And the 2022 ACE Faculty Excellence Award goes to Dr. Renée Harmon! As instructional faculty in the business department, Dr. Harmon has been recognized for her impactful contribution to the development of new business programs at ACE, becoming a dissertation editor and training to becoming a dissertation committee member. Students describe her as encouraging, consistent and simply amazing. We had the pleasure to chat with Dr. Harmon and learn more about her career.
ACE: Congratulations on receiving the 2021 ACE Faculty Excellence Award! What does receiving this award mean to you?
Dr. Renée Harmon (RH): Thank you. This award is a wonderful surprise! I am honored to receive this award, and I am so grateful to my colleagues for their unwavering support. My success reflects students’ success. This award helps me to know that my teaching approach to online education is impactful and provides value to students’ learning. I greatly appreciate this recognition and look forward to supporting many future ACE graduates.
ACE: Can you tell us a little about your career and what led you to ACE?
RH: I first knew I wanted to work in higher education when I was in 3rd grade. I visited a college campus for a young writer’s conference and fell in love with the atmosphere. However, years later when I first attended college as a first-generation college student, I felt lost and unsure of myself. I had no clue how to navigate the higher education system. Luckily, I met some amazing advisors, faculty and mentors along my journey, which led me to many amazing experiences, and unexpected career doors opening. Most importantly, I learned how to navigate the higher education system and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Western Illinois University, a Master of Arts in Communication from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and a Ph.D. in Education & Human Resource Studies from Colorado State University (CSU). I also earned a graduate certificate in nonprofit administration from CSU, and I am finishing another graduate certificate in Native American studies from Montana State University. Can you tell I’m a fan of learning?
“Sustainability is about people. My advice is to put yourself in situations that allow you to meet people from backgrounds and cultures different from yours. The best way to learn about people is by meeting people.”
In 2010, I began living my career goal as a college admissions advisor at a small for-profit university in Colorado. From there, I moved into student services, and I also began teaching undergraduate writing courses in-person and online. Since my first position in academia, I have worn many other “higher education hats,” including writing center consultant, academic advisor, events planner and organizer, research assistant, instructional designer, dissertation committee member, and faculty.
It was during my time at CSU that I began researching sustainability, and long story short, that interest eventually led me to my position at ACE. My dissertation describes my developing and analyzing a college sustainability literacy assessment. Now at ACE, I am creating courses for innovative programs focused on sustainability.
ACE: What have you enjoyed the most about being part of ACE’s instructional faculty?
RH: I enjoy working with ACE’s students the most. First, I have met talented, motivated and passionate students who have helped me grow as a faculty member and online educator. In 2022, I started hosting weekly office hours, offering students an opportunity to connect “live,” which has helped build rapport and strengthen relationships. Secondly, I enjoy working with my ACE co-workers. Our team is dedicated, supportive and fun! Even though we work remotely, our distances do not seem that far because we connect online, creating a sense of belonging and a strong community.
ACE: What advice do you have for business professionals who would like to one day contribute to sustainability efforts?
RH: Sustainability is about people. My advice is to put yourself in situations that allow you to meet people from backgrounds and cultures different from yours. The best way to learn about people is by meeting people, listening to them, and learning about their experiences and ideas. Then, when making business decisions, it is essential to remember the people you have met – the consideration of all stakeholders is a key element of sustainable business development. Some of my favorite memories come from when I went on solo vacations and met strangers who became momentary friends. In every one of those moments, I met someone who taught me something new.
ACE: Similarly, how would you advise those who want to use the power of business to create positive social impact?
RH: Community is key to creating positive social impact. Know your community and engage with them often. I think in today’s global economy many people appreciate organizations and businesses that have a “local feel.” Find ways to support the community, such as hosting fundraising events with local nonprofits or creating partnerships with a school district. Invite community members to your organization or business and ask them to share their ideas – and take their input seriously. By showing your commitment to community, you will be able to have a farther reach to create positive social impact.
Learn how you can make a social impact from American College of Education’s dedicated and experienced business faculty. Explore our fully online business programs.