Alum Lands $93,000 Grant through Competitive Edge Skills

Guest blogger Paul Saltz shares his Competitive Edge experience. Saltz is an alumnus of the Alpha Rho Epsilon Chapter at Columbus State Community College in Ohio. He served three terms as a chapter officer, including chapter president, and two terms as an Ohio regional officer, and he was an International Officer candidate in 2012.

Since being the first in the Ohio Region to complete the Five Star Competitive Edge program, I have been an advocate for the program and credit the skills I have learned for my current professional success.

My first job I landed as I was finishing my AA was because of my skills at running meetings. I was attending a Model UN event and ended up being asked to chair one of the high school level committees due to the hosts being short handed. My Phi Theta Kappa experience taught me how to run a proper meeting. The President of the United Nations Association was so impressed that he hired me on to run their office and Model UN program in their Columbus Chapter.

I landed my current position as Project Manager for Grants and Development for the Columbus International Program because our offices used to be right next door to each other, so they saw my work first hand. But I credit the soft skills in business etiquette, project planning, leading a team, and the technical writing practice in writing Hallmarks [Awards entries] that I have been able to excel in my work. As part of a small staff, we all manage the university interns who come to learn and gain experience.

Working with volunteers in Phi Theta Kappa taught me how to keep interns motivated and excited about even the smallest of tasks. My soft skills have taught me how to handle important development meetings for the purpose of gaining the trust of donors and building new working partnerships.

The practice in technical writing and project management I gained through the Honors in Action Program and writing Hallmark entries is what I credit for writing an approved U.S. State Department grant for over $93,000. It was the first independently awarded federal contract in my employer’s 42-year history.

I credit the skills I learned through Phi Theta Kappa and the Five Star Competitive Edge program for writing the winning proposal, negotiating the final contract with the Department of State, and managing the entire project from initial design to final reporting, including the fiscal management of the project. Project tasks included setting the two-week itinerary of meetings, all logistics including international travel between China and the U.S., lining up volunteer host families, and guiding the Chinese delegation through the two weeks of meetings, including members of Congress and federal agencies.

There are not many who can say they’ve managed a federal contract and was a key player in international citizen diplomacy, and I thank Phi Theta Kappa and the Five Star Competitive Edge program for ensuring I had the skills to make the society and our country proud.

Competitive Edge is Phi Theta Kappa’s online course for soft skills development and career planning. The self-paced and self-guided program is available year-round to all Phi Theta Kappa members, advisors and alumni.

Dallas Colleges Offer New International Honors Certificates

The following article appeared in the spring newsletter of the Community Colleges for International Development, Inc. It was written by Monika Byrd, Phi Theta Kappa’s Dean of Leadership Development and Service Learning.

Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) is expanding the international education opportunities for its high-achieving students through piloting Phi Theta Kappa’s International Honors Certificates (IHC) program.

International Honors Certificates are academically rigorous online courses developed at leading universities that allow students to develop a global understanding in a particular discipline or topic. Students complete the courses independently and at their own pace and earn specialization certificates from the university upon successful completion.

These valuable credentials can be earned in four disciplines: Global Entrepreneurship from UCLA, International Business Human Resources from the University of South Carolina, Organizational Leadership from the University of Johannesburg, and Contemporary China and Chinese Culture from the Beijing Language and Culture University. Choices will be expanding soon.

DCCCD launched the program to get more students engaged in international education to meet the needs of employers in the Dallas area.

“The International Honors Certificates program is a rigorous, elite university program made available through Phi Theta Kappa to all of our high-achieving students regardless of whether they are Phi Theta Kappa members,” said Dr. Anna Mays, DCCCD Associate Vice Chancellor for Educational Policy and Student Success. “The program provides valuable international credentials for our students to set them apart in a competitive environment.”

Each of the IHC courses includes a capstone unit on International Leadership in Action & Discovery (ILIAD). Designed by Phi Theta Kappa, this unit guides community college honors students in the creation of a personally relevant, international, experiential learning plan and the development of leadership skills required to successfully implement and complete the plan. It also prepares students to complete scholarship applications to fund international experiences, such as the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, serving as a launch pad to further develop a global mindset through an opportunity like study abroad.

Like the IHC courses, students complete the ILIAD capstone online through independent and self-paced study and earn a certificate upon successful completion.

The development of global knowledge and competencies through an IHC and ILIAD capstone facilitates breaking through the barriers that exist for community college students to gain the competitive advantages that international experience provides.

“The IHC program is designed to provide two-year college students with the global perspectives and experiences we know they need to be successful in a global economy,” said Phi Theta Kappa’s President and CEO Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner.

To add the IHC program to your campus, email

Phi Theta Kappa Issues Statement on Recent Legislation

In the light of North Carolina’s enactment of House Bill 2 and Mississippi’s passage of House Bill 1523, we want to clarify Phi Theta Kappa’s position on these issues with the following statement:

Phi Theta Kappa’s commitment to diversity and inclusion remains unwavering and our non-discrimination statement includes protection for gender identity and sexual orientation. Mississippi’s new law will not impact Phi Theta Kappa’s employment practices, educational programs or student activities in any way. Phi Theta Kappa remains committed to creating an inclusive environment for all members of the Society, community and visitors to the Center for Excellence.

The Board of Directors discussed this issue during their meeting on April 7 and determined that Phi Theta Kappa will honor contractual obligations that are already in place, but going forward will avoid signing contracts for events in states with laws that can be interpreted as biased toward any group.

Phi Theta Kappa is working with Wake Forest University to ensure a safe, welcoming environment for everyone at the upcoming Honors Institute. The university has provided the following information:

· Wake Forest University’s non-discrimination statement includes gender identity and sexual orientation.

· The University has released an official statement on the recent North Carolina legislation.

· In addition, the city of Winston-Salem has joined several other North Carolina cities in issuing a resolution calling on the state legislature to reconsider the impact of the new law.

Phi Theta Kappa is also planning to incorporate the issues of inclusivity and diversity into the learning experience at Honors Institute. We hope that everyone will be able to attend so that we can explore these complex issues, and many others, together as a group.

Board of Directors Chair Receives AACC Leadership Award

Congratulations to Dr. George Boggs, Chair of the Phi Theta Kappa Board of Directors, for receiving the national Leadership Award from the American Association of Community Colleges. Boggs is also Vice Chair of the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation Board of Trustees.

The award was presented to Boggs during the AACC Annual Convention, April 9-12 in Chicago. The leadership award is given based on outstanding leadership at the national level over an extended period of time and a long-standing commitment to community colleges. Two others received this award: Brice Harris and Wright Lassiter Jr. Read more.

In his acceptance speech, Boggs thanked numerous organizations, his parents, his high school teachers, and his wife before thanking college presidents for the work they do every day.

“You lead the institutions that are the least well funded, educating the students who are most disadvantaged and in need of help,” he said. “AACC has challenged you to increase completion rates, improve college readiness, close the skills gap, refocus the institutional mission, invest in support structures, strategically target resources, and promote rigor, transparency and accountability — all with declining resources.

“And I have faith that you will meet these challenges. Your work is critical to the future of our democracy. You inspire me with your dedication.”

Boggs led AACC from 2000 to 2010 as its ninth President and CEO, during which he helped lead an unprecedented period of achievement for community colleges. Corporate and foundation support for AACC and community colleges grew, and a number of new programs were launched, including the Voluntary Framework of Accountability and the Plus 50 Initiative.

Prior to joining AACC, he served as the president/superintendent of Palomar Community College District in California. He is an International Honorary Member of Phi Theta Kappa.

“George has provided steadfast commitment and progressive leadership to both AACC and Phi Theta Kappa as a member of the Society’s Board of Directors for more than a decade,” said Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner, President and CEO of Phi Theta Kappa. “There is no one more deserving of the 2016 AACC Leadership Award.”

Earlier: Phi Theta Kappa Board Chair, Foundation Trustee to Receive AACC Leadership Award