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Miami Dade College to Honor Its 2011 Endowed Teaching Chairs at Special Reception Nov. 22

ETC 2011 Honorees-GROUP-alt

The 2011 ETC Honorees, from left, standing: Miriam Abety, Nora Dawkins, Elena Perez-Mirabal, Juan Morata, and Magdalena Lamarre. Sitting: Lenore Yates, Lourdes Espana, and Ece Karayalcin.

Miami, November 14, 2011 - Among Miami Dade College’s (MDC) most valued traditions is a program created to recognize eight outstanding professors, who embody the heart of the College’s mission. This year’s recipients of the 2011 Endowed Teaching Chairs have gone above and beyond the call of duty to advance higher education. They represent the eight MDC campuses and several academic disciplines. This group of distinguished faculty will be honored at a reception this fall. 

A special reception in honor of the 2011 Endowed Teaching Chairs will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011.

“As much as any program at the College, the Endowed Teaching Chair reflects our identity and our aspiration to excellence as an institution,” said MDC President Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón. “On a day-to-day basis, these professors accomplish the heart of what we’ve been doing for the past 50 years.” 

The honorees were selected by a committee of their peers who looked at evidence of student retention and success, effective teaching strategies, professional growth, and making student learning a top priority. The eight professors join the list of 286 endowed chair recipients honored since the program’s inception in 1992.

The honorees of MDC’s 2011 Endowed Teaching Chairs are:  

Honoree: Ece Karayalcin         ~          Endowed Chair: Women in Business Endowed Teaching Chair

Karayalcin began teaching at MDC 16 years ago and has used her position as a film professor to make a positive difference in the lives of students. As faculty advisor for the Student Film Society, she has also helped developed a curriculum for the School of Film and Television, School of Entertainment and Design Technologies at MDC’s North Campus. Karayalcin’s leadership abilities and passion for both teaching and film has led to her involvement in several film projects outside of the classroom, adding to the practical instruction she is able to give to her students. “I use a variety of teaching techniques and inform students that the class is going to operate as an extension of the motion picture industry,” said Karayalcin. “I ensure that students understand and put into practice a responsible attitude for the industry and follow the rules and regulations of a professional film production. That means not only what they acquire in class but they must demonstrate professional behavior and accountability for their production work.” One other teaching method Karayalcin has adopted is a mentor program and a film evaluation process that helps students thoroughly evaluate each other’s projects. Within the film industry, she has worked as a director, cinematographer, and once worked as a videographer for Steven Spielberg’s Survivors of the Shoah Foundation, by filming Holocaust Survivors’ testimonies. Karayalcin is listed in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers, a gratifying honor for her because only students cited in the National Dean’s List are invited to nominate the one teacher that made a difference in their academic career.

Lourdes España                      ~          Rotary Club of Miami Endowed Teaching Chair

A die-hard mathematician and an MDC alumna, España helped create a Florida Department of Education’s award-winning academic program that linked college prep reading and beginning algebra. An MDC mathematics professor since 2001, España has always believed that keeping students motivated in an environment conducive to learning is vital to one’s success in mathematics. “I motivate students by telling them to overcome math anxiety, how to study by managing their time, taking notes and the steps to being a good listener,” said España. She has also taught students the importance of collaboration and encourages them to work with others through group sessions in and outside of the classroom. Throughout her career, España has also benefited from collaborative projects. In 2003, she joined other faculty members to plan the first MDC math faculty retreat. Additionally, she was part of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Quality Enhancement Plan Team that took on the idea of Math Across the Curriculum, which aims to promote successful learning communities that involve math and other disciplines. Recently, she participated in the USDA/HIS Education Fellows program in Washington, D.C. this past July. 

Elena Perez-Mirabal                ~         The AT&T Endowed Teaching Chair in Communications

Like many MDC students, Perez-Mirabal knows the struggle of having to financially support a family while attending college all too well. Fortunately, this MDC alumna quickly learned how to navigate the demands and stress of college life. As an MDC student several years ago, Perez-Mirabal said when a dedicated professor encouraged her to become a college prep tutor, it changed her life. “In college prep, I discovered a place that resonated with my own values and aspirations. I got an opportunity to teach writing to students who needed help and in helping them, I helped myself. I have felt this way ever since.” Perez-Mirabal’s background inspired a passion for teaching, which has helped her successfully connect with students regardless of their academic preparation. “I challenge them and strive to provide opportunities they can build on,” she said. Over the years, the longtime English professor has worked hard to develop a progressive curriculum. She has invited well-known authors from all over the world into her classroom; collaborated with her academic colleagues on professional development projects; successfully led teams to create new teaching techniques; and provided leadership and mentoring as a faculty co-advisor to Axis, an award-winning MDC student magazine. “In my work, I am constantly inspired by my students, and by countless college faculty, administrators and staff whose dedication motivates me to put students first every day.” 

Nora J. Dawkins                      ~         The Miami Foundation Endowed Teaching Chair

What started Dawkins’ journey to teaching excellence were the first few days she spent as an ESL instructor. Listening to students tell their stories about coming to the U.S. and the goals they’d set for themselves was uplifting and started her on a path to become the best teacher she could possibly be. She said their drive to attain a college education was much different than other students. The common thread among all her ESL students was: ‘I came for a better life, and I know education is the key.’ Dawkins began her faculty career at MDC 19 years ago and during that time, she has made significant contributions to curriculum innovation. She co-designed one of the first English for Academic Purposes courses and is a highly sought after leader by the Sunshine State TESOL’s executive board. “All of these efforts have been firmly rooted in my commitment to my students, my belief that all of these experiences can inform my teaching practices, and my belief that I am a student as much as I am a teacher,” said Dawkins. She is also a faculty advisor of Phi Theta Kappa, one of the largest student organizations at MDC, and has accompanied a delegation of students to a prestigious international seminar. Many of Dawkins’ ESL students have progressed to MDC’s Honors College, leadership positions in student organizations, Ivy League and other four-year colleges and universities. Her skills and commitment level are one of the reasons why she has maintained one of the highest student retention rates among faculty at MDC. 

Magdalena Lamarre                ~          MDC Alumni Association Endowed Teaching Chair

A 20-year educator at MDC, Lamarre is one of the first faculty members hired at the Homestead Campus when its doors opened in the fall of 1990. Lamarre believes every opportunity can be a learning experience, and that it is important to take instruction outside of the classroom. She has always been involved in campus events that provide the possibility to combine academics and social experiences, by developing presentations that stimulate the students’ intellectual curiosity. Her belief is that students learn better when lessons are both instructional and entertaining. For the last three years, Lamarre has given presentations about the Holocaust and other genocides. She has said that increasing genocide awareness is one of the ways to prevent it from reoccurring. “As an educator my role is to develop awareness and foster social responsibility through instruction. We can accomplish this through curriculum and programs that provide our students and community with the information they need to make informed choices and engage in direct action.” To date, Lamarre has developed two courses at MDC about the sociopolitical subject matter: History of the Caribbean and the History of Genocide. MDC is one of the few institutions in the nation to offer these courses at the community college level, and the only in the state of Florida. 

Dr. Miriam Frances Abety        ~          Andrew Blank Endowed Teaching Chair

Dr. Abety’s journey with MDC began decades before becoming a full-time faculty member. She enrolled after completing high school, dropped out after a short time, then later returned to earn her college degree. For several years, she worked at a community health center, until 1996 when she was offered an adjunct faculty position teaching English to non-native speakers. Later, she taught psychology and student life schools as an adjunct before being hired full-time in 2004. Dr. Abety’s path has enabled her to connect with students experiencing academic milestones similar to her own. In her role as professor, she not only provides instruction within the classroom, but she serves as a mentor and leadership coach to her students. She often assists students with both academic and extracurricular projects, including the Salzburg Global Seminar, where students explored the concept of sustainability from a global perspective. Three years ago, Dr. Abety and a colleague received a grant to launch a learning community involving psychology and history students entitled, Project TAACT (Terrorism Awareness through College and Community Teamwork). In the community, Dr. Abety trains crisis counseling volunteers at the Switchboard of Miami; and teaches self-esteem and empowerment to abused women at Safespace. Although it is typical for a faculty member to give in class instruction and face-to-face advisement, Dr. Abety believes that students need coaching in other areas of their life in order to accomplish their goals. “From them [students] I have learned that young adults with the appropriate tools and guidance can goo extremely far as long as they are motivated, disciplined and ready. Their inexperience in life may at times temporarily hinder their goals, and with some cheerleading, have witnessed their resiliency,” said Dr. Abety. 

Dr. Lenora Yates         ~          HCA Healthcare Corporation Endowed Teaching Chair

An honorably discharged veteran from the United States Air Force Nurse Corps, Yates joined MDC’s School of Nursing in January 1990. As a nursing supervisor stationed at the Homestead Air Force Base, the training of nurses was familiar territory for the professional educator, nurse and administrator. Having been with MDC for the past 21 years, Yates has not only been a full-time professor but has managed nursing education programs at Jackson Memorial Hospital, Baptist Hospital, and MDC’s Homestead and Medical Center campuses. Additionally, she served as department chairperson for two years, and led humanitarian medical mission trips to Haiti to provide health care to approximately 400 orphans in 2009; and during the wake of the 2010 earthquake with the Miami Rescue Mission. Yates firmly believes that to achieve excellence, it is necessary for students to fully engage in their learning. “I believe that as a nursing educator, my actions must reflect what I do repeatedly; so excellence is not an isolated event, but rather it is a habit or a way of life for me,” said Yates. 

Juán Morata           ~              Philip Morris Endowed Teaching Chair of Excellence in Agriculture and the Natural Sciences

Morata’s teaching strategies has earned him the privilege of being recognized by numerous students for his dedication and effort in enhancing their educational experience. A former scientist who has worked for major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, Morata is able to deliver practical teaching methods to the classroom and as an advisor/mentor to students with declared majors in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and health-related fields. “A few reasons why I love my job is because my parents’ lifelong goal was to have all their children become college graduates,” said Morata. “Also, I can be a role model and guiding light to many of our students who are also first generation college students.” He persistently encourages his students to develop their science research skills to the level where they are able to make presentations and participate in projects at national conferences. During his six-year tenure at MDC, Morata has maintained an outstanding retention rate, thanks in part to his devotion to spending several hours a week with students on their advanced research projects. One such research earned the attention of the National Science Foundation in Washington during a scientist symposium recently. By continuing to motivate his students to participate in projects beyond the classroom, Morata is likely to be a favorite teacher for a long time.   

For more information on the Endowed Teaching Chair Program, please contact Nairobi Abrams, MDC Foundation, at 305-237-3247, or e-mail   



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