Mark Lewine - Acceptance Speech

Outstanding Community Colleges Professor of the Year National Winner
Mark Lewine
Professor of Anthropology
Cuyahoga Community College

I desperately needed help in order to understand what I am doing up here in front of you as a colleague of these three remarkable educators, selected by even more outstanding educators. So, I consulted my usual sources, colleagues and students. To my great satisfaction, the best advice I received, the clearest understanding, came from a former student, now teacher, who said, "Do what you always do- "REPRESENT" by which she meant, represent what your heart, mind and soul has told you from the time you entered your first class as a student in the new community college in 1965 to the time you began your labor of love in 1971, teaching, collaborating and learning in that open door community college movement so important now to our nation and its people.

So I need to thank her and the thousands of students like her who have been my most important collaborators in this life work. As I have told many graduate anthropology students in career workshops as they contemplate where to teach, "Before you make your decision on where you want to work, where you want to be a professor, a teacher, please spend some time if you haven't already, in a community college classroom. If we do not become your first choice, then please stay away. A professor at a community college must love teaching and students; we have so many of them every semester. No one should teach at a community college as a fallback second choice position-our students demand your full enthusiastic attention. Being a cultural anthropologist, my choice was clear. The open door provides the anthropologist with a domestic cultural tapestry to work with unmatched by any other institution anywhere. So, thank you students.

Like any teacher, I have two families: at home and at work, though sometimes it's hard to separate them. My second family is of course my colleague network, made up of my local and national professor/friends, collected over our four decades of shared work. My wife is my closest partner in both families of course, as she shares all of it with me, side by side as my most honest colleague, at home and away.

And of course, thank you to those pioneers (Charles Chapman and Bob Lewis in my area) of the comprehensive community college movement who opened the doors for me and my peers in the mid-1960s and brought this uniquely democratic culture to higher education and to our imperfect democracy, a work-in-progress at best. I am proud to say thank you in person to Jerry Sue Thornton, our current president, and Sunil Chand, our former academic vice president now president of the College of DuPage, for carrying the mission forward from those pioneers, and supporting faculty as the core of the college.

Now we need to make the final connection and thank the Carnegie Foundation, so well represented by its last president, the late Ernest Boyer, and of course, the current president, Lee Shulman, two leaders in education who speak and write of a holistic, connected view of education, scholarship and the role of faculty. Through their insights, we all can look forward to continued support for the role of educator in the community and the partnerships necessary for an open educational pathway for students moving through our educational system. Representing our community college students, I thank you. Please continue to support our increasingly difficult effort to provide full opportunities for those citizens and students with few options.

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