Saddleback College Summer of Theatre makes O.C. Hot List

The Orange County Hot List recently ranked the Summer of Theatre at Saddleback College the sixth best festival in Orange County, beating out such events as the Newport Beach Jazz Festival, the Garden Grove Strawberry Festival, and others.

“We are excited to learn that the wider Orange County population is not only aware of what we are doing, but took the time to vote for our incredible event,” said David Anderson, director of audience development for the division of Fine Arts & Media Technology.

This year, 6,700 people came to see free performances of “Shrek: The Musical,” a Big Band performance featuring 100 year-old Shep Shepherd, Shakespeare by the Sea productions of “Macbeth” and “Taming of the Shrew,” and “The Music Man.” The series is designed to introduce theatre and music to residents and families who cannot afford to attend these productions at area theatres.

Anderson said, “It was so fun to see four generations of community members laughing, playing and singing along with our talented student casts. Nothing thrills us more than to see young people enjoying our shows without having to worry about sitting in a formal theatrical setting where they have to sit still and be quiet.”

The City of Mission Viejo through its Community Grants program partnered with the college to put on the 2017 Summer of Theatre. Anyone wishing to sponsor this event can email or call 949-582-4913.

The O.C. Hot List’s top five were the Orange County Fair, Sawdust Art & Craft Festival, Tustin Street Fair & Chili Cook-Off, Doheny Blues Festival, Festival of Arts of Laguna Beach. Saddleback College’s KSBR Birthday Bash also made the list at No. 9. The Orange County Hot List features more than 4,475 businesses competing for title of Orange County’s best.

Dr. Burnett reflects on his time at Saddleback in State of the College

Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president of Saddleback College, released his final State of the College today.

The report, “We Did This Together,” focuses on how the college has improved during his nine years as president. Dr. Burnett retires today.

“I am extremely proud of the fact that each year our college has made great progress in serving our students and community. I have always believed that you cannot have student success without employee success, and it is for this reason we have tried to devote as many resources as possible for professional development, training, and support of our faculty, staff, and management,” he stated in the report.

Among the college’s successes are: doubling the number of annual degrees and certificates awarded; leading the $15 million Orange County Career Pathways Partnership; creating the High School Partnership Program; developing preliminary plans for the Center for Innovation in Healthcare Education at the district’s Advanced Technology and Education Park in Tustin; forming a unique partnership with Cal State Northridge to synchronize KSBR and KCSN on our shared channel of FM 88.5; adding more degrees for transfer and career technical education degrees and certificates; increasing financial aid 450 percent to $33 million; completing the new award-winning state-of-the-art Sciences Building; expanding professional development, training, and other support for our full and part-time faculty, staff, and management; and raising over $24 million for the Foundation.

The top 10 projects for the year are: student equity and achievement gap; K-career pathways; College Promise; non-academic barriers to student success; facilities; human resources; budgets; district culture; district structure; district behavior.

“We have created a unique culture of excellence at Saddleback, and the fruits of our labor will be enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of students and other members of our community for decades to come,” Burnett said in an email to the college today.

To read the full 2017 report, visit

Saddleback College’s Accreditation Reaffirmed

A letter received today from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges reaffirmed Saddleback College’s accreditation.

Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president of Saddleback College, stated, “I am thrilled Saddleback and the South Orange County Community College District achieved the most successful accreditation results in more than 20 years. We owe this success to the outstanding collaborative efforts of our students, faculty, staff, management, and community.”

The ACCJC gave Saddleback high marks, with the college and district receiving 10 commendations highlighting some of the college’s efforts. Especially impressive was one commendation that read, “The team commends the college for its student-centered approach to learning and student services. There is an enthusiastic collegial spirit and a commitment to student success exhibited by faculty, staff, and managers throughout the college. Saddleback College has demonstrated that it has a student-centric culture that is integrated with each area of the campus; the staff, faculty, managers, areas, and programs work in concert to provide the student with a consistent structure of support, recognition, and inclusion.” Dr. Burnett said, “This commendation says it all about Saddleback.”

The commission’s other commendations include: exemplary tutoring program; maintaining an aesthetically pleasing campus; information technology tools and practices that maximize the quality of interaction between students and counselors; high quality Emeritus Institute; becoming an area leader in developing a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT); Faculty Center for Student Success providing innovative instructional support; implementation of basic aid allocation creating stable base funding; ongoing training for the accreditation process and ongoing review of student success and equity data; and district-wide planning.

The ACCJC recommended Saddleback develop a more consistent mechanism to ensure that all program reviews are up to date and all programs contain action plans to improve the quality of the program. The commission also recommended the district implement a system that ensures the effectiveness of human resources. The college will submit a follow‐up report to the commission in October 2018.

For more information and to see the commission’s letter and External Evaluation Report, visit

Accreditation ensures the public that an institution evaluates its educational quality and institutional effectiveness on a regular basis, and promotes institutional improvement. In this voluntary process, all colleges must complete an accreditation self‐study every seven years.

The primary purpose of an ACCJC-accredited institution is to foster student learning and student achievement. An effective institution ensures that its resources, programs, and services, whenever, wherever, and however delivered, support student learning and achievement. The effective institution ensures academic quality and continuous improvement through ongoing assessment of learning and achievement and pursues institutional excellence and improvement through ongoing, integrated planning and evaluation.

Saddleback College Receives $2 Million State Innovation Award to Assist Veterans in Degree Completion


The California Department of Finance awarded Saddleback College $2 million under the Awards for Innovation in Higher Education program for the college’s Pathway to Completion – Veteran Articulation Track (V-CAT) initiative. The state awards recognize innovations in California’s colleges that help reduce the time it takes students to complete degrees and credentials and/or make college more affordable.

Currently, student veterans can only receive a few elective credits that contribute towards a degree, regardless of their technical and advanced training completed while on active duty. This extends the time it takes to complete a degree much longer than the 36 months of education benefits included in the federal GI Bill. The goal of the college’s multi-year V-CAT initiative is to reduce the time to completion for student veterans towards degrees and certificates based on their demonstration of knowledge and competencies, including skills acquired through military training, and appropriate prior experiences.

The V-CAT initiative will integrate the college’s award-winning Veterans Education and Transition Services (VETS) program with an interactive “military to college completion” toolkit. The online toolkit will incorporate career and transfer planning as well as other resources to assist student veterans and active duty service members. V-CAT will develop an “online credit translator” linked with the college’s academic planning tool to help veterans determine what military training is eligible to earn credits towards their degree pathway.

Tod A. Burnett, Saddleback College president stated, “This is an incredible opportunity for Saddleback College and our student veterans to apply their prior military training towards a degree or certificate. These funds are a game changer for the landscape of higher education for veterans in our state.”

Kim D’Arcy, president of the Saddleback College Academic Senate, said, “Investigating ways in which we can support our student veterans and assist in completing their educational goals is not only the right thing to do, but what is in the best interest of our college and district. We look forward to this opportunity and are excited for the future.”

The V-CAT initiative will open opportunities for faculty at Saddleback College and the California State University (CSU) system to review and consider military training and curriculum. The college will partner with CSU Fullerton, Cal Poly Pomona, and the CSU Office of the Chancellor to implement best practices recognized by the California Community College Academic Senate and the American Council on Education (ACE). The college will be responsible for creating the model with the CSU system and later train other colleges and universities in the methods used, tools available, and credit articulated with the intent of applying earned military training for degree credit throughout the state.

Terence Nelson, the faculty VETS program coordinator and veterans counselor, explains, “Many of our student veterans come to us having amassed such a depth of knowledge and skills that it is difficult to tell them that our public institutions in California articulate very little to no actual credits towards their degree path. We aim to first investigate ACE guidelines and curricular standards in specific military training and experiences, then consider articulation agreements, and ultimately award appropriate levels of credit statewide in accordance with state law.”


Saddleback College Foundation 17th Annual Gala Honors Dr. Tod A. Burnett and Raises Record-Breaking Dollars


Dr. Tod A. Burnett accepting the inaugural Summit Award from Saddleback College Foundation Board of Governors president Anthony Ferry.

It was a record-breaking night for the Saddleback College Foundation, as they raised nearly $300,000 at the 17th annual gala held this past Saturday, April 1st at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel. Over 450 guests helped the foundation raise record-breaking dollars through sponsorships, ticket sales, silent auction, live auction, and “raise the paddle” scholarship appeal.

Anthony Ferry, president of the Foundation Board of Governors said, “I am so proud of our Foundation and supporters for creating such a special event that enabled us to bring the needs of our students to the forefront of the community.”

The gala celebrated the exemplary nine-year legacy of Saddleback College president, Dr. Tod A. Burnett, who is retiring from the college this summer. He was awarded the inaugural Board of Governors Summit Award for his outstanding leadership in philanthropy and community advocacy.

During his remarks, Dr. Burnett stated, “The work of the Saddleback College Foundation is critical to our college mission.  The number one reason that many students do not succeed in college is due to personal financial hardships. I hope that next year’s gala surpasses our results tonight, and that over the coming years the Saddleback College Foundation continues to prosper and raises greater dollars than each year before. But in order for my hope, our hope, to become a reality, it will be up to each and every one of you, and up to all of our colleagues, friends, neighbors, and community partners who are not here tonight, to not allow the Saddleback College Foundation to wither or rest upon its laurels. The needs of our students and community are too great, and it is now your responsibility to ensure the future success of this foundation.”

The program also featured retired Marine Sergeant Juan Valdez, a recent alum, who received a standing ovation as he took the stage with his service dog Tank. Sergeant Valdez, who was wounded in action and received the Purple Heart, shared the impact that the faculty, administration, and foundation had on him during his time at Saddleback College. “Saddleback College stands for hope, and changes lives for the better,” he shared.

In addition, Dr. Heather A. Allen, a Full Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Department of Pathology at The Ohio State University, was presented with the 2017 Alumna of the Year award. Dr. Allen was a returning student to Saddleback College in the ‘90s when she learned about a special scholarship available to science students. That scholarship led to her future career as a scientist where she specializes in researching molecular organization, ion pairing, and hydration at aqueous interfaces. “Her career speaks to her incredible courage, persistence, and intelligence and to the power of a Saddleback College scholarship,” shared Dr. Burnett.

Dr. Burnett closed the night by saying, “It has been an enormous honor and pleasure to serve Saddleback and South Orange County for these past nine years. Thank you for your tremendous support of Saddleback and our students, faculty, and staff, and thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support of me, and my vision to make Saddleback a model community college that excels in everything we do, beginning with student success. I came to Saddleback to make a difference, and on June 30th I leave with the satisfaction of knowing that together we made a lasting positive difference.”

The record-breaking night would not have been possible without the generous support of the following sponsors:

Saddleback College Emeritus Institute, Valedictorian Sponsor; Follet Bookstore, Scholar Sponsor;  Neudesic, LLC, Scholar Sponsor; GSM Auto Group: Audi Mission Viejo, Infiniti Mission Viejo and Volvo Mission Viejo, Scholar Sponsor; Dr. Tod A. Burnett, Scholar Sponsor; Angels for the Arts, Cardinal and Gold Sponsor; Anthony and Carie Ferry, Cardinal and Gold Sponsor; Associated Student Government, Saddleback College, Cardinal and Gold Sponsor; Capata & Co. – CPA’s, Cardinal and Gold Sponsor; City of Mission Viejo, Cardinal and Gold Sponsor; Driving Miz Daisy Vintage Market, Cardinal and Gold Sponsor; Futek, Cardinal and Gold Sponsor; Goodwill, Cardinal and Gold Sponsor; Irvine Valley College Foundation, Cardinal and Gold Sponsor; John Williams, Cardinal and Gold Sponsor; South Orange County Economic Coalition, Cardinal and Gold Sponsor; Tilly’s Life Center, Cardinal and Gold Sponsor; Allen Family Automotive Group, Valet Sponsor; Rancho Capistrano Winery, VIP Wine Sponsor; and Orange Coast Magazine, Magazine Sponsor.

 The Saddleback College Foundation initiates and coordinates college and community fundraising in support of Saddleback College and its students. By raising funds for scholarships and other programs, which directly benefit students, the foundation is committed to increasing student success and the enhancing the excellent education offered by Saddleback College. Guided by a group of dedicated community leaders, the foundation strives to make higher education attainable for all in south Orange County. For more information or to make a donation, please visit

 Located in Mission Viejo, Saddleback College provides dynamic, innovative, and student-centered postsecondary education and training to the greater south Orange County community.  Having served more than 665,000 students since 1968, Saddleback College offers more than 300 renowned degree, certificate, transfer, and lifelong learning programs to help students succeed in reaching their personal and career goals.  For more information, please visit


Former Saddleback College Soccer Player Honored as Top Female Scholar-Athlete


Mission Viejo, CAFormer Saddleback College soccer player Danielle Scelsi was honored as the top female scholar-athlete for the 2015-16 academic year at the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) Scholar-Athlete Luncheon on Wednesday, March 29.

Scelsi was selected out of nearly 26,000 female student-athletes participating throughout the CCCAA. She posted a perfect 4.00 grade average while at Saddleback and earned both the Fair-Play Character Champion Award for sportsmanship and the college’s Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year honor.

Scelsi is a product of Mission Viejo High School and spent two seasons at Saddleback College. During her sophomore season in fall 2015, she served as the team’s captain and helped the Gauchos win a record 16 games while also reaching the post-season playoffs for the third consecutive season. Scelsi earned first-team all-Orange Empire Conference honors and went on to earn Academic All-America honors from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NCSAA). She currently attends UC Santa Barbara.

Former Saddleback baseball standout Luke Jarvis was also honored by the CCCAA as one of nine male scholar-athletes on the CCCAA State Honor Roll.  Jarvis, a product of Clairemont High School in San Diego, posted a 3.94 grade point average.  While playing shortstop for the Gauchos, Jarvis was a first-team all-conference selection during the Spring 2016 season.  He was named as Saddleback’s Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year for 2015-2016.  Jarvis currently attends Auburn University where he is a member of their baseball team.

Tony Lipold, athletic director stated, “This is the highest academic honor in the state. To have Danielle win this award is a huge honor and a credit to the work she put in.  And Luke’s inclusion on the CCCAA Honor Roll shows the emphasis we put on academics and the message we’re trying to get across.  You can be successful both as a student and as an athlete.”

In addition to these individual awards, the 2016 Saddleback College men’s golf team was honored as a top CCCAA Scholar-Team.  The team posted an overall team grade point average of 3.12 to be recognized as the top golf program in the state for this academic honor under first-year head coach Wayne Westling.

Tod A. Burnett, Saddleback College president added, “To excel on the field and off the field is no easy feat, so I am thrilled for our student-athletes who were honored, and I congratulate them on their achievements. I am also proud of the Program Assisting Student-Athlete Success (PASS) academic program offered in our Learning Resource Center for helping our student-athletes be successful in the classroom.”


Saddleback College Hosts Successful First Amendment Series

Over the course of the last month, hundreds of students, staff, and faculty turned out to participate in the #UseYourVoice: Understanding the First Amendment in the 21st Century series aimed at helping the community better understand the complexities of the First Amendment.

Hosted by the Associated Student Government, Pre-Law Society, Academic Senate, Classified Senate, and Saddleback College president Tod A. Burnett, the series featured the following four workshops:

First Amendment in the Digital Age – How application of the first amendment has changed since the onset of technology and social media. The featured speakers were Saddleback College professors Mike Reed, Kendralyn Webber, Christina Hinkle, and Frank Gonzalez.

Videotaping and the “Gotcha” – The impact of the increased frequency of public videotaping and the search for the “gotcha” moment. The featured speaker was Attorney Shawn Steel.

Protected Speech: What Does and Doesn’t Violate Our Campus Policies – An overview of the state free speech laws and what generally constitutes protected speech. The featured speakers were Warren S. Kinsler and Sharon Ormond of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud and Romo Professional Law Corporation.

Free Speech vs. Academic Freedom – A discussion on the differences between free speech and academic freedom, as well as the First Amendment from a national perspective. The featured speaker was UCI Law School founding dean Edwin Chemerinsky.

Dr. Burnett stated, “Free speech, especially at higher education institutions, has become a hotbed of contention in our country. The four workshops provided a clearer understanding of the First Amendment and how Saddleback College upholds these principles while preserving academic freedom and a safe learning environment for all. I am proud that our college community engaged in an open and respectful dialogue on this sensitive issue.”

Lucy Hendrix, president of the Associated Student Government shared, “Free speech has always been a highly contentious issue on college campuses, but I think that it has become even more relevant since the November elections. I found that many students, including myself, were having difficulty understanding the First Amendment- especially in a modern context. I hope that this series opened the conversation at Saddleback College, so that students, as well as faculty members and other employees of the campus, feel knowledgeable about their speech rights and better able to communicate within our increasingly diverse community.”

Raja Riahi, president of the Saddleback College Pre-Law Society added, “Throughout the event, we tried to provide the students with the opportunity to learn more about their freedoms and the boundaries. At the last event of the series, our club proudly presented the Saddleback Student Bill of Rights in one condensed piece, which shares with students the rights available to them. Hearing each of the speakers talk about freedom of speech, which is also an important part of the bill, was truly remarkable.”


Community Invited to Honor Dr. Tod A. Burnett at 17th Annual Saddleback College Foundation Gala

Sponsorships and individual tickets are still available for the 17th Annual Saddleback College Foundation Gala to be held on Saturday, April 1, 2017 at 6:00 pm at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel.

The year’s gala will honor Dr. Tod A. Burnett, who is retiring from Saddleback College after nine years of exemplary service as president. “I am humbled by the foundation’s honor and I am extremely proud of the unprecedented work they have done over the past nine years. Last year the foundation awarded the most scholarships in the college’s history totaling $793,719 benefitting 517 students. I have no doubt that the foundation and community will continue increasing the annual level of financial assistance and support for Saddleback students each year going forward.”

The gala will also feature musical entertainment by the Saddleback College Jazz Ensemble, silent and live auctions, and gourmet dinner. The Valedictorian Sponsor of the gala is the Saddleback College Emeritus Institute. Since 1976, the Emeritus Institute has been California’s largest, non-credit, older adult education program serving nearly 6,000 students throughout south Orange County.

The 2017 Alumna of the Year will be awarded to Dr. Heather A. Allen, a Full Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Department of Pathology at The Ohio State University. Her research specialization is in molecular organization, ion pairing, and hydration at aqueous interfaces. She began her professorial career at Ohio State in 2000, and has since received the following recognitions for her research accomplishments: Research Innovation Award from Research Corp., NSF CAREER Award, Beckman Young Investigator Award, Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow Award, Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Ohio State Distinguished Scholar Award, and the Alexander von Humboldt Research Award from Germany.

For gala sponsorship opportunities or to purchase tickets, please visit, call 949-582-4479, or email

The Saddleback College Foundation initiates and coordinates college and community fundraising in support of Saddleback College and its students. By raising funds for scholarships and other programs, which directly benefit students, the foundation is committed to increasing student success and the enhancing the excellent education offered by Saddleback College. Guided by a group of dedicated community leaders, the foundation strives to make higher education attainable for all in south Orange County. For more information, please visit

Located in Mission Viejo, Saddleback College provides dynamic, innovative, and student-centered postsecondary education and training to the greater south Orange County community. Having served more than 665,000 students since 1968, Saddleback College offers more than 300 renowned degree, certificate, transfer, and lifelong learning programs to help students succeed in reaching their personal and career goals. For more information, please visit

Our Commitment to All, Following Executive Order Affecting Seven Countries

Yesterday, California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Oakley issued this statement regarding President Trump’s executive order:

Over the weekend the Trump administration issued an executive order that restricts the ability of students, faculty, and staff from certain countries from being able to enter the United States. The action caused great concern at colleges and universities across the nation. We also witnessed growing protests and confusion over the implementation of the executive order. As the California Community Colleges Board of Governors clearly stated, we support the ability of all students attending our colleges to attend without fear or intimidation.

During this time of confusing rhetoric and uncertainty, South Orange County Community College District, Saddleback College, and Irvine Valley College wish to reaffirm our values of inclusiveness and diversity. Our primary job is to educate all students who stand to benefit from higher education. We continually strive to create a welcoming environment where all people can learn and grow.

We are here to help all students. If you know of a student who may need confidential assistance, please contact our College Vice Presidents of Student Services: Dr. Juan Avalos, Saddleback College, at (949) 582-4566,; or Dr. Linda Fontanilla, Irvine Valley College, at (949) 451-5624, or visit the campus student services offices.

Dr. Debra L. Fitzsimons, Interim Chancellor
Dr. Tod A. Burnett, President, Saddleback College
Dr. Glenn R. Roquemore, President, Irvine Valley College
C.M. Brahmbhatt, Interim Vice Chancellor, Business Services
Dr. David Bugay, Vice Chancellor, Human Resources
Dr. Robert Bramucci, Vice Chancellor, Technology & Learning Services

California Institutions of Higher Education Issue Letter to President-Elect Trump Regarding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

November 29, 2016
President-Elect Donald J. Trump Trump Tower
725 5th Avenue
New York, New York 10022

Dear President-Elect Trump:

College and university leaders across the country, and here in California, are concerned about reports regarding potential actions you might be considering, including ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. On behalf of DACA students currently pursuing their dream of higher education in the United States, we urge you to continue this important program and allow these young people to continue to pursue a college education and contribute to their communities and the nation.

DACA is rooted in the fundamental premise that no one should be punished for the actions of others. In order to be eligible for DACA, an individual must have been brought to this country as a minor, stayed out of trouble, and continued to pursue an education. These sons and daughters of undocumented immigrants are as American as any other child across the nation, in all but in the letter of the law. Some never even spoke the language of their native land. They do not represent a public safety threat. In fact, they represent some of the best our nation has to offer. They voluntarily came forward, out of the shadows, to participate in the DACA program.

The University of California, California State University, and the California Community College systems each have thousands of DACA students studying at our institutions. They are constructive and contributing members of our communities. They should be able to pursue their dream of higher education without fear of being arrested, deported, or rounded up for just trying to learn.

There will be time for a vigorous debate and dialogue around immigration reform in the days ahead, and we look forward to engaging with you in a healthy and constructive conversation on this important issue. But now, as you continue to build your new Administration and appoint members of your Cabinet, on behalf of these Dreamers, we implore you to let them know they are valued members of our communities and that they will be allowed to continue to pursue the American dream.

Yours very truly,

Janet Napolitano
University of California

Timothy P. White
California State University

Eloy Ortiz Oakley
California Community Colleges