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COCC Honors Employees of the Year

David EngelEach year, COCC honors members of the faculty and staff for their exemplary work. The College recognizes both a Full Time and a Part Time Faculty Achievement Award winner, and a Classified Staff and Administrator of the Year.

The recipient for this year's Part Time Faculty Achievement Award is David Engel who teaches Spanish, in the World Languages and Culture department. David has worked tirelessly and selflessly for students. This includes participating in community events, continuing education courses as well as teaching credit transfer courses.

Most recently, he has assisted with the planning, curriculum development, implementation and teaching for COSSI, the Central Oregon Summer Spanish Immersion program held at COCC this summer. He also has taken Continuing Education students on tours through Spanish speaking countries. His greatest contributions is the consistently stellar instruction he provides to students in the Spanish classes. He has picked up classes whenever needed, covers time in the schedule that others eschew and is routinely lauded as an exemplary and popular instructor.

All of this he does with enthusiasm and humor. He has a cheerful resolve and unceasing optimism.

Lydia HernandezThe Classified Staff member of the Year is Lydia Hernandez. Lydia has worked at COCC for 26 years nine years in Maintenance and Campus Services and 17 years as the Administrative Assistant for the Health and Human Services academic department.

Among the comments from faculty members who nominated Lydia:

  • "This department wouldn't exist without Lydia. I am amazed with the vigor with which she attacks each day."
  • "Lydia is a superhero! She maintain a great smile while being pulled in every direction by all of us in the department."
  • "Lydia is a problem fixer and is so ahead of the game that I can only imagine how many problems never happen because she gets so much done behind the scenes."

Before coming to COCC, Lydia worked in California as a receptionist at the Fruit Growers Supply Company; she then headed off to Georgia where she worked as a secretary at Columbus College for three years; she worked for a year in a mental health clinic; and then landed at IBM back in Los Angeles. She worked at IBM for 15 years where she promoted to Senior Secretary Specialist and Personnel Administrator.

Dr. Julia Downing, now an instructional dean, worked with Lydia for 19 years. In her last evaluation of Lydia, Julie said "I feel incredibly fortunate to have her as the Administrative Assistant for all nine years that I was HHP Department Chair. She made the trying times seem less difficult, made the good times more special, and when any of us felt run down and were temporarily just going through the motions, she would flash you that smile and say something to make you laugh and you knew it would all be ok."

Chris MillsChris Mills, Banner Student Module Manager/Analyst, was recognized as the Administrator of the Year. In this role, Chris works across the College including Student Services, Credit Instruction, Community Learning, Information Technology Services, Campus Services and so many other departments to support all aspects of the College's student information system. She is a COCC graduate, having completed her associate of applied science degree in Computer and Information Systems in 2002. Chris started at the College in 2004 as part of the Admissions and Records Office.

Seven of her colleagues nominated Chris for this award. Statements from her nominations are so telling as to the contributions she makes across the College:

  • "She is tirelessly focused on students and making their experience as positive as it can be."
  • "She is the backbone of so many departments and comes to everyone's rescue whenever needed. I've never had the opportunity to work with someone as amazing as Chris."
  • "She takes on so many challenging issues that no one else dares to touch, mediates discussions with a positive attitude and persistent focus on students, and serves as a shining example in regards to collaboration and collegiality."

Andria WoodellThis year's Full Time Faculty Achievement Award recipient is Andria Woodell, professor of psychology. Andria joined COCC as a tenure-track professor in 2004; she received her promotion to the rank of full professor this year. When first hired, she managed a busy teaching schedule while simultaneously completing her doctorate in experimental psychology from the University of Arkansas.

She teaches with a spirited style. "I love the energy brought to class," one student commented. "The ninja moves are awesome." And she infuses the classroom with positivity—her classes are a place that combine a welcoming, comfortable environment with animated discussion.

"She's amazing," shared a faculty nominator, "someone my students talk about in exemplary and uber-positive terms." She has been described as the 'epitome' of an instructor who displays genuine interest in her students. One of her many positive student evaluations referred to her as "the most engaging teacher I've had at COCC."

She also engages students beyond the classroom setting, striving to create learning opportunities wherever she can. She organizes the Social Science Lecture Series, bringing guest speakers in the field of psychology to campus while serving as an advisor for COCC's COPE (Central Oregon Psychology Enthusiasts) club. And she created and oversees the college's psychology teaching externship.

Andria developed a program called "Skype for Scholars," connecting her students with influential psychology researchers from afar. She serves as a mentor for the COCC chapter of the Heroic Imagination Project—a nonprofit that encourages college students to harness "the power of one," promoting the idea of positive change, of standing up and speaking out.