FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 18, 2007
College, President to Receive National Honor
Already recognized throughout the state for staff development excellence, College of the Canyons announced this week that its professional development program and Superintendent-President Dr. Dianne Van Hook will be honored by the National Council for Staff, Program and Organizational Development (NCSPOD), for determined efforts in the advancement of employees.
The NCSPOD was formed in 1977 through the vision of community college faculty, staff and program development practitioners across the country -- who shared a mutual need for developing industry knowledge and skills while sharing information and networking within the field.
The group's annual international conference, which features the discussion of practical approaches to common problems in the field, will be held this year in Buffalo/Niagra, New York, October 10 to 13. Its awards ceremony, the highlight of the conference, will honor both the college and Van Hook, who will be presented the annual College President/Chancellor's Award in recognition of her outstanding leadership in support of professional development programs at College of the Canyons and throughout the state.
"I am so thrilled to be honored with this award," said, Van Hook. "I encourage everyone in higher education to dream of what they can accomplish for our students and our communities, and then I work creatively to support them as they develop the skills they need to bring their dreams to reality."
Throughout her 19 years of service to the Santa Clarita Community College District and College of the Canyons, and her 35 plus years in higher education, Van Hook has played a major role in helping to create and implement professional development programs -- which have served as models for other colleges to adopt.
"Professional development is not a program -- it is not a one-time thing -- it is, rather, a long-term commitment to innovation, to change, to people, to programs and builds on a belief in possibilities, dreams, the power of teamwork, and the potential of our greatest human resource - the people in our profession," Van Hook said.
Under Van Hook's leadership COC has added professional development to the college's mission statement, instituted a full-time staff development director position, and provided funding for the college's wide-scale professional development program. For the past seven years, Director, Leslie Carr has managed the program, organized within the district's human resources office.
Van Hook also initiated an educational incentive program for classified staff, encouraging the pursuit of higher education and professional growth, as well as the establishment of classified leadership awards, and she organized a management staff development program -- which was awarded the 2001 Outstanding Staff and Organizational Development Activity by the California Community College Council for Staff and Organizational Development. In addition, Van Hook supported the development of the Theodore Hesburgh award-winning Associate Program for adjunct faculty development and the college's Institute of Teaching and Learning.
"This high level of dedicated leadership has provided the direction for the college's professional development program," said Diane Fiero, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources at the college, "Dr. Van Hook's work sets the tone for an organizational climate at the college in which employees can thrive and work together to achieve common goals, reach their greatest potential and meet the challenges of being leaders with great success."
The college's faculty members say they directly benefit from her efforts. "Dr. Van Hook believes that educators within the system need to understand the goals of the college and know the foundation and principles upon which California community colleges are founded," said Claudia Acosta, chair of the foreign languages department. "One of many ways she accomplishes this complex task is through a leadership seminar on campus. She shares with faculty the history and the role of community colleges while coaching them to explore professional options within the system. She is without a doubt a great educational leader who inspires people to find and follow their passion contributing positively to the educational system. The outcome is: educators who are proud of serving, and who want to contribute to the system. In one word -- commitment."
Van Hook's efforts have not been limited to College of the Canyons, as her extensive involvement in statewide staff development programs is equally impressive. She started the Association of California Community College Administrators Mentor Program in 1990, and has served as a formal mentor to more than 40 community college administrators statewide - while also demonstrating her commitment to the advancement of women leaders in higher education as a member of the organizing team, a participant and a presenter at the Asilomar Women's Leadership Skills Seminar.
Van Hook also founded the California Community College CEO Conference, is co-founder of the California Administrators Leadership Skills Seminar, and is one of the founders of the statewide Classified Staff Leadership Training Institute.
As the professional development program director at the college, Carr will accept the NCSPOD Institutional Merit Award, recognizing the college for its excellence in the delivery and impact of professional development programs, and for its longtime and continued promotion of such programs on surrounding community college campuses.
"We are honored and thrilled to receive this award, recognizing our outstanding professional development program. This group represents community colleges in the U.S. and Canada, placing our program among the best of the best in most of North America," Carr said. "We work very hard to provide quality programs and lots of choices for development activities because we place great value on the advancement of our employees."
Carr said the college is dedicated to seeing the improved professional growth of its faculty, staff and administrators, and operates under the expectation that all employees will engage in professional development activities each year through the college's Flexible Calendar (FLEX) program.
The various professional development workshops incorporated into the FLEX program operate with a goal to allow College of the Canyons staff members the ability to acquire job skills in technological advancement, institutional effectiveness, student support, excellence in teaching and learning, and foster the importance of creating a sense of community among students and staff, while inspiring innovation and enabling the development of leadership skills of all staff members.
Other professional development opportunities available at College of the Canyons include the Institute for Teaching and Learning, which helps faculty members hone their teaching skills; the Associates Program, designed for adjunct faculty, annual administrative retreats, and a thriving mentor program.
"We offer a comprehensive program for all district employees that focuses on leadership development, technology training, institutional effectiveness, student support and success, and promoting excellence in teaching and learning," Carr said.