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Blinn College nominates Communication Professor Deborah Vavra for Minnie Stevens Piper Professor Award

Vavra was Blinn’s 2017 Teaching Excellence Award winner for the Brenham, Schulenburg, and Sealy campuses

November 30, 2017

Debbi VavraBlinn College has named Communication Professor and Assistant Dean for the Division of Visual/Performing Arts and Kinesiology Deborah Vavra its 2017 Minnie Stevens Piper Professor Award nominee.

Since 1958, the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation has recognized outstanding professors from two- and four-year colleges and universities across Texas. Ten awards of $5,000 each are made annually to professors for superior teaching at the college level. Selection is made on the basis of nominations submitted by each college or university in the state. The winners will be announced on May 1, 2018.

“I enjoy teaching at a community college because the students are so diverse and I want to be that person who teaches about my discipline, but also who encourages students,” Vavra said. “So much of what I do is making students more aware and confident in the talents and skills they already possess.”

A member of the Blinn College faculty since 1995, Vavra was named Blinn’s 2017 Teaching Excellence Award winner for the Brenham, Schulenburg, and Sealy campuses. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in speech communication from Texas A&M University and a Master of Arts in communication from the University of Houston.

“Professor Vavra’s class substantially shaped my life,” wrote Dr. Carrie D. Kennedy-Lightsey, a former student of Vavra’s and an Assistant Professor at Stephen F. Austin State University, in her recommendation letter. “She saw potential in me that, as a first-generation college student, I doubted in myself. Professor Vavra’s enthusiasm and passion for the material and her students were contagious.”

In addition to her role a Communication Professor, Vavra is the Assistant Dean for the Division of Visual/ Performing Arts and Kinesiology. She is an active leader on several Blinn College Committees, including the Performing Arts Series Committee, Division Leadership Council, Center for Teaching and Learning, Curriculum Committee, and Curriculum Resource Team. She recently served on the Strategic Planning Committee.

Vavra previously has been awarded the NISOD Excellence Award; Robert Giles Distinguished Advisor Award; Phi Theta Kappa’s Faculty Scholar, Paragon, and Region Horizon Awards; and has been named to the Texas Hall of Honor for Outstanding Advisors.

“Her strong character, professionalism, and sparkling personality illuminate her classroom, as well as her personal relationships,” wrote former student Brittany E. Guardia in her recommendation letter. “She taught us that, at times, our actions matter more than our words and our mission in this life should be to leave the world a better place than we found it.”