Lee College’s Center for Workforce and Community Development Wins First International Award

group photo with award

Pictured left to right: Marketing Consultant Jessica Ard, LERN President William A. Draves, and Vice President of Workforce and Community Development Dr. Angela Oriano.

Lee College’s Center for Workforce and Community Development was recognized on Thu., Nov. 21, at the Learning Resource Network’s Annual Conference (LERN) and received the 2020 LERN International Award for Excellence in Brochure Design.

LERN is the world’s largest association in continuing education and lifelong learning, offering information and consulting expertise to providers of continuing education and customized training. Founded in 1974, the Network serves over 9,000 professionals every year, and has a network of over 4,000 members in 20 countries. LERN serves a variety of institutions including state universities, four-year colleges, private colleges, community colleges, technical colleges, public schools, recreation departments and other lifelong learning association.

Each year LERN acknowledges leaders in the field of lifelong learning who have submitted nominations for recognition through a LERN award. The award process is very competitive and the criteria include: example of best practice, innovation, demonstrated results, and replicability. The information gleaned through the awards process becomes part of LERN’s knowledge base for sharing with other LERN members and helps to advance the field of lifelong learning for all members. Over 120 submissions were entered into the 2020 LERN International Awards including some from Canada and New Zealand. 22 Awards were received at the Award Luncehon and Lee College was one of six to receive the award for Excellence in Brochure Design.

Under the leadership of Vice President of Workforce and Community Development Dr. Angela Oriano and the creative direction and execution of Marketing Consultant Jessica Ard, the CWCD received its first ever international award since the department’s establishment.

“Everything about this brochure speaks to power and success; from the title ‘Force’ to the slogan ‘Start Here. Finish Strong,’” said LERN President William A. Draves. “Reinforcing the message from the front cover, the first pages inside lay it out specifically with an engaging photo of student Ronika Clay, and her success story. Anxiety is a major barrier to success for many students and Lee College hit this head on by introducing students to “Ask Tena” in the brochure’s centerfold. Tena Nightingale, Ms. Tena, is a friendly, accessible resource person there to help students find their way and get answer to their questions. Creating a comfort zone for students is important for all adult learners, especially the millennial generation.”

Dr. Oriano and Mrs. Ard attended the Annual Conference to receive the prestigious award on behalf of the College. “We are honored to be recognized by this outstanding organization for the redesign of our quarterly publication, Force Magazine,” said Dr. Oriano. “The publication consists of course offerings, testimonials, editorials, and personal and professional development opportunities designed to enrich lives—and, like the name of the publication, the CWCD is a strong force in community development serving the diverse population of nontraditional students.”

“The goal of the new publication was never about selling courses,” added Mrs. Ard, “The goal was to sell a better life for our students and their families. By including student success stories, Ask Tena, and ‘get to know us’ staff editorials, we are effectively leading students to the say, ‘I can achieve my dreams and these are the people who can help me.’”

publication layout

Example of Award-winning publication spreads



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International Education Week at Lee College

reception and food fest

A reception and food festival welcomed 65 participants who experienced food from five different countries. Members of the International Education Committee along with Lee College President, Dr. Brown (pictured center) served the food at the even

If you traveled through the main Lee College campus just before Thanksgiving break, you may have noticed the brightly colored flags swaying in the the breeze above the sidewalk between Moler Hall and the Student Center. Those flags represented countries from across the globe in celebration of International Education Week.

Lee College took part in International Education Week November 18-22 with several days of diverse and informative events on campus. Activities included a study abroad student interest meeting, flag contest, documentary screening about internet addiction in China, and a guest speaker on Islam. The week ended with a reception where students had the opportunity to sample traditional foods from around the world.

Dr. Nader Naderi, International Education Coordinator at Lee College says the event was well attended and a great success. Naderi also said the discussion following the internet addiction documentary was especially engaging because many students could relate to the topic.

A joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education, International Education Week celebrates the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide, as well as promotes programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences. The events at Lee College were sponsored by the International Education Program and Lee College Student Activities.

Brandon McClure

Guest speaker, Brandon McClure spoke on Quran, the holy book of Islam.










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A Future Home for Lee College

Photo of Dennis Brown

Dennis Brown, Lee College President

In an article titled “Lee College annexes 36 acres in Mont Belvieu,” appearing in the November 24 edition of the Baytown Sun, the first sentence characterized this action as an “ongoing dispute between the Lee College District and Barbers Hill ISD.”  Just to clarify, there is no dispute regarding Lee College’s need to meet its state mandated requirement that it offer higher educational opportunities to communities served by 17 school systems, which includes Barbers Hill ISD.  Similar to public school districts, the State of Texas has divided up the state into what are known as “service areas.”  The difference between public schools and community colleges is that all of a school district’s service area is also its taxing area.  For public community colleges, only those communities that have voted themselves into the college’s taxing districts are assessed taxes.  Nevertheless, community colleges are required to serve all communities within their service area.  To account for the lack of revenues from students enrolling from areas outside the taxing district, a higher tuition is charged.

The action taken on November 21 by the Lee College Board of Regents is designed to further fulfill its responsibility to serve residents within its state defined service area.  Our service area perfectly matches the projected population growth for this region of Southeast Texas.  That growth from Baytown will be North and East.  This first step positions the College to further annex land and eventually purchase some of that land for building a new Lee College campus. With the Main Campus in Baytown, our McNair Center up on Interstate 10, and the Lee College Education Center in South Liberty County, Mont Belvieu or possibly further North, will be ideal sites for a Lee College presence.  Just as it is not the purview of Lee College to start a K-12 charter school in Mont Belvieu or South of the city, neither is it the purview of Barbers Hill ISD to start a community college in Lee College’s service area.  Of the over 1,100 public school districts in Texas, not one operates a community college.

If you have been following the actions of Barbers Hill ISD over the past three Legislative sessions, 2015, 2017 and 2019, in the first two sessions (2015 and 2017), Barbers Hill had legislation filed that would allow them to operate their own community college.  Since the Legislature created community college service areas, they declined to allow the law to be changed, simply referring back to state approved service areas, and, in our case, that area includes residents served within the boundaries of Barbers Hill ISD.  In the past session, 2019, Barbers Hill took a different approach by partnering with Lone Star College to have legislation passed that would have allowed Lone Star College to encroach on Lee College’s service area.  We were confused about this legislation for three reasons.   First, Lone Star College is so large, has over $200 billion in property value, and is quite a distance from Mont Belvieu, that it did not make sense for them to be interested.  Second, Lone Star College would, by state and regional accreditation requirements, have to operate the campus.  Third, Superintendent Greg Poole noted in the November 24 article, that Lee College “needs to be serious about our community.”  That is exactly what the annexation is all about.

In August, 2019 the Lee College Board of Regents reduced the tax rate by two cents.  It is possible that future tax rate reductions could be approved.  The College’s 23 cent tax rate is quite a bit smaller than Barbers Hill ISDs $1.26 rate.  Also, residents paying taxes to Lee College also pay in-district tuition, which is lower than the out of district tuition paid by non-taxpayers.  As more land is annexed and brought into the Lee College taxing district, residents in these areas will be able to vote for individuals to serve on the Lee College Board of Regents.  This representation will be invaluable as the College continues to develop its presence and its service area North and East of Baytown.  Existing homeowners cannot be brought into the Lee College taxing district without an affirmative vote of the residents.  The property currently being annexed by Lee College is undeveloped land.

Just as Barbers Hill ISD moves its district forward in its state defined service are, so too is Lee College.  There is nothing deceptive about our actions.  Such actions occur in community college districts throughout the state.  These actions are not charades, but real movement in creating a physical Lee College presence in the Mont Belvieu area.  Lee College continues to reach out to Barbers Hill ISD to be a partner in bringing higher education opportunities to the Mont Belvieu area through a physical presence.  We look forward to a productive relationship.


Dr. Dennis Brown                     Mr. Mark Hall
President                                   Chair, Board of Regents
Lee College                                Lee College

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Stress Relief Week Activities!

Monday, Dec. 2 – A popcorn sleigh will distribute treats all across campus as part of Stress Relief Week.

Tuesday, Dec. 3 – Play card games and enjoy free hot cocoa as part of Stress Relief Week. The event takes place 11 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Student Center, with cocoa provided by Student Activities.

Wednesday, Dec. 4 – Enjoy coloring stations and paraffin waxes and facials as part of Stress Relief Week. The event takes place 11 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Student Center, with paraffin waxes and facials provided by the Lee College Cosmetology Department.

Thursday, Dec. 5 – Play with puppies in the Student Center, and watch your pre-exam stress slip away! The event is part of Stress Relief Week and takes place 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., with puppies provided by the City of Baytown Animal Services and Adoption Center. **PLEASE DO NOT BRING YOUR DOG TO CAMPUS.

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Christmas Posada, Dec. 7

Join the Hispanic Education Access and Completion Committee in the gym for a Christmas Posada!

The event takes place December 7, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., in the gymnasium and Parking Lot 3. Celebrate the Christmas Posada with:

  • Toy Drive
  • Bolos
  • Piñata
  • Food

200 Lee Dr.
Baytown, TX 77520

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One bag at a time

Food Pantry representatives

Brenda Garcia (left) and Tatiana Pina are shown distributing food and information about the Lee College Food Pantry.

The Lee College Food Pantry is helping students overcome food insecurities one bag at a time. On Thursday, Nov. 21, they gave away more than 80 bags of food to students to help spread the word about the free resources that are available on campus.

“The holidays can be really hard for students with food insecurities. That’s why we want to make sure everyone knows about your Food Pantry,” said Brenda Garcia, who oversees the Food Pantry for Retention & Transition Services. “If we can help ease that burden, that’s one less thing our students have to worry about so they can focus on their education.”

The red and black reusable tote bags were filled with various food items like cereal, canned soup and peanut butter, all donated by Lee College employees and students. A large part of the food donations came from the Lee College Athletic Department, which donated over 1,000 canned goods and non-perishable food items that were collected during this season’s sporting events.

“We want to make sure and thank everyone for the generous support and donations. Without their help, we couldn’t assist as many students as we do,” said Garcia.

The Food Pantry is open year-round. It is located inside Moler Hall, room 112 at the main campus in Baytown. The hours of operation are Monday – Thursday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.; and Friday, 8 a.m. – 12 p.m.  For more information or if you know a student in need of assistance, contact Brenda Garcia, 281-425-6492, or bgarcia@lee.edu.


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I am thankful for…

This week is Thanksgiving, so we asked a few Lee College faculty and staff members to share what they are thankful for this holiday season. Scroll down to see their responses. Thank you for sharing! We hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday!

Samantha Johnson

“I’m thankful to work in a place where I am surrounded by books and brainy people!”
-Samantha Johnson, Outreach Librarian

Dr. Onimi Wilcox

“For all of these things, I am very thankful: the many blessings in my life, family and loved ones, the opportunity to use my talents each day, the gift of good health, and for life itself.” -Dr. Onimi Wilcox, Dean of Academic Studies

group photo

“I am thankful for God blessing me with such an amazing and supportive family, both at home and at work.” -Pamela Steyn, Accountant

Victoria Marron

“I am thankful for many things but, I guess the main item I am grateful for, especially lately, is just the ability to wake up another day and work in an environment that allows me the ability to help change lives every day.” -Victoria Marron, Director of HSI Initiatives 

Wesley Wells

“During this season of Thanksgiving, I am thankful for an amazing family and community of friends who love without judgment and encourages us to better each and everyday.” – Wesley Wells, Education Center Manager
Lee College Education Center—South Liberty County

group photo

“I am thankful for my family and the adventures we have shared. I am also thankful to have a job that provides daily opportunities to learn, explore, and grow with students and colleagues.” -Georgeann Ward, Instructor and Honors Program Coordinator

Paula Lee

“I am extremely thankful for my family and extended families and all the love, laughter and memories that we share and create. I am also thankful for this country.” -Paula Lee, LMS System Administrator

fall leaves

“I am thankful for a loving God who supplies my every need.” -Troy Oehler, Programmer/Analyst

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Looking to the Future

A message from Dr. Dennis Brown

Photo of Dennis Brown

Dennis Brown, Lee College President

It was clearly evident shortly after my arrival at Lee College in February, 2012 that the Baytown, Highlands and surrounding communities had a special relationship with the College.  Every day since that first realization, I have been reminded of just “how special” that relationship is as it continues to grow.  It has been one of those memorable experiences that captivated my attention and drew me closer to the College and the communities.  This connection will have a lasting impression on me and Darlene.

As I look to the future for Lee College, I see many exciting opportunities.  As you may be aware, our students are supporting an $11 million revenue bond to address a number of important infrastructure needs throughout the Main Campus.  Most of that work should be complete by the Summer of 2020.  On the horizon will be a request to support a General Obligation (GO) Bond.  The College is currently looking at adding several new instructional programs, as well as continuing our support of business and industry in our region through contract training opportunities.  Of course, considering that some buildings on the Main Campus were constructed in the early 1950s, there will be ongoing maintenance requirements that will require the support of our generous taxpayers.

To guide the College and Board of Regents, a Citizens Bond Advisory Committee (CBAC) continues to meet.  This Committee, made up of area citizens and industry representatives, along with College staff, has been instrumental in advising the College on critical projects that need to be undertaken, the potential amount of a General Obligation Bond request, and the timing for holding an election to secure voter approval to fund these projects.  Serving on the Committee from outside of Lee College are the following: Bo Cox, representing the Baytown Chamber; Gary Englert, Community Bank of Texas; Derek Haywood, Chevron Philips; Bryan Netherly, ExxonMobil; Chris Olson, Covestro; Dr. Anthony Price, Goose Creek CISD; David Roberts, Enterprise Products; BJ Simon, Baytown and West Chambers County Economic Development Foundation; Mike Wilson, Texas First Bank; and Nick Woolery, City of Baytown.  Also, on the Committee is Stephen Dorman from Sledge Engineering, the firm that prepared the Board approved Strategic Facilities Plan. Lee College employees serving on the Committee include Sandy Basquez, Layton Childress, Annette Ferguson, Karen Guthmiller, Mark Jaime, Victoria Marron, Dr. Angela Oriano, Terry Roye and Dr. Veronique Tran.

The CBAC will make recommendations to the Board’s Building Committee, which is chaired by Regent Gilbert Santana.  In turn, the Building Committee will recommend which projects are needed, the amount of the bond, and when to hold the GO bond election.  It has been a pleasure to work with members of the CBAC.  They have been actively engaged in the discussions related to the future of Lee College’s facilities.

In Looking to the Future, Dr. Lynda Villanueva, Lee College’s incoming President (effective January 6, 2020) and I have agreed to write a joint article for the Baytown Sun.  My part of the article will take a look at my time as President from 2012 through 2019.  I am anxious to get started on writing the article as there are so many wonderful experiences to talk about.  Dr. Villanueva’s section of the article will focus on her vision for the future of Lee College.    I believe our joint article will be informative, interesting and inspiring.  Be on the look out for it in the near future.

Dr. Dennis Brown

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Leading Quality Matters

image of two instructors by a screen.

Mrs. Channell Cook (left) and Dr. Laura Lane-Worley are pictured following their presentation at Quality Matters.

Dr. Laura Lane-Worley and Mrs. Channell Cook presented at the Quality Matters Connect Conference: 11th Annual Conference on Quality Assurance in Online Learning on October 28, 2019 in Grapevine, Texas. The presentation “Building Excellence: A Community of Online Teaching and Learning where Quality Matters” engaged learners in interactive activities related to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and Faculty Professional Development planning based on Lee College’s cohort model of faculty engagement in designated Quality Matters sessions.

Reviews from participants indicated, “Excellent presentation and very interactive.  They had a great story to tell with useful tips and ideas along the way.  Did a very nice job of engaging the audience and promoting audience participation!”

Lee College is considered a leader in the Texas Consortium of Quality Matters based on the number of faculty and administrators who have completed the Quality Matters Teaching Online Certification (QM – TOC).

To date 45 full-time teaching faculty, two counselors, a librarian, a completion coach, an instructional designer, and a grant director have completed the QM – TOC. Currently, 32 teaching faculty, a counselor, a librarian, the Deans, and two instructional administrators are participating in the fourth cohort of the Quality Matters designated Teaching Online Certification sessions. While the first three cohorts completing the QM-TOC were funded through the U.S. Department of Education’s FIPSE grant, this year’s cohort is funded through the U.S. Department of Education’s Title V and Hispanic Serving Institution STEM grants along with Lee College’s Distance Education Learning Technology Fee. For more information regarding Quality Matters, contact Channell Cook (ccook@lee.edu) or Laura Lane-Worley (llaneworley@lee.edu).

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Lessons come alive at honors student field trip

group photo

The Human Condition honors students, along with co-instructors Georgeann Ward and Jerry Hamby, are pictured at Scott Bay Overlook at the Baytown Nature Center

Last Friday, students from the team-taught class, the Human Condition, experienced an all-day field trip to nature sites within 20 miles of Baytown. Led by co-instructors of the class, Georgeann Ward and Jerry Hamby, the group walked through a restored prairie at the San Jacinto Battleground, ate lunch at Juan Seguin Historic Park (on the Houston Ship Channel), and hiked through a restored wetland area in the Baytown Nature Center.

“These locations figure prominently in two short stories we read in the class, and visiting the sites brought those places to life in ways that merely reading about them would not have done,” said Hamby.

The group’s trip to the Baytown Nature Center was enhanced by the expertise of Crissy Butcher, a former Lee College student who is now Naturalist for the Nature Center. In addition to providing historical background on the park, Butcher talked about the various stages of wetland restoration work and the positive impact on wildlife.

Georgeann Ward and Emily Blumentritt walking on a path.

Emily Blumentritt (left) and Georgeann Ward (right) at the Baytown Nature Center.

One of the highlights of their adventure was meeting up with Emily Blumentritt, a former Lee College honors student who is now studying wildlife biology at TSU.

“Dare to question” is the mantra of the Human Condition, a seminar-style, six-hour, combined English and Humanities course at Lee College. By analyzing works of fiction, art, drama, film, and architecture through various philosophical “lenses,” students learn to think critically about themselves and the world around them.

Click here for more information about the Lee College Honors Program: http://www.lee.edu/honors/


Students next to the waterfront.

Students examining trash washed ashore at the Baytown Nature Center.





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