AVON PARK, Fla. – June 6, 2024 – Colleges and universities honor and encourage faculty who go beyond the requirements of the classroom. To that end, four South Florida State College (SFSC) faculty have been appointed as endowed chairs in their respective disciplines with funds donated through the SFSC Foundation.

The Norm and Laurie Stephens Endowed Teaching Chair was awarded to Dr. Kate Calvin, Chemistry instructor. Dr. Mintoo Patel, Biology instructor, was awarded the Bill and Lisa Jarrett Endowed Teaching Chair in Business. Therese (Terra) Tippie, Dental Assisting instructor, was appointed as the Highlands County Health Facilities Authority (HCHFA) Endowed Chair for Dental Education. Candra Polk, Nursing professor, was appointed as the Highlands County Health Facilities Authority (HCHFA) Endowed Chair for Nursing Education.

Faculty members appointed as teaching chairs are awarded $5,000 per year for two years, with half going toward equipment, professional development, or to attend a conference related to the faculty member’s discipline of study. The other half is a salary stipend.

Dr. Calvin will use her award to expand the SFSC Natural Science Department’s offerings in undergraduate research. “I would like to expand our department’s research repertoire to include protein analysis,” she said. “This will benefit students by enabling them to learn an entirely separate skill set of protein extraction and purification. It will also enable them to further apply the concepts they learn in chemistry and biology courses. Many of our

students are interested in medical fields, and students who are able to demonstrate research experience in both nucleic acid purification and protein purification will have a definite advantage as they transfer to larger [educational] institutions, especially if they present their findings at conferences.”

Dr. Patel’s focus for her award is also on expanding undergraduate research and Honors program projects. “For a colorectal cancer project, students will stain biomarkers involved in epithelial to mesenchymal transition in colorectal tissue samples on slides to predict carcinogenesis and metastasis. For an oral microbiome project, students will collect oral samples for metagenomic analysis of the microbiome. Once the metagenomic analysis is generated, these results can be shared by multiple students to conduct related projects. Students will analyze the oral microbiome with regards to local and systemic diseases. Through these projects, students will learn about societal health issues and develop skills to tackle them. They will also learn about health disparities prevalent in our population.”

Terra Tippie said that she will use the Endowed Chair award to purchase a camera that will allow students, while seated at their desks, to watch dental procedural demonstrations on a classroom screen or on their laptops. “When I demonstrate a technique,

it’s difficult for all students to see the minute detail that is required to accomplish an intra-oral task from a distance,” she said. “The students are crowded around and try to look over each other. A camera can be used in a number of locations, such as the lab, classroom, and clinic. The advantage [of using a camera provides] an opportunity for students to learn techniques and be secure in their functions in the dental environment.”

Polk proposed that she, as a Nursing professor, earn certification as an aromatherapy instructor. “This support opens the door to a comprehensive exploration of clinical aromatherapy, including workshops and training sessions that will deepen my understanding and practical skills. Becoming certified in clinical aromatherapy presents a valuable opportunity for enhancing the education of Nursing students by providing them with a knowledgeable and dedicated instructor, expanding their skill repertoire, and promoting a holistic approach to patient care. Certification provides a structure and evidence-based approach to incorporating aromatherapy into heath care practices.”

Recipients for endowed teaching chairs at SFSC are chosen by a selection committee, with advice and counsel from College faculty. Selections are confirmed by Dr. Michele Heston, SFSC vice president of academic affairs and student services.

The idea of endowed teaching chairs at state and community colleges came from research chairs at universities. At SFSC, the Endowed Chair program rewards faculty who hold the belief that the student must come first. The award can be used to fund professional development activities that ultimately enhance student learning and incorporate classroom projects or activities above and beyond what is usually offered in a course.