Saddleback College Hosts AACC WDI Conference


Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in the 22nd Annual American Association of Community College’s Workforce Development Institute hosted by Saddleback College, Irvine Valley College and Long Beach City.

The conference focuses on aligning the AACC’s commitment to moving their 21st-Century Commission Report, Reclaiming the American Dream - and accompanying Empowering Community Colleges to Build the Nation’s Future: An Implementation Guide – from ideas to action. The WDI’s 2015 theme, “Workforce Remix,” challenged participants to put a new spin on their workforce and development strategies and partnerships.

I was given the opportunity to speak to the conference attendees at the Plenary Session held last Wednesday. I was also invited to share how Saddleback College is using connected economic development solutions to ensure American’s competitiveness.

Below are some highlights of my speech that touched on the AACC’s 21st Century Report:

“The AACC 21st Century Report reminds us that this task will take all of us to work toward a common direction. It will take time and commitment. We will need to address:

• The need to increase college completion. We need to strive to reach a 50 percent completion rate by the year 2020.
• Our transfer and career technical education programs need to address worker skills gaps that our industry advisors continue to tell us are problems when they hire workers.
• Student success needs to be a major focus in our efforts. As we work with incumbent and future workers, we need to monitor their progress and provide them with the opportunities to successfully prepare themselves with the needed skills to be a successful worker.
• In order to support student success, we can no longer be independent academic institutions. We need to develop pathways that are no longer just transfer to four-year universities. Instead we need to develop pathways that start in middle school or sooner. At Saddleback College, we like to use the term K through Career. In order to reach K-Career, we need create attainable pathways that start with our K-12 partners, our fellow community colleges in the region, and our four-year universities. We need to be able to articulate coursework where possible and focus on creating stackable degrees and certificates that will make skills attainment and credentialing worker friendly.

The CA community colleges, and specifically the nine colleges in Orange County, are currently working on several initiatives to achieve the goals of the 21st Century Report.

• For many years, each college has been working on creating articulation agreements with our K-12 partners so that students can attain college credit for classes while they are in high school for CTE programs (SB70 and SB1070).
• The CA community colleges and California State universities have been developing transfer model curriculum so that community college CTE students have transfer pathways into the CSU system so that they can pursue high paying, high skilled careers (CA C-ID).
• The CA community colleges have been working on aligning curriculum so that stackable credentials will be possible (SB1070). This will allow students the freedom to choose which college meets their educational needs. This effort is also being coordinated with our K-12 partners.
• In Orange County, the nine community colleges, the Orange County Department of Education, and K-12 school districts created the OC Partnership to create a region-wide pathway model that will develop a model pathway for priority and emerging sectors. Under last year’s Career Pathways Trust grant, the OC Partnership is focusing on advanced manufacturing, healthcare, and information communication technology pathways that will help our workforce train for the jobs of the future.”

As part of the host duties, Saddleback College arranged a education tour for interested attendees to visit our campus. The education tour highlighted our occupational and career technical education programs. Two additional tours were offered, one to Northrop Grumman and another to the Montage Laguna Beach which focused on hospitality careers in the area.

Saddleback was proud to be one of the host community colleges for this conference. I know attendees gained a wealth of knowledge and enjoyed spending time in our wonderful county.

Spring 2015 Professional Development Week is a Wrap!

IMG_7173Another terrific Professional Development Week is in the books! Thank you to everyone who volunteered to present this week, and to those who carved time out of their schedules to attend the sessions. I too was able to pop-in to a variety of presentations and was pleased to see the number of faculty and staff filling the seats.

I want to give a special thank you to Jane Horlings, flexible calendar program coordinator, who spent countless hours organizing the session topics, times, and locations. It is because of Jane that any of this is possible. Thank you to all the faculty, staff, managers, and administrators who made Professional Development Week a success. I also want to thank the Trustee David Land, Trustee Tim Jamal and Trustee James Wright for taking time out of their schedules to attend one of this week’s events.

So much has happened over the winter break, President Obama thrust community colleges into the spotlight with his plan to make community colleges free, the science building has moved into the framing phase, and sadly we lost two long-time college employees, Kay Stevens and Dick Stutz.

In bringing you all up to speed, I was joined by my colleagues to share an update on the college priorities we shared back in August. They are: 1. Enrollment Management, 2. Student Success, 3. Economic and Workforce Development and 4. K-12 Partnerships.

Dr. Kathy Werle spoke about enrollment management and highlighted the four areas of focus for the coming year, 1. scheduling, 2. online education, 3. K-12 partnerships and 4. student retention. An update on Student Success was given by Dr. Bruce Gilman and Penny Skaff. They shared details of the new student success curricular task force, the AVID for higher education initiative, professional development offerings, student engagement, upcoming freshman advantage days, early alert and the implementation of the Student Success Act mandates. I then had the opportunity to give the Economic and Workforce Development and K-12 Partnerships update. Dr. Juan Avalos shared the key points of the Student Equity Plan and introduced the individuals serving as the faculty sub-group leads.

One of my favorite things about Professional Development Week is that we recognize the winners of the President’s Award for Leadership and Innovation.  As in the past, the field of nominees was top notch, causing me to choose multiple winners in several categories.


The AVID Team was awarded the President’s Award for Leadership and Innovation. 

The AVID Leadership team was awarded the Faculty award. Their remarkable efforts in bringing the nationally-recognized AVID program to Saddleback College could not be overlooked. Their work in implementing the AVID Counseling 140 and peer mentoring programs, and the professional development activities they have spearheaded to foster campus-wide AVID practices, will have long lasting results on student success and achievement.


Jorge was awarded the President’s Award for Leadership and Innovation at the Associate Faculty Dinner. 

At the Associate Faculty dinner I presented the award to Jorge Guerrero. Jorge is described as a “magnet” for students who seek out his counseling and researching skills. He is an empathetic and thoughtful counselor who goes the extra mile for the students he serves, and for his colleagues who seek is guidance. He combines his technical expertise with his counseling abilities to assist in the creation of learning tools for transfer students, and as a bilingual counselor, he communicates effectively with Spanish-speaking students and their families, making students of all backgrounds feel at ease at our campus.

At the Classified Staff Luncheon, I awarded two individuals for their stellar work, Edward De La O and Javier Williams.


Edward and Javier receiving their awards at the Classified Luncheon.

Edward is commended for his remarkable efforts in our grants office, and for his fabulous can-do attitude.  He is appreciated for his writing skills and the unique approaches he develops that have resulted in the college experiencing a high rate of grant acceptance.

Javier is recognized for bringing FAFSA Wednesday workshops to the Career and Re-Entry Center.  Javi is a respected colleague who trains fellow staff members and student helpers.  His positivity is infectious and has had a ripple effect, with students often asking, “when can I meet with Javi?”


Michael and Louis were instrumental to getting the campus back on their feet after the water main break.

The winners of the management award went to Michael James and Louis Sessler. The efforts of Michael and Louis were greatly appreciated during the water main break experienced at Saddleback College on October 7th. Due to their immediate and capable response, the urgent situation was professionally handled. They wisely put in to place back-up strategies to restore water to most of our campus while the issue continued to be resolved campus-wide. We appreciate the outpouring of positive comments and recognition Michael and Louis received from numerous faculty, staff, and management for their great work in responding to this emergency.

The President’s Award for Leadership and Innovation nominees in each category were:

Associate Faculty

  • Andrea Deerheart
  • Brenda Fitzgeorge
  • Jorge Guerrero


  • Kim D’Arcy
  • Tom DeDonno
  • Georgina Guy
  • Rebecca Knapp
  • Charley Myers
  • Erin O’Shea
  • Deanna Valdez
  • Norm Weston


  • Emily Cramer
  • Kevin Dalla Betta
  • Edward De La O
  • Jim Fagan
  • Trish Fain
  • Barbara Sendaba
  • Javier Williams


  • Estella Castillo-Garrison
  • Jeanne Harris-Caldwell
  • Michael James
  • Anthony Maciel
  • Terence Nelson
  • Tamera Rice
  • Joyce Semanik
  • Louis Sessler
  • Kathy Werle
  • Chris Wilkinson

Saddleback College Awarded State Grant to Recruit and Train STEM Teachers

Mission Viejo, CA – Saddleback College was named one of 10 recipients of the $1.2 million “Innovation Maker” grant awarded by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office to strengthen science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) teacher workforce recruitment and training. The STEM Teacher Preparation Pipeline grant will allow colleges with existing Teacher Preparation Pipeline programs to focus on recruiting and training students interested in teaching STEM subjects, K-12, adult education, and career technical education (CTE).

The grant will enable Saddleback College to  provide enhancements to its Teacher Preparation Pipeline program, including the creation of additional opportunities for internships and work experience in a variety of classroom and educational settings; collaboration between the California Community Colleges with the University of California and California State University systems to create a smoother transfer process for students in the STEM teaching program; and the increase of outreach to high school students interested in teaching.

Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president of Saddleback College, stated, “This grant allows us to equip aspiring teachers with the STEM teaching techniques that will shape our next generation of students. The jobs of the future depend on a STEM-educated workforce, and we look forward to training the teachers needed to get there.”

Orlantha Nin, Transfer Center coordinator, stated, “We are so pleased to receive this ‘Innovation Maker’ grant and continue in our support and education of future teachers here at Saddleback College.”

Saddleback’s Teacher Preparation Pipeline allows students to work in the classroom with a current teacher who serves as a mentor to evaluate together if teaching is a possible career choice. Currently, the college works with teacher-mentors in the Capistrano-Laguna Beach Regional Occupational Program, Coastline Regional Occupational Program, Capistrano Unified School District, and Saddleback Valley Unified School District. Students in the program can earn up to four units of California State University transferable credit, gain access to counselors who specialize in teaching careers, and benefit from workshops and individual appointments with representatives from teaching programs at the California State University, University of California, and private universities.

International Consortium for Education & Economic Development Conference 2014

Last week, I attended the 2014 International Consortium for Education and Economic Development conference hosted by Saddleback College, Santa Ana College and Santiago Canyon College. This subject of this year’s conference was, “Trilateral Collaboration: Fostering Partnerships Between Education and Industry Leaders.”

The International Consortium for Educational and Economic Development was formed in 1992, when representatives from Mexico’s CONALEP and 16 U.S. Community Colleges signed a historic agreement to create a consortium of technical and community colleges, in Canada, Mexico and the United States to foster active partnerships between colleges in the three countries.

At the conference, I joined my local colleagues Dr. Erlina Martinez, President of Santa Ana College, Dr. John Weispfenning, President of Santiago Canyon College and Dr. Raul Rodriguez, Chancellor of the Rancho Santiago Community College District to share remarks on the roles our colleges and Orange County play in education and economic development. We also had the opportunity to hear about CTE workforce needs, how to connect students with jobs using technology, connecting the business community to the classroom, and hearing from alumni of the community college system now working in Orange County.

On Thursday, December 4, I had the pleasure of addressing the conference attendees. Below are my remarks:

“Good morning!

Thank you for inviting me to say a few words along with several of my esteemed colleagues.  And thank you for choosing to hold this year’s conference in Orange County.

We are thrilled that you are here because Orange County is one of our nation’s hubs for international activity.

Did you know that if Orange County was a country, it’s Gross Domestic Product of $197 billion would make it the 45th largest economy in the world, just ahead of Singapore, and the 15th largest region in the United States.

But size is just one advantage.  Orange County’s demographics and geographic location provide us with very distinct advantages regarding international trade:

  • Close to the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
  • And close to several airports including Los Angeles, Santa Ana, Long Beach, Ontario, and San Diego.
  • We have well-connected freeway and road systems for trucking and rail lines providing national trade linkages.
  • Large and growing presence of an ethnically and culturally diverse population providing key contacts for international linkages.
  • World class public and private educational systems producing one of the world’s most educated, trained, and talented workforces.
  • Large, diverse, and competitive business and industry sectors including manufacturing, healthcare, technology, travel and tourism, and many more.

Combine these significant advantages with our rapidly growing trade relationships with growing economies such as China, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, and Canada, and Orange County is the place to be for global trade.

According to the California State University, Fullerton’s 2013 Orange County and Southern California International Trade Forecast, in 2011 exports accounted for about 13% of the county’s Gross Metropolitan Product.  This was up from 9.5% of GMP in 2010.

The two most dominant export sectors for the county were Computer and Electronic Products and Transportation Equipment.  These two sectors alone generated close to 45.8% of all Orange County exports in 2011.

Overall, International Trade has been one of Orange County’s strongest growth industries.  Despite a significant decline in 2009 due to the impacts of the great recession, Orange County exports rebounded in 2010 by 22% and an additional 20% in 2011.  In fact, Orange County exports in 2011 were estimated to reach an all-time high of $24.6 billion and are expected to reach close to $30 billion by the end of 2014.

In 2012, the leading destination for Orange County exports was Mexico with $6 billion dollars in exports followed by Canada with $2.8 billion.  It is important to note that exports to Mexico have more than doubled since the recession, rising from $2.4 billion in 2009.

Just as importantly, over this period China has surpassed Japan as the third largest destination country, with China’s $2.4 billion in exports just below Canada’s $2.8 billion.  The next two largest recipients of the county’s exports were in Asia:  Japan with $1.9 billion and South Korea with $1.0 billion.

As you can see, Orange County’s global trade is vibrant and accounts for a significant share of our nation’s gross national product.

Also as you can see, our nine stellar community colleges, University of California, Irvine, California State University, Fullerton, Chapman University, and high-ranking K-12 systems are driving most of our county’s workforce training and education preparation, positioning Orange County as one of the world’s leading hubs of international activity and economic development.

Again, thank you for holding the International Consortium for Educational and Economic Development annual conference in Orange County, and we look forward to working with you and our international partners in spurring economic growth and prosperity.”

Dr. Tod Burnett, Ed. D.



Veterans Week at Saddleback College Honored our Local Heroes

Photo of the Field of Flags memorial displayed during Veterans Week. Photo credit: Micheal O'Meara.

Photo of the Field of Flags memorial displayed during Veterans Week. Photo credit: Micheal O’Meara.


Last Tuesday, November 11th, our nation recognized Veterans Day, allowing us to share our gratitude for the sacrifices made by our service me and women and their families. In honor of the many Veterans at Saddleback College and in our community, there were several events offered on campus last week. We take pride in the long and recognized history of the college serving and celebrating the military service of our nation’s heroes.

The week started with the Veterans Education and Transition Services (VETS) program hosting a Veterans Day ceremony at the Saddleback College Veterans Memorial.  The brief and solemn event featured Colonel Joe Snyder, Marine Corps Vietnam Veteran, and student speaker Gregory Zaborski, a Marine Corps OIF /OEF Veteran. During the event, a POW/MIA Flag was flow over the Veterans Memorial donated by Saddleback College student and Vietnam Veteran Len Rugh.

Also during Veterans Week, the Saddleback College Veterans Student Council honored Veterans with many events and activities. Events included a Combat Fitness Course and a fundraising BBQ which included special guests from the Orange County Freedom Committee.

The Field of Flags memorial, as seen in the photo above taken by Micheal O’Meara, honored those Veterans who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms. This moving tribute by the student Veterans Council to service men and women was located in front of the Veterans Memorial.

The week of events culminated in a training for instructional faculty on “The Learning Needs of Student Veterans.”

We greatly appreciate our VETS Program team and our student Veterans for their work in recognizing the sacrifices made by our many Veterans in protecting us from harm, and for ensuring each and every day that our student veterans have peers to turn to as they pursue their personal and academic endeavors.  We also greatly appreciate our faculty, staff, and management who dedicate their time to work with students in our VETS Center and VA Office in the Student Payment Center.  It is because of these professionals and their commitment to this revered group of students that Saddleback is renowned for its  comprehensive and responsive Veterans support and services.

Tod A. Burnett, Ed.D.


Sue and Bill Gross Contribute an Additional $250,000 to Saddleback College for Scholarships to Students in the “Forgotten Middle”

Saddleback College is pleased to announce that Sue and Bill Gross have contributed an additional $250,000 to the Gross Scholars Program, which benefits students in select Career and Technical Education majors who have shown an unmet financial need. Now totaling $490,000, the program will enable 80 students to receive scholarships to help them prepare for skilled jobs.

The scholarship program, established earlier this year with a $240,000 contribution from Sue and Bill Gross, makes available scholarships for students in the “forgotten middle” – students who have an unmet financial need yet are ineligible for a full Pell Grant or other government assistance to pay for college – who successfully complete education and career training at Saddleback College and secure skilled jobs. The scholarships not only provide much-needed funding to help students pay for their college education, but also address the profound increase in available jobs that require education or training beyond high school, but often less than a bachelor’s degree.

“The additional funds will enable Saddleback to expand investment in students and strengthen our regional economy with a trained and skilled workforce,” said Sue Gross, Gross Family Foundation President.  “These scholarships will help to alleviate some of the financial burden many students carry as they juggle college and family life allowing them to focus on their training and ultimately getting an in-demand, good paying job.”

Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president of Saddleback College, stated, “We are delighted that Sue and Bill Gross  have contributed additional funds to help our students succeed in Career and Technical Education programs that lead to rewarding jobs with competitive salaries.”

Current scholarship recipient and nursing program student Michelle Saldana shared, “I have been very busy holding a leadership position in the California Nursing Student Association on campus, as well as working 30+ hours a week for my two part-time jobs. With this scholarship, I will now be able to leave one of my jobs and focus my time and attention to my main priority, my education.”

Bara Loeum shared that the financial support has allowed him to fulfill his dream to attend college and pursue a career in the automotive field. He plans to use his education to become a master technician. “Receiving the Sue and Bill Gross scholarship makes me even more determined to maintain high academic standards and follow my lifelong dream,” he said.

The scholarships cover the cost of attendance in a Career Technical Education (CTE) program at Saddleback College, which can be completed in two years or less and provides an opportunity to earn a living wage in Orange County.  During the two-year demonstration phase of the Sue and Bill Gross Scholars program, students will be eligible for scholarships in CTE programs including automotive technology, cinema/television/radio, medical assistant, medical laboratory technician, and nursing, with additional programs to be added.  With the additional $250,000 donation, Saddleback can now double the number of students served from 40 to 80.

Scholarships will be available to current Saddleback students, veterans, displaced workers, and other adult learners who possess a high school diploma or general education development credential and are currently enrolled in one of the selected CTE programs.  High school seniors with a 2.5 or better grade point average will also be eligible if they have completed at least one course in a defined CTE career pathway through a Regional Occupational Program, a CTE program at Saddleback College, or a local high school academy.  Scholarship recipients will be required to maintain a 2.5 or better GPA.

2014 State of the College Breakfast

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of sharing the 2014 State of the College report with our local city council members, Rhonda Riordan, mayor of Mission Viejo, council members from the cities of Dana Point and San Clemente; Dr. Al Mijares, superintendent of the OC Department of Education; Jeff Kellog,  president of the Long Beach City College Board of Trustees; representatives from Senator Mimi Walter’s office and Congressman Darrell Issa’s office; Assemblywoman Diane Harkey (2009 alumnus of the year); SOCCCD Chancellor Gary Poertner; SOCCCD trustees Nancy Padberg (vice president), Marcia Milchiker (clerk), Tim Jemal and Dr. Jim Wright; members of the Saddleback Foundation, and members of the college community.

While our guests enjoyed a hot breakfast, I discussed the results of our latest “top of mind” survey, which showed that nearly  75 percent of our neighboring residents think of us first among other colleges or universities. The results showed a significant increase from the 2008 results of 36.5 percent and far surpassing the University of California, Irvine which held the second spot at 16.7 percent.

I also shared with them our new marketing campaign titled “Saddleback College. First.” The areas we are focusing on during our campaign include:

- First. For Enrollments.

- First. For Student Success.

- First. For the Economy and Workforce.

- First. For K-12 Partnerships.

Our 2014 Alumnus of the Year, Anthony Ferry, then shared his story about being a recent high school graduate without an academic goal whom found his passion through taking a variety of courses at Saddleback College.

The final presentation was given by business professors Dr. Rebecca Knapp and Dr. Scott Fredrickson. They shared the measures Saddleback College is taking to keep students competitive by listing the current academic programs that have received an infusion of career and technical education components. They also gave an overview of the OC Social Entrepreneurship program, and highlighted some of the winning entries.

Year after year, the State of the College Breakfast allows the college to stay in touch with our local leaders and share with them the vitality that Saddleback College provides to the community. To learn more about our accomplishments and goals for the impending year, read the 2014 State of the College report.

Saddleback College and the OC Health Care Agency Team Up to Provide Free Flu Vaccines

Free seasonal flu shots for adults and children three years of age and older will be offered at Saddleback College as part of a continuing series of emergency preparedness exercises offered by the Orange County Health Care Agency. Vaccinations will be provided on a first-come first-served basis on Friday, October 10th from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm in Parking Lot 1A located near the Avery Parkway entrance of the campus. Saddleback College is located at 28000 Marguerite Pkwy., in Mission Viejo.

The site will offer both drive through and walk-up flu shot locations. To receive a flu shot, participants should be feeling well on the day of the flu shot exercise and must complete a brief health screening to ensure they can safely receive a flu vaccine.

“This is a great opportunity to partner with the Orange County Health Care Agency, City of Mission Viejo, and other community partners,” said Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president of Saddleback College. “The event will provide the opportunity for training to respond to a large scale event while offering free flu shots to our community.”

The event would not be possible without campus and community partnerships, including: the Saddleback College Health Center, Saddleback College Campus Police Department, the Orange County Health Care Agency, City of Mission Viejo, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Orange County Fire Authority, Doctor’s Ambulance Service, Orange County Health Care Agency – Medical Reserve Corps and Orange County Health Care Agency – Stanbridge College.

For more information about this one day event, please visit


Appointment of Dr. Howard Gillman to UC Irvine

On behalf of Saddleback College, Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president, congratulates Dr. Howard Gillman on his appointment as the sixth chancellor of the University of California, Irvine.

Dr. Burnett stated, “I am truly overjoyed that Dr. Gillman has been named the chancellor of the University of California, Irvine. Dr. Gillman was a fantastic interim chancellor and provost and I know he will continue to lead the distinguished university with honor and distinction.

“Dr. Gillman’s appointment is truly fitting in this banner year for UC Irvine, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

“Saddleback College has forged critical partnerships with UC Irvine, with our college ranking third in Orange County in transfers to UC Irvine, and successful collaborations with many of our programs.

“Congratulations to Dr. Gillman for this much-deserved honor, and I look forward to working with him in the coming years.”

Prior to his appointment as provost and executive vice chancellor at UC Irvine, Dr. Gillman was a professor of political science, history, and law at the University of Southern California. Previously, he served as dean of the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

9/11 Commemoration Event


Earlier today during the Saddleback College 9/11 Commemoration event, I had the honor of joining Battalion Chief Mark Sanchez with the Orange County Fire Authority Battalion 6 in dedicating a wreath in honor of those we lost to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

While 13 years have passed, most of us will never forget the details of where we were or how we felt when we heard about the attacks. Let us take time today to remember the heroes and the victims of that day.

Dr. Tod A. Burnett