Flickinger honored with leadership award


Christopher Rodriguez

San Jacinto College celebrates Marie Flickinger’s (left) accomplishment along with Chancellor Hellyer at South campus.

San Jacinto College District Trustee, newspaper publisher, and South Belt community icon Marie Spence Flickinger earned the distinction of becoming one of the 2013 recipients of the M. Dale Ensign Trustee Leadership award given by the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT).

ACCT, an advocacy group serving college trustees, bestows the honor to board members across the United States who model excellence in their work on the community college level. Flickinger received the trustee award for the Western region.

Chancellor Dr. Brenda Hellyer, speaking at a reception Nov. 7 held on the South campus, praised Flickinger’s efforts on behalf of the College.

“Her nomination,” Hellyer said, “was based on her work here at San Jacinto College; her commitment to our community – but her commitment and her love for our students and our faculty and staff.”

Meanwhile, Flickinger said she feels the award is a reflection of the College as a whole.

“I really am uncomfortable,” Flickinger said, “because we got six other board people. Each of us in our own way could have won this; the staff, the faculty, everybody at San Jac.”

Furthermore, she credits the productive work environment established under the sound leadership of Hellyer for the College’s accomplishments and recognition.

“They judge it a lot on how your college is doing, not what Marie did,” Flickinger said. “It probably belongs to Brenda more than it does me because she has just done fantastic. If I had been on a board in the worst college in Texas, I wouldn’t have gotten it.”

Flickinger and remaining board members are charged with setting the College’s policies, fiscal management, and evaluating the chancellor’s performance. Flickinger said the latter responsibility is the simplest of all.

“In our case, it’s real easy because we’ve got a great chancellor. You have a lot of boards around the nation that the boards and the chancellor don’t get along. That has never been our case,” Flickinger said.

Before becoming a trustee, Flickinger was well known in the community around South campus as the editor of the local paper, the South Belt-Ellington Leader, she started in 1976.

The Leader rose to prominence in the 1980s because of the paper’s extensive coverage of the Brio Superfund Site located at Beamer and Dixie Farm.

“It was a toxic waste site, right across the street from South campus,” Flickinger said.

“My goal starting out was,” she said, “we needed to shut down the ball field where it was at. We needed to shutdown the subdivision and close down a $10 million elementary school that was just a few years old.”

According to court documents, Flickinger and the Leader spearheaded efforts to stop the site’s remediation through an on-site incinerator.

“We took on Monsanto and 49 other chemical companies,” Flickinger said, “and the EPA and the federal courts; and our little newspaper beat ‘em all. We got them to do it our way.”

After three decades, Flickinger said she wants to see the Brio Superfund story through to its conclusion.

“When we got done,” Flickinger said, “they have acknowledged that the way we got them to do it was the best way.… Although we started that in the 80s, it’s still going on, and I’m still with it.”

In addition to community involvement and newspaper publishing, Flickinger holds the distinction of being the first female to sit on the San Jacinto College Board of Trustees.