Category Archives: Employee Success

Headshot of Gary Hensler Richland College Dean Named T.A.C.E. Regional Representative

Headshot of Gary HenslerGary Hensler, Richland College dean of continuing education and workforce training, was recently named a regional representative for the Texas Administrators of Continuing Education (TACE) for community/junior colleges.

“I am very excited to have this opportunity to serve in this role for TACE,” said Hensler. “I was elected by my peer representatives in the colleges in the north region.”

As the north region representative, Hensler will serve as the catalyst for information for Collin College, the Dallas County Community College District, Grayson County College, Navarro College, North Central Texas College, Tarrant County College, TSTC – Breckenridge, Vernon College and Weatherford College.

Hensler has worked at Richland College since July 2016. Some of his previous positions include the director of market operations for Strayer University, director of enrollment services at Academic Partnerships, the director of admissions and registrar at Grayson County College and the director of recruitment of ITT Technical Institute.

TACE is Texas’ premier professional association for individuals working in continuing education at Texas community and technical colleges. Its purpose is to promote the development of quality continuing education and workforce programs and the professional development of continuing education professionals. The association works to provide members with information about issues affecting the community/junior colleges and continuing education; to function as a representative agency on legislative and other issues regarding continuing education on behalf of community colleges; to maintain a communication network for the exchange of information and ideas; to support professionalism, integrity and quality continuing education instruction in Texas; and to support appropriate funding of Texas public community college continuing education programs.

For more information on TACE, visit

Richland College Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Success Selected for 2017-2018 Aspen Presidential Fellowship

Zarina BlankenbakerRichland College executive vice president for academic affairs and student success Zarina Blankenbaker, Ph.D., was recently selected for the prestigious Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, a highly selective leadership program aimed at developing a new cadre of outstanding leaders capable of transforming student success at community colleges across the U.S. The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC.

Blankenbaker was one of only 40 fellows selected nationwide for this honor and will embark on a year-long fellowship beginning July 2017. Delivered in collaboration with the Stanford Educational Leadership Initiative and top community college leaders, the program focuses on a new vision of leadership and aims to guide new and aspiring community college presidents to change dramatically student outcomes in several areas: learning, completion while in community college, completion of bachelor’s degrees after transfer, employment and earnings after graduation and equitable access and success for underrepresented minority and low-income students.

“As a community college leader with a personal commitment to providing equity, I am delighted with the opportunity the Aspen Presidential Fellowship will provide to prepare me with the exceptional leadership knowledge, skills and abilities to design the desired, holistic learning experiences necessary for students to complete their educational goals with the creative talent requisite to solve problems of the 21st century,” said Blankenbaker.

The selection criteria for the fellowship included Blankenbaker’s abilities in taking strategic risks, leading strong teams, cultivating partnerships and focusing on results-oriented improvements in student success and access.

According to the American Association of Community Colleges, 365 presidents left their posts during the past year. This rate of turnover is happening while increasing numbers of students—including growing numbers of minority, low-income and first-generation-to-college students—are attending community colleges.

The 2017-2018 Aspen Presidential Fellows hail from 24 states and 38 community colleges. For information, visit

The Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence is funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, College Futures Foundation, ECMC Foundation, Greater Texas Foundation, Joyce Foundation and Kresge Foundation.

Richland College Proclamation for National Police Week

Police officers posing on the Richland College campus

Whereas, The Congress and President of the United States have designated May 15th as Peace Officers’ Memorial Day, and the week in which May 15 falls as National Police Week; and

Whereas, the members of the law enforcement agency of Richland College play an essential role in safeguarding the rights and freedoms of Richland College and the community it serves; and

Whereas, it is important that all citizens know and understand the duties, responsibilities, hazards, and sacrifices of their law enforcement agency, and that members of our law enforcement agency recognize their duty to serve the people by safeguarding life and property, by protecting them against violence and disorder, and by protecting the innocent against deception and the weak against oppression; and

Whereas, the men and women of the law enforcement agency of Richland College unceasingly provide a vital public service;

Now, therefore, I, President of Richland College, call upon all faculty, staff, and students of Richland College, and upon all patriotic civic and educational organizations to observe the week of Sunday, May 15, through Saturday, May 21, 2016, as Police Week with appropriate public and private ceremonies and observances in which all of us may join in honoring law enforcement officers, past and present, who, by their faithful and loyal devotion to their responsibilities, have rendered a dedicated service to their communities and, in doing so, have established for themselves an enviable and enduring reputation for preserving the rights and security of all citizens.

Furthermore, I also call upon all faculty, staff, and students of Richland College to observe this period of Police Officer Memorial Week in honor of those law enforcement officers who through their courageous deeds, have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to their community or have become disabled in the performance of duty, and let us recognize and pay respect to the survivors of our fallen heroes.

In witness thereof, be it resolved affixed with the Seal of Richland College.

Kathryn K. Eggleston, Ph.D.,

Robert Baker, J.D.,
Chief of Police


Richland College featured for adjunct faculty engagement

CCCSE-PTF_Special_ReportPG1Richland College‘s effective practices in engaging adjunct faculty are featured in a report released this week by the Center for Community College Student Engagement.

Richland College is one of nine community colleges profiled for “Contingent Commitments: Bringing Part-Time Faculty Into Focus.” The report explores policies and practices related to part-time or adjunct faculty who teach more than half of the credit students at most colleges.

“Contingent Commitments: Bringing Part-Time Faculty Into Focus” aims to help college leaders work more effectively with part-time faculty so more students have access to the educational experiences and support they need to succeed in college.

Read the full report

Students, faculty honored for achievements
The 2013-14 Richland College Student Wall of Honor recipients, from left: Karen Cuttill, Tsegazeab "TJ" Gebreyohannes, Martha Camarillo and Horacio Velador (Jorge Valderrama not pictured).

The 2013-14 Richland College Student Wall of Honor recipients, from left: Karen Cuttill, Tsegazeab “TJ” Gebreyohannes, Martha Camarillo and Horacio Velador (Jorge Valderrama not pictured).

Richland College recognized outstanding students and teaching practices in a ceremony on April 2. The 2013-14 Student Wall of Honor recipients are Martha Camarillo, Karen Cuttill, Tsegazeab “TJ” Gebreyohannes, Jorge Valderrama and Horacio Velador, who were honored for their outstanding academic achievements, perseverance through adversity and contributions to the community. Current and former students, in both credit and continuing education, are named to the Wall of Honor each spring. Read the recipients’ bios on the Wall of Honor webpage.

The 2013-14 Richland College Student Engagement Awards recipients, from left: Professor Vicki Mayhan,  Professor Gabe Edgar and Dr. Lesley Daspit.

The 2013-14 Richland College Student Engagement Awards recipients, from left: Professor Vicki Mayhan, Professor Gabe Edgar and Dr. Lesley Daspit.

Richland College also honored the following instructors with the 2013-14 Student Engagement Awards: Professor Gabe Edgar for his innovative use of iPhones to ePortfolios with ESOL students; Dr. Lesley Daspit for leading her Anthropology students in a Garbology research project; and Professor Vicki Mayhan for designing an opportunity for her art students to create works for the Network of Community Ministries’ Clinic.

Richland College president served on refugee report review committee

The Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF), in collaboration with the Association for Asian American Studies, released a new, national report, “Invisible Newcomers: Refugees from Burma/Myanmar and Bhutan in the United States,” that gives voice to and provides comprehensive data about the challenges surrounding these refugee populations.

Kathryn K. Eggleston, Richland College’s president, served as a member of the review committee for the “Invisible Newcomers” report. Richland College is a designated Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI).

The need for a report such as “Invisible Newcomers” was identified through continual assessment of APIASF’s scholarship application cycle, said Neil Horikoshi, APIASF president and executive director.

“We discovered that a growing number of our applicants and scholarship recipients are from the Burmese and Bhutanese communities,” Mr. Horikoshi said. “Further investigation into these groups demonstrated the need for access to educational resources as well as additional research to inform policymakers, higher education leaders and other resource providers about the experiences of students.”

The report found that serious challenges for Burmese and Bhutanese refugees include difficulty navigating systems to access long-term funding and support services; limited English proficiency; intergenerational conflict between children/youth and elders; and the inability to communicate in various realms, including educational access and employment resources.

The APIASF identified several policy implications and made recommendations including:

  • The length of time that adult refugees are eligible for English language education and social support services should be extended.
  • Special attention needs to be paid to the educational outcomes of the refugee population who arrive during their teen years. Some 39 percent of Burmese refugees in the United States have dropped out of high school. This population needs programs to help ease their transition. Intensive educational and social support should be provided to teens to help increase high school graduation rates.
  • Job training and job development are critical factors contributing to improved socioeconomic status. Organizations should strategically provide training to refugees that will lead to permanent positions and focus on areas with future job growth.

Richland College works closely with the APIASF. For the 2013–14 academic year , Richland College was one of only nine higher education institutions in the U.S. through which the APIASF offered scholarships to AANAPISI students.

In 2010, Richland College received a five-year AANAPISI grant from the U.S. Department of Education that will total more than $1.4 million in funding. This AANAPISI funding impacts many of Richland College’s underserved students, as 14 percent of the college’s student population is composed of Asian American students with at least half of those demonstrating financial need.

Richland College professor pens book on persuasive writing

Scan the shelves or peruse the website of any bookseller and you’ll find a plethora of published works on business writing. However, you will find very few books on the art of persuasive business writing.

That is what led Royce Murcherson, a professor of technical writing at Richland College, to pen a new book that helps workers in any industry at any level produce concise and compelling communications.

“There were a bazillion books on business writing out there but none were persuasive,” Dr. Murcherson said. “We’re surrounded by so many messages and they are coming so quickly. In business, we need to make a good impression just as quickly. This new model for persuasive writing is needed now more than ever to help us write documents that get results.”

Dr. Murcherson’s book, The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model That Gets Results (Kendall Hunt, 2013), outlines a “common-sense model” for business writing based on the ideas of Stephen Toulmin, a British educator who wrote about and taught methods for developing practical arguments.

Toulmin’s ideas were quite familiar to Dr. Murcherson, who earned a Ph.D. in composition and rhetoric and has taught at Richland College since 1997. In her book, Dr. Murcherson invites readers to think of every business document – whether it is an email, memo, letter, job application or report – as an argument. She outlines Toulmin’s model and provides multiple examples of various forms of business writing.

Dr. Murcherson also gives an overview of business ethics and the importance of tone and professionalism in workplace writing.

“What I teach are puzzle pieces, not a formula,” she said. “You learn how the elements work and adapt them to the kind of communication needed.”

The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing started because Dr. Murcherson knew her students needed to learn these skills but she quickly realized it was more than a college textbook.

She has offered professional development sessions based on her book for faculty and staff members at Richland College and at other institutions in the Dallas County Community College District. Dr. Murcherson’s “Writing to Win” sessions have been received enthusiastically.

“I thought we would do one ‘Writing to Win’ session but it turned into four this fall and another in the spring,” she said.

Dr. Murcherson aims to help people create a successful “narrative” through their excellent business writing.

“On the first day of the job, every day on the job, you will be creating your own narrative, writing your story, creating an image,” she said. “And the quality of your story will depend on how you communicate it. Good persuasive writing will have much to do with this. Make your narrative a bestseller.”

Richland College instructor competes in Cliburn
Alex McDonald performing Liszt's Sonata in B Minor at the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

Alex McDonald performing Liszt's Sonata in B Minor at the 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

Alex McDonald, Richland College adjunct instructor, is competing in the prestigious 14th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition.

Dr. McDonald performing in the preliminary round of the Cliburn competition on May 24.

Dr. McDonald performing in the preliminary round of the Cliburn competition on May 24.

Dr. McDonald is the first Dallas-area native to participate in the competition. He took a break from teaching piano at Richland College to prepare for the Cliburn. Dr. McDonald, who also teaches part-time at Texas Woman’s University, received doctoral and master’s degrees from the Juilliard School and earned a bachelor’s degree from the New England Conservatory of Music.

The Cliburn, held every four years in Fort Worth since 1962, will run from May 24 to June 9 at Fort Worth’s Bass Performance Hall.

From 133 pianists, 30 Cliburn competitors were chosen. During the preliminary round, all competitors perform two 45-minute solo recitals. On May 30, the field will be narrowed to 12. Six competitors will be chosen for the final round which culminates on June 9. Winners and runners-up in the Cliburn receive substantial cash prizes and international fame. First prize is $50,000 and three years of career management.

In the preliminary round, Dr. McDonald plays Friday afternoon and Monday evening. All performances will be streamed live in their entirety and available on-demand at

Faculty members honored for student engagement practices
From left: Ed Luter, Sherry Dean and Clive Siegle at the 2013 Student Engagement Awards.

From left: Ed Luter, Sherry Dean and Clive Siegle at the 2013 Student Engagement Awards.

Richland College recognized faculty members who support and enrich learning cultures, climates and contexts with the annual Student Engagement Award Ceremony on April 24.

The 2012-13 recipients were Sherry Dean and Jennifer Millspaugh, speech communication professors; Ed Luter, English professor; and Clive Siegle, history professor. Below are descriptions of each student engagement practice.

“Meaningful Conversations That Engage, Focus and Encourage”
Sherry Dean & Jennifer Millspaugh
School of Humanities, Fine and Performing Arts

Dr. Dean and Ms. Millspaugh engage their Speech 1311 and 1321 students by having meaningful out-of-class conversations during student-instructor office visits. In Fall 2012 they conducted a pilot of the activity with a goal of determining how a focused personal conversation between student and instructor impacts student success, retention and completion.

The results were extremely encouraging. Based on students’ self-reporting: 91 percent percent were more motivated to complete the course; 92 percent had increased motivation to work harder to make an A; 97 percent were more likely to approach their instructor for conversation or assistance; 86 percent said it was helpful to be reminded/encouraged to file a degree plan; 85 percent indicated that this was the first time a Richland College instructor had invited him/her to meet in her office.

Dr. Dean and Ms. Millspaugh schedule an office visit with each student in their classes. The conversation lasts from 15 to 30 minutes and is a course requirement with a participation grade.  Dr. Dean and Ms. Millspaugh ask for feedback about the student’s experience of the course and encourage students to file a degree plan. Students describe their current academic goals and transfer plans.  In addition, Dr. Dean and Ms. Millspaugh offer targeted help regarding college resources. If a student has not yet filed a degree plan, Dr. Dean and Ms. Millspaugh link the student to a Richland advisor, direct the student to make an appointment with the advisor, and then ask them to report back. Upon completion of the office visit, students complete an online feedback survey about their experience. More than 200 students have participated in the office visits and follow-up survey.

Conversations can take place during any instructor’s office hours throughout the semester. The questions in the conversations are straightforward and include, “Tell me about your experience in the course so far. How do you think you are doing? What has been most helpful? How many hours are you taking this semester? Are you working in addition to taking classes? Have you filed your degree plan yet? What are your transfer plans? What kind of support do you have at home for your studies? What resources are you lacking? Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years? How can I help you be successful this semester?” This practice is a simple and easily replicable, yet effective way to engage students.

Meaningful conversation practice definitely makes a positive difference for student engagement. They report improvements in many areas. Students also provide comments, many of which mirror the feedback from one student who wrote, “I went to see Mike Wright in advising. I now actually know why I’m taking classes! I can now promise you that I will do my best to get an associate degree. I haven’t been this clear on my goal since I was aiming to get my GED. Thank you for finding me the right person to talk to about my degree plan and for helping me with my communication skills.”

This practice promotes student success. A full review of the Speech Pilot survey data with student comments is available as a model for interested instructors.

“Making Thinking Visible: See, Think, Wonder”
Clive Siegle
School of Humanities, Fine and Performing Arts

Dr. Siegle utilizes techniques in the classroom to promote engagement, understanding, and independence for all learners in alignment with Richland’s Quality Enhancement Plan, “Learning to Learn: Developing Learning Power.”  One of these techniques is a simple thinking routine to help students to take ownership of their own learning while enhancing their critical thinking skills.

The routine is called, “See, Think, Wonder.” The first part of the routine is “See.” In this part, Dr. Siegle presents a chosen image to the students in a way that allows them to see only a small portion of the image or object with as little detail as possible.  Then, he asks learners to state what they have noticed. The second part of the routine is “Think.” He asks the learners what they think is going on in the image.  They share their thoughts with their classmates and instructor. The last part of the routine is “Wonder.” At this point, Dr. Siegle asks the learners what they are wondering based upon what they have seen and have been thinking. He repeats the process as he reveals larger segments of the image. Dr. Siegle encourages learners to share their thinking as he reveals more and more of the image.

This technique promotes the idea of making thinking visible, and it allows students to actively participate in the classroom. Any classroom could use this technique. Images could be selected to be appropriate to course content. The images can be historical, as in Dr. Siegle’s classes, or related to any topic for other courses.

Dr. Siegle piloted this technique during fall 2012. Students in his course were surveyed and interviewed during the SACSCOC on-site visit. Dr. Siegle also demonstrated this technique in another professor’s history class. Students in that course stated that they were amazed by the level of participation and about how much they were able to learn about history using this different method of seeing historical moments.

With Dr. Siegle’s Fall 2012 course retention at nearly 100% and his Spring 2013 enrollment at full capacity, the evidence indicates that this alternate thinking technique contributes positively to student success. This initiative has been selected as a pilot for the history department Quality Enhancement Plan.

“Chalk Talk
Ed Luter
School of World Languages, Cultures and Communication

Mr. Luter uses Chalk Talk as a creative, effective practice to promote engagement, understanding and independence for all learners in his English classroom. Chalk Talk is a classroom engagement practice that is a conversation conducted silently on paper. Students consider ideas, questions, or problems by silently responding in writing both to a given prompt and the thoughts of others in the classroom.  They move from one idea to another, formulate questions, and take the time needed to think through the collective information produced.  Students do not have to sign their comments.

Mr. Luter writes a question or a prompt on a large sheet of paper or butcher’s paper and places it on tables around the classroom. He places markers at each table and passes them out to students. The students move around freely in the room responding to the prompts on the various sheets of paper. Mr. Luter then invites students to think about their reactions to the prompt and record their ideas and questions on the paper. He also encourages students to read and add to each other’s responses and build on these responses.

After students have rotated around the room, the papers are posted for all students to read what others have written on their Chalk Talk paper. To process the activity, Mr. Luter asks the students several follow-up questions. “Where did they see common issues and reactions on the papers?  What questions or responses surprised them?” Students debrief the process and answer questions more effectively about the prompts using this method.

In one example, students in Mr. Luter’s course were given quotes from various books that they read throughout the semester. One was a quote from famous poet who the students identified. The chalk talk paper revealed thoughts that the students had about the poem.  Students offered various ideas, interpretations and answers for their own questions about the writer’s approach to the poem. Students processed the poem and reflected on their comments weeks later. This technique allowed all students to actively participate in the classroom.

Chalk Talk can be replicated in other courses and can be used in department meetings to build community. It promotes active, collaborative team building by encouraging all participants to have a more equal voice in the ongoing discussion of ideas.

Using this exercise, students were not only actively engaged, but they were able to make connections and “make meaning” of the poems and writings highlighted in class. Students were able to retain these connections about their class content on examinations and writing assignments. Mr. Luter’s activity has created an atmosphere of student success.

Engineering faculty members recognized by ASME

ASME-award-recipientsBrian Fleming and Roderick Crowder, Richland College engineering professors, have been named recipients of a new award from the North Texas Section of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) for excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. The award will be presented on May 14 in Dallas. In addition to teaching engineering classes at Richland College, Mr. Fleming and Mr. Crowder also organize and conduct Richland’s annual STEM Camp during the summer for middle and high school students. Last year’s STEM Camp earned an award from the ASME and a nomination for the Metroplex Technology Business Council’s 2012 Tech Titan Award.