Linn-Benton Community College President Greg Hamann has received the Howard Cherry Outstanding Community College Administrator Award, presented by the Oregon Community Colleges Association.
Named for the late Howard Cherry, a lifelong advocate for education and community involvement, the award is considered the association’s highest honor.
Hamann, who has been president of LBCC since 2010, was nominated for his dedication to serving community colleges for more than 20 years.
"Greg is a passionate advocate for Linn-Benton Community College," Cam Preus, association executive director, said in a statement about the award. "He brings the same ardent support for all community college students to the legislature and other statewide policy makers."
Hamann called the honor "unexpected and deeply meaningful," but stressed that what's really being recognized is a team effort.
"I just got to play one role," he said. "For the leadership team, I would say it's confirmation of what we're doing and the role we're playing, not just at the institution but at the state level."
Hamann helped to lead LBCC in the passage of a $34 million bond measure in 2014, which paid for upgrades at LBCC’s Advanced Transportation Technology Center in Lebanon, created a new health-care campus in Lebanon and expanded the Benton Center in Corvallis, among other projects.
He said he's particularly proud of the business partnerships the college has helped to create and strengthen during his tenure, especially through a business-government-education partnership known as Pipeline to Jobs. The partnership is meant to highlight the science, technology, engineering and math career possibilities that come with career and technical education.
Hamann also pointed with pride to LBCC's selection in 2015 as one of 30 community colleges nationwide to share in a three-year, $5.2 million Pathways grant to help guide and support students from enrollment through graduation. LB was the first Guided Pathways institute in Oregon and is now training other college officials on the program.
In the future, Hamann said he sees a role the community college can play in two big issues facing society: finding a way to add a "character" element to the effort to develop job skills, and creating more equity in the higher education system as a whole.
Local employers tell LBCC they lose more than a third of their new hires within the first six months of the job, Hamann said. While reasons vary, a recurring theme is that the employees simply don't seem to make the responsibilities of the job — such as attendance and punctuality — a priority.
"One of the things I hope we do as a community college — as educators in general — is rediscover the character education component," Hamann said.
The problem is one for the community as a whole, he added. "But I think that's something we need to focus on, and education has a role to play in that. It's not just about building skills or getting a job."
As for equity, Hamann said, he sees no simple fixes, but feels LBCC can do its part.
Higher education, he said, is built on a historical and cultural narrative that is not fully inclusive. Therefore, to achieve equity, the basic foundation of the institution model has to change.
Funding is a part of that, and it's something LBCC is working on as well, Hamann said. He's proud the institution has turned its attention to helping students connect with resources that will keep them moving toward a degree, such as housing assistance, food stamps and health care.
However, money isn't the whole issue, Hamann said. "You actually have to be a different institution."
Hamann said he sees the Oregon Community Colleges Association award as a signal the college is on the right track in its priorities.
"I think it's affirmation for the direction we've headed. It's not like, 'Oh, we've arrived,'" he said. "Certainly my hope is it will be an impetus for even more into the future."