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Durren, Kirby receive state community college recognitions

Published Friday, April 20, 2012
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Tags: Academic Excellence Award awards BioNetwork Instructor of the Year NC Community Colleges pcc Piedmont Community College The Great Within the 58
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A Piedmont Community College (PCC) instructor and an outstanding PCC student received awards during the North Carolina Community College System’s 2011 annual Excellence Event, “The Great Within the 58,” on April 19 at the Raleigh Convention Center. Instructor Randy Durren was named the BioNetwork Instructor of the Year for 2011, and PCC student Amaris Kirby was named the recipient of Academic Excellence Award.  

Kirby, a Roxboro resident, is pursuing an Associate in Science degree and has a 4.0 grade point average. “PCC has been the perfect place for me to start my college career because it is financially affordable, has the same classes that the universities require, and is close to home,” she said. “I enjoy being able to talk to my teachers and have a close relationship with them. Many of the teachers and staff have helped me greatly in deciding what I want to do in the future.”  

Kirby is a 2010 graduate of Roxboro Community School and plans to transfer to a four-year college upon completing her Associate degree. She has been active at PCC as a member of the Student Activities Council and the Creative Minds Club. She is a caregiver for her grandparents and is active in her church. “I want to be able to do whatever God has called me to do to the best of my ability for others and for Him,” said Amaris, in responding to her award selection.   Kirby was recognized individually onstage at the Excellence Event and was presented a medal along with the Academic Excellence Award winners from each of the other 57 NC community colleges.  

Durren was presented the BioNetwork Instructor of the Year in recognition of his contributions to the BioNetwork mission. BioNetwork supports the mission of the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) aligning world class workforce training and education to the Biotechnology, pharmaceutical and life science industries. BioNetwork trains at all levels of this industry, upgrading the skills of incumbent workers, from entry level to management.   Durren, who has been employed at PCC since 2004, is curriculum coordinator and instructor for the Laboratory Technology, Biotechnology, and Biology programs at PCC. He has been a proponent of the NC Community College mobile learning program, first known as the BioNetwork Biotechnology bus and now called the “Mobile Launch Pad for Critical Careers.” He has scheduled the bus to visit PCC on a regular basis to use its resources to train PCC students. He also requested that the bus be open to the public for parts of this visit to help introduce others at the college and in the public to the biotechnology opportunities available at PCC and across the state.  

“His vision for his students went beyond individual county lines. Instead, he proudly promoted industry needs across North Carolina and how his students could fill those needs,” said Lisa Richman, Director, Mobile Lab Operations “Mobile Launch Pad for Critical Careers.   Durren also promotes biofuels, biotechnology, innovations in chemistry and green programs, both for PCC and the NC Community College System. He provides training on the use of the College’s biodiesel reactor on PCC’s Person County Campus for his classes as well for a Continuing Education class taught through PCC’s Business Development and Entrepreneurship Center. He has been successful in getting grants to fund state-of-the-art equipment and to provide training for the programs he teaches. He is currently on the steering committee for the NC Greenforce Initiative, part of the National Wildlife Federation Campus Ecology Program. Since 2004, he has led a successful summer biotechnology camp at PCC for middle and high school students. As BioNetwork Instructor of the Year, Durren received a $1,000 award. 

Dr. Sherry Stewart, Dean, Business Studies and Emerging Technologies, describes Durren as a “comfortable, well-seasoned educator who “always has his students’ best interests at heart and is willing to provide them the quality time—his time—to provide the guidance, mentoring, and educational opportunities they need to reach their potential.”   More than 600 people attended the third annual NC Community College Excellence Event, “The Great Within the 58,” an awards luncheon celebrating excellence among North Carolina community college students, faculty, staff, presidents and business partners. The event was part of a weeklong celebration of excellence in community college education as proclaimed by Governor Bev Perdue.  

Also honored at the event was the recipient of the I. E. Ready Award, the highest honor bestowed by the State Board of Community Colleges, Dr. Phail Wynn, former president of Durham Technical Community College. The I.E. Ready Award was created in 1983 to recognize individuals who have made significant, statewide contributions to the establishment, development or enhancement of the N.C. Community College System. The award is named for the late Isaac Epps Ready, the first state director of the System.  

In addition to Dr. Wynn, the State Board honored the recipients of the President of the Year, the Excellence in Teaching, the Staff of the Year and Distinguished Partners in Excellence awards: Dr. Mary Rittling, President of Davidson County Community College in Lexington, was named Wells Fargo President of the Year. Stephanie Tolliver Osborne, English Instructor and Writing Center Director at Gaston College in Dallas, was the recipient of the R.J. Reynolds Excellence in Teaching Award. Dr. Donald Herring, Division Chair for Student Services at Coastal Carolina Community College in Jacksonville, received the Wells Fargo Staff of the Year Award. Kevin Tyburski, PCC webmaster/graphic designer, was one of five finalists for the staff award. Duke Energy, based in Charlotte, with Gaston College and Randolph Community College, were honored as Distinguished Partners in Excellence. Rachel Okun, a graduate of Brunswick Community College, was the recipient of the Dallas Herring Achievement Award, and Brian Mansfield, a graduate of Cape Fear Community College, received the Governor Robert W. Scott Student Leadership Award. 

More information and photos of all the winners are posted on the NC Community Colleges website at the following link: http://www.nccommunitycolleges.edu/pr/Awards/ExcellenceEvent2012/