May 3, 2018 Melissa Lamar

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Dr. James Lombella, President of Asnuntuck Community College and Tunxis Community College, was one of 35 college presidents in the nation to receive the 2018 Shirley B. Gordon Awards of Distinction on April 20 during PTK Catalyst 2018, Phi Theta Kappa’s annual convention and centennial celebration in Kansas City, MO.

Phi Theta Kappa is the largest honor society in American higher education for two-year college students.

Honorees are selected for this award based on outstanding efforts given toward promoting the goals of PTK. The award is named for the late Dr. Shirley B. Gordon, the organization’s longest-serving board of directors chair. Gordon was named Phi Theta Kappa’s Most Distinguished College President in 1984.

President James Lombella, Ed.D., was recognized on stage with fellow honorees at Phi Theta Kappa’s Catalyst 2018 convention in Kansas City.

A proud community college graduate himself, Lombella was nominated by Asnuntuck’s PTK chapter Alpha Lambda Zeta for his support of the college’s chapter and student success.

Lombella was one of the initial supporters in Connecticut’s first statewide Community College Completion Corps, part of a larger, seven-state PTK initiative to bring greater student awareness to the importance of college completion. His outreach to fellow Connecticut Community College presidents resulted in 100% participation from the Connecticut Community College system.

He has also secured funds each year for Asnuntuck’s PTK chapter to help students who do not have the financial means to join the honor society, participate in events and PTK conferences, and have access to scholarships and other membership benefits. Lombella also made sure the chapter received dedicated office space as part of Asnuntuck’s facility renovations, and encourages the chapter to host its regional convention at Asnuntuck, which the college last hosted in 2014.

During Lombella’s tenure as president of Asnuntuck, the college’s Alpha Lambda Zeta chapter has been recognized as one of PTK’s top 35 chapters, and has obtained five-star status from PTK each year. Achieving this distinction requires the chapter participate in the honor society’s College Project and Honors in Action Project. The local chapter researched genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and food in the United States for this past year’s project, and two years ago researched the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizens.

Other honors for Asnuntuck’s Alpha Lambda Zeta chapter at the convention include Distinguished Chapter, Distinguished Theme Award Honors in Action, and an award for a Distinguished Honors in Action Project.

Both Asnuntuck’s Alpha Lambda Zeta chapter and Tunxis Community College’s Alpha Iota Alpha Chapter were among five colleges in Connecticut to receive REACH Chapters awards, given to chapters that have excelled in membership development during the year.

PTK is recognized by the American Association of Community Colleges as the official honor society of two-year colleges. It has more than three million members and 1,300 chapters in each of the 50 states, U.S. territories, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Germany, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, United Arab Emirates and Palau. To achieve eligibility for PTK, a student must complete at least 12 hours of associate degree course work and earn a grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 or higher. Throughout their enrollment, they must maintain high academic standing, generally a 3.0 GPA. About 130,000 students are inducted into Phi Theta Kappa each year worldwide.

Asnuntuck Community College, located in Enfield, offers associate degrees and certificate programs to prepare students for careers, transfer opportunities, and lifelong learning. Established in 1972, the mission of the college is to offer quality education in an accessible, affordable, and nurturing environment. To learn more about Asnuntuck, visit

Located in Farmington, Tunxis Community College offers over 60 associate degrees and certificates, providing critical thinking and problem-solving skills that prepare students for transfer to bachelor’s degree programs and employment in areas with industry need. The Alpha Iota Alpha Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa at Tunxis provides opportunities for over 300 members in leadership, community service, scholarly fellowship and academic excellence. Each semester, student members participate in service and research projects to help their college and communities, and are eligible to apply for over $90 million in scholarships reserved exclusively for PTK members. This academic year, the Tunxis PTK Chapter inducted 100 new members at its spring ceremony. For more information on Tunxis, call 860.773.1490 or visit