RALEIGH – Lyn Austin of Garner, a longtime community college trustee and advocate, is the winner of the 2019 I.E. Ready Award, the highest honor bestowed by the State Board of Community Colleges.
The board announced winners of the Ready, President of the Year, Excellence in Teaching, and Distinguished Partners in Excellence awards at its Jan. 18 meeting.
Named for Isaac Epps Ready, the first state director of the North Carolina Community College System, the award was created in 1983 to recognize individuals who have made significant, statewide contributions to the establishment, development or enhancement of the system.
Austin has served more than 20 years on the Board of Trustees of Johnston Community College, including 14 years as the board’s chair. She also has served 14 years on the Executive Board of the NC Association of Community College Trustees and chaired it from 2014-16. The national Association of Community College Trustees named her Southern Region Trustee of the Year in 2014.
Austin’s nominators cited her “tenacity and generous spirit,” and noted that she is “a fierce advocate on all fronts” for community colleges.
“First, and foremost, Mrs. Austin holds the highest regard for students and their success,” JCC President Dr. David Johnson wrote in a letter supporting her nomination. “Much of her commitment to making a better way for students stems from her own experiences as a community college student and graduate.”
In addition to Austin, the following people and institutions received awards:
President of the Year: Dr. Carol Spalding, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in Salisbury. Since becoming president in 2008, Spalding has become known as an advocate for student success and the community college’s role in developing North Carolina’s workforce and economy. She has grown the college’s continuing education and training programs, and facilitated a group of community leaders to align and leverage economic development efforts within Rowan County. Under Spalding’s leadership, the college also has used technology to expand and improve services to students. These efforts have led to Rowan-Cabarrus being recognized four consecutive years as a Top Ten Digital Community College by the Center for Digital Education. She also developed the college’s 2018 student services model, which led to 7 percent growth in curriculum enrollment.
Excellence in Teaching Award: Ginger Harris, chair of the Early Childhood Education Department at Central Carolina Community College in Sanford. Harris holds an initial advising meeting with each student, spending time discussing their goals. She then works with them to create a plan to help them achieve those goals. She uses a variety of methods to create a dynamic classroom environment. Harris incorporates technology into the classroom and enables her students to become comfortable using it. She developed a master template in Blackboard software that all education courses in the program will use. Harris also is active on campus, serving on Central Carolina’s Advising Committee since 2008 and the Curriculum Review Committee since 2014. She was Central Carolina’s 2018 Faculty Member of the Year.
Distinguished Partners in Excellence: Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, Castle & Cooke North Carolina and the City of Kannapolis. They were honored for their unique collaboration in supporting the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s role in workforce development. Collaboration between the development company and the city began over a decade ago and has created benefits for the community, the community college, and to regional and state workforce and economic development, the nomination said. The partners have supported the RCCC’s work at the research campus and helped advance the College Station campus, which opened in August, and the Advanced Technology Center, which will open this year.