IVCCD Bestows Outstanding Service Awards

During the Iowa Valley Community College District All Staff Day, held August 17 at Marshalltown Community College, the District recognized several campus leaders who have made a remarkable difference to the campus communities.

The District presented the awards as follows:

Outstanding Service Awards: The purpose of the Outstanding Service Awards is to recognize employees who have been nominated by their peers in the spring for exemplary performance that best represents each of IVCCD’s Six Core Values.

Core Value: Educational Excellence – Dr. Jim Cheaney, Dr. Danielle Kness, and EmiLee Novak, Science Faculty

L to R: Dr. Danielle Kness, EmiLee Novak, Dr. James Cheaney

The award nomination reads, in part: “These three faculty members were nominated because they saved us from having to cancel three sections of Biology this past spring.  Our adjunct faculty person developed an illness and at midterm couldn’t continue teaching.  There were 50 students between the three sections so there needed to be a solution or we would lose a lot of revenue.  Danielle chimed in first and said she had time to deliver the BIO105 lecture.  Jim indicated he would teach the lab portion of BIO105 and EmiLee indicated she could manage BIO113. Students didn’t hardly miss a beat with the retooled instructors.  It was pretty neat how they connected with the students and were able to keep classes going. By filling in, this group saved the district from refunding money for these classes.

Core Value: Leadership and Communication – Bryan Bender, Housing Director and Men’s Basketball Coach

Bryan Bender

The award nomination reads, in part: “Effective leadership and communication are essential for any organization to succeed. However, a leader cannot achieve their goals alone. They must work with their team to create a culture of shared responsibility, accountability, transparency, and respect; Bryan does this daily at Ellsworth!

Bryan creates an environment where every student and employee feels valued and respected. He encourages open communication and listens to feedback and ideas, creating shared responsibility where everyone feels invested in success.

Bryan sets clear expectations and holds himself and everyone around him accountable for meeting them; this creates a culture of responsibility where everyone around him understands their role and is committed to achieving their goals.

Bryan is open and honest about his decisions and actions and communicates them clearly to everyone around him; this builds trust and respect while also creating a culture of transparency. Bryan and his student-athletes are role models for the general student body by promoting a culture of excellence and accountability. By setting high standards for himself and his athletes, Bryan inspires students to strive for their best in all areas of their lives, including their lives within the community. He demonstrates the importance of good sportsmanship, fair play, and respect for others, helping to create a positive and inclusive campus culture.

Core Value: Develops Partnerships to Support Educational Opportunities – Barb Jennings, Assistant to the President

Barb Jennings

The award nomination reads, in part: “During her 31 years of service to Iowa Valley, Barb Jennings has been the Assistant to five District Chancellors/Presidents… and believe me we are not always easy to manage but she does it flawlessly. She is also the Board Secretary and has consistently exemplified integrity, leadership and compassion in managing these responsibilities. Barb’s leadership style incorporates a collaborative approach. This supports a team-like atmosphere in the groups she facilitates. Barb is an expert communicator, understanding the importance of disseminating timely information to stakeholders. She is also adept at holding close knowledge that is not to be shared… this is not always easy but necessary. Barb’s nature has proven essential to the success of multiple district initiatives and undertakings; including but not limited to, bond referendums, school board elections, enforcing provisions under the Iowa Open Meetings and Public Records laws, managing levy and so many more.

Former Chancellor Chris Duree says ‘Barb is one of the best employees I’ve had the opportunity to work with. She is meticulous and trustworthy with innate and welldeveloped leadership skills.’

Core Value: Recognition of students, employees, and community members for contributions and outstanding achievements aligning with our Vision, Mission and Core Values – Dr. Danielle Kness, Biology Professor

Dr. Danielle Kness

The award nomination reads, in part: “Dr. Kness was nominated because of her commitment to MCC. She consistently takes time to help current students, prospective students, her colleagues and external stakeholders. She has helped lead numerous recruiting events over the past year including the Pre-Stem Festival that brought 150 students to campus. Any time a current student or prospective student has questions or needs assistance, Dr. Kness always finds time to help them. She is often on campus late into the evening or on the weekends to ensure she is providing the best quality learning experiences for her students and taking care of the science department’s live animals. Besides teaching classes and serving her students in that capacity, Dr. Kness also leads the honors program at MCC and serves as an Advisor for the Pair-A-Docs Club.

Dr. Kness has been heavily involved with traveling to area high schools to speak to science classes about MCC programs and careers in science. She also is very connected with area professionals and colleagues around the state. Her connections to local employers including many area vet offices have allowed her students to gain learning and hands on experience with these partners. For the pre-stem festival Dr. Kness was able to bring in partner institutions and business partners from around the state including ISU, Drake, Blank Park Zoo, Mercy College of Health Sciences and several others.

Core Value: Continuous Quality Improvement – IVCCD Nursing Department Team

IVCCD Nursing Staff

The award nomination reads, in part: “Nursing is a very hands-on career that requires face to face time with instructors to learn both skills and the art of critical thinking. Due to the challenges of Covid 19, we experienced two years when our RN students struggled to pass state boards. Instead of accepting the status quo, the team took a hard look at every aspect of the program and adopted a culture of continuous quality improvement. Each teacher is striving to be the best version of themselves which involves taking feedback positively, collaborating with team members, trusting one another, having each other’s backs, staying positive with students and each other, stepping up in times of need, thinking outside the box, adopting change, proposing solution vs. complaining about what is wrong, modeling respect and sharing duties.

Due to efficiencies like accepting teaching assignments at both Ellsworth and Marshalltown and taking a positive mindset to process changes, we are excelling across the district with six full time teachers, vs. 7.5 full time teachers that carried the load in the past. The students are scoring higher on their exams than ever before. Each team member is dedicated to helping develop the students into the best possible nurses. This not only includes academics, but common sense, compassion, empathy, respect, equity, employability and service to others. Nurses are an integral part of every community. The college is a valuable resource to continue to supply the community with good nurses.  Each and every one of us will encounter a nurse at some point in our lives, so we take pride in nurturing students to be the kind of nurse we would want to take care of our own loved ones.

Core Value: Growth and Sustainability – Michael Emerson, Instructor

Micheal Emerson

The award nomination reads, in part: “He is well-respected by his colleagues and students alike and is an excellent example of a service-driven faculty member who takes on leadership roles not only at the College but also our community. As a former police officer, Mike brings a wealth of real-life experiences to his classroom. He engages students in critical thinking about our society and its criminal justice system. He makes the material come alive and inspires students to pursue careers in criminal justice. When faced with declining enrollment in his program due to widespread societal changes, he reinvented his curricula to better suit today’s students’ needs and ensure the transferability of his courses. It is not only students who benefit from Mike’s expertise and dedication. He was instrumental in bringing the MILO firearms training simulator to our district. This tool serves not only our students but also the broader law enforcement community to help fulfill their training needs. 

Mike collaborates with Business and Community Solutions staff in bringing younger students to campus to expose them to the field of criminal justice through a variety of events. From the instructional perspective, it has been inspiring to see Mike work hard to transition his curriculum to a hybrid and online formats. The enrollment in all his courses has shown continued growth as a result of his quality improvement efforts.