Gonda and Milgrim

Noted for their passion for teaching and as stalwart advocates for students, four instructors at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges are recipients of top faculty awards.


The Distinguished Faculty awards for history instructor Sue Gonda and biology professor Craig Milgrim were announced at convocation, as were the Outstanding Faculty awards at Cuyamaca College for physics instructor Keenan Murray and biology instructor Christina Burnett.


Gonda and Milgrim tied for their awards, a first for Grossmont College faculty. Murray is the winner of the Outstanding Faculty Award for full-time faculty, while Burnett is the standout winner of the adjunct award.


Chancellor Lynn Neault said faculty’s commitment to student success are reflected in the superlative education Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges provide.


“These award winners exemplify the everyday miracles that all of our faculty members perform, especially during these challenging times,” she said. “The pandemic has changed our world in so many ways, but our faculty have never veered from their mission to help students reach their goals.”


Sue Gonda

Arriving at Grossmont College in 1996, Gonda introduced American women’s history courses to the history department’s curricula. In addition, she served as Curriculum Committee chair, Academic Senate president and acting dean of English and Social Behavioral Sciences.


The Detroit native moved to San Diego in 1981, and earned a bachelor’s in history from San Diego State University and a master’s and a doctorate from UCLA in American history.


Her past awards include the college’s President’s Leadership Award in 2008, an Outstanding Faculty Award from the division of Humanities and Social Science in 2004, and in June, her induction into the San Diego County Women’s Hall of Fame.


About her years at Grossmont College, Gonda thanked employees and students for creating an environment conducive to progress. Some of her most rewarding work has been with diversity and inclusion, especially as chair of the Cross-Cultural Studies Department, reviving ethnic and gender studies curriculum and course offerings and creating partnerships across campus for the department. 


“Grossmont has an energy – an attitude that allows faculty to thrive and to act on our passions,” she said, adding that sharing the award with Milgrim is a joy because of their shared experiences as new Grossmont retirees and  as openly LGBTQ faculty who have served as advisers to LGBTQ students.


Craig Milgrim

A Grossmont College faculty member from 1993 until his recent retirement, Milgrim noted that he  has taught some 8,000 students in his career.


“That’s what we do here -- we change the world every time we help students acquire new knowledge and skills,” Milgrim said, adding that he is honored to share the award with Gonda, his longtime colleague.


After earning his bachelor’s in biological sciences from the University of Cincinnati and his master’s in botany from the University of Vermont, Milgrim moved to Phoenix, then Los Angeles where he served as an educational administrator. He returned to Phoenix and was hired as an adjunct instructor at Maricopa Community Colleges.


When he was hired at Grossmont, Milgrim found a surrogate family in the biology department.


“I love the camaraderie at Grossmont among the faculty and classified professionals,” he said.


He helped students form an LGBT student club in the ‘90s and created partnerships with Scripps, UCSD, and the Southern California Biotechnology Center (SCBC) to advance biotechnology education. The partnership with SCBC led to a biotechnology internship program serving underrepresented students from area high schools.


Milgrim served as co-chair of the biology department from 2007-2020, senate representative to Planning and Budget committees, Academic Senate representative and officer and helped bring AFT Local 1931 to the district. He  currently serves as an elected trustee for the San Diego Community College District.


“As the first openly gay member of the board, I received a warm welcome from the very active gay political community,” he said, adding that he serves as the board’s Vice President of Diversity and Equity.