NISOD’s 2017 Conference Celebrates and Inspires Community and Technical College Educators

Austin, Texas, June 12, 2017 – Over the 2017 Memorial Day weekend, the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) welcomed more than 1,000 community and technical college teachers, administrators, staff, and their family members to Austin, Texas, for the 39th annual International Conference on Teaching and Leadership Excellence.

NISOD’s conference offered 200-plus outstanding presentations—including pre-conference seminars, special sessions, breakout sessions, and roundtable discussions—with topics ranging from how to use Google products in the classroom to meeting faculty and staff professional development needs. Through these educational sessions, conference participants engaged with colleagues to discuss nearly every aspect of teaching, learning, and leading excellence.

“I am extremely grateful and appreciative for every participant who attended this year’s conference,” said Edward J. Leach, NISOD’s Executive Director. “It was a wonderful collection of educators passionate about teaching and learning. Their sharing of research, innovation, and other cutting-edge aspects of their work provided an opportunity for deep discussions about issues and trends impacting today’s community and technical colleges.”

To enhance the conference, Civitas Learning sponsored an invitation-only, day-long Administrator Series designed for upper-level community and technical college administrators. Presidents, chancellors, and other executive leaders shared their experiences and ideas for driving innovation through continuous improvement, improving completion rates, promoting transfer student success, and building a culture of excellence.

Excellence Awards

The 2017 conference also marked the 26th year of NISOD’s prestigious Excellence Awards, which honors faculty, administrators, and staff for the extraordinary work they do every day on their respective campuses. This year, nearly 200 member colleges submitted the names of more than 830 recipients. NISOD recognized 2017 recipients and their colleagues, families, and friends during the Excellence Awards Dinner and Celebration. After the dinner, attendees enjoyed music, dancing, and great camaraderie. “NISOD is proud to continue our long history of recognizing the outstanding work of community and technical college educators at our member colleges,” said Leach. “We are thrilled to have been joined by so many colleagues and their family members during our annual celebration of outstanding Excellence Award recipients.” To date, more than 25,000 recipients have been honored with the prestigious award.

Student Essay Contest Winners

During the Excellence Awards dinner and celebration, NISOD and Community College Week also showcased the winners of the 2017 Scott Wright Student Essay Contest. Chosen from nearly two hundred outstanding entries, the three winning students wrote about a faculty member, staff member, or administrator who helped them achieve their educational goals. The 2017 student winners are:

  • Chandler Blake, Harford Community College
  • Matthew Wheeler, Northwest Vista College
  • Erika Lagos, Perimeter College at Georgia State University

Read their award-winning essays here.

Student Art Contest Winner

The 2017 winner of NISOD’s Student Art Contest, Brittany Burt of St. Clair County Community College, was also recognized during the conference with the unveiling of her winning design. Burt received $1,000 and five poster-size copies of her work. Burt’s design will also be featured as the primary graphics for NISOD’s 2018 International Conference on Teaching and Leadership Excellence.

Promising Places to Work In Community Colleges Awards

During the conference, NISOD and Diverse: Issues in Higher Education bestowed the 2017 Promising Places to Work in Community Colleges (PPWCC) awards, which recognize community and technical colleges with an exceptional commitment to diversity through best-in-class student and staff recruitment and retention practices, inclusive learning and working environments, and meaningful community service and engagement opportunities. The 2017 PPWCC awardees included:

  • Blinn College
  • El Centro College
  • Montgomery County Community College
  • Mountain View College
  • Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology
  • Pierpont Community and Technical College
  • Seward County Community College
  • South Florida State College
  • Southwest Virginia Community College
  • Stella and Charles Guttman Community College
  • Tallahassee Community College

Each college received an engraved acrylic award and a specially-designed logo that can be used to promote their institution’s exceptional commitment to diversity.

Keynote Speakers

2017 conference general session speakers offered new perspectives on the business of education through thought-provoking keynote addresses, much to overwhelming audience acclaim. Chuck Underwood, the 2017 Suanne Davis Roueche Distinguished Lecturer, discussed the importance of generational study and strategies in the classroom and campuswide during his keynote address. Mr. Underwood emphasized that community and technical colleges have “an enormous opportunity for an enormous application of generational study,” through student recruitment, communication strategies, donor relations, and classroom content. Watch a video of Mr. Underwood’s keynote address here.

Dr. Belle Wheelan, President of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and the recipient of the 2017 John E. Roueche International Leadership Award, addressed the role of educators in the future of higher education. “The one thing I would encourage faculty to do is to stay malleable,” said Dr. Wheelan. She noted that, while change is inevitable, students should always remain at the center of everything educators do. Watch Dr. Wheelan’s closing keynote address here.

View highlights of NISOD’s 2017 conference through our online Conference Archives, and track some of the great conversations on social media using #NISOD2017 on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Presentation proposals are now being accepted at for NISOD’s 2018 International Conference on Teaching and Leadership Excellence, May 26-29 at the Hilton Austin. Save the date!


The National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) is a membership organization committed to promoting and celebrating excellence in teaching, learning, and leadership at community and technical colleges. For community and technical colleges that want to make the most of their professional development dollars, NISOD provides budget-friendly, high-quality, and faculty-focused programs and resources. For nearly 40 years, NISOD’s customer-focused approach has helped align our wide array of benefits with the needs of our members, which explains why the American Association of Community Colleges named NISOD, “The country’s leading provider of professional development for community college faculty, staff, and administrators.” For more information about NISOD, visit

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Edward J. Leach at