Rio Salado College E-Learning Instructor Receives Educational Leadership Award

July 9, 2003

The award is presented to a full-time instructor of an ACCT member two-year postsecondary institution. The criteria include excellence in teaching, innovation, college service on a local and regional level, and demonstrated leadership in solving challenges to postsecondary education.

Laura’s nomination letter, signed by Ed Contreras, president of the Maricopa Governing Board, stated: “Her work is always creative, original, fun and full of learning…She stays current in her discipline and she is constantly researching and implementing new pedagogical approaches. Laura is a tremendously talented faculty member who is a leader of educational transformation and a mentor of other faculty members.”

Her nomination also cites Laura’s leadership efforts to redefine faculty and learner roles throughout her 26 years as an instructor within the Maricopa Community College District. Laura is considered to be a pioneer and innovator in teaching the working adult student who requires convenience and flexibility, particularly through the use of online courses.

She has served as chair of the Maricopa District Communications Instructional Council and twice as Rio Salado’s Accreditation Self-Study Co-chair. She has also served as co-chair of the college’s Student Achievement Committee for 12 years and was its long-time Faculty Development Coordinator, providing her with opportunities to share her learning and to engage in teaching and learning discussions with her faculty colleagues.

Her previous awards include the Teaching Excellence Award from the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development, plus the Faculty of the Year Award and the Innovator of the Year Award from Rio Salado College.

Known as the “College Without Walls,” Rio Salado, which maintains administrative headquarters in Tempe, is one of the 10 Maricopa Community Colleges. Rio Salado serves 50,000 credit and non-credit students annually, using a combination of customized programs and partnerships, accelerated and distance learning formats. The college has received numerous national awards for its e-learning programs, including last fall’s Sloan-C Award for Excellence in Online Access.