college. To pre-register for the workshop or for more information contact: Dan Hoffman at 507-421-7167, Gary Thome at 507-438-2019, Dave Marr at 507-438-7076 or Barry Kurtz at 507-438-2126.
The Riverland Farm Business Management program is designed to help organize a farmer’s resources to assist in meeting family and financial goals. Courses explore various topics including: economic principles, farm practices, agricultural science, new developments in the field and decision making skills. Instructors primarily work with clients/students one on one.