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STLCC Staff, Faculty and Trustee to be Honored by MCCA

Thursday, November 4, 2021

St. Louis Community College staff, faculty and a trustee were recognized by the Missouri Community College Association during its annual convention next week in Branson, Mo.

Each year, MCCA recognizes employees, students and trustees, as well as organizations associated with its member institutions, for excellence, leadership, innovation, partnerships and service through its awards program. Awards will be presented Nov. 11-12.

Classified Staff Achievement Award

Joan WilliamsJoan C. Williams, administrative assistant II at Wildwood, received the MCCA Classified Staff Achievement Award. This award is presented annually to a member of the association’s classified staff department who has had a positive impact on their college and the department.

Williams joined STLCC in 2007. Over the years, she’s held a variety of classified staff positions, including serving as an administrative assistant and department secretary. Since 2019, Williams has worked as the administrative assistant to the campus president at Wildwood. Prior to this, she held a similar position at Meramec for two years. Before that, Williams served as a secretary in the dean’s office for business and communications and the business and information systems department at Meramec. She began her career at STLCC as a part-time admissions and registration assistant at South County.

Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching

STLCC’s recipients are Sharon North, former professor of mathematics at Florissant Valley; Erin LeClerc, professor of interior design at Meramec; and Syed Chowdhury, Ph.D., professor of science at Wildwood.

The Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching is presented to faculty members who exemplify effective teaching, effective advising, service to the university community, commitment to high standards of excellence and success in nurturing student achievement.

Governor's Award winnersSharon North began her career at STLCC in 1998 and retired last summer after teaching for 34 years. During her time in the classroom, she taught mathematics to nearly 10,000 community college and university students. While at STLCC, North served in leadership roles as a department chair, assistant chair, a districtwide developmental education coordinator, a center for teaching and learning coordinator, and global education coordinator. Sharon also designed math curricula and wrote application-based content for students.

North represented STLCC faculty on the Missouri Co-requisite at Scale Taskforce and served on the state advisory board for mathematics pathways. She has received the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development Excellence Award and has been recognized by students as a faculty mentor in the STLCC Emerging Scholars program. North also received the David L. Underwood Memorial Lecture Award and an Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award.

Erin LeClerc joined the interior design program at STLCC in 2007 after working as a professional interior designer and director of design at a local design firm for more than 10 years. She is a National Council for Interior Design Qualification certified professional interior designer.

LeClerc is a professional member of the International Interior Design Association, American Society of Interior Designers, and the Interior Design Educators Council. Her favorite experiences at STLCC involve working with her design students and colleagues on community service projects with Habitat for Humanity, Haven of Grace, Our Little Haven, the YWCA and Great Circle School.

Syed Chowdhury is an esteemed neuroscientist whose research on brain processing is helping to advance an area of study known as neuroplasticity.

In the classroom, he takes a multidisciplinary approach that incorporates real-world, practical learning opportunities. Outside the classroom, he shares his expertise with others by presenting his research and publishing his findings in scientific journals. His research papers have been published in many peer-reviewed journals, including: “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences-USA,” “Neuron,” “Experimental Brain Research,” “Journal of Neuroscience,” “Neuroscience Research,” “Journal of Neurophysiology,” “Journal of Neuroscience Research” and “European Journal of Pharmacology.”

Over the years, Chowdhury has also played a key role in organizing large-scale community events at the Wildwood campus that allow kids and families to explore topics in STEM.

Senior Service Award

STLCC’s recipients are LaVaughn Smith, admissions counselor at Florissant Valley; Rick Willmore, theater manager at Meramec; and Carol Lupardus, Ph.D., campus president and chief academic officer at Wildwood.

This award is presented annually to a long-serving employee from each of Missouri’s community colleges. Recipients are recommended for the award by their college president or chancellor, and must have worked at a community college for 20 years or more.

Senior Service Award winnersLaVaughn Smith’s service to St. Louis Community College spans over three decades. He started as a part-time student in 1978 and graduated in May 1981. Smith served as a student worker in the health services office while pursuing his degree. After graduation, he accepted a part-time job in the admissions office at Florissant Valley. Smith became a full-time employee in October 1985 and processed incoming mail. He was later promoted to admissions and registration assistant I, admissions and registration assistant II, admissions and registration assistant III, and he now holds the title of admissions counselor.

Smith has served as the principle designated school official for international students and as the nursing admissions coordinator for more than 20 years.

Rick Willmore has been spent the last 36 years at Meramec as the theatre facility manager and technical director. He has served as set designer, lighting designer, director, props designer, scenic artist and sound designer for several productions during his tenure. He also has taught scenic design, stagecraft and introduction to theatre.

Carol Lupardus joined STLCC in 2001. Since then, she has held several academic and leadership positions across the College. Since 2019, she has served as the campus president and chief academic officer at Wildwood. Prior to this, she served as the campus president at Meramec. Earlier in her career, she held the position of vice president for academic affairs at Florissant Valley and was a professor for the teacher education program.

A lifelong educator, Lupardus began her career as an elementary school teacher in the Meramec Valley R-III School District.

Trustee Leadership Award

Craig LarsonCraig Larson, Ed.D., received the MCCA Trustee Leadership Award, which is presented annually to a community college trustee whose work and leadership has substantially advanced the mission of community colleges.

Larson was originally elected to the Board of Trustees in 2010 and was re-elected in 2016. He has served two terms as board chair and has been active with the STLCC Foundation. He has served on the MCCA Advisory Board since 2012 and is currently chair of the advisory board. He has also served as an associate member of several policy committees for the Association of Community College Trustees. He is also a member of the Association of Governing Boards and regularly attends state and national meetings of MCCA, ACCT and AGB.

Larson also served as deputy co-chair of the successful Yes for Proposition R campaign.

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