by Kelly Rogge
The Henry M. Louis Outstanding Faculty Award is given each year to honor and reward a certain faculty member whose actions and values are characteristic of Louis’s contributions to Kansas City Kansas Community College. This year, the award has been given to a member of the faculty who has spent more than 30 years teaching, leading and blazing new trails at KCKCC – Melanie Scott.
“For me this is truly an honor,” said Scott, professor in the social and behavioral sciences department and former director of the Intercultural Center at KCKCC. “This is the hallmark of my career at KCKCC. It came as such a surprise. I am truly thankful and my heart is full of gratitude. This is a humbling experience.”
The Henry M. Louis award is the hallmark award for KCKCC faculty. From 1967 until 2005 Louis served the college as teacher, chairman of the Social Sciences Division and finally as Dean of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. He was a historian who loved to teach and was considered a lifelong student of diverse cultures and histories. Louis had a keen eye for shared values, always respectful of differences and He continuously revised his courses, searching for new ways to encourage in his students the love of learning that shaped his life. Above all, he wanted “his” college to be a place where students and teachers could do their best work, where doing well meant “doing good.”
“This year’s recipient of the Henry Louis Outstanding Faculty award has held several titles here at KCKCC, some of which I am not sure exist today,” said Michael Vitale, vice president of academic affairs at KCKCC, in his presentation of Scott during the annual KCKCC Employee Recognition and Retirement Dinner May 2 . “One thing all of these titles had in common was they involved working and helping students to be successful regardless of their backgrounds. This passion for people and for helping all people was instrumental in bringing a multi-cultural approach to education and led this year’s recipient to establish two very important organizations that foster inclusiveness by encouraging us to learn more about one another’s background – the Intercultural Center and they Wyandotte Ethnic Festival.”
Scott has been at KCKCC for 32 years serving as a professor, director of community education, coordinator of Long Term Care Administration Program, instructional consultant in the Social and Behavioral Science Division and co-founder and director of the Intercultural Center. In many of these roles, she was the first woman and the first woman of color to be hired.
“Her positive focus on collaboration, communication and world community brought about significant change and inclusiveness to the campus and the community,” said a colleague in her nomination packet. “Melanie has had an impressive career as a teacher. Her students benefited from her experiences and her commitment to diversity and inclusiveness.”
Scott, who was able to spend time and work with Louis before he passed away in 2005, said as this chapter of her life concludes, receiving the award is truly an honor. She is retiring from KCKCC this year.
“I was surprised and overwhelmed with this honor,” she said. “In addition, it was so heartwarming for me to have the Louis family represented. When I put the pieces of the puzzle together (during the introduction), my cup runneth over.”
Scott said it was important to note that her academic career initiatives were not done solo. She said she had “excellent leadership mentors” such as Deloris Pinkard, retired vice president who worked in coordination with Louis to support her leadership desires and endeavors.
“Success has two important letters to have a progressive career. The letter U and S – “Us.” My 30 plus years at KCKCC consisted of working collaboratively with colleagues and at the various levels of the organizational structure,” she said. “This recognition award was also very humbling coming from my faculty peers in Social and Behavioral Science Division – Dr. John Ryan, Mrs. Kris Hearn (both recipients of this distinguished award and worked very hard on the application process) and other faculty whom may have had a voice. I am also extremely appreciative to Karen Hernandez (former student and KCKCC Board of Trustee) who also wrote from a student’s perspective.”
Scott said Louis was a “scholastic, forward thinker.” She said he was a pioneer in so many initiatives at KCKCC and was a guide in her career path.
“I watched Dr. Louis infuse this authentic style and passion for education and this coincided with who I am as an individual and as a professional – a transformational style teacher/leader. He is the one who encouraged me in a multiple of my leadership roles,” she said. “He saw the best in me and did what he could to help me become who I am today. He believed in me. A lot of who I am today is because of him.”