Exceptional faculty

Five outstanding educators receive annual faculty award      

computer technology instructor Bruce Elgort; English as a Second Language professor Sara Gallow; music professor Richard Inouye; mathematics professor Dr. Kanchan Mathur; and addiction counselor education instructor Don Wissusik.

The 2018 Exceptional Faculty Award recipients are: computer technology instructor Bruce Elgort; English as a Second Language professor Sara Gallow; music professor Richard Inouye; mathematics professor Dr. Kanchan Mathur; and addiction counselor education instructor Don Wissusik.

During the 2018 Commencement ceremony, President Robert K. Knight announced the names of the recipients of the 2018 Clark College Exceptional Faculty Awards. The awards are presented annually to full-time and part-time faculty members. Nominations can be submitted by Clark College students, faculty, classified employees, administrators, alumni, Board members, and Foundation directors.

The awards are made possible through an endowed trust fund established by the Washington State Legislature and the Clark College Exceptional Faculty Endowment Fund, which was established in 1993. That fund provides recognition of exemplary work performance, positive impact on students, professional commitment, and other contributions to the college.

This year’s Exceptional Faculty members are:

Bruce Elgort

Bruce Elgort

If there is one word to describe computer technology instructor Bruce Elgort, it is probably “connected.” He stays connected to his students through email, social media, and online tools. “Never in the history of teaching has a professor been more available to his students,” raved one student in their nomination.

Elgort is also connected to local industry through his long career in tech, which includes high-level positions at major companies like Sharp and Underwriters Laboratories, as well as launching his own successful software company. And he creates connections in his community, regularly attending (and sometimes speaking at) conferences and inviting others to come with him. “I can’t count the number of events I’ve attended because Bruce posted something on Slack or Facebook—or gave me a digital nudge saying, ‘You should go to this!’” wrote another student.

Small wonder, then, that Elgort has gathered a significant fan base at Clark since beginning to teach here in 2012. Indeed, this is his second time winning an Exceptional Faculty Award at the college; the first time was in 2013. Elgort says that, since then, he’s become involved in numerous Clark committees and initiatives. In other words, he’s become more, well, connected to Clark—and clearly Clark is all the stronger for it.

Sara Gallow

Sara GallowWhen Sara Gallow began her teaching career, she imagined it would be a way to travel the globe. But one day, while teaching English in Japan, she read a newspaper article about a program in the U.S. teaching English to immigrants and refugees; instantly, she realized that was what she wanted to do. Within a year, she was living in Portland and teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) at area colleges, including Clark.

Clearly, it was the right fit: Gallow was hired full-time in 1999 and has been here ever since. Currently, she serves as chair of the Transitional Studies division and has been described as the division’s “consistency, vision, driving force, and backbone.” Under her leadership, Transitional Studies has redesigned all of its ESL and basic education courses, as well as developed a new program serving inmates in the Clark County Jail.

Throughout her career, however, Gallow’s first love remains teaching. “My students teach me strength, persistence, and humility,” she says. “I’ve had doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, and musicians in my classes. I’ve had students who weren’t able to finish elementary school and others who have escaped war. All of them came to this country for a better life, and for one quarter they trusted me to teach them English and help them reach their goals—it’s truly an honor to be their teacher.”

Richard Inouye

Richard InouyeIt’s hard to imagine Clark College’s exemplary concert band and jazz ensemble without their fearless band leader, music professor Richard Inouye. Since 2007, Inouye, who is retiring this June, has not only led the band but also raised its musical reputation in order to recruit top notch student musicians to attend Clark. Additionally, he has directed Clark’s annual Jazz Festival, which has grown to attract more than 50 middle and high school bands from around the region.

Inouye has a long professional career in music, beginning with teaching band in Colorado public schools and followed by a 20-year career in the United States Air Force Academy Band as a saxophonist, music director, and band leader. He also served on the music performance faculty at The Colorado College for eight years before moving to Vancouver to begin teaching at Clark.

“Although Rich can come across as stern and direct, he’s also got a soft heart, often coaching and mentoring students on his own time and with his own resources,” wrote one nominator. “He believes in giving students second chances, within parameters designed to help them become successful.”

“He wants us all to be responsible, of course, but he will lend a hand whenever needed,” wrote one student. “He continues to push us to be the best we can be—in band and outside of band.”

Dr. Kanchan Mathur

Dr. Kanchan Mathur“I enjoy everything about math,” says mathematics professor Dr. Kanchan Mathur. “The clarity of thought it brings, the seemingly unrelated quantities that come together in a beautiful formula, the numerous applications of it, the elegant proofs of theorems, the history behind some of the most important developments—and, well, numbers in general.”

Dr. Mathur is all too aware, however, that not all her students feel the same way. “Math should not be intimidating, but it is, sadly,” she says. A tenured professor at Clark since 2008, she helps students overcome their math hurdles by making herself available outside of the classroom for one-on-one help with tricky concepts—and with other challenges they face.

“In addition to her dedication to our students’ academic success, she also genuinely care about their well-being,” wrote one nominator, point out that Dr. Mathur stocks a variety of snacks in the Mathematics Department office for hungry students.

In addition to her teaching duties, Dr. Mathur has served as the Mathematics Department’s scheduler. She also works with local schools to hold several math competitions and to get young students excited about mathematics and higher education. And she’s teamed up with other math faculty on many of the department’s math-themed events, like its annual Pi Day celebration and its “Read a Math Book to your Child” campaign on Bring Your Child to Work Day.

Donald Wissusik

Don WissusikFor almost two decades, Donald Wissusik has made the long commute to Vancouver from Newberg, Oregon, to teach evening classes to students in Clark’s Addiction Counselor Education (ACED) program. That he has done so on top of his full-time job as a clinical services manager in addiction medicine for Kaiser Permanente speaks to his dedication to teaching.

“The wisdom from his many years of experience, along with his gentle and kind demeanor, makes him very approachable and makes us students feel valued,” wrote one nominator. “Don has made a huge impact on me, and I will carry his words of wisdom with me into my professional career.”

Wissusik’s own career is coming to a close, as he is retiring from Clark this year. (He retired from Kaiser in 2016.) But his legacy will continue at Clark through his many years as a volunteer on the ACED’s advisory committee, which helps ensure the program’s outcomes match employers’ needs.

“I am very honored and amazed to receive this award,” Wissusik says. “I have tried to be guided by being mindful of how I wanted to be mentored when I started this career over 40 years ago.”

Photos: Clark College/Jenny Shadley









  1 comment for “Exceptional faculty

Comments are closed.