Kay A. Harrison was hired in September 1976 as a full-time faculty member to teach in both the English and Speech Communication Departments. She was also tasked with developing a Forensics (Speech and Debate) program for Ohlone. In 1982, she became full-time in the Speech Communication Department. She retired from full-time teaching on June 10, 2010 and was granted emeritus status. She continued to teach part-time at Ohlone through the fall of 2015.
Kay ably assisted students in gaining basic skills for all their college work in her assignment in the Ohlone College’s Reading Lab; and, gained the respect of her colleagues there and across the college with her gift for clear and critical thinking.
Throughout her career she worked with thousands of students during her tenure and helped them develop their skills in public speaking, critical thinking, interpersonal communication, basic pronunciation and competitive speaking. She also served on a variety of committees, including Faculty Senate, Chair of the International Education committee, professional development, and co-chair of the college’s first strategic plan.
Working with her department in Speech Communication, she developed numerous courses and certificates and happily mentored both full time and adjunct faculty. Kay assisted with the planning for both a full-time Forensics position and the development and NACC certification (National Association of Communication Centers) for the communication labs. In her final eight years of teaching, she was Director of Forensics where her students won numerous state and national level competitions, further putting into practice her leadership skills. Her unflagging optimism and clear determination helped create a vibrant department.
The Western States Communication Association professionally recognized her in 2000 for creating an outstanding community college communication department, and the National Communication Association selected her as the Outstanding Community College Educator of 2004. Her peers selected her as the Ohlone Faculty of the year in 2010.
Kay was particularly interested in providing students with international study opportunities in order to achieve part of Ohlone’s mission to create citizens of the world. She led the first semester abroad at Ohlone in the fall of 1990. Throughout her career she continued to facilitate study abroad opportunities for other faculty and students, and continued to co-lead a number of trips.
Since her retirement, Kay has continued to live in Belmont and is active on a nonprofit board, the Allied Arts Guild Auxiliary to the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford. She also belongs to book clubs and is assisting with Ohlone’s 50th anniversary celebration.