March 23, 2021

Contact: Paul Feist
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Community Colleges Board of Governors on Tuesday honored two professors and one academic counseling member with the prestigious 2020-21 Gerald C. Hayward Award for Excellence in Education.

Butte College counselor Brandy Thomas, Los Angeles Pierce College sociology professor A. James McKeever and Solano College political science professor Peter “Tony” Zitko were chosen by representatives of the Academic Senate based on their record of outstanding achievement and participation on campus.

“Brandy Thomas, Peter Zitko and A. James McKeever epitomize the excellence of the California Community Colleges through their commitment to putting students first and their unwavering support of students from underrepresented and marginalized backgrounds,” said Board of Governors President Pamela Haynes.

Hayward Award recipients who have earned the honor:

Brandy ThomasBrandy Thomas is committed to demystifying the higher education experience, especially for those from underrepresented backgrounds, and tailor supportive services to the needs of the student. “I show empathy to students and meet them where they are, while still challenging them to see beyond the narrative that the world has sometimes set for them through stereotypes and hurdle,” Thomas said. “This opens up endless possibilities for our students and helps them feel secure in their place at school. All students can succeed in college, if the college provides the right environment and support. It is my job to help create that space for our students.”
Peter ZitkoPeter Zitko, a part-time instructor, is known for his dedication in providing a quality college education for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals, an endeavor that began as a novel teaching assignment but has grown into a lifelong mission and writing scholarly articles promoting greater educational resources to the largely disenfranchised group of learners. His dedication to students with diverse backgrounds, however, is not exclusive to educating the incarcerated. “It has been my teaching and leadership model to treat all students fairly and equally irrespective of their unique experiences and backgrounds,” he said.

A. James McKeeverA. James McKeever employs an intersectional perspective toward social justice that has resulted in students from diverse backgrounds to ask him to be the faculty advisor of clubs ranging from MEChA and the Black Student Union to I.D.E.A.S (Improving Dreams Equality Access and Success) and the Queer Straight Alliance. McKeever also has helped organize students’ participation in the Women’s March, Black Lives Matter March, a Black Lives Matter town hall and an Undocu Day. In addition, he has conducted numerous workshops on how to apply to graduate school and mentored countless students well into their academic and professional careers.

The Hayward Awards are supported through a grant from the Foundation for California Community Colleges. Each recipient receives a $1,250 cash award and a commemorative plaque. The award is named in honor of Gerald C. Hayward, who served as chancellor of the California Community Colleges from 1980 to 1985.

The California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in the nation, composed of 73 districts and 116 colleges serving 2.1 million students per year. California community colleges provide career education and workforce training; guaranteed transfer to four-year universities; degree and certificate pathways; and basic skills education in English and math. As the state’s engine for social and economic mobility, the California Community Colleges supports the Vision for Success, a strategic plan designed to improve student success outcomes, increase transfer rates and eliminate achievement gaps. For more information, please visit the California Community Colleges website or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.