Team Orange County Showcases Energy-Efficient Home at Solar Decathlon

Casa del Sol, the energy-efficient home designed by Saddleback College and other “Team Orange County” students, is currently on display at the United States Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine. The nine-day collegiate competition, which opened yesterday morning, challenges teams from around the world to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective and attractive to consumers.

The opening ceremony was led by Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. Additional speakers were Christina Shea, Irvine City Councilwoman; Gaddi Vasquez, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, Edison International; Serge Goldenberg, Senior Vice President, Solar Business, Schneider Electric; and Puon Penn, Executive Vice President, Head of Technology and Clean Tech Commercial Banking, Wells Fargo. Representing the South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees was Dr. James R. Wright, and Saddleback College President Tod A. Burnett and Irvine Valley College President Glenn R. Roquemore were in attendance with Daniele Stroopa, Chancellor of Chapman University, and Gregory Washington, Dean of the UC Irvine Henry Samueli School of Engineering.

Casa del Sol is a collaboration of Team Orange County, which consists of a core group of 20 students from Saddleback College, who took the lead on architecture and interior design; Irvine Valley College, who focused on construction technology; UC Irvine, who oversaw engineering and project management, and Chapman University, who led marketing and communications efforts.

Dr. Burnett stated, “I am incredibly proud of the hard work and dedication of our students, who produced a truly innovative home enhanced by phenomenal design. Saddleback College is committed to providing a first-rate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) curriculum, which are enriched by our ability to compete in high-level activities like the Solar Decathlon.”

Blake Stephens, professor of architecture, stated, “I am encouraged by the intelligence and hard-working attitude of the students who have dedicated their efforts to Team Orange County and the solar decathlon.”

While showcasing creative and sustainable home designs, the Solar Decathlon helps build a workforce to address the need to reduce carbon pollution that causes climate change. The competition combines classroom instruction with hands-on experience to teach college students the STEM concepts used to build their Solar Decathlon houses. Since the biennial competition began in 2002, many former participants have pursued careers in clean energy and sustainable housing.

The competing teams were selected two years ago in a competitive selection process and their projects represent a diverse range of design, building technologies, and geographic locations, climates and regions. They are constructed to target a broad range of housing markets, including empty nesters, multi-generational, and single family.

In addition to Team Orange, the following collegiate teams are competing in the Solar Decathlon 2015:

California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo
California State University, Sacramento
Clemson University
Crowder College and Drury University
Missouri University of Science and Technology
New York City College of Technology
Team NY Alfred (State University of New York at Alfred College of Technology and Alfred University)
Stevens Institute of Technology
Texas/Germany (The University of Texas at Austin and Technische Universitaet Muenchen)
State University of New York, Buffalo
West Virginia/Rome (West Virginia University and University of Roma Tor Vergata)
Mass/Central America (Western New England University, Universidad Tecnologica de Panama, and Universidad Tecnologica Centroamericana)

Over the next nine days, the teams will compete in 10 contests that focus on house performance, livability, and affordability. To test the livability and efficiency of the houses, the teams will perform a variety of everyday tasks, including cooking, laundry, and washing dishes. The winner of the overall competition will have demonstrated the best blend of affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence while maintaining optimal energy production and maximum efficiency.

Team houses will be open to the public and free of charge October 8-11 and October 15-18 from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. The overall winner will be announced on October 17 at 9:45 am. A $10 fee for public parking will be charged at the Orange County Great Park during the event.

For more information and to view photos of the event, visit the President’s Gaucho Gazette Blog, The Team Orange County Website, and the Solar Decathlon Website.
Located in Mission Viejo, Saddleback College provides quality higher education and training to the greater south Orange County community. Having served more than 500,000 students since 1968, Saddleback College offers more than 300 degree and certificate programs to help students reach their personal, career, and educational goals. For more information, please visit

President Burnett Focuses on a ‘Culture of Excellence’ in Annual State of the College

Dr. Burnett asks for a show of hands of those in the audience that attended Saddleback College.

Dr. Burnett asks for a show of hands of those in the audience that attended Saddleback College.

Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president of Saddleback College, welcomed more than 100 elected officials, business and industry representatives, and other community members at the college’s annual State of the College breakfast this morning.  The State of the College report is entitled “A Culture of Excellence” and outlines the college’s priorities and goals for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Dr. Burnett welcomed Assembly Member Bill Brough, who offered remarks on his support of Saddleback College and an update on his work in Sacramento.  Additional speakers included South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees Vice President Tim Jemal, Associated Student Government President William Vassetizadeh, and Saddleback College Foundation President Mike Hamilton. Students of the Saddleback College Commercial Music Ensemble, directed by Dr. Ariel Alexander, performed.

President Burnett provided an update on the college, with themes covering student success, economic and workforce development, enrollments, and facilities.  The top 10 projects for the year were highlighted, which included: Governance and Organization Manual; Disaster Preparedness Training; Employee Training and Development Survey; Reimagine Student Services; Title IX Coordinator; Instruction, Student Services, and Administrative Services Operating Guidelines; Economic and Workforce Development; Accreditation; Institutional Effectiveness; and Enrollments.

An update on the college’s economic and workforce development plan was presented by Dr. John Jaramillo, dean of business science and economic and workforce development, and Israel Dominguez, director of economic and workforce development.  The plan includes implementation of a one-stop career placement center, small business hub, partnerships with business and industry, contract education, and business training and consulting.

Guests included:

Assembly Member Bill Brough

South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees
Tim Jemal, Vice President
Marcial Milchiker
Bobbi Jay

City of Mission Viejo
Mayor Cathy Schlicht
Mayor Pro Tem Greg Raths
Wendy Bucknum, Council Member
Ed Sachs, Council Member

City of San Clemente
Lori Donchak, Council Member

Rancho Santa Margarita
Mayor Brad McGirr
Michael Vaughn, Council Member

City of Aliso Viejo
Mayor Pro Tem Mike Munzing

Capistrano Unified School District
Gary Pritchard, Member, Board of Education
Dr. Kirsten Vital, Superintendent

Saddleback Valley Unified School District
Ginny Aitkens, Member, Board of Education
Dennis Walsh, Member, Board of Education
Dolores Winchell, Member, Board of Education

Long Beach City College Board of Trustees
President Jeff Kellogg

Representatives from the Offices of Congresswoman Mimi Walters, Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett, and Irvine City Council Member Lynn Schott.

9/11 Commencement Ceremony Held on Campus

9/11/15 commemoration ceremony

9/11 commemoration ceremony held at the Veterans Memorial

Today we gathered at the Veterans Memorial for a commemoration ceremony hosted by the Saddleback College Police Department to remember and honor those we lost in the terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001.

The event was led and organized by Saddleback College Police Lieutenant Michael Betzler. Following his opening statements, Sheriff Explorer Post 449 presented the colors and Erin Long, senior administrative assistant in student development, beautifully performed the national anthem. Guest speakers at the ceremony included Orange County Fire Battalion Chief Cliff Bramlette and United States Marine Corps Sergeant Juan Valdez. Each provided moving testimonies about the events of 9/11. In a final nod to the victims and the heroes, Dr. Kathy Werle, Vice President for Instruction, placed a wreath at the Veterans Memorial on behalf of the college.

Fourteen years after that tragic day, Saddleback College continues to remember and honor those we lost. I want to thank all of those in attendance that helped us in this tribute to them.

Tod A. Burnett, Ed. D.

What a Terrific Welcome Back Week!


Last week I had the opportunity to reunite with faculty, associate faculty, classified staff and management to share the highlights of my annual State of the College report and share goals and updates for the upcoming semester.

Over the course of the week, I presented my State of the College report titled, “A Culture of Excellent.” The title for this year’s report was inspired in-part by being named the number one community college in California by Saddleback’s collegewide commitment to excellence is also clearly stated in our vision, “To be the first choice of students who seek a dynamic, innovative, and student-centered post-secondary education.” To be the “first choice” we must excel, and our culture of excellence is led by one of the most talented, driven, results-oriented, and student success-focused teams of faculty, staff and management in the college’s history.

With that, I would like to share with you the Top 10 Projects for the 2015-2016 academic year:

1. Enrollments
2. Institutional Effectiveness
3. Accreditation
4. Economic and Workforce Development
5. Instruction, Student Services, and Administrative Services Operating Guidelines
6. Title IX Coordinator
7. Reinventing Student Services
8. Employee Training and Development Survey
9. Disaster Preparedness Training
10. Governance and Organization Manual

One of my favorite parts of Welcome Week is the welcoming of the new staff and full-time faculty. This year I had the pleasure of introducing the following individuals who join the Gaucho family:


New Faculty Introduced at the Faculty Breakfast

New Faculty
Jacqueline Bloink – Assistant Professor, Health Information Technology – Health Sciences and Human Services
Hollis Casey – Assistant Professor, Counselor (Generalist) – Counseling Services
Sheryl Christensen – Counselor (Generalist) – Counseling Services
Evan Enright – Assistant Professor, Mathematics – Mathematics, Science and Engineering
Karla Frizler – Assistant Professor, ESL Instructor – Liberal Arts
Michelle Gustafson – Assistant Professor, Counselor (Generalist) – Counseling Services
Kathleen Lunetto – Assistant Professor, Culinary Arts – Advanced Technology and Applied Science
Jonathan Luque – Assistant Professor, Mathematics – Mathematics, Science and Engineering
Nicole Major – Assistant Professor, Gerontology/Sociology – Social and Behavioral Sciences
Julie McGirr – Assistant Professor, ESL – Liberal Arts
Aimee Mucciaro – Assistant Professor, Counselor (Articulation & Generalist) – Counseling Services
Pete Murray – Assistant Professor, Humanities – Liberal Arts
Jacqueline Novak – Clinical Specialist, Nursing – Health Sciences and Human Services
Timothy Posada – Assistant Professor, Journalism – Liberal Arts
Lisa Tran – Assistant Professor, Counselor (Generalist) – Counseling Services

New Academic Administrators & Managers
Israel Dominguez – Director of Economic and Workforce Development – Economic & Workforce Development and Business Science
Partick Higa – Chief of Police – Office of Safety and Security
John Jaramillo – Dean, Economic & Workforce Development and Business Science
James Rondeau – Director of College Broadcast Services – Fine Arts and Media Technology

New Classified Staff Introduced at Classified Luncheon

New Classified Staff Introduced at Classified Luncheon

New Classified Employees
Sonja Arnak – International Student Program Specialist – International Students Center, Admissions, Records and Enrollment Services
Samuel Caroll – Utility Custodian – Facilities, Custodial Services, Office of Physical Plant
Rick Chan – Senior Matriculation Specialist – Matriculation, Counseling Services
Stacy Demore – Front of House Assistant – Administration, Fine Arts and Media Technology
Rosane Faanes – Publications Technician – Graphic Services, Office of College Publications
Darline Guillen – Disabled Student Program Specialist , Disabled Students Programs and Services – Transfer, Career and Special Programs
Leslie Haugen – Senior. Administrative Assistant, Administration – Advanced Technology and Applied Science
Albert Lao – Network Systems Technician I, Innovation Technology Center – Office of College Technology
Heather Larson – Scheduling & Enrollment Planning Analyst, Administration – Office of Instruction
Diana Lloyd – Office Assistant, Career Center – Transfer, Career and Special Programs
Jeffrey Long – Senior Matriculation Specialist, Matriculation – Counseling Services
Emily Maynard – Student Development Office Assistant, Administration – Office of Student Development
Janet Miller – Senior Administrative Assistant, Community Education – Community Education, Emeritus Institute, and K-12 Partnerships
Alex Prado – Utility Custodian, Custodial Services – Office of Physical Plant
Felissa Silva – Child Development Specialist, Children’s Center – Office of Student Services
Christine Swanson – Senior Administrative Assistant, Administration – Athletics
Karen Ullrich – Child Development Specialist, Children’s Center – Office of Student Services
Patrick Webster – Counseling Office Assistant, Career Center – Transfer, Career and Special Programs

To further the culture of excellent, we will continue Spirit Tuesday, where staff and faculty are encouraged to wear cardinal and gold or Saddleback gear every Tuesday. May the Gaucho Pride shine in everything you do on campus this semester. Wishing you a terrific 2015-2016 academic year!

Dr. Tod A. Burnett, President

Saddleback College Ranked First Among California Community Colleges by

Mission Viejo, CA – Saddleback College was ranked first among California’s 112 community colleges in an article recently released by, which praised Saddleback’s high graduation rates, affordability, and student distance education participation. Ranked second and third were Santa Monica College and Cypress College, respectively.

The report covers California’s community colleges specifically because of their importance not just to the state, but to the nation as a whole: One in every five community college students in the United States is enrolled in a California community college. As such, the economic success of the state and nation relies heavily on the success of California’s community college students.

Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president of Saddleback College, stated, “It is an honor to be ranked first in a system of wonderful colleges that all provide outstanding programs and services to students. Here at Saddleback, we have worked over the past several years to increase completion rates and provide flexible programming, such as online classes, to the multitude of students who require options beyond the traditional day-time schedule. It is a real pleasure to see our efforts pay off and get this kind of recognition from”, a resource for career-minded students, features information about growing careers and different educational programs — both online and on-campus. The site helps job-seekers and students alike identify potential pathways to success.

To view the article in its entirety, visit


Power Week Session Offers a Transition into College For Kids

College For Kids Power Week will kick off on Monday, June 22nd with classes running from 9 am to 3 pm, Monday through Thursday. “Kids and teens will get an opportunity to see what college is all about,” says Dr. Estella Castillo-Garrison, dean of community education, emeritus institute and K-12 partnerships.

Students might start the day learning chess or keyboarding before moving to the science lab to study forensic anthropology, CSI-style, or dig into an archaeological investigation,” she explains. “Budding physicists and engineers can explore classes in rocketry, physics, and chemistry while young mathematicians and tech-inspired students design 3D games, explore robotic systems, and conquer computer code.”

College For Kids Power Week offers a perfect transition between end-of-school activities and the full two-week CFK sessions that span the summer at Saddleback: Session 1 starts June 29th and ends July 9th; Session 2 runs from July 13th to 23rd; and Session 3 kicks off July 27th and wraps up August 6st.

CFK offerings run the gamut — there are academic classes like reading, writing, math, science, and STEM, as well as foreign language offerings in Spanish and Mandarin. In addition, kids from 5 to 17 years of age can explore acting, art, and dance. CFK even offers two extensive theatre programs. Kids who love playing in the summer sunshine will enjoy swimming lessons, lifeguarding, and water polo. Golf lessons, and track, tennis, soccer and volleyball clinics round out the outdoor activities.

College For Kids is just one of several Saddleback College Community Education programs being offered this summer. The Summer 2015 Gaucho Guide features classes that appeal to lifelong learners — from preschoolers to centenarians. In addition to College For Kids and Adult classes, Saddleback College partners with Capistrano Unified School District to present its “Summer Experience” program at 11 local elementary and middle school sites.

Registration for College For Kids, Summer Experience, and adult programs is available online. Register now, or explore the Saddleback College Community Education offerings at


Congratulations to Classified Employee of the Year, Mark Sierakowski

Mark surrounded by him family and Dr. Tod Burnett, Saddleback College President.

Mark surrounded by him family and Dr. Tod Burnett, Saddleback College President.

Mark Sierakowski has been named the 2014-15 Saddleback College Outstanding Classified Employee of the Year. I and the Board of Trustees had the opportunity to recognize him at last night’s Board of Trustees Meeting.

Mark has served as the college’s network systems administrator for 30 years. In this role, he has helped to design and implement network upgrades throughout the campus and has a role in making sure the college’s central heating and air conditioning server is working properly. Mark and has contributed his service to college governance, having served as president of the Classified Senate and the college’s chapter of the Classified School Employees Association. I thank him for his terrific service and unique dedication to Saddleback College.

Speech and Debate Team Honored at Board of Trustees Meeting

Dr. Tod Burnett flanked by members of the Saddleback College Speech & Debate Team.

Dr. Tod Burnett flanked by members of the Saddleback College Speech & Debate Team.

At last night’s Board of Trustees Meeting, I had the privilege of recognizing the Saddleback College Speech and Debate Team for their fourth place finish at the Phi Rho Pi National Tournament.

The team was entered in the Large School Division Sweepstakes, the most difficult competition level, with 59 other colleges. The top three spots were taken by Orange Coast College placed which placed first overall, Moorpark second, and Mt. San Antonio College third. Students from four-year universities also compete in this competition, including UCLA and Cal State Northridge.

The students in attendance last night are those that placed in individual events:

Kate Rochefort
Gold, persuasion
Bronze, prose
Silver, Readers Theatre

Patrick Leahy
Bronze, prose

Scott Lankford
Bronze, prose
Silver, duo interpretation
Gold, Readers Theatre

Maggie Shephard
Silver, duo interpretation
Silver, Readers Theatre

Alex Sherwood,
Bronze, informative
Silver, International Public Debate Association

Each year I am thoroughly impressed by the caliber of our forensics team and know that the guidance they get from our wonderful coaches – Heidi Ochoa, Larry Radden, and Lucas Ochoa, will only lead them to great things here at Saddleback and beyond.

Congratulations to Our Newly-Tenured Faculty


Dr. Tod Burnett is joined by the newly tenured faculty staff, SOCCCD Chancellor Gary Poertner, and board of trustee members Dr. James Wright and David Lang.

Dr. Tod Burnett is joined by the newly tenured faculty staff, SOCCCD Chancellor Gary Poertner, and board of trustee members Dr. James Wright and David Lang.

Yesterday, I was delighted to welcome the 13 members of our college faculty approved for tenure by the Board of Trustees during a reception held in the Fine Arts courtyard. If you were unable to make it, please join me in congratulating the following faculty to our tenured faculty ranks:

Teresa Bear, Chemistry
Christina Bowles, Nursing
Ryan Even, Photography
Kirill Gliadovsky, Music
Lawrence Grihalva, Emergency Medical Technician
Safiah Mamoon, Health Information Technology
Maria Mayenzet, Screen Acting and Video Production
Patricia McGinley, Nursing
Jedrek Mularski, World History
Lucas Ochoa, Speech
Penelope Skaff, Matriculation and Counseling
Deanna Valdez, Mathematics
Kolin Williams, Counseling (Veterans and Generalist)

Tod A. Burnett, Ed.D.