Palo Alto recognizes its award-winnning faculty and staff

By Stacey Forester
Pulse Staff Reporter

Palo Alto history Professor Peter Myers. Photo by Stacey Forester.
Palo Alto history Professor Peter Myers. Photo by Stacey Forester.

Palo Alto College’s friendly faculty and staff are recognized for their willingness to help students. Each year, campuses select nominees for the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development and the Piper Professor Award to show their appreciation.

Created in 1978 at the University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Education, the NISOD award is the most coveted award among community and technical college educators and staff. It was created to honor individuals for their dedication and passion for excellence in teaching, learning and leadership.

Adjunct Speech Professor Elizabeth Ginn felt extremely honored to receive a NISOD award for teaching excellence.

“It’s one thing to hear that your students love your class, and it’s another when your peers recognize it,” she said. “The more recognition we can give our adjuncts, the better.”

The ultimate goal is increasing student success. Listed below are the PAC’s 2015 NISOD award winners who will be celebrated for their accomplishments May 23-26 at the Austin Convention Center.

Excellence for Teaching:

  • Suzel Molina, Associate Professor Science and Kinesiology
  • Alison Vasquez, Drama Instructor

Excellence for Service to the College:

  • Virginia Stowitts-Traina, Chair of Social Sciences
  • Dolores Zapata, CE Specialist for the Adult Learning Academy

Teaching Excellence by Adjunct Faculty:

  • Elizabeth Ginn, Adjunct Speech Communication Faculty

Excellence for Staff and Administrators:

  • Antonio Garza, Instructional Skills Specialist
  • Gloria Medrano, Administrative Services Specialist
  • Elizabeth Tanner, VP Academic Success
  • Joseph Coppola, Director of Instructional Professional Development
  • Katherine Beaumont-Doss, Director of Advising

The Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation created the Piper Professor Award in 1958. It recognizes outstanding professors across Texas colleges and universities, both public and private. Selection is made on the basis of nominations; each college and university in the state may submit one nominee annually.

This year’s nominee for Palo Alto is Peter Myers, History professor, who said he is extremely honored and humbled to receive this recognition.

“When you look at the number of people who teach on this campus, so many of them do so many great things. This is a real teaching institution. The competition is great in order to receive an award like this,” said Myers, who has been teaching History and inspiring students at Palo Alto since 1988. “Palo Alto is a wonderful campus to work at. These colleagues are in many ways my family; I know them better than some of my cousins.”

Myers receives many compliments on ratemyprofessors.com. One of his past students wrote, “Mr. Myers is an amazing professor. I put off taking History classes because of a fear of boredom and having to know tons of dates with events. Mr. Myers put a whole new spin on History along with having his very own History book. The class was so easy to maneuver through and understand. The subjects were interesting and inspiring.”

On May 1, 2015, the Piper Foundation will honor ten professors for their dedication to the teaching profession, for their outstanding academic and scholarly achievement. Each Piper Professor will receive a $5,000 honorarium, certificate of merit and a gold pin.