AVC learning specialist captures state's highest award for CC faculty members

An Antelope Valley College professor who has dedicated her career to helping students learn more efficiently through various diagnostic techniques has been named to the highest statewide honor for community college faculty.

Dorothy Williams
Dorothy Williams

College officials announced Thursday that Professor Dorothy Williams is the sixth Antelope Valley College faculty member to garner the Hayward Award for Excellence in Education.

The award, named for former state community college chancellor Gerald Hayward, was created by the Board of Governors of California Community Colleges to honor outstanding faculty members.

Presented annually to four recipients from different regions of the state, the award recognizes community college faculty members who demonstrate the highest level of commitment to their students, college and profession.

Williams is due to be presented her award March 5 in Sacramento at a meeting of the Board of Governors.

The trek to a distinguished faculty member started for Williams in 1976 as a student worker in the college’s tutoring center. While pursuing a master’s degree in English at California State University, Northridge, Williams was offered a part-time teaching job at AVC in 1981.

Five years later, she was hired full time. Although she holds formal title as English professor, her assignment is an academic skills learning specialist. As academic skills learning specialist, she facilitates what is possible to retain students, to create access for them, and to help them succeed.

The award comes as Williams prepares to retire June 30.

“It’s nice especially at the end of your career to look back and say: ‘Did I accomplish anything?’ And yes, I did. Somebody noticed. I did accomplish something,” Williams said.

Williams used the occasion to recognize other faculty members who work tirelessly to help students.

“I’ll stand for the unknown faculty – those who serve day-to-day unnoticed. I will accept the honor for them as well,” she said.

“I’m glad that after nearly 30 years of (full-time) service to the students Dorothy was recognized. It couldn’t have been awarded to a better person,” said Christos Valiotis, Academic Senate president and himself a winner of the Hayward Award in 2009.

Williams developed training materials and made improvements leading to a tutor certification program that followed the international guidelines of the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA).

In 1992, CRLA certification was awarded to the college in all three levels—regular, advanced, master.  This past fall, CRLA certification was renewed and approved for the college with accolades. One reviewer wrote: “The integration of current research and best practices in learning theory, developmental education, tutoring, retention, learning outcomes, and student success into an active, content-rich, thorough tutor training course was exciting to see.”

Others from AVC to receive the award were Dr. Bruce Smith (1991), Dr. Martha Wengert (1992), Patricia Márquez (2000) and Richard Manley (2006).