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Polk State College Announces 2009 Endowed Teaching Chairs

Friday, March 20, 2009


Three Endowed Teaching chairs were awarded by the Polk State College Foundation during 2009. The Endowed Faculty Chair program rewards full-time instructors for their outstanding teaching and service to the college and community. Each Endowed Chair holder receives a financial stipend of $5,000 to be used to further enhance the recipient’s professional performance.

Since 1995, 52 Faculty Chairs have been granted, and approximately $300,000 has been awarded to faculty members to enhance the classroom experience for students. To be eligible for this award, faculty and professional/technical (instructional) members must have three years or more of continuous full-time faculty status at Polk State College. Recipients are selected from a committee comprising representatives from the Polk State College Foundation Board of Directors and Polk State College faculty members.

Rosalinda Rivera Collins received the Theatre Endowed Teaching Chair. Professor Collins has taught Spanish and French at Polk State College since 1994. A native Spanish speaker, she has lived in Uruguay, Venezuela, and throughout the United States.

As a two-time recipient of an endowed teaching chair, Professor Collins believes her success stems from her interest in working with students to achieve an understanding of cultural diversity via foreign languages.

She is an active advisor for the International Circle club at Polk State, an organization she helped to create in 2000. She has also received the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) Excellence Award.

Professor Collins will apply her award money toward a student trip to Italy this summer. She is also using a portion of the award toward a computer equipment purchase that will help her to better manage her online course offerings. Mastering the “language” of computers has allowed Professor Collins to empathize with her students on the challenges of learning a new language, while also demonstrating the importance of lifelong learning.

Rebecca Heintz received the George Jenkins Endowed Teaching Chair. Professor Heintz is a graduate of Polk State College and has been part of the English faculty for more than 20 years. This is the second time that she has received an endowed teaching chair.

As an avid reader and lover of literature, she takes great pleasure in seeing her students, especially the reluctant readers, embrace the literature she’s assigned and watching them develop their own interest in reading for pleasure.

Professor Heintz is active on numerous committees and was instrumental in the creation of the Polk State College Honors Program. She organizes off-campus experiences for the Honors Program students to provide them with enrichment opportunities not otherwise afforded them. She plans to use her award money to help improve her instruction for the Honors Program students and to help the College renew its Learning Communities program.

Penny Ann Morris received the Thelma Raley Endowed Teaching Chair. Since joining the faculty in 1998, she has taught every math class offered at the college and written materials for five new courses.

A first-time recipient of an endowed teaching chair, Professor Morris has served as the advisor for the Phi Theta Kappa honor society for over ten years. Through this organization she has become a certified leadership instructor and has taught the General Leadership class at Polk State College.

Under her leadership, the chapter has received awards for Most Improved Chapter, Distinguished Chapter, Most Distinguished Advisor (multiple years), Most Distinguished President, Distinguished Officer, and Distinguished Member, as well as other awards in art, essay, poetry, and speech at both the regional and the international levels. The chapter ranked in the top 100 out of more the 1200 chapters internationally.

This summer, Professor Morris will join Professor Collins in coordinating a trip to Europe for students. Her hope is that the trip will enhance and enrich students’ learning experiences back at Polk State College.