Yavapai College’s Dr. Joani Fisher wins student-initiated national honor

YC’s Dr. Joan Fisher earns ‘Distinguished College Administrator’ award

It’s both fortuitous and ironic that Dr. Joan Fisher invested in a larger trophy case for the Yavapai College chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society last year. That’s because the case prominently placed outside faculty offices at the Prescott Campus soon will display Fisher’s own national PTK award — for Distinguished College Administrator.

Fisher is dean of Business and Computer Systems, Professional Programs and Visual Arts at YC and  oversees PTK, the College Honors Program and the Del E. Webb Family Enrichment Center. She approved the budget expense for the trophy case to house a growing cache of awards the college’s PTK chapter was bringing home from regional, state and international conferences and competitions. “Their awards are a testament to the quality of education they’re getting and I’m proud,” she said.

It wasn’t pride that yielded Fisher’s own award — the result of a nomination put forward by YC PTK officers. Rather, it was her unwavering support for PTK members and all YC students.

“… This award is really about your commitment to the success of all students. They know you have their backs when it comes to providing opportunities for them to succeed—thank you for that,” wrote PTK International President Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner in an award letter to Fisher.

A 30-year English faculty member before her promotion to dean in 2017, Fisher said she is “blessed” by the recognition from PTK students and the national PTK organization, but believes that being responsive to students is part and parcel of an educator’s job. “If you’re asked by students to do something, your only response should be ‘yes,’” Fisher said, adding, “I always have time for students. I think that makes the difference for student leaders.”

Still, Fisher said, the Distinguished College Administrator award means a lot. “I certainly recognize that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be recognized, in my mind, by some of our hardest-working students.”

The PTK students’ nomination of Fisher cites her advocacy for the chapter with college administration, her hands-on help and resource assistance with chapter projects, and her genuine enthusiasm for the chapter and its goals which, in turn, foster interest and engagement among individual PTK members.

“This involvement directly connects to the value of helping students feel like they have a connection and belonging,” states the nomination signed by YC PTK Chapter President Heidi Harden.

The nomination further lauds Fisher for helping grant PTK student travel. “She believes that travel opportunities to state and national conferences are a meaningful educational experience that should not be out of reach to those who cannot afford travel.”

As a former Honors program advisor at YC, Fisher said she has seen first-hand the life-altering benefits of Honors and PTK for participants and their families.

“When you get to see the changes you’re making with students — with a single mom raising her children with her parents, who has never been out to eat, never been outside of Yavapai County — and they’re smart, they’re gaining confidence, they want to make a difference. That’s why I think these are such important programs. They’re important for the whole community in ways that can’t be quantified. They benefit not just the students. They benefit whole families,” Fisher said.

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