When the ACBSP Board of Directors granted Dr. Sue Courtney, retired business professor from Kansas City Kansas Community College, Emeritus Status in May, she became the 31st person to be added to an honor roll of ACBSP’s most esteemed leaders.
If ACBSP had a first family, it would be Dr. Courtney’s. Her father was Jim Vomhof, whose work and commitment to the mission and vision of ACBSP spanned more than 20 years, endearing him to staff and members and garnering him awards from ACBSP. Jim was Dean of the Business Division at Johnson County Community College when Andrew Stevenson, ACBSP’s first Director of Accreditation for Associate Degree Schools, passed away suddenly. Jim stepped up to take over various responsibilities at ACBSP—without pay—to ensure the organization continued to function effectively.
Sue Courtney served alongside her father, sharing his passion for education and for students, continuing to teach at KCKCC well past announcing her retirement in 2013. Her father, who sadly passed away earlier that year, her mother Pat, and Sue have collectively improved the lives of the ACBSP team and so many members.
“Sue has been a mentor to me from my very first day of work at KCCC. She took me under her wing and guided me through the challenges I faced in teaching and my role as a coordinator. I owe my involvement in ACBSP to her…she drove the importance of accreditation into me,”Lakshmy Sivaratnam
Member, ACBSP Board of Directors and Accounting Professor, Kansas City Kansas Community College.
“Dr. Sue Courtney encouraged and supported me through every level of my service to ACBSP. A pillar of Region 5, Dr. Courtney established a standard of excellence through her decades of unwavering mentoring and guidance,” said Debbie Gaspard, Vice Chair, ACBSP Board of Directors and Faculty Member, Metropolitan Community College.
One of Sue’s closest friends is ACBSP Past President and fellow Emeritus Member Shirly Kleiner, retired Chair of the Accounting Department, Business Division, Johnson County Community College.
Sue and Shirly were active members of ACBSP for many years, serving on the Board of Directors together—Sue as secretary and Shirly as the two-year member-at-large. Shirly was appointed ACBSP President in 2011-12, while Sue received the Teaching Excellence Award for Region 5 in 2012, going on to receive the International Teaching Excellence Award that year, representing associate degree schools.
“Sue and I shared a love for ACBSP and our involvement over the years allowed our friendship to grow and flourish. I was always amazed at her clear thinking and insight into situations and her willingness to truly do the work that needed to be done. One cherished part of our friendship is the inclusion of Janice Stoudemire and Barb DiNardo to form a group to share retirement fun and ACBSP conferences together. We are making lasting memories through the years,” Shirly said.
The love and respect Sue and Shirly have for one another is evident. “Sue is a beautiful combination of traits from her dad, Jim, and her mom, Pat. She treats the people she meets as precious treasures,” Shirly said.
Lakshmy Sivaratnam agrees. “When I first started teaching full-time, I used to say, ‘When I grow up (in the classroom), I want to be Dr. Courtney.’” Among the quotes from KCKCC students, and from Lakshmy, describing Sue: “I don’t know where she finds the energy or time to do what she does. I don’t think she ever sleeps,” and “She walks on water!”
Sue’s passion for serving extends well beyond the traditional classroom. She has volunteered with the Pre-Release Class at the military barracks at Leavenworth Correctional Facility for the last seven years, which serves the United States Disciplinary Barracks (USDB) and the Joint Regional Correctional Facility (JRCF).
In the Pre-Release program, Sue teaches inmates how to prepare a resume, teaches them interview skills, and answers academic questions about continuing their education once they’ve been released. She even developed a resource booklet for them to utilize in the class and use as an easy reference after their release. KCKCC offers credit classes at the military barracks; Lakshmy and Sue both teach credit classes at the barracks. “One of my students at the prison described Sue as very motivational, adding that she really helped him come to terms with his situation and move forward when he was really down,” Lakshmy said.
“Last spring, Sue delivered some extra used textbooks to our online students’ houses when the bookstore was out of them and she did not want them to fall behind. They were able to borrow the books until they were back in stock. They all adore her. I think I could write volumes on all the different things she has done for people,” Lakshmy said.
Sue is loved by so many members of the ACBSP family, especially in Region 5, as well as colleagues, students, and life-long friends. Dr. Sue Courtney’s name now joins her father’s on the list of ACBSP Emeritus Members.
Shirly Kleiner captured the thoughts of us all when she said, “ACBSP is a far better organization because of Sue.”