Here at Lone Star College, we are Student Focused. It's one of our cultural beliefs that drives everything we do, and our faculty members uphold that belief in the most straightforward sense as they interact with students daily. To do that most successfully, each LSC campus has a Faculty Senate with officers who serve as a direct line of communication between faculty members and administration.
We sat down with our Faculty Senate Presidents to talk about what matters to them both personally and professionally. Read on to learn more about our individual leaders' lives and how they aim to represent you, your campus and LSC as a whole.
Fay Lee, Faculty Senate President Lone Star College-CyFair
Fay Lee, a professor of education at LSC-CyFair, is settling into the role as Faculty Senate President at her location. Though she previously led the Associate of Arts in Teaching program and curriculum team and is on several committees both within the college and with the Texas Education Agency, Lee is focused on cultivating faculty scholarship and student success.
"I see my position as someone who is trying to be the best sturdy bridge possible between the faculty and the administration, because if our communication channels are not clear, then miscommunication occurs. Because we can get siloed in our own departments and divisions, Faculty Senate allows us to see pervasive issues across the campus," Lee said.
With a bachelor's degree in psychology from Baylor University and a master's degree in education from the University of Houston, Lee began her career at LSC in 2007 as an adjunct professor at what is now LSC-Houston North Fairbanks before accepting a full-time faculty position at LSC-CyFair in 2008.
Currently, Lee is working on a doctorate degree in higher education leadership and policy from the University of Texas at Austin where she is focusing her research on transfer students: specifically, those from community colleges.
Above and beyond the day-to-day meetings and collaboration, in her Faculty Senate position Lee wants to grow scholarship among faculty members and encourage the cultivation of deeper knowledge. With all that there is to juggle, Lee said what keeps her going is her passion for people-both her peers and her students. She has stepped in when students need help and has listened to their stories, and she does the same for her colleagues.
"The personal opportunities that faculty are given to get to know students is such a privilege, and my passion for students has grown tremendously over the years. I hear so many stories of students discovering their abilities and gaining confidence," Lee said.
Apart from work, Lee wears other hats too: she is an active member of her church, New Life Fellowship, and mother to her daughter Christen and son Lukas with her husband, Chris.
Christopher Hinojosa, Faculty Senate President Lone Star College-Houston North
Each morning when Christopher Hinojosa walks through the doors of LSC-Houston North Victory where he is an English professor, he says "I love this place, I love these people, and I love my job."
When Hinojosa started at LSC in 2011, he was one of the first full-time faculty members hired at what was then the LSC-Victory Center. He is now the founding Faculty Senate President for LSC-Houston North. It's an opportunity that is humbling, he said, yet also one of his proudest professional moments. His priority in this new position is to establish the mission, vision and culture of LSC's seventh college-and move it forward.
"I want our faculty to coalesce together as we create this new culture at Houston North. Making sure we're represented well at the system level, especially with the particular innovations and things we're doing differently-like the eight-week schedules and cohorts-so we can establish success over the next couple of years is going to be vital," Hinojosa said.
Hinojosa, who enjoys reading and listening to audiobooks, watching documentaries and rooting for the Houston Astros, also serves as the department chair for the upcoming Puente Program at LSC-Houston North. This program, which already exists elsewhere in the college, helps underrepresented students earn degrees through relevant approaches, cohort-based learning and mentorship.
While Hinojosa's passion is teaching and conducting student discussions because he loves the cooperative nature of the work itself, his educational background is in English. He received his bachelor's degree in 1994 from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (formerly known as Pan-American) and then his master's degree in 2004 from the University of Texas at Austin.
Though he has completed the coursework for his doctorate degree and is working on his dissertation, Hinojosa has been teaching for about 20 years now. His career took him to Denver, Colorado, for a few years, but he always wanted to come back to Texas. Now that he's at LSC, he says he doesn't want to leave.
"What we're doing is interesting, invigorating and fun. There's a sense that we're doing something new here, and it's tremendous to be working toward something new together," Hinojosa said. "It's helping people, and it's good for the community and good for our students."
Roger Chambers, Faculty Senate President Lone Star College-Kingwood
In each area of Roger Chambers' responsibilities-as the Business Administration Department chair, a computer information technology professor and the Faculty Senate President at LSC-Kingwood-he is focused on getting things right.
"Whatever I have to do, I try to do it well. I'm fortunate to be where I am. I really want to do a good job, at the end of the day I want people to say that even though I may not have gotten it, I tried," Chambers said.
With a bachelor's degree in computer science from Prairie View A&M University and a master's degree in software engineering from the University of Houston-Clear Lake, Chambers was an adjunct professor at a few different institutions before stepping into a full-time role at LSC in 2013. What was hard to beat here, he said, is the inclusive environment that makes sure every person's voice matters.
Though he oversees more than 25 adjunct professors in his department and works hard to cultivate worthwhile classes for his students, Chambers is now directly part of ensuring each voice matters through his role as Faculty Senate President. As a representative for his peers, he said he wants to be someone who listens and communicates well, delivering balanced yet unfiltered messages to both campus and system administration. He doesn't take the job lightly.
A few projects he's worked on include developing Faculty Qualities of Excellence, a streamlined syllabus website and participating in the build-back process from Hurricane Harvey's devastation at LSC-Kingwood; yet the overarching goal for Chambers is to facilitate two-way communication.
"I think in the end, it's not going to be about the individual accomplishments. It's going to be the totality of me listening and learning a new style of leadership. That's what I'm going to walk away from my time in Faculty Senate with. It's intelligent leadership, in my mind," Chambers said.
After coming home at the end of each day to his wife Jacci and their three children Audrey, Austin and Avery, Chambers loves all things music. A semiprofessional bass guitarist, Chambers has used his hobby to previously tour internationally with gospel artists as well as play with smooth jazz and rhythm and blues, or R&B, groups.
Janeu Houston, Faculty Senate President Lone Star College-Montgomery
In 2013, when Dr. Janeu Houston first read the job description for a professor of biotechnology at Lone Star College-Montgomery, it was such a perfect fit that she thought someone had designed the position specifically for her. And while she may have begun her career at LSC for the job, Houston has stayed for the people: because of the relationships and trust she has been able to build with students, peers and administrators.
"None of this matters if you don't invest in people. That's it. We are trying, one person at a time, to impact lives. And it's not just the students, because education comes in many forms," Houston said.
Houston, who has a bachelor's degree in medical technology (now called clinical laboratory science), a certification in medical technology with a specialization in blood banking and a doctorate degree from Texas A&M Health Science Center, is also the Faculty Senate President at LSC-Montgomery.
In her position, Houston has helped develop Faculty Qualities of Excellence, which she said has been a great process for both herself and other faculty to define what characteristics they should exhibit and then, in turn, use those traits as a lens for everything they do. Houston's focus is also on building trust between all parties so she can be the best advocate for her peers while having honest and authentic conversations.
"We always have opportunities for connection. Let's treat people with humanity, dignity and respect. If you have an issue, let's address the issue. It's about making people feel that they are important, that what they do is vitally critical to Lone Star and our students. We can't do what we do without every single person's involvement," Houston said.
Houston uses each minute to be intentional with people, whether that looks like challenging students in the lab, making sure a student knows it matters that they're at LSC-especially when they have a lot going on outside of the classroom-or collaborating with her fellow faculty members.
Though Houston said she doesn't have much free time during the school year, she takes advantage of the summertime to decompress and spend time with her husband, John, family members and friends while also visiting her home state of Wyoming.
Devethia Guillory, Faculty Senate President Lone Star College-North Harris
Growing up, Devethia Guillory listened to her grandparents tell story after story. Though she initially wanted to become a medical doctor, the love of history instilled at a young age was hard to shake. So, Guillory's path has led her to serve as a professor of history at LSC-North Harris since 2013 and currently as the Social Sciences Department chair and Faculty Senate President there.
After starting a family, Guillory attended Houston Community College to get her associate degree in 1998, followed by her bachelor's and master's degrees in history from the University of Houston in 2000 and 2004, respectively.
Guillory was home schooling her three children-Alvin Jr., Andre and Ashley-during that time. Then, she started teaching as an adjunct professor or lecturer at several different institutions in the area before coming to LSC. She is now pursuing her doctorate degree in community college leadership from Ferris State University.
Ironically, Guillory's mother graduated with her associate degree in nursing in 1983 from LSC-North Harris-the very location Guillory now works at encouraging students and supporting peers in an ode to her own history.
"I have firsthand experience of a place where dreams are born, but where they also become a reality based on the educational resources and the support and encouragement provided here," Guillory said.
That is the crux of Guillory's participation at LSC now. In Faculty Senate, she said she supports her colleagues by being a voice, collaborating with them and developing Faculty Qualities of Excellence. In the classroom, she also sees herself walking alongside students to help them set goals, take advantage of opportunities and navigate the world of higher education.
"We have an awesome opportunity because so many of our students don't come out of a culture where higher education is the norm. Every day when I come to work, I know that I'm going to do something worthwhile, and I know I'm going to have the opportunity to touch somebody's life," Guillory said.
All these experiences, she said, have made her a better department chair, instructor and leader. And when she isn't at work, Guillory loves to read for fun, do puzzles and spend time with her grown children.
Donna Willingham, Faculty Senate President Lone Star College-Tomball
Colorful streamers hang from the ceiling of Donna Willingham's office at LSC-Tomball, and they've been there for about five years as a reminder. When she was diagnosed with bone cancer in 2013, Willingham said she received an outpouring of support from her colleagues. Able to finally return to work after surgery and chemotherapy, Willingham was met with the streamers in her office in addition to more cards and gifts.
"It's a great reminder of the people I work for and how much I appreciate the opportunity to work here. I absolutely would not work anywhere else," Willingham said.
Now in her second year as Faculty Senate President, Willingham has been at LSC since 2003 and is an adult literacy specialist, professor and chair of the Developmental English, Education, ESOL and Languages Departments.
A commitment to education has been simmering underneath the surface of Willingham's entire life. She grew up in Corpus Christi seeing her father teach a few adjunct courses. She obtained a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Houston Baptist University in 1978, and after teaching for a few years and having her children she received an administrative master's degree in secondary education from Stephen F. Austin State University.
Her path then veered into real estate when she took over her mother's business. Yet, it wasn't satisfying. She gave up a lucrative salary and instead fully committed to teaching. At 44 years old, Willingham made the change shortly after stumbling into an adjunct position and then a part-time position at LSC-North Harris.
"It was a big shift, but I was committed to the change. It was not about the money, it was about personal satisfaction and giving back and helping others," Willingham said, who went back to get her doctorate degree in reading, specializing in adult literacy, in 2009 from Sam Houston State University.
She uses that life experience of working full-time and going to school simultaneously to relate to and encourage her students, who are often nontraditional. As Faculty Senate President, Willingham's goals are to increase attendance at meetings, encourage new hire participation and collaborate with others.
When she's not at work, Willingham spends her time baking, gardening and being with her family-especially her triplet granddaughters, newborn grandson, Easton, and her husband and high school sweetheart of 42 years, Terry.
David Gaer, Faculty Senate President Lone Star College-University Park
At LSC-University Park, David Gaer became the Faculty Senate President to represent his peers in an important mission: student success. Now midway through his two-year appointment, that is still at the top of his list.
Originally from Wyoming, Gaer began his time in higher education by attending Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyoming. He then received his bachelor's degree in interpersonal communication from Southern Utah University in 1989 and later a master's degree in interpersonal language and culture from the University of Nebraska.
After more than two decades of teaching at colleges and universities in Wyoming, Minnesota and Nebraska, Gaer made his way to LSC in 2013 to teach speech and communication and subsequently chair the Speech, Psychology and Sociology Department. The best part of his day, he said, is when he can help a student.
"I'm very happy here...typically when something gets brought up, the first question is 'how does that benefit our students?'" Gaer said. "As long as we keep that focus, I don't think we're going to find a better place to work."
Gaer said he knows that sometimes, he just needs to be a listening ear-that's why his door is always open for peers or students to discuss issues or ask questions. He also facilitates this with his administrative team by participating in regular meetings and acting as a liaison between students, faculty and staff.
"We have a wonderfully unique relationship between our Faculty Senate President and our administration at the University Park campus. I feel like my opinions are validated and listened to, and if there is something that needs to be worked on, we try to come up with a solution together," Gaer said.
Some of Gaer's current projects include working on the GradUP program to increase the LSC-University Park First Time in College (FTIC), full-time, three-year graduation rate to 50 percent by 2021, developing Faculty Qualities of Excellence and enhancing the Puente Project for underrepresented students by creating a new speech class.
Outside of LSC, Gaer finds himself taking trips to relax in nature in Wyoming and serving as the tournament director for the American Forensic Association National Individual Events Tournament, a yearly intercollegiate speech event.
by Jane Stueckemann
LSC Board of Trustees: Alton Smith, Ed.D., Chair, District 3; Myriam Saldívar, Vice Chair, District 6; Art Murillo, Secretary, District 4; Linda S. Good, J.D., Assistant Secretary, District 7; Ken E. Lloyd, District 9; Ernestine M. Pierce, District 2; Mike Stoma, District 1; Mike Sullivan, District 8; and David Vogt, District 5