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Board approves nominees for outstanding faculty, other awards

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Apr 16, 2018

The Board of Trustees April 10 approved the selection of CLC nominees for outstanding faculty, alumni and student awards for the Illinois Community College Trustee Association (ICCTA).

Photo of Jeff Varblow, full-time outstanding faculty award winnerStudents nominated Jeff Varblow, accounting professor, (left) for the college’s ICCTA Outstanding Full-time Faculty Member award and Teal Mercaeant, sociology professor, for the Outstanding Part-time Faculty Member award.

Varblow’s strengths include relating “otherwise overwhelming accounting concepts to everyday life situations for which the students find passion and will commit their efforts,” according to the nomination support letter. Outside of teaching, Varblow secured a CLC Foundation Grant to create an academically focused online social network and created a Tax Research course for CLC’s Professional Accounting Certificate. He also served as chair and vice-chair of an academic advising committee and chaired a team that led to a restructuring of CLC’s shared governance structure.

Addressing the meeting, Varblow said, “It’s a blessing to partner with students to help them achieve their goals. Thank you for letting me make a difference.”

Photo of Teal Mercaeant, part-time faculty award winnerMercaeant “consistently encourages students to speak up, work with each other and apply concepts of sociology to their own lives,” according to the nomination support letter. Outside the classroom, Mercaeant (left) assisted with Safe Zone training for CLC employees and students and served on two committees (improving writing across the curriculum, faculty development). She served on the CLC Governance Coordinating Council and is the vice chair of the new LGBTQ+ employee resource group.

Mercaeant, who teaches gender and sexuality studies, said, “This is the second time I was nominated, which is what really matters to me. When I get an email from a student after five years, telling me that ‘your course changed my life,’ that’s why I do what I do.”

Photo of Bernard Kondenar, Simon Essay Award 1st place winnerThe 2018 ICCTA Paul Simon Student Essay Contest focuses on the annual theme of “How Community College Has Changed My Life.” Thirty-two CLC students submitted essays that were evaluated by three faculty members. The board selected for first place an essay by Bernard Kondenar of Antioch (left), a sustainable agriculture major, 2016-17 student trustee and initiator of the college’s apiary (managed beehives). His essay, which is CLC’s nominee for the statewide award, focused on the power of relationships in the community college environment.

The second place for the essay nomination went to Jemimah Amaya, an accounting major from Grayslake. The third-place winner, Thais Souza, is a digital media and design major and international student from Brazil.

Photo of Chairman Richard Anderson with Myra Gaytan-Morales

In other news, the board nominated Myra Gaytan-Morales (left, with Board Chairman Richard A. Anderson) for the ICCTA distinguished alumnus award. After earning an A.A. from CLC in 1999, Morales earned her bachelor’s degree at DePaul University, a master’s degree at Northeastern Illinois University and a Ph.D. at Illinois State University. She is associate dean at the University Center of Lake County and has 17 years’ experience in higher education, starting with working as a student recruiter for CLC. A first-generation college student, Morales organizes workshops in English and Spanish on how to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.