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Faculty & Staff News

Summer 2020

Raúl Gutiérrez, associate professor of Spanish and coordinator of HCC's Latinx Studies program, received the Antonio Pantoja Award for Distinguished Achievement from the Latino Scholarship Fund of Western Massachusetts. The award is given annually to an individual who demonstrates high academic success through research, education, art, policy, and publication. 

Tracye Whitfield, director of contract sales for HCC's division of Business & Community Services, was honored by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women's as a member of its 2020 class of Commonwealth Heroines. State Sen. James Welch (D-West Springfield) recommended Tracye because of her tremendous commitment to the people of Springfield and her work as a Springfield city-councilor at-large. Beside her work as a city councilor, Tracye has served as a co-chair of the Mason Square C3, a board co-chair of Wellspring Cooperative since 2018, a trustee of the Association of Black Business and Professionals since 2015, and trustee of Sabis International Charter from 2013 to 2018. The Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women is an independent state agency that was legislatively created in 1998 to advance women of the Commonwealth to full equality in all areas of life and to promote their rights and opportunities.

Fall 2019

Gail Golas and Nelson Lopez

HCC celebrated the 20th anniversary of the college's annual Giving Tree campaign last week, fulfilling the holiday wishes of 375 seniors, veterans, children and families from four area nonprofit agencies. At the Dec. 12 closing ceremony for this year's campaign, the President's Office honored Gail Golas, administrative assistant in Arts & Humanities, with a special award recognizing her 20 years of service on the Giving Tree organizing committee. Here she is at right with staff assistant Nelson Lopez, who delivered the surprise award. 

Admissions counselor Bryn Nowell was selected as Miss May in the 2020 Pinups for Pitbulls annual fundraising calendar. Nowell is a member of the state chapter of Pinups for Pitbulls, part of an international nonprofit that aims to improve living conditions for dogs of al breeds. In May, Nowell traveled to Philadelphia for the photo shoot. On Dec. 7, the South Hadley resident hosted a calendar release party at Abandoned Building Brewery in Easthampton. You can read about Nowell and the calendar in the Nov. 29 edition of the Holyoke Sun under the sub-headline: 'Pinup' photo raises funds for pooches.

President Christina Royal has been appointed as a trustee to the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and as a director to the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau. In October, she was named an honorary commander at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee. Honorary commanders are given a base pass for a year with the goal of strengthening the relationship between the base and the community. President Royal recently returned from a trip to Washington D.C. where she and other Massachusetts community college presidents met with members of the state's Congressional delegration to discuss legislative prioities and the needs of community college students.

Summer 2019

Maintainer Marty Geraghty was featured in a July 10 article in DFCI Online, Marty Garveythe newsletter for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.  The story,  "Have a ducky day," chronicles Marty's visits to Dana-Farber with is wife, Wanda, who is being treated there for throat cancer, and how he came to be known for his weekly distributions of rubber ducks to patients and staff at the institute. "It was just something silly to make people smile," he told writer Austin Fontanella. "I enjoy giving them out and seeing people's reactions. In a place like this, we all need to smile." You can read the article here.

The Valley Advocate recently interviewed criminal justice professor Nicole Hendricks about yoga classes offered at local jails. For the  June 19 article, " Yoga in Jail: Hampden County program offers release in pre-release center," Hendricks stressed the importance of providing incarcerated people with enrichment opportunities, such as yoga and college classes. "Any kind of tool that a person can use to navigate the challenges of reentry is going to be helpful, and we should equip them with as many tools to be successful as we possibly can," Hendricks told writer Gena Margiaratti. You can read the full article online here. 

Spring 2019

HCC celebrated faculty and staff May 22 with its annual awards presentations for 2019. Maintainer Kevin Donais received the Classified Staff Award and librarian Camille Close the Professional Staff Award. English professor Lisa Mahon was the recipient of the Elaine Marieb Faculty Chair for Teaching Excellence. 

Congratulations to all the HCC faculty and staff members who completed HCCs first Leadership Academy, a program of the college's Council for Community, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The Class of 2019 includes: Maria Caraballo-Pagan (Financial Aid), Milissa Daniels (Kittredge Center), Rosemary Fiedler (Thrive), Elaine Hebert-Dancik (Workforce Development), Raúl Gutiérrez (Arts & Humanities), Susan Mulry (Library Services), Diana Rosado (CAPS), Debra Roy (Library Services), Shannon Sarkisian (Admissions), Kimberly Slepchuk (Health Sciences), Ileana Vasu (Math/STEM) and Carin Zinter (Business Administration). 

Business administration instructor Carin Zinter has been selected as a participant in Next Carin ZinterGen Personal Finance's 2019 Summer Institute. She was one of 12 teachers selected from over 280 personal finance educator applicants nationwide who applied for the program, held at NGPF's offices in Palo Alto, California. The 2019 NGPF Summer Institute brings together passionate and talented educators from across the United States, where they will curate resources for the upcoming school year, collaborate with fellow educators and enhance their content knowledge in topics such as investing and managing credit. Upon completion of the summer institute, participants serve as a NGPF fellows for the 2019-2020 academic year. 

Renee Tastad, HCC's dean of Enrollment Management and interim vice president of Student Affairs, was selected to serve a three-year term on the Board of Directors for the Greater Holyoke YMCA.  

Congratulations to the following HCC faculty members on their promotions!

To assistant professor: Mary Cornell (Nursing), Kara Moriarty (Nursing), Amy Toulson (Biology).

To associate professor: Thomas Barrup (Engineering), Raúl Gutiérrez (Foreign Language), Elizabeth Hayward (Foundations of Health), Jason Maurice (Psychology)

To professor: Jane Burkhardt (English), Ellen Majka (Business), Steven Winters (Environmental Science).

Three educators from HCC have been selected as fellows for the Teachers Leadership Institute, a joint initiative of the National Education Association and the Massachusetts Teachers Association: Milissa Daniels, career development counselor in the division of Business and Workforce Development; Stephanie Marcotte, member of the ESL faculty and HCC/MCCC chapter president; and Jada Waters, academic counselor with the Gateway to College program, chair of HCC's Council for Community, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and co-founder of the HCC Leadership Academy. The institute is a comprehensive effort to recruit, prepare, activate and support the next generation of teachers to lead a transformed teaching profession. The 2019 TLI fellows will engage in both face-to-face and online programs and projects.

Assistant professor of Spanish Raúl Gutiérrez has been selected as an "Engaged Scholar" Raul Gutierrezfor 2019-2020 by the Eastern Region Campus Compact, a regional partnership of colleges and universities dedicated to promoting civic engagement.  He was one of 12 scholars picked for the inaugural, 18-month program that includes academics from 11 other institutions from Maine to Washington D.C.  His projects will focus on two areas: building a civic engagement / service learning component into the new Latinx Studies program (launching Fall 2019) and continue to teach Spanish literacy skills to migrant farmworkers through Head Start in Springfield. Read the full story on the HCC News page

Photography professor Frank Ward's most recent work was displayed Feb. 10 through March 1 at the Valley Photo Center at Tower Square in Springfield, where he showed photographs he took on two recent trips to Egypt. His Egypt photos can be viewed on his most recent blog at

Jennifer Abeles, a member of the adjunct English faculty, wrote a moving tribute to the late poet Mary Oliver for the Feb. 1 issue of Hampshire Life, the weekly magazine of the Daily Hampshire Gazette. Click here to read her cover story, "Cultivating Wonder: Locals on the late, great Mary Oliver."

Fall 2018

Criminal Justice professor Jose Bou was featured in a Sept. 15 Boston Globe story about the importance of college education programs for inmates in the state prison system. In the article, "From prison to college: Consortium puts inmates in a 'positive pipeline,'" Bou recounts his own journey from a troubled youth growing up in Holyoke to inmate and eventually college graduate and college and HCC professor. 

Olugbemiga Adekunle, HCC's dean of Science, Engineering and Math, is a founding member of the STEM Deans Council, a collection of STEM deans from all 15 community colleges in Massachusetts. The goal of the council is to cut costs by building collaborations between the colleges. 

Spring 2018 

Congratulations to the following HCC faculty on their promotions!

To assistant professor: Laurel Carpenter (Environmental Science),  Joan Giovannini (Education), Janet Grant (Foundations of Health), Alix Hegeler (Art), Benjamin Hersey (English), Joseph T. Lavoie (Computer Information Systems). 

To associate professor: Ellen Cogen (Music), Karen Hines (Business), Tara Kavanaugh (Nursing), Naomi Lesley (English), Jon Ventulett (Computer Information Systems). 

To professorSteven Hilbun (Mathematics), Johanna Kolodziej (Nursing), Warren Leigh (Culinary Arts), Paul Twum Barima (Mathematics), Carolyn Wetzel (Biology). 

HCC senior academic counselor Jossie Valentin was chosen as Democrat of the Year for 2018 by the Holyoke Democratic City Committee. Besides her work at HCC, Valentin is a Holyoke city councilor representing Ward 4. The HDCC award recognized Valentin's "commitment to our Democratic  Jossie ValentinPrinciples and the People of Holyoke." She was honored at a celebration at Jay's Bed and Breakfast on April 18. "Our work is about building up one another and lending others a hand. Jossie puts those principles and values into practice and goes above and beyond to ensure that everyone's voice is heard," Ray Drewnowski, HDCC chairman told the Springfield Republican newspaper. "Her strong advocacy for the Latino and LGBTQ communities have made her a recognizable voice throughout our area and commonwealth. She is not afraid to speak truth to power, she is not afraid to disagree – respectfully – with others to speak to what she believes is right." Read the full story about her award on MassLive.

Fall 2017

Tom StewartTom Stewart, HCC's director of Athletics and Recreation, was featured in the "Executive Insights" section of the December 2017 edition of "NJCAA Insider." Stewart is in his first season as the 2nd vice president for the  men's division of the National Junior College Athletic Association. He is in his 16th season in a national role with the NJCAA and in his 21st year at HCC, where last month he directed the NJCAA Division III Cross Country Championships in Westfield. He serves as chair of the NJCAA Division III men's golf committee and vice chair of the track & field committee. He also co-chairs the finance and budget committee. 

Summer 2017

President Christina Royal has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the United Way of Pioneer Valley and the American Association of Community Colleges' Commission on College Readiness. Her appointment to the United Way board was unanimously approved at the regional nonprofit's 95th anniversary celebration and annual meeting on May 31. She began her three-year term on July 1. Her one-year appointment to the Commission on College Readiness also began July 1. The AACC, which is based in Washington D.C., is the principal advocacy group for community colleges in the United States. Its Commission on College Readiness advises the AACC board and staff on matters related to preparing students for college-level academic work.

Adjunct accounting professor Lois Koltz and her husband Steve were honored at the Lubavithcer Yeshiva Academy's Generations of Goodness Scholarship Dinner June 11 for their volunteer work at the academy and other Jewish organizations. The Koltzes were recognized for their service to Beth Israel Synagogue, the Hebrew Free Loan Association and the academy, which is in Longmeadow. In addition to her teaching, Lois serves as adviser to HCC's Club Shalom. 

Spring 2017

HCC President Christina Royal has been appointed to the Board of Directors of the HCC President Christina RoyalMassachusetts Technology Collaborative. Mass Tech is a nonprofit public agency advancing economic development in key areas such as health care technology, life sciences, information technology, nanotechnology, broadband deployment, and marine sciences. Through its major divisions — the Innovation Institute, the Massachusetts eHealth Institute, and the Massachusetts Broadband Institute —MassTech brings together leaders from industry, government, and higher education to advance technology-based solutions that strengthen regional economies, improve the health care system, expand broadband access and stimulate economic growth throughout the Commonwealth. President Royal's term on the board runs until Nov. 20, 2020. She was sworn in on June 1.

The Westfield River Watershed Association presented the 2017 Waite Award for outstanding efforts in environmental science to Mark Damon, HCC adjunct professor of Biology. Damon was recognized last month at the association's annual meeting for his work on behalf of the watershed and his service to the association for nearly 20 years, according to an article in the County Journal. During that time Damon has served two terms as association president and has chaired the fall and spring Clean-Up Days for many years. "If you're into biology, you realize how interdependent everything is," said Damon, who also teaches at Westfield State University. The Waite Award was established in 1981 in memory of the longtime executive director of the association, Richard A. Waite. 

English as a Second Language professor Vivian Leskes was awarded the 2017 Elaine Marieb Faculty Chair for Teaching Excellence. Leskes has been an ESL teacher at HCC for 25 years. The Marieb Award was endowed by HCC professor emeritus Elaine Marieb '80 to recognize a full-time member of the faculty who exemplifies the characteristics associated with outstanding classroom teaching. Award recipients serve for one year and receive a small stipend for professional development, lead the procession at Commencement, and also give the keynote graduation speech.

Also receiving annual staff awards for 2017 were Jennifer Maccarini, coordinator of HCC's Nursing Success Program (Professional Staff Award), and Valentyna Semyrog, administrative assistant, Business & Community Services (Classified Staff Award).

Ben Hersey reads from his debut novel.

English professor Ben Hersey is the author of The Autograph of Steve Industry, his debut novel, published by Magic Helicopter Press. The novel follows narrator Steve Industry over the course of one year as he travels with his band The Steamrollers and answers a series of survey questions. "The real joy of the work is the way the hyper-kinetic prose gushes with emotion and heart, but never in an overwhelmingly sentimental way," one reviewer wrote. "Hersey's innovative analysis/poetic breakdown of the life experience is a pure pleasure to behold." Hersey, a writer, performance artist and musician who lives in Easthampton, gave a reading April 25 in the HCC Library as part of the Authors@HCC series.  You can read an excerpt on Literary Hub.

Elizabeth Trobaugh and Steve Winters

Professors Elizabeth Trobaugh (English) and Steve Winters (Environmental Science) gave a presentation about their Learning Community course, "Cli-Fi: Stories of the Coming Climate Apocalypse" at the 66th annual meeting of the Southeastern Section of the Geological Society of America in March in Richmond, Virginia. The theme of the session: "Transforming Geoscience Teaching and Learning at 2Y and 4Y Colleges." The Cli-Fi course combines introductory literature and composition with first-year physical geology, including lab and field studies. The course title refers to climate-change fiction, a science fiction subgenre. For their final projects, students write original cli-fi stories using the storytelling techniques and climate change science they have learned. Conference organizers liked the presentation so much Trobaugh and Winters were invited to convert it into an article for the Bulletin, the newsletter of the Eastern Section of the National Association of Geoscience Teachers, which you can read on pages 8-13. Not that that's a surprise. The Cli-Fi class drew international news coverage three years ago after it was introduced for the Spring 2015 semester and even garnered mention in The New York Times.  

New England Public Radio interviewed HCC adjunct English professor Christopher Kobylinsky for a story about "A Quiet Passion," the recently released Emily Dickinson movie starring Cynthia Nixon as the "Belle of Amherst." Kobylinsky regularly reads both Dickinson's poetry and his own at a monthly open mic at the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst. Here's a link to the story, "New Emily Dickinson biopic 'humanizes' Amherst poet."

Congratulations to the following HCC faculty on their promotions!

To Assistant Professor: Michele Cabral (Business and Technology), Sage Franetovich (Biology), Sheila Gould (Education), Judith Loughrey (Nursing), Nicholas Schwab (Mathematics), Rebecca Targove (Mathematics)

To Associate Professor: Perpetual Agyemang (Mathematics), Garrett Cahill (Mathematics), Sarah Gilleman (English), Jessica Hill (Economics), Rebecca Osborn Lewis (Foundations of Health), Emily Rabinsky (Biology)

To Professor: Mahmud Ahmadov (Mathematics), Catherine Dillard (Mathematics), Tina Jacques (Nursing, Diane Stengle (Chemistry)

Tom Stewart, HCC's director of Athletics and Recreation, has been elected 2nd Vice President for Men for the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). In that role, he will oversee the complete budgetary activity of the association. He is one of eight executive board members of the NJCAA. The NJCAA is the largest two-year athletic association in the U.S., serving 24 regions, 300 schools, and thousands of athletes. Stewart will begin his new role on August 1, 2017. HCC, a member of Region 21, which includes Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, has hosted four NJCAA national championships during the past few years, three in Cross Country, and one in Track and Field. HCC will host the Cross Country national championship again on Nov. 4, 2017.

Professor Justin West, co-founder of HCC's Electronic Media Arts program, joined legendary documentary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman and other local scholars for a post-screening discussion of "Titicut Follies," on the 50th anniversary of Wiseman's ground-breaking film that examined the brutal treatment of patients at the State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Bridgewater Massachusetts. The sold-out April 8 screening and panel discussion was held at the Amherst Cinema and presented in collaboration with the Massachusetts International Festival of the Arts. West, Wiseman and the other panelists talked about the impact of documentary films on civic activism and progress that has been made in the treatment for the criminally insane since the film was released in 1967.   

Electronic Media Arts professor  Jay Ducharme is now the president of the Greater Westfield Choral Society. The organization recently gained status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and held its 40th Anniversary Spring Concert on Sunday, April 4 at St. Mary's Parish in Westield. Prof. Ducharme, who lives in Westfield, is an HCC alum from the Class of 1978, as well as a musician and composer, and wrote a commissioned piece, "I Call Upon the Lord," which had its world premiere at the anniversary show. He also designed the group's new website (, as well as its brochures, and the concert program and posters. 

Fall 2016

Michele Sedor, director of HCC's System for Adult Basic Education Support and ABE Professional Development Center, has been appointed to the state's Adult Basic Education Advisory Council by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Office of Adult and Community Learning Services. The council advises the board and the commissioner on adult basic education programs and need, including assessing statewide trends and needs; seeking public and professional input; advising on regulations and program guidelines. "With your expertise and contribution, the council can make significant contributions to enhance the department's mission, goals and priorities," Mitchell Chester, commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education, said in his appointment letter. Sedor, who lives in Shutesbury, works out of HCC's Picknelly Adult and Family Education Center on Maple Street in downtown Holyoke. Her term on the advisory council runs from October 2016 through June 2019.

Spring 2016

Ileana Vasu, professor of mathematics and chair of HCC's engineering program, was the recipient of the 2016 Elaine Marieb Faculty Chair for Teaching Excellence. The award was established by HCC professor emeritus Elaine Marieb to recognize a member of the HCC faculty who exemplifies the characteristics associated with outstanding classroom teaching. Each spring, one member of the full-time faculty is named the Elaine Marieb Chair for Teaching Excellence and receives a modest stipend to support activities to enhance their professional skills. Vasu, who lives in Hatfield, has taught at HCC for 18 years. She earned her bachelor's degree at Stanford University and her master's degree at Yale University.

Professors Joan Giovannini (education) and Aaron Levin (math) received Course of Distinction awards at the Massachusetts Colleges Online (MCO) eLearning Conference. Professor Levin's online course, MTH 142 Statistics, and professor Giovannini's blended course, EDU 268 Computer Technology in Education, were selected from more than 3,000 courses offered through MCO, a consortium of the 15 Massachusetts community colleges and seven members of the state university system, to receive the MCO Course of Distinction (COD) Award. The MCO Award Course of Distinction (COD) is named after the Bay State's unique association with the "Sacred Cod," and the contributions that the fishing industry made to Massachusetts' economy in the early years of its history. In addition to accepting a symbolic gurgling cod pitcher, professor Levin and professor Giovannini were invited to present and shared their courses as part of the conference. Photos above, Giovannini and Levin accept their COD awards from Carlos Santiago, commissioner of the state Dept. of Higher Education.

Pesha Black, of Northampton, director of the HCC's Ludlow Area Adult Learning Center and Springfield Adult Learning Center ESOL program has been named a champion of literacy by Mass Literacy, a Boston-based not-for-profit educational organization. Winners of the group's annual Mass Literacy Champions awards each receive a $1,000 grant for program development, a professionally produced video to promote the work of their organization valued at $1,000, and serve as a Mass Literacy Adviser. Each will complete an innovative literacy project that will be shared with the statewide literacy community.

The work of assistant professor of Spanish Raúl Gutierrez, with support from past and present members of the HCC LISA Club, was recognized with an 2015 Innovation Award from the Massachusetts Head Start Association. In collaboration with Holyoke Chicopee Springfield Head Start, and funded through a grant from the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts, Gutierrez developed a program called "Planting Literacy" that provides literacy courses for Spanish-speaking migrant workers who have children in Head Start. Every Tuesday and Thursday evening, Gutierrez teaches reading and writing, in Spanish, at the Head Start offices in Springfield to about 20 immigrant mothers whose children were born in the United States and attend public school.

Gutierrez talked about "Planting Literacy" as a co-presenter in Virginia Feb. 21 at the national conference of the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association.

Congratulations to the following members of the HCC faculty on their promotions.

To Professor: Teresa Beaudry (nursing); Elizabeth Butin (forensic science); Laura Christoph (nutrition); Edward Clancy (English); Tricia Keifer (education); Audrey Kilcoyne (nursing); Holly Martin-Peele (radiologic technology); Vanessa Martinez (anthropology); Patricia Quinn (nursing); Tracey Ross (education); Alexandra Wagman (English).

To Associate Professor: Jane Burkhardt (English); April Graziano (education); Ellen Majka (business); Michelle Wiliams (psychology); Steven Winters (environmental science).

To Assistant Professor: Thomas Barrup (engineering); Raúl Gutierrez (Spanish); Elizabeth Hayward (Foundations of Health); Jessica Zepke (nursing).

Faculty receive upgrades in rank based on evidence of professional development; contributions to the college or community service; student evaluations; demonstrated effective performance.

Fall 2015

Professor of Anthropology Vanessa Martinez has been selected as a 2015 Leadership Fellow by the American Anthropological Association and will be honored at an award ceremony during the association's annual meeting in Denver, Colorado, Nov. 19.

The AAA Leadership Fellows program offers an opportunity for anthropologists early in their careers to learn about AAA and leadership opportunities and to encourage future leadership in the association. Martinez is an associate professor of Anthropology at HCC as well as coordinator of the Sociology/Anthropology department and the HCC Honors Program. Originally from San Sebastian, Puerto Rico, she is a trained cultural and medical anthropologist whose research specializes in how social inequities impact access to medical care and educational opportunities. In 2014, she completed her Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Spring 2015

Chair of HCC's Health, Fitness and Nutrition program, Professor Patricia Mantia has been appointed to two boards of the American College of Sports Medicine, the national governing body for sports medicine and exercise science.

Mantia, who lives in Sturbridge, is serving on the ACSM's board of personal trainers and its board of examiners, where she will work with other fitness and medical professionals to develop policies, practices, certification guidelines, standards and exams. Mantia holds a bachelor of science from Bridgewater State College and a master's degree and doctorate from Boston University, where she focused on teaching human movement and professional development of fitness leaders. She is in her 16th year at HCC, where she developed the Health, Fitness and Nutrition program.