SPOH Wins National Award!

Dear friends,

We are excited to share that the work of our faculty and students has been recognized as a recipient of the League Excellence Awards! The League Excellence Awards “recognize outstanding faculty, staff, and leaders in the community college field who have made a significant difference in the lives of students and in the communities their colleges serve.”

We are delighted that our work is being recognized in this way. Our college president, Dr. Shari Olson, will be at the annual League for Innovation conference this spring to represent the work done at SMCC.

See here for a list of 2020 winners: https://www.league.org/excellence


Written by: Summer Cherland

Over the weekend, I attended the Oral History Association Meeting in Salt Lake City. OHA is the go-to organization for all things oral history, and as a member of the Southwest Oral History Association (SOHA), I was excited to attend this international conference!

Dr. Cherland in Salt Lake City for the 2019 Oral History Association Meeting

The co-founders of the the South Phoenix Oral History Project and I presented on the work our students have been doing on behalf of our campus and our local community. The reception was great with folks from the Arizona Archives, the Salt River Project, and colleagues from the country weighing in on the good work we do. In our presentation, we got great feedback on SPOH’s use of multimedia, and people seemed stoked that we are doing work on the history of South Phoenix! After that, we got to explore a little bit of SLC.

From left: Dr. Travis May, Dr. Summer Cherland, and Liz Warren explore Salt Lake City, 2019.

I also had the opportunity to attend several panels and review posters about Oral History in a variety of forms. I watched two graduate students present on their academic work, I sat in on a discussion regarding using Oral History in undergraduate face to face and online classes, and I learned what other community college leaders are doing to incorporate this work in their classes.

At the SOHA Awards Reception, Travis May and I learned from Dr. Ignacio Garcia, a nationally sought Oral Historian, and represented South Mountain Community College, when we won a mini-grant from the organization!

Dr. Cherland accepting a mini grant at the Southwest Oral History Association banquet, 2019

All in all, I’d say we had a spectacular weekend!

Building an Archive

Summer, 2019

Greetings historians! In the summer of 2019, a team of researchers, staff, faculty, and marketing experts worked together to build South Mountain Community College’s first functioning archive. Take a look at the photos below to chart our progress.

We had a few things going for us:

  • Materials: About 25 boxes of materials were unearthed in campus storage. The boxes contained a treasure trove of documents, newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, and images. There were about 60 binders, 100 manila envelopes of loosely organized photographs and negatives, 2 large boxes of disorganized photographs, 8 feet of file folders, and two boxes of awkward and/or over-sized materials like posters, trophies, and campus souvenirs.
  • Space: Because it was the summertime, we were able to use one of the biggest and nicest conference rooms on campus. But, time is running out! With the semester starting soon, this room will be in high demand. That said, the room is connected to the “History Room,” which could function as a storage and exhibit space when the archive is complete.
  • Helpful, interested people: Members of the Marketing Team, the President’s Office, and volunteers joined our faculty founders to categorize, organize, & clean out the forty years of material we now have. We were even joined by a few members of the State Archives, who coached us a bit in archival strategies.

We also have our share of challenges:

  • Time: Organizing forty years of paper and images takes a lot of time. It might take 2 hours to pore over just one of the binders to weed out duplicate articles, pinpoint useful and interesting content for publication, and approve that the dates are aligning.
  • Time, again: As you saw, we had boxes and boxes of photos, newspaper clippings, etc. Some of these things were organized neatly by date into binders. Many were not. In many cases, we had to go back and forth between things we knew happened and when, and then compare to a wayward news clipping to put it in order as best we could. So we created a timeline.
  • Photographs: Very few photos were labeled with dates or names. Keeping the photographs in a reasonable order required several campus volunteers who had been around for awhile to help put names to faces.
  • Space: While we had the luxury of space in July, storing the materials after all this hard work is a major priority. If the documents were to be in the way, they might face the terrible fate of being boxed back up, and our work would start all over.

So, we are working with our President’s Office, the Library, and our Facilities team to propose a long term storage and accessibility solution. Our hope is that this stuff can be preserved, archived, and indexed in a way that the community and students can access it safely, but that it is locked and protected for years to come.

We’ll keep you posted!