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Sylvania’s Teri Mills tapped for regional ‘Faculty Member Award’ by the Association of Community Colleges Trustees
Photos and Story by Kate Chester
Teri Mills, a nursing educator at the Sylvania Campus of Portland Community College since 1979, has won the coveted regional “2012 Faculty Member Award” from the Association of Community College Trustees (www.acct.org), a non-profit educational organization of governing boards, representing more than 6,500 elected and appointed trustees who govern 1,200 community, technical, and junior colleges in the United States and beyond.
The Faculty Member Award is one of a handful of honors of excellence as part of the ACCT awards program. The program is designed to recognize and honor outstanding community college trustees, equity programs, presidents, faculty members, and professional board staff members at regional and national levels.
Mills will receive her award as part of the 43rd annual ACCT Leadership Congress to be held in Boston, Oct. 10-13, when she also will learn if she is the national winner in her category.
“I am so incredibly honored at receiving the news of this award,” said Mills. “And I’m humbled, also. Portland Community College has a wealth of talented, dedicated and noteworthy faculty in its ranks. That the college chose to nominate me means the world to me because it has many, many qualified candidates to choose from,” she said.
Since becoming a registered nurse nearly 40 years ago, Mills has played pivotal roles on the local, regional and national nursing scenes.
Locally, Mills counts teaching more than 3,000 RNs as one of her greatest accomplishments. Academic positions she has held over her tenure at PCC include serving as part of the team that transformed the college’s nursing department into a member of the Oregon Consortium of Nurse Educators, from 2010 to 2012; as the faculty liaison to the PCC chapter of the National Student Nurses Association for several years; and as the PCC second-year student coordinator, from 2003 to 2007.
For her efforts at the college and much more, Mills was awarded the PCC Faculty/Staff Excellence Award for the 1999-2000 academic year. This prestigious award honors up to 10 outstanding full-time and part-time faculty who have made a difference in the lives of students and contributed to the vitality of the institution.
“Teri is someone with an incredible amount of energy – energy she throws into everything she does,” said Linda Gerber, president of the Sylvania Campus where the college’s nursing program is housed.
“Through her leadership, creativity and enthusiasm, Teri has inspired thousands of students to organize and lead community projects that promote health and wellness – the ‘Love Your Heart Fair’ during American Heart Month, the annual ‘Halloween Haunted Hospital’ at Sylvania for parents and young children, and setting up and participating in a first aid station for 20,000 bikers as part of the annual ‘Bridge Pedal’ in Portland,” said Gerber.
“Nursing is one of PCC’s flagship programs – an outstanding, sought-after program due to the dedication and diligence of faculty and staff,” Gerber said. “Teri personifies the program’s integrity and quality, and I’m thrilled – both that she’s won this award and that she’s part of PCC’s nursing department.”
Mills is a proven regional leader outside PCC, as well. She served on the Board of Directors of the Bradley-Angle House, a shelter for abused women and children, from 1991 to 1993. She was appointed by former Governor Barbara Roberts to be a member of the Sexual Offenses Against Children Task Force, from 1992 to 1994, and she is frequently called upon to testify before the Oregon State Legislature.
From a national standpoint, Mills authored an op-ed, “America’s Nurse,” that ran in the New York Times in 2005. This piece called for a federal National Nurse to create a new standard for a more accurate and realistic recognition of nursing’s importance to health and health care in the United States.
The op-ed was introduced into Congressional Record and shortly after, Mills founded the National Nursing Network Organization (http://nationalnurse.org), a national non-profit legislative advocacy organization focused on promoting, encouraging, and supporting a National Nurse for Public Health and other projects that promote wellness and disease prevention. Its Web site is frequently listed on recommended lists of Web sites, including the Top 20 Medical Blogs for Academic Reference.
Mills has served as president of the National Nurse since 2005, leading a board of seven members and an advocacy team of 40 prominent nurses and stakeholders. She returns to Washington, DC, biannually to lobby and inform policymakers about the National Nurse Act. And her passion, dedication, and altruistic determination are making an impact: In December 2011, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), the first nurse elected to the House of Representatives, introduced HR 3679 National Nurse Act of 2011 to make Mills’ vision a reality.
“Teri has demonstrated excellence in teaching, development of innovative programs and curricula, and leadership on behalf of community college faculty and the nursing profession,” said Jim Harper, past-chair, PCC Board of Directors.
“Teri is a truly inspiring teacher and advocate who is worthy of ACCT’s highest faculty honor,” he said.