FARMINGTON - James Lombella, president of Tunxis and Asnuntuck community colleges, was one of 35 college presidents in the nation to receive the 2018 Shirley B. Gordon Awards of Distinction in April during PTK Catalyst 2018, Phi Theta Kappa’s annual convention and centennial celebration in Kansas City, MO.
Phi Theta Kappa is the largest honor society in American higher education for two-year college students.
Honorees are selected for this award based on outstanding efforts promoting the goals of PTK. The award is named for the late Dr. Shirley B. Gordon, the organization’s longest-serving board of director’s chair. Gordon was named Phi Theta Kappa’s Most Distinguished College President in 1984.
A community college graduate himself, Lombella was nominated by Asnuntuck’s PTK chapter Alpha Lambda Zeta for his support of the college’s chapter and student success.
Lombella was one of the initial supporters in Connecticut’s first statewide Community College Completion Corps, part of a larger, seven-state PTK initiative to bring greater student awareness to the importance of college completion. His outreach to fellow Connecticut Community College presidents resulted in 100 percent participation from the Connecticut Community College system.
He has also secured funds each year for Asnuntuck’s PTK chapter to help students who do not have the financial means to join the honor society, participate in events and PTK conferences, and have access to scholarships and other membership benefits.
Lombella also made sure the chapter received dedicated office space as part of Asnuntuck’s facility renovations, and encouraged the chapter to host its regional convention at Asnuntuck, which the college last hosted in 2014.
During Lombella’s tenure as president of Asnuntuck, the college’s Alpha Lambda Zeta chapter has been recognized as one of PTK’s top 35 chapters, and has obtained five-star status from PTK each year.
Achieving this distinction requires the chapter participate in the honor society’s College Project and Honors in Action Project. The local chapter researched genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and food in the United States for this past year’s project, and two years ago researched the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizens.
Other honors for Asnuntuck’s Alpha Lambda Zeta chapter at the convention include Distinguished Chapter, Distinguished Theme Award Honors in Action, and an award for a Distinguished Honors in Action Project.
Both Asnuntuck’s Alpha Lambda Zeta chapter and Tunxis’s Alpha Iota Alpha Chapter were among five colleges in Connecticut to receive REACH Chapters awards, given to chapters that have excelled in membership development during the year.