Make ceramic bowls for the Empty Bowls Houston fundraiser March 23

This event is open to the public. It will be held March 23 at the Lee College Ceramics Department, Room W26/28 of the McNulty-Haddick Building, near the intersection of Decker Drive and Texas Avenue. Clay and wheels will be provided. Firing and glazing will be completed by the Lee College Ceramics Department. All bowls will be donated to the Empty Bowls Houston event set for May 18 at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.

For more information, contact Jennifer Herzberg at 281.425.6484 or

About Empty Bowls Houston
Empty Bowls is an international effort to fight hunger, implemented in Houston to benefit the Houston Food Bank. The unique lunch fundraiser — held Saturday, May 18th, 2019 — is a collaboration between Houston area ceramists, wood-turners and artists working in all media and the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft.
For a minimum $25 donation, attendees receive a simple lunch of soup provided by Sweet Tomatoes and bread provided by Slow Dough, and then select a bowl from more than 1,000 unique, hand-crafted bowls donated by Houston area ceramists and craft artists. The empty bowls serve as a reminder of all the empty bowls in our community and the world. There are also larger bowls available at higher prices. The event is being held at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, 4848 Main Street. For more information, tickets or to donate a bowl, visit

About the Houston Food Bank
The Houston Food Bank is a solution to hunger in times of need. America’s largest and nationally recognized as Feeding America’s Food Bank of the Year, the Food Bank distributes 74 million nutritious meals through its network of 600 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other hunger-relief charities in southeast Texas, feeding 800,000 individuals annually. Fresh produce, meat and non-perishables are distributed from the warehouse at 535 Portwall, and meals for kids are prepared and distributed from Keegan Center, a 15,000-square-foot industrial kitchen. Additional community services include nutrition education, school-based programs, food stamp applications and hands-on job training. Red Barrels offer a convenient way for grocery shoppers to donate non-perishables for their neighbors in need. The Houston Food Bank, founded in 1982, is a certified member of Feeding America, the nation’s food bank network, with a four-star rating from Charity Navigator. Website:; Facebook:; Twitter: @HoustonFoodBank; Youtube Channel:

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Great Plains Honors Council Recognizes Outstanding Lee College Honors Students

IMPACT Early College High School senior and Lee College Honors Program graduate Maria Gelves has won the prestigious Dennis Boe Award for a paper she wrote for the Lee College honors course, The Human Condition, taught by Jerry Hamby and Dr. Georgeann Ward. A Marxist critique of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Gelves’ paper is titled “Manifesting a ‘Biological Destiny’: Handmaids as ‘Sacred’ Instruments of Production in Gilead’s Industrial Theocracy.”

The Boe Award is determined by the Great Plains Honors Council in a highly competitive, blind judging of outstanding scholarly writing from collegiate honors programs in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas.

“Students learn so much from revising their work for competition and adapting their ideas for live audiences. Academic conferences and competitions like the Boe Award raise the stakes for student work and help them achieve clarity and a strong sense of purpose with their ideas,” Dr. Ward explained.

Because Gelves completed her Associate Degree in December, she entered the Boe competition for students who had earned 60+ hours of college credit, making her competition quite advanced.

In addition to winning a cash award and a plaque, Gelves will present her paper in a special session at the Great Plains Honors Council Conference at the University of Texas at Tyler in April.

Joining Gelves at the Great Plains Conference, several other Honors Program students will present papers that they wrote for the Human Condition: Marleah Downes, Dinah Lemonier, Amy Waltz-Reasonover, Ryan Lara, Noe Sanchez and Lindsey Sanford. Lara, Sanchez, and Sanford are all, like Gelves, IMPACT ECHS students.

Human Condition instructor Jerry Hamby added, “Maria is one of those students who demonstrate ever more sophisticated levels of intellectual curiosity, pushing themselves with every new assignment. She has a natural talent for writing, but, more importantly, she knows how to work for her success. Earning the Boe Award is the payoff.”

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Women’s History Month underway

Lee College kicked off its Women’s History Month observance before Spring Break to enthusiastic response at an event in the Rundell Hall Conference Center.

The next Women’s History Month event will be a roundtable discussion titled Learning from #metoo at 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 19 in the Rundell Hall Conference Center. It will be facilitated by The Bridge Over Troubled Waters.

The discussion will focus on patterns of behavior for healthy relationships and the impact of #metoo. Both men and women are encouraged to attend. One $500 book scholarship will be awarded.

The final college event for Women’s History Month is a reception and gallery talk with Jennifer McClish, an artist whose works are on display in the Performing Arts Center Art Gallery. That event is at 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 26 in the gallery lobby area.

Above: Jan Herzberg, Maggie Barclay, Elena Poirot, Francisca Castillo, Donna Kohlmann, Garrett Broussard, Dr. Georgeann Ward, Dr. Onimi Wilcox and Marian Stein show off their custom-designed shirts made for Women’s History Month by art instructor Elena Poirot and her daughter.

Right: Scholarship will be given at each of the three Women’s History Month events in March. Dr. Onimi Wilcox is pictured with student Itzel Nunez, who received a $550 book scholarship at the kickoff event.

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Lane-Worley named research fellow

Dr. Laura Lane-Worley, a member of the Lee College Sociology and Social Work faculty, has been named a Texas Success Center Community College Research Fellow, according to an announcement by Dr. Cynthia Ferrell, Vice President of the Texas SuccessCenter of the Texas Association of Community Colleges.

Lane-Worley will work with the Success Center and a Knowledge Development Steering Committee mentor to define research questions, methodology and planned deliverables.

In her role as distance education coordinator, she leads the Distance Education Committee in developing guidelines and processes for development and peer evaluation of online and hybrid courses. She leads the effort to improve accessibility of online course content and coordinates faculty professional development in areas related to distance education.

Lane-Worley earned a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Phoenix, a master’s degree in Education – Instructional Technology from American Intercontinental University Online, a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Houston, and a baccalaureate degree in Sociology from the University of St. Thomas. She is a Licensed Master Social Worker.

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Students teaching students

Sterling High School juniors Yasmeen Washington and Krislynn Salazar learn about the negative effects of marijuana from Lee College nursing students Leonel Aramburo Jr. and Ashlyn Scheller.

Sterling High School students share the experience of child delivery in the Lee College simulation lab.

Sterling High School teacher Paula Schmidt (back to camera) shows some of her students the simulation lab in the Lee College nursing building, where full-size, equipped hospital rooms containing lifelike mannequins give students the opportunity to practice their skills in a realistic environment.

Lee College nursing students Jennifer Hernandez and Mike Garza share sun safety information with Sterling High School juniors Jose Marquez, Canaan Hanson and Carol Davis.

Lee College nursing students polished their one-on-one teaching skills recently as they shared their knowledge with students from the Ross S. Sterling High School Health Science Academy.

Janice Rogers, a member of the Lee College nursing faculty, said, “They asked us to provide educational sources and references to topics and issues that affect teenagers. We have anything from good eating to handwashing to vaping to sun protection to car safety to suicide and the effects that marijuana has on the body—negative effects.”

The learning for the day went beyond just the information high school students gained about the specific topics being addressed.

The high school students in the Health Science Academy are those who want to pursue health-related careers—some plan to become nurses and others want to be doctors or enter one of the many other professions in the growing career field.

For them, it was a chance to see the next step in their own education, whether they attend Lee College or another college or university.

For the Lee College students, it was a chance to practice the kind of teaching skills that nurses experience in their work.

“In nursing we do a lot of teaching,” Rogers said. “They had to develop a pre-test and a post-test. They have to evaluate their own learning.

“It helps them to be a more well-rounded nurse since they had to learn how to teach and evaluate and present.”

In fact, the teacher who was with the Sterling High School students gained some of her teaching skills right at Lee College.

Paula Schmidt, an instructor in the Health Science Academy, came through the Lee College nursing program before going on to get her bachelor’s degree. She has also taught at the college.

“My students are just looking at the healthcare profession and what do they want to do,” she said. At the event, “They are actually getting to look at things that at school, at the college level, that they would be doing.”

In addition to the interactive education displays, the high school students also got a tour of some of the Lee College simulation rooms—full scale hospital rooms where students can practice their skills on mannequins especially designed for teaching medical treatments.

As a particular highlight, a few of the students delivered a “baby,” in the maternity simulation room as the others watched the process. Even though both mother and child were plastic simulations, the students were then able to critique the delivery and learn more than a textbook or video could provide.

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From the President: The Life of a Regent

Photo of Dennis Brown

Dennis Brown, Lee College president

Lee College’s governing board, known as the Board of Regents, is comprised of nine members elected from the communities within the College’s taxing district.  Every two years, three Board positions are up for election.  The Regents serve six-year terms.  They do not receive any remuneration for their service.  Their primary role is to select and evaluate the President and annually approve the operating budget and tax rate.  They are required by the State of Texas to receive training regarding their roles as board members.  At Lee College, the Regents meet a minimum of once a month, and at times they will have additional meetings.  This is especially true when the Board is reviewing and helping to formulate the institution’s budget.  This month, March, is particularly busy as the Board is involved in several key activities related to oversight of the College, to include the evaluation of the President, an initial fiscal 2020 budget workshop, a workshop to update the College’s Strategic Plan, Vision 2022, a discussion of the draft 10-year Strategic Facilities Plan, and finally the regular monthly Board meeting.  Of course, not all months are this busy, but March just happens to be so.

It is a pleasure working with the nine member Board of Regents:  Pete Alfaro, Chairman, Mark Hall, Vice Chairman, Judy Jirrels, Secretary, Weston Cotten, Assistant Secretary, and members, Dr. Keith Coburn, Susan Moore-Fontenot, Gina Guillory, Mark Himsel and Gilbert Santana.  These hard working volunteers care deeply about Lee College and spend many hours providing guidance to me and the employees to ensure that this College continues to operate at the highest level and students achieve the successes they strive for.  I would like to personally thank each one of them for their support during my tenure as President.

May, 2019 normally would have seen an election of three Board members.  However, since we only had three people submit their paperwork to run, the Board cancelled the election and those three individuals now will serve six year terms as Regents.  Pete Alfaro and Susan Moore-Fontenot, current Regents, will continue to serve.  The College’s newest Regent is Daryl Fontenot.  Mr. Fontenot will be sworn in at the May Board meeting.  He is well known in our community as he serves on a number of Boards and organizations, such as Rotary and United Way.  Mr. Fontenot will be a great asset to Lee College and the Board.

Dr. Keith Coburn, a longtime member of the Board, has chosen not to continue as a Regent; however, he has left an indelible mark as a student advocate and consensus builder.  He has been a highly effective Regent, using his wisdom and steady personality to keep all of us focused on the important work we are doing on behalf of students.  He will be missed on the Board.

As my retirement date approaches, January 31, 2020, the Board has begun the selection process for Lee College’ new President.  Now beginning my eighth year as President, I am looking forward to working with the Board of Regents, faculty and staff on the many exciting initiatives under way at Lee College.  Though I still have 11 months as President, my enthusiasm and drive to help our students achieve their goals remains high.  I look forward to working with the new President to ensure a smooth transition. These are exciting times at Lee College. Get on board and connect yourself to the College.  It will be a ride of a lifetime.

Dr. Dennis Brown


Lee College

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Report from Board of Regents meeting Feb. 28

All agenda items presented at the Feb. 28 Lee College Board of Regents meeting passed.

Actions taken by the board included:

  • Hiring Lisa Templer as internal auditor
  • Hiring Scott Bennett as executive director of enrollment services and registrar
  • Hiring Syed Ullah as information security compliance analyst
  • Purchasing about $535,106 worth of computers and related equipment
  • Approving a five-year contract to purchase the Blackboard cloud service and related services
  • Approving a lease with Boterra Bay Apartments to house the Lee College volleyball players
  • Approving naming the newly renovated writing center the “Gil and Maudene Chambers Writing and Communications Center
  • Approved continuing to contract with Omar S. Lopez for evaluator services for the First in the World Grant
  • Approved amending the bookstore agreement with Follett, reducing the commission paid to the college and eliminating a guaranteed commission clause
  • Approved engaging Thompson & Horton LLP to continue providing legal services to the college
  • Designated competitive sealed proposals as the construction delivery method for the proposed 2018 Revenue Bond projects
  • Selected Dr. William Holda as the lead consultant from the Association of Community College Trustees for the presidential search. He was chosen from among three persons recommended by ACCT for consideration.


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Lee College earns new honor for excellence in student success

Achieving the Dream logoAchieving the Dream Awards “Leader College of Distinction”

Achieving the Dream announced that Lee College has earned Leader College of Distinction status for achieving higher student outcomes and narrowing equity gaps.

“The metrics ATD established for Leader College of Distinction are meant to encourage colleges to sustain aggressive efforts that result in far greater student success and equity,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “The honor recognizes network colleges that have stayed focused on the change process and seen real improvements in student achievement across the institution.”

ATD created the Leader College of Distinction award in 2018.

Leader College of Distinction showed improvement on three student outcome metrics, including at least one lagging indicator such as completion. In addition, they showed narrower performance discrepancies in at least two metrics between disaggregated groups, such as gender, race/ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. The metrics are: (a) completion of gateway math and/or English in Year 1, (b) persistence from Year 1 to Year 2 (fall-to-fall retention), (c) courses attempted/completed with a C- or higher grade within one year of initial enrollment; (d) completion of a certificate or degree within four years of initial enrollment; and ( e ) transfer to a four-year institution and achievement of a baccalaureate degree within six years of initial enrollment.

Leader Colleges of Distinction will have their own identity as part of the ATD Network, including a new logo. Leader Colleges of Distinction also will receive priority to participate in ATD’s innovation initiatives. They will be asked to present and facilitate more sessions at ATD events and institutes and asked to serve as mentor colleges.

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From the president: College update Feb. 23, 2019

Photo of Dennis Brown

Dennis Brown, Lee College president

AACC Faculty Innovation Award Finalist

Huntsville full-time Faculty Member and Division Chair, Paul Allen, has been recognized as a finalist for the AACC Faculty Innovation Excellence Award. This is a national award given annually by the American Association of Community Colleges.  We are extremely proud of Paul, and wish him well as he competes against two other finalists for the national award, which will be announced at the annual AACC Conference in Orlando on April 15.  Paul’s innovative work with students and faculty at Lee College’s Huntsville Center captured the attention of the judges reviewing all nominees. When you consider the severe limitations placed on faculty and students in a prison environment, you can imagine how necessary innovative instructional approaches are to ensuring teaching effectiveness and student learning.  Congratulations Paul.  Special thanks to Dr. Veronique Tran and Donna Zuniga for preparing Paul’s nomination portfolio. This award follows Paul’s selection as the 2019 Rouche Excellence Award Winner. Paul will receive this award in New York City at the Innovations Conference next week.  Double Kudos to Paul Allen.

Leader College of Distinction

 At the 2019 Achieving the Dream Conference in Long Beach, California, earlier this week, Lee College was one of 11 colleges in the nation to receive the designation of Leader College of Distinction.  This new national designation reflects Lee College’s outstanding work in achieving higher student outcomes and narrowing the equity gap. For more information on this award and to read a description of Lee College achievements, click on the attachment to this article.


 The college continues to meet its current financial obligations for fiscal year 2019. Year-to-date net revenues over expenses are projected to be $3.7 million as of the end of December 2019, not including the Board Designated surplus of 2.6 million. The surplus can be attributed to stronger than expected fall tuition collections, an increase in revenue in lieu of taxes, and savings in personnel costs. The total revenues collected Year-to-Date are approximately $2.3 million dollars over what was collected during the same period in 2018, while operating expenses for the same period of 2019 were down by $750,000 dollars as compared to the same time period in 2018. Our cash position continues to strengthen. The estimated cash balance at the end of Fiscal year 2019 is $10 million dollars. Attached, for your information, you will find a PowerPoint and financial report presented to the Board of Regents by Annette Ferguson, the College’s Chief Financial Officer, and Julie Lee, the College’s Controller, at their January meeting.

Strategic Plan

Lee College’s Strategic Plan, Vision 2022, will be updated this spring. The Board of Regents will hold a workshop on March 19 to provide input on the Plan. Faculty, staff and students will also be invited to provide input on the updated Plan. Each year the College’s Five-Year Strategic Plan is reviewed and updated to ensure that Institutional Goals and Cabinet Area Priorities are consistent with data produced for the College’s Student Success Scorecard.  More information on your involvement with this update will be made available shortly.

Black History Month

 There have been many great activities in celebration of Black History Month.  The final events include Showtime at the Gazebo on February 26 and the screening of Moonlight on Feb. 27. Check the Lee College calendar for details.

Theophilus North

 March 1, 2 and 3 are your final opportunities to catch the Lee College Drama Department Production of Theophilus North in the Black Box Theater inside the Performing Arts Center. Check the Lee College Calendar for details.

 Women’s History Month

Lee College celebration of Women’s History Month kicks off on Wednesday, March 6.  Keep your eyes open for scheduled events.

 Second Chance Pell

The Second Chance Pell Program, which offers Pell grants to incarcerated students, has been renewed for a fourth year. This is great news for our Huntsville Center Prison Education Program.

Dual Credit Invitational Dinner

The second annual Dual Credit Invitational Dinner was held on Jan. 31 at the Dayton Community Center, in partnership with Anahuac ISD, Dayton ISD, Hardin ISD, Hulls-Daisetta ISD and Liberty ISD. Over 400 high school students and parent attended this event to learn about college courses and programs of study offered at the Lee College Education Center in South Liberty County.

Debate Team

Lee College’s Debate Team continues to win awards on the IPDA Debate Circuit.  Congratulation to all student competitors and Debate Coach Joe Ganakos.

Texas Model United Nations

On February 1, Lee College hosted the 2019 Texas Model United Nations. Eighteen Lee College students participated, under the direction of Model United Nations Advisor, Dr. Portia Hopkins. Congratulations to all involved.

 President’s Advisory Council

The President’s Advisory Council continues to meet weekly. I recently sent out to all employees’ information on submitting requests for funding for projects to be undertaken during the 2019-20 budget year. Funding for selected projects will be awarded by the Infrastructure and Facilities, Instructional Programing and Technology Standing Committees. Check the email for the process to submit a request and the due date.

 Revenue Bond

Work will begin soon on the renovations to the Science Building. Following approval of the procurement method by the Board of Regents on Feb. 28, the remaining projects will be advertised. Winning bidders will be taken to the March 28 Board meeting for approval by the Regents. Work on these other projects will begin shortly thereafter.

That is it for this Update!

 Leader College of Distinction 22319

Dec 2018 Board Financial Packet

Lee College Board Report 1-24-2018






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Lee College in DC

Photo of Dennis Brown

Dennis Brown, Lee College president

Each February, the Association of Community College Trustees and the American Association of Community Colleges hold a National Legislative Summit in Washington, DC.  This year’s Summit was held February 10-13.  Typically the Summit includes workshops focused on national legislative issues of interest to community colleges, guest speakers and visits to House and Senate legislators at their Capitol offices.  I was invited to serve on two panels and attend a meeting called by the United States Department of Education.  I was honored to be asked to participate.  Joining me at the Summit was Donna Zuniga, Lee College Dean of the Huntsville Center.

The first panel focused on the United States Department of Education’s Second Chance Pell Program. Joining me on the panel was a president from a community college in New Jersey and a president from a community college in the State of Washington, along with a representative from the Vera Institute (a non-profit focusing on improving the criminal justice system).  Now in its third year, the Second Chance Pell Program allows eligible inmates to access federal Pell grants to help pay for their college tuition, fees and books.  We just learned that Second Chance Pell has been approved for a fourth year.  This is great news for our students.

For the second panel, I was honored to join Texas Senator John Cornyn, where we discussed several matters of interest to community colleges, including the Second Chance Pell Grant.  Senator Cornyn was very cordial and very engaged in our discussion regarding community colleges.  He has visited a number of Texas community colleges, as well as inmate education programs. He asked about additional sources of funding for student tuition and fees, to which I responded that companies who employ Lee College graduates upon release on parole have stepped forward and supported inmate tuition and fees in the six-figure range.

The meeting with the United States Department of Education regarding the Second Chance Pell was an opportunity to discuss what was working with the program and what might need it be tweaked.  It was a good meeting, and hopefully will result in some changes that will improve the processing of inmate financial aid applications and required documentation. A small number of colleges were invited to this meeting, which included Lee College. Sixty-seven institutions of higher education are a part of the Second Chance Pell Program nationally.  When Lee College was selected to participate three years ago, we received the second highest number of awards that could be given out of the 67 college/universities. That translates into over a 1,000 students awards that could be given.  Only Jackson College in Michigan had more awards than Lee College.

So, by the numbers, why support inmate education.  First, inmates in training programs have better behavior, as failure to act appropriately would result in their being removed from the program.  Second, since Lee College offers certificate and associate degrees in technical fields, graduates have a marketable skill upon release on probation.  More and more employers are hiring ex-offenders and finding them to be excellent employees.  They may have been in prison; however, many of them are good students and quite talented. Lee College offers training programs in the following areas: Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration, Automotive Mechanics, Business Management, Cabinet Making, Culinary Arts, Horticulture, Microcomputer Applications, Commercial Truck and Bus Operator and Welding. Third, 50 percent of the inmates released on parole with no additional education than when they entered prison return to prison; whereas, less than 10 percent of inmates released on parole with a certificate or degree in a marketable field return to prison.  So the question is, where would our dollars be best spent, housing, feeding and guarding a prisoner or having them be a gainfully employed law abiding tax paying citizen.  For me, the answer is simple.  The State of Texas also offers loans to students to pay for tuition. The student is required, as a condition of parole, to repay the loan or they violate their condition of parole and return to prison.  As you can imagine, in contrast to the high national student loan default rate, very fee inmates default on their loan repayments.

Lee College has served the Texas Department of Criminal Justice inmates with training programs since 1966.  At each year’s graduation it is so amazing to see these student’s accomplishments, and their family’s reactions to the inmate’s success.  For some, this is the first good thing that families have had to celebrate about their inmate in a very long time.  These are truly life-changing experiences…one student at a time.

Dr. Dennis Brown


Lee College

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