Category Archives: Employee Success

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.

Richland College students, professors among STEM scholars, faculty fellows
Top row, from left: Fawaz Ahmed Iqbal, Armin Yousefzadeh Khiabani, Khoi Ly and Phuong Nguyen. Bottom row, from left: Quynh Pham, Jonathan Reeder, Duc Tran, Khanh Vo and Yaoxiang Xuan.

Top row, from left: Fawaz Ahmed Iqbal, Armin Yousefzadeh Khiabani, Khoi Ly and Phuong Nguyen. Bottom row, from left: Quynh Pham, Jonathan Reeder, Duc Tran, Khanh Vo and Yaoxiang Xuan.

Nine Richland College students were among the spring 2013 scholars selected by the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) Foundation for participation in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Institute.

Thirty-eight students from the DCCCD’s seven individually accredited colleges were selected this spring for the program which focuses on retaining and encouraging top students who are pursuing STEM-related majors. The program also helps student participants to transfer seamlessly to four-year undergraduate degree programs in their fields. To see the complete list of DCCCD STEM Institute scholars, click here.

Spring 2013 STEM Institute scholars from Richland College and their declared majors and hometowns are:

  • Fawaz Ahmed Iqbal, electrical engineering, Plano
  • Armin Yousefzadeh Khiabani, petroleum engineering, Dallas
  • Khoi Ly, aerospace engineering, Garland
  • Phuong Nguyen, biology, Dallas
  • Quynh Pham, biology, Garland
  • Jonathan Reeder, biology, Dallas
  • Duc Tran, chemistry, Dallas
  • Khanh Vo, pharmaceutics, Garland
  • Yaoxiang Xuan, actuarial science, Plano

Established as a pilot program in 2009, the DCCCD STEM Institute involves a total of 80 students during the 2012-2013 academic year. The institute provides students with a cash stipend, personalized faculty mentoring, assistance in negotiating their transfer to four-year institutions, plus extracurricular research and internship opportunities. Students participate in industry- and career-related seminars throughout the year, as well as an annual STEM summit that has featured internationally renowned speakers such as ocean explorer Fabien Cousteau and astronaut Dr. Mary Ellen Weber.

The program’s numbers exceed state and national averages for student success and completion: a combined 89 percent of last year’s STEM scholars graduated with associate degrees, transferred to four-year institutions or are still enrolled in one of the DCCCD’s individually accredited colleges. Although the institute initially focused on students who were pursuing STEM majors, an expanded focus now includes students who intend to teach subjects in those areas at all levels. Since its inception, the institute has served 343 students.

“The greatest driver of economic development in our community will be the quality and education of our workforce,” says Hunter L. Hunt, who chairs the STEM Initiative for DCCCD’s Campaign for Excellence and who assumes the chair of the Foundation’s board of directors this month. “With more than 700,000 jobs in STEM industries forecast for Texas by 2018, these STEM scholars hold the key to the future success of our region.”

The DCCCD STEM Institute pilot program has been supported by Citi, a U.S. Department of Education congressional appropriation, the Fluor Foundation, the Greater Texas Foundation, the Hillcrest Foundation, Hunt Consolidated, Margaret McDermott, and Hunter and Stephanie Hunt.

STEM scholars must maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average, remain in good academic standing and complete at least 12 college credit hours. Students have transferred to four-year institutions including multiple University of Texas locations, Southern Methodist University, University of North Texas, Texas Tech University, Texas A&M University, Rice University, Texas Woman’s University, Colorado State University, the University of Arkansas, Columbia University and Purdue University.

STEM Citi Faculty Fellows
A major component of the STEM Institute is one-to-one faculty mentoring from outstanding science, engineering and mathematics professors. These professors are chosen through a rigorous selection process to work individually with students, participate in institute activities with them, and connect them with university and industry leaders. Funding for the Citi STEM Faculty Fellows program was secured in great part through the efforts of Debbie Taylor, a DCCCD Foundation board member, who is southwest regional director for community relations at Citi.

The STEM Faculty Fellows Academy, initiated in fall 2012 in partnership with the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity, provides dedicated year-round enrichment for the continued professional and academic development of select mathematics and science faculty members who are teaching at the seven colleges of the DCCCD.

From left: Heather Appleby, Dr. Ricardo Azpiroz, Dr. Gene Garrett, Bryan Gibbs and Dr. Polly Schulle

From left: Heather Appleby, Dr. Ricardo Azpiroz, Dr. Gene Garrett, Bryan Gibbs and Dr. Polly Schulle

Richland College’s Citi STEM Faculty Fellows include the following professors:

  • Heather Appleby, physics
  • Dr. Ricardo Azpiroz, biology and chemistry
  • Dr. Gene Garrett*, chemistry
  • Bryan Gibbs, geology and physics
  • Dr. Polly Schulle, mathematics

* Second-year STEM Citi Faculty Fellow

Richland College professor’s ‘Simpsons’ book examines satire and American culture

Some might be surprised by the focus of Richland College Professor Matthew Henry’s scholarly work on American culture – the animated show “The Simpsons.”

SimpsonsBookWhile the show featuring Bart Simpson and his dysfunctional-but-funny family may not seem an obvious choice for academic examination, Dr. Henry says it’s a mistake to underestimate the significance the show’s satirical commentary on social issues.

“There is this level of wit, political awareness and satire on ‘The Simpsons,’” says Dr. Henry, who teaches courses at Richland College in composition, literature and cultural studies. “There’s a snobbery against television studies in the academic community. It’s still considered a lowbrow art form unlike film studies. Whether it’s film, graphic novels, advertisements or TV shows, my approach to all these art forms is they carry meaning and significance. They carry beliefs and ideologies that circulate in the culture.”

Dr. Henry’s new book, The Simpsons, Satire, and American Culture (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), is the culmination of his studies on the show. Dr. Henry will be a featured guest on KERA 90.1 FM’s “Think” program on Nov. 15 to discuss the book and his insights into “The Simpsons” – America’s longest-running sitcom. The show began its 24th season in September on the Fox network.

In his book, Dr. Henry explores the way creator Matt Groening and the show’s writers employ satirical humor to comment on issues of race and ethnicity, national identity, gender and sexuality, social and economic class, and religion. The show also satirizes the American media, the tradition of the nuclear family sitcom, and even the history of the Fox network.

Dr. Henry’s involvement with “The Simpsons” began when the show debuted in December 1989 – first as a fan and then as a scholar.

His articles on the show have appeared in scholarly publications including Popular Culture Review, Studies in Popular Culture, and The Journal of Popular Culture. His scholarship on “The Simpsons” also is in two book collections: Leaving Springfield: The Simpsons and the Possibility of Oppositional Culture (2004) and Homer Simpson Marches on Washington: Dissent through American Popular Culture (2010).

Joseph J. Foy, editor of Homer Simpson Goes to Washington, says that Dr. Henry’s book weaves together insightful commentary and humorous reflections that will appeal to both scholars and fans of the show.

“Henry masterfully demonstrates how ‘The Simpsons’ continues to shape the cultural landscape of the United States,” Mr. Foy says. “This book reveals how ‘The Simpsons’ is far more than entertainment; it is modern day pamphleteering in the greatest of democratic traditions.”

Satire has an important place in society because it addresses serious issues – but with humor, Dr. Henry says.

“Satire can soften the blow but cause people to think seriously and critically, consider a change while still making them chuckle,” he says. “There was a time in the 1950s and ’60s when satire was on TV but it was clashing with the commercial imperatives of network television. ‘The Simpsons’ kind of opened the door to make it safe to put satire back on TV again.”

Dr. Henry’s scholarly pursuits are not limited to “The Simpsons”; he has published articles on African-American literature and film as well as lesbian identity in film and television. As a Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Henry taught at the University of Potsdam in Germany during the 2010-11 academic year. He was a finalist in 2009 for Richland College’s Excellence in Teaching award for full-time faculty members.

RLC adjunct professor to lead Peace Corp regional office

Richland College adjunct professor, Rob Taylor, 59, was recently hired to manage the Dallas Regional Office of the Peace Corps. His position reports to the Director of Recruiting in Washington DC.

Since 1996, Taylor has served as an adjunct faculty member at Richland College teaching recruiting, human resources and leadership development. He’s also worked as a Sr. Team Lead Partnership Specialist with the US Census Bureau, Manager of Performance and Communications with Foxworth-Galbraith Company, and Regional Director of Performance and Quality with Hilton Hotels Corporation.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps to promote world peace and friendship. The Peace Corps mission has three goals: to help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women; to help promote a better understanding of Americans to those served; and to help promote a better understanding of other peoples to Americans. The Dallas Peace Corps staff is responsible for recruiting in 10 states to obtain volunteers to join the Peace Corps.

Anyone interested in being a volunteer with the Peace Corps can contact the Dallas Regional Office at 214-253-5400 or