School and President to be honored
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.
With Van Hook at the helm, 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.”
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 US 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, 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.