O’Brien honored for outstanding leadership

HOUSTON – San Jacinto College Associate Vice Chancellor for Learning and Assessment, Dr. Catherine O’Brien, has been selected as the Texas Community College Instructional Administrators (TCCIA) 2013 Ray Williams Outstanding Leadership Award recipient.

“Dr. O’Brien exhibits exemplary instructional leadership in her role at San Jacinto College and through her work in a number of statewide initiatives,” said San Jacinto College Chancellor, Dr. Brenda Hellyer. “Over the past five years, she has led faculty and student services teams that have redefined the College’s general education outcomes; reviewed, revised, and updated college degree requirements; integrated student success course outcomes in all technical programs; and established a revised core curriculum to be implemented in Fall 2014.”

For 25 years, Dr. O’Brien has served San Jacinto College in both faculty and administrative roles. As a biology professor, she mentored students in microbiology, anatomy, and physiology. As associate vice chancellor for learning and assessment, Dr. O’Brien has taken the lead in advancing and implementing curriculum requirements. She also developed the College’s current program review process, which includes an annual, standardized, and internally audited data report for every academic and technical program and discipline in the College. Dr. O’Brien also helped establish the College’s Institutional Effectiveness Council, which she also chairs; leads the articulation processes for the College; and continues to execute innovative strategies for higher education curriculum development.

“Ray Williams was a wonderful individual and an inspiring leader,” said Dr. O’Brien. “It is a privilege and an honor to be recognized by my colleagues at the Texas Community College Instructional Administrators conference to receive this year’s Outstanding Leadership Award,” she added.

“Dr. O’Brien is an energetic and insightful leader,” said Pamela Campbell, San Jacinto College assistant vice chancellor for educational partnerships, who nominated her for the award. “She demands much of herself and sets that example for those who work with and for her.”

San Jacinto College Dean of Industrial and Applied Technology, Jeffrey Parks, also commented on her consistent leadership. “Dr. O’Brien continues to exemplify the skills that true leaders need, and her ability to tackle the ‘new norm’ and get buy-in from the interested stakeholders is what makes her a great leader,” said Parks.

In addition to her work with San Jacinto College, Dr. O’Brien collaborates on numerous local, regional, and statewide initiatives and projects. In the Gulf Coast region, she led the College’s implementation of the Houston Pathways Initiative, the Gulf Coast Partners Achieving Student Success (PASS) grant project, and other P-16 efforts. At the state level, she has served on the Workforce Education Course Manual (WECM) leadership team, serves as the College liaison to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), and just recently completed her term as president of the Texas Association of College Technical Educators (TACTE). Locally, Dr. O’Brien serves on the Pearland Library Board and has been an active contributor to the Pasadena Independent School District Helping One Student to Succeed (HOSTS) program, which pairs an adult with an elementary school student once a week for reading.

“It is extremely gratifying to see the work of Catherine O’Brien recognized by TCCIA,” said San Jacinto College Deputy Chancellor and President, Dr. Laurel Williamson. “Her work in assessment and institutional effectiveness is outstanding and affects all levels and areas of the College. She has been a long-time instructional leader in the state of Texas and one of our most valued leaders at San Jacinto College. It is my honor and privilege to work side by side with her as a colleague.”

The Ray Williams Outstanding Leadership Award is given annually to recognize a maximum of three-per-year instructional administrators, who exemplify leadership by making a substantial impact in the college's effectiveness; demonstrating creativity and innovation in his/her professional responsibilities; demonstrating sustained commitment to instructional issues and challenges; or influencing a statewide initiative or project. It is the expectation that a recipient of this award has exerted influence at the college level in one or more of the following areas: institutional effectiveness, effective management, curriculum development, transformation of organizational environment, or faculty development.

About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. The Achieving the Dream Leader College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $630 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.

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