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

New Employees for the 2014-15 academic year

I am excited to welcome and introduce our new faculty, staff, and management to Saddleback College. Our new employees are all very impressive, with skills and expertise that will serve our college and students very well.


Shannon Alfaro – Assistant Professor, Computer Science

Ann Marie Breslin – Assistant Professor, Learning Disability Specialist/DSPS Counselor

Nicole Dupree – Assistant Professor, Nursing (Categorical)

Christina Ghanbarpour – Assistant Professor, History

Catherine Hayter – Assistant Professor, English Composition

Jason Hole – Assistant Professor, Mathematics

Sean Osborn – Assistant Professor, Human Services

Brenda Plascencia-Carrizosa – Assistant Professor, Child Development

Emily Quinlan – Assistant Professor, Business Law

Efren Rangel – Assistant Professor, Counselor (Generalist)

Brockton Schermerhorn – Assistant Professor, Real Estate

Carolyn Seaman – Assistant Professor, Librarian (Instructional)

Jacob Tracy – Assistant Professor, Mathematics

Erica Vogel – Assistant Professor, Anthropology

Jake Wiliams – Assistant Professor, English Composition

Academic Administrators & Managers

Patrick Higa – Police Operations Lieutenant

Gina La Monica – Dean of Advanced Technology & Applied Science

Daniel Predoehl – Director of Emeritus Institute Instruction Programs

New Classified Employees

Jason Allen – Senior Lab Technician

Lillian Bodane – Lab Technician

Jon Briggs – Graphic Designer

Katie Cagney – Development Assistant II

Chris Capener – Health Office Assistant

Jason Conway – Counseling Office Assistant

Emily Cramer – Program Assistant (Categorical)

Sharareh (Sherri) Dadsetan – Office Assistant

Kyle Fraiser – Dispatcher/Records

Ashley Griffith – Student Services Specialist

Zachary Guajardo – Accounting Assistant

Kenneth Harer – Police Officer

Marc Jackson – Senior Lab Technician

Jana Kaffer – Health Center Nurse

Alicia Kirk – Program Assistant (Categorical)

Tia Looney – Dispatcher/Records

Denise Ludes – Program Specialist (Categorical)

Ryan Maligie – Police Officer

Dennis Mastrangelo – Groundskeeper

Matt Miller – Office Assistant

Patricia Nutting – Admissions & Records Specialist I

Michael Parra – Program Assistant (Categorical)

Linus Phillips – Lab Assistant

Stephanie Reyna – New Media & Marketing Specialist

Arronlea Searcy – Program Specialist (Categorical)

Deborah Snyder – Administrative Assistant

Laura Sobchik – Senior Research & Planning Analyst (Categorical)

Jennifer Soto-Banks – Child Development Specialist

Jeffrey Tillotson – Network Systems Technician III

Natalie Thompson – Financial Aid Specialist (Categorical)

Larry Ward – Senior Lab Technician

When you meet them on campus, please give them a warm Saddleback welcome!



Looking back: Week of Welcome

Last week, I had the opportunity to welcome back our faculty, associate faculty, staff and classified staff by hosting a series of meals that allowed me and my colleagues to share updates and goals for the impending academic year as well as share highlights from the State of the College report titled, “Saddleback College. First“.

On Tuesday, August 12, we were honored to host Dr. Brice Harris, Chancellor of the California Community College System at the Chancellors Opening Session held at Irvine Valley College, who discussed current and future trends in our colleges. The morning also featured presentations on Irvine Valley College’s ESL program and Saddleback’s K-12 partnership initiatives, where I was joined by Leslie Humphrey, Director of Outreach and Recruitment, Dr. Estella Castillo-Garrison, Dean of Community Education, Emeritus Institute, and K-12 Partnerships, Dr. Kevin O’Connor, Dean of Liberal Arts, Kathy Werle, Vice President of Instruction,  Bruce Gilman, Instructor and Penny Skaff, Matriculation Coordinator/Counselor.

The title for this year’s report, was inspired by a marketing and research study conducted last year by Dr. Pam Cox-Otto to gauge our community’s perceptions of Saddleback College. The results of the survey were extremely positive and clearly indicate that Saddleback has made considerable strides in our community over the past several years. Some of the top points were:

  • 75 percent of respondents named Saddleback their “top of mind” college – a significant increase from the 2008 results of 36.5 percent and far surpassing UCI, which held the second spot at 16.7 percent.
  • There is greater awareness of Saddleback’s educational value in our community. When asked what programs, services, or events come to mind when they think of Saddleback, most responses focused on our degree and transfer programs.
  • Saddleback has made huge strides in the perception that we are THE transfer path for students, with 55.2 percent strongly agreeing that attending Saddleback for two years and then transferring to a four-year college is a smart choice. This is a 22 percent increase from 2008.

Included in the State of the College report are the following topics:

  • First. For Enrollments.
  • First. For Student Success.
  • First. For the Economy and Workforce.
  • First. For K-12 Partnerships.

Due to the outstanding work of our students, faculty, staff, management, and community, Saddleback is the college of first choice in south Orange County. Over the coming year we  will continue to tackle important issues, of which have made the list of Top 10 Projects for the 2014-15 Academic Year:

  1. Enrollments
  2. Economic and Workforce Development
  3. Strategic Planning
  4. Career Technical Education Collaboration
  5. K-12 Outreach
  6. Freshman Advantage
  7. 21st Century Workforce for Student Success
  8. Employee Training and Development
  9. Center for Innovation in Healthcare Education
  10. South Orange County Economic Forecast

As I mentioned before, Saddleback strives to be first in student success. During last week’s professional development events, student success, specifically student retention, was shown to help our college enrollments. All of us need to do all that we can to help our students persist and succeed with their goals. This year, the Student Success Committee, led by professors Bruce Gilman and Penny Skaff, and our deans, led by Vice President of Instruction Kathy Werle, are heading the College Pride Tuesdays program. All students, faculty, staff and management are asked to wear a Saddleback logo shirt or college colors (cardinal and gold) every Tuesday. If you’re caught wearing your college pride by members of the Student Success Committee, you could win a gift card! Another way we want to encourage student success is by becoming more familiar with our students. A way to do that is to wear your Saddleback name badge. Studies have found that the single most significant thing a college can do to help its students is for every student to make a connection with someone on their campus beginning with knowing their name. Be that someone, by wearing your name badge to work each day. If you need a t-shirt or name tag, please contact Bruce of Penny. We want Saddleback to become a place where everybody knows your name!

With that, I look forward to working with all members of the Saddleback community and thank you for your continued dedication and service to our college and community. If you haven’t yet had a chance to read the State of the College report, you can find a digital version here.

Wishing you a wonderful 2014-15 school year!


Dr. Tod A. Burnett, President



Orange County Awarded $15 Million to Create Career Pathways that Prepare Students for the 21st Century Workforce

SaddlebackcollegelogoOCDE-LogoBlueNoTaglineThe California Department of Education has awarded the Orange County Career Pathways Partnership (OCCPP) a $15 million California Career Pathways Trust grant to create a countywide, self-sustaining infrastructure that builds, supports, and expands rigorous and innovative career pathways for students from kindergarten through college.

OCCPP is the first countywide consortium comprised of fifteen Orange County school districts; nine community colleges; University of California, Irvine; California State University, Fullerton; four Regional Occupation Programs; three Workforce Investment Boards; VitalLink, and over 100 business and industry partners. Led by the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) and Saddleback College, OCCPP is one of twelve recipients awarded a $15 million grant and represents the largest regional consortium in the state.

OCCPP will make career pathway programs accessible to Orange County students from all academic, socio-economic, and achievement levels ranging from Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) students, to alternative education students, foster youth, and students with physical and learning disabilities.These programs will also align career courses with rigorous science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), California Academic Standards, and Career Technical Education Model Standards instruction that provide real-world application of career concepts, linking the content to industry needs.

Al Mijares, Ph.D., County Superintendent of Schools, stated, “This grant award is a recognition of the collaboration that has been forged among K-12 education, higher education, businesses, and community partners in Orange County. The funding will empower OCCPP to achieve the vision of a countywide infrastructure to better prepare students for the 21st century workplace and will provide a model for other counties and regional level programs. This initiative will further equip Orange County students to lead the nation in college and career readiness and success.”

Students in the pathway programs will participate in career exploration and on-the-job training that prepare them to earn certificates, associate degrees, baccalaureate degrees, and advanced degrees in three target sectors: Health Care/Biotechnology; Engineering/Advanced Manufacturing/Design; and Information Communication Technology/Digital Media.  The goal of this initiative is to enroll 17,000 Orange County students in career pathways in these sectors by 2017-18.

Dr. Tod A. Burnett, President of Saddleback College, stated, “This partnership is an unprecedented effort to form an effective and lasting countywide partnership to improve career pathways for all students that strengthen our local economy.  We thank all of our K-12, college, university, business, and industry partners for their outstanding commitment to this effort.”

Andrew Munoz, Executive Director of the Orange County Workforce Investment Board, stated, “The business community is excited about the opportunity presented with this grant award. OCCPP has developed a true countywide approach to develop long-term strategies that will effectively prepare students entering the workforce.  Orange County businesses are eager to assist in creating real connections between the classroom and today’s workplace.”