University of San Diego to Honor Five Remarkable Leaders in Education on October 20th, 2012

The University of San Diego’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES) will host the Remarkable Leaders in Education award ceremony on Saturday, October 20, 2012. This award ceremony is hosted in honor of those educators within the San Diego and Imperial Counties who have made a significant leadership impact in the field of education.

Members of the community nominate those who have demonstrated great leadership through their work in education, special education, counseling, child development or as an advocate for reform.

The event will take place at the University of San Diego’s Mother Rosalie Hill Hall’s Warren Auditorium on October 20th at 4:00pm-6:00pm. The event will be open to the press.

The recipients of this year’s Remarkable Leaders Awards are Patricia Dixon, Damen Lopez, Vance Mills, Alberto Ochoa, and Mary L. Walshok.

As one of the first American Indians to graduate from the University of San Diego’s College for Women, Patricia Dixon has spent the last four decades making an incredible impact in the field of education. Dixon has helped to both found and develop one of the oldest American Indian Studies departments in the United States. She has also developed and taught courses at both San Diego State University and Alliant University. Dixon, a member of the Pauma Band of Luiseno Indians, has served on the Pauma Tribal Council for a total of twelve years, four of which as Tribal Chair. She has been a tremendous advocate for tribal leadership and education. Currently, Dixon is the chair of the Department of American Indian Studies & American Studies at Palomar College; Chair of the Pauma Band of Luiseno Indians education committee, vice-chairwoman of the Board of California Indian Legal Services and is a member of both the Rincon Indian Health Center consortium, and the Native American Advisory Board for California State University, San Marcos.

Damen Lopez, the founder of No Excuses University has focused on ensuring academic readiness for tens of thousands of students through a comprehensive approach beginning in Elementary School. Lopez began his career as a long term substitute teacher at Los Peñasquitos Elementary School in Poway Unified School District. He later became a second grade teacher, fourth grade teacher, assistant principal, and ultimately the principal of that same school. As principal his school finished in the top ten percent of the state five out of six years. Creating a model school in which others could follow and emulate. Now, through No Excuses University, Lopez is at the forefront of providing college readiness to prepare students for future educational endeavors, especially those living in poverty. Lopez is actively seeking educational advancements for students instead of standing idly by waiting for a magical solution to fix the incredible issues facing the educational systems.

For the past forty-five years,. Vance Mills has devoted his time to the advancement of instruction in mathematics, science, and technology. He served as Director of Mathematics, Science, and Educational Technology from 1983-1999 for the San Diego Unified School District, and coordinated instruction for 174 schools serving over 140,000 young students. Mills also established partnerships with San Diego State University and the University of California, San Diego allowing for funding of projects by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education. From 1999-2011, Mills was the School-Based manager for California State Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) for 54 low-achieving middle schools across the entire state. In addition, Mills served as President of the Board of Directors of the San Diego Education Fund for over a decade, ending his presidency in 2010 but retaining a position on the board. During his tenure, hundreds of high school students were awarded Future Educator scholarships, five year scholarships that include the teacher credential year.

Albert Ochoa, a professor at San Diego State University, began his academic work at SDSU in 1975. Since then, Ochoa has served as Chair of the Policy Studies in Language and Cross-cultural Studies Department (PLC) at San Diego State University, as the Academic Director of the Joint Doctoral Program between Claremont University and SDSU, and currently serves as Co-Director of the Center for Equity and Biliteracy Education Research at San Diego State University. Ochoa’s academic work seeks to examine community capacity building, in addition to predicting the educational needs of school districts through demographic trends, socio-political conditions, and educational reform trends. Since beginning his academic work in 1975, he has worked with over sixty K-12 school districts in California in providing technical assistance in the following areas: (1) language policy and assessment, (2) biliteracy instructional programs, (3) curriculum programming, (4) staff development, (5) community development, (6) organizational development and school climate, (7) program management and evaluation, and (8) parent leadership. During his career, Ochoa has provided over 200 consultations to agencies/organizations on the local, national, and international levels regarding organizational receptivity and change, biliteracy teacher education, biliteracy curriculum development, national origin desegregation, educational planning, cross-cultural and multicultural education, and language policy, evaluation of program effectiveness, and school-community reform. Ochoa currently works heavily with the Parent Institute for Quality Education that he co-found in 1987. The Parent Institute for Quality Education focuses on the disparity between educational achievements of low-income students especially Latino students. Ochoa has taken his academic work starting in 1975 to great levels and has proven to be a quality leader in the field of education.

Mary L. Walshok, currently the dean of University Extension and Associate Vice Chancellor of Public Programs at the University of California, San Diego, has dedicated much of her life to the betterment of the field of education. She serves as the chief executive of the continuing education and public programs division of UCSD. These programs educate 56,000 people annually through local, corporate, and online programs. In addition to being an educator, Walshok has authored countless articles and numerous books, including Knowledge Without Boundaries: What America’s Research Universities Can Do for the Economy, the Workplace, and the Community (1995). Walshok has developed efforts to provide San Diego with economic strength by providing assistance to recent college graduates transition to areas of high demand employment and by assuring the global competitiveness of students. Walshok also lead the way for the national movement on learning in retirement. In 1974, she founded The Institute for Continued Learning, now named the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, to provide an educational opportunity to those who want to continue their education. The institute requires no prior educational qualifications or experiences only the desire to continue on in education.

Additional information on the honorees and the Remarkable Leaders program is available upon request by calling 619/260-4659.

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 8,000 students from 75 countries and 44 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. USD’s eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD recently concluded our successful $317M Leading Change: The Campaign for USD, which represented the most ambitious fundraising effort in the history of the university. In September 2016, USD introduced Envisioning 2024, a strategic plan that capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.