COM professor Dr. Chris Allen, left, with Dr. Karl Dawson, president of H. Lavity Stoutt Community College in the British Virgin Islands

Encouraging students to excel is what Dr. Chris Allen does best. Recently the College of the Mainland biology professor received the international honor of being named a Phi Theta Kappa 2014 Faculty Scholar for his demonstrated excellence in teaching and understanding of the 2014-2015 Honors Study Topic, “Frontiers and the Spirit of Exploration.”

As a faculty scholar, Allen will lead a small group of honors students in discussing subjects relating to the Honors Study Topic at the summer Honors Institute at Washington University in St. Louis.
Allen was selected through a rigorous application process as one of 26 community college instructors from among nearly 3,000 chapter advisors of Phi Theta Kappa, the international community college honor society, worldwide.
“I was ecstatic to be selected because of the competition and quality of applications for the spot as faculty scholar,” said Allen.
Recently Allen traveled to the British Virgin Islands to train for his facilitator role. In addition to hearing presentations by British Virgin Islands leaders in education, Allen delved into the rich history of the island and explored its educational system. The British Virgin Islands boasts a single community college on the island Tortola, and students from the neighboring islands travel by ferry to class.
“It was an opportunity to visit a sister Phi Theta Kappa chapter on the British Virgin Islands and to experience another culture and its history,” said Allen. “The process of being faculty scholar will give me broad knowledge and experience, which I can apply to COM’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter with this year’s theme.”

Each year Phi Theta Kappa chapters conduct research and create an Honors in Action project based on their findings; they also implement a college project. Last year, the COM college project centered on faculty appreciation and tied for first place on the regional level.

“Chris has demonstrated a strong commitment to working with students and enhancing our Phi Theta Kappa chapter,” said COM interim Vice President for Instruction Pam Millsap. “I know the PTK students appreciate his leadership and his dedication to excellence. This honor is well deserved.”

Faculty scholar is not the first recognition Allen has received from Phi Theta Kappa. In 2012 Allen received the Paragon Award, an international award open to new Phi Theta Kappa advisors. COM students nominated him, and the organization selected him out of 700 advisors as one of 30 to receive this honor.

Phi Theta Kappa focuses on the development of leadership, fellowship and scholarship among community college students.

Each year COM’s chapter coordinates academic and service projects on campus and in the community. The chapter has been named a Five Star Chapter for its service, scholastic excellence and involvement in the society on the local, regional and international levels.