Linda M. Thor, chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, was honored recently by two national organizations for leadership in higher education.
On Nov. 8, she accepted the prestigious Morris T. Keeton Award, joining a roster of prominent educators, leaders and scholars whose contributions have been recognized by CAEL, the Council for Experiential Learning. CAEL established the award in 1989 to honor the organization’s founding president upon his retirement. It is presented annually to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the field of adult or experiential learning, or workforce development.
Thor served on the CAEL board from 1990-2005 and is the longest serving board member in the organization’s history. CAEL works within higher education and the public and private sectors to make it easier for people to get the education and training they need.
In acceptance the honor, Thor said, “When you are presented with a lifetime achievement award like the Morris T. Keeton Award, you begin to consider what others will say has been your legacy. For me, I hope that they conclude that I was a dedicated, caring, forward-thinking leader who always made decisions on what was the best for students and who was passionate about student both access and success.”
Earlier this fall, Thor received the National University Technology Network’s Distinguished Service Award at the organization’s annual conference, where she gave a keynote address on developing a culture of innovation and change to distance learning and educational technology leaders. The Distinguished Service Award is NUTN’s highest honor.
From the beginning of her career in higher education career, Thor has worked to expand educational opportunity for adult learners and students seeking workforce training in innovative ways, often through the use of technology. Over the years she became known as an advocate for innovation.
Early in her career she worked as director of high technology centers and services for the Los Angeles Community College District, and later became the district’s senior director of occupational and technical education.
During her 20-year presidency at Rio Salado College in Arizona, the college became a national model for delivering quality online education. Its effective use of technology to deliver instruction and student services led to increased student success and significantly expanded access to higher education for a wide range of new students, including military service members.
As chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, Thor has continued her support for expanding educational opportunity through collaborations and partnerships, and the use of technology to deliver instruction and services to students.