PASADENA, Texas — San Jacinto College Deputy Chancellor and President, Dr. Laurel Williamson, is one of 23 community college presidents and campus CEOs to receive the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Shirley B. Gordon Award of Distinction last month at the annual PTK convention in San Antonio.
“Receiving the PTK Shirley B. Gordon award was an incredible honor, because the nomination for this award comes from our faculty and our students,” said Dr. Williamson. “My work at San Jacinto College is grounded in my desire to support student achievement, and this recognition is a reflection of how much our PTK students have achieved and contributed to the College and our community. I will wear the Gordon medal with pride at commencement because it represents our core mission, student success.”
College presidents and campus CEOs are selected for this award on the basis of outstanding efforts given toward promoting the goals of Phi Theta Kappa. The award is named in honor of the late Shirley B. Gordon, the longest serving PTK Board of Directors Chair, and President Emeritus of Highline Community College in Des Moines, Washington.
Dr. Williamson was nominated by Ms. Elizabeth McKinley, advisor for the Alpha Gamma Zeta chapter of Phi Theta Kappa at the San Jacinto College South Campus. In the nomination, Ms. McKinley notes, “Dr. Williamson promotes our PTK students to the Board of Trustees and to the community at large. She loves bragging on our students to anyone who will listen. To Dr. Williamson, it’s all about the students. If we have a need, she will find a way to fill that need, both personally and financially. Her door is always open to our students.”
Dr. Williamson has served as deputy chancellor and College president since 2013, and has been with San Jacinto College since June of 2007. She has more than 25 years of experience in higher education and leadership in a community college setting.
“Dr. Williamson is incredibly deserving of this award,” said San Jacinto College Chancellor, Dr. Brenda Hellyer. “She is passionate about San Jacinto College, our students, and our people, and that is just part of what makes her a great leader. I could not think of a better person to receive this honor.”
For the past couple of years, the Alpha Gamma Zeta chapter of Phi Theta Kappa at San Jacinto College has worked on its College Project “Honors In Action.” This project was centered on promoting the value of community colleges to students and the community, along with the importance of completing an associate degree. This year, the Chapter’s “Honors in Action” project is focused on understanding how students creatively explore new and innovative ways to overcome obstacles in both their education and their lives in general. With both projects, Dr. Williamson has provided the Chapter with the tools it needs to succeed, allowing the students to run the project. According to Ms. McKinley, “She is there to provide support and assistance, but lets our students take the lead and shine.”
In addition to her support of PTK, the National Association for Developmental Education (NADE) has recognized Dr. Williamson as its annual administrator or public servant for outstanding support of developmental education. Prior to joining the San Jacinto College leadership team, Dr. Williamson served as academic officer of Valencia Community College in Florida and lower Columbia College in Washington. She also served as director of curriculum development at Southwest Mississippi Community College. She holds a master’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi and a doctorate degree from the University of South Florida, and has done post-graduate work at Harvard University.
Dr. Williamson is a member of the Board of Directors of the Victorian Interdisciplinary Studies Association of the Western United States and has published essays and poetry. She is a veteran of the U.S. Army.
About Phi Theta Kappa
Headquartered in Jackson, Mississippi, Phi Theta Kappa is the largest honor society in American higher education with 1,285 chapters on two-year and community college campuses in all 50 of the United States, Canada, Germany, the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, the British Virgin Islands, the United Arab Emirates, and U.S. territorial possessions. More than three million students have been inducted since its founding in 1918, with approximately 134,000 students inducted annually.
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. As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, San Jacinto College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of approximately 30,000 credit students. The College offers 186 degrees and certificates, with 46 technical programs and a university transfer division. Students benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success, and job training programs that are renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.