Saddleback Men’s Basketball Wins State Championship!


The Saddleback men’s basketball team captured the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) state title on Sunday afternoon, defeating East Los Angeles College, 50-47, in dramatic fashion during the championship game played in the Cerritos College gymnasium.

It was the third state title for the Gauchos men’s basketball program, adding to the titles won in 2002 and 2010. Head coach Andy Ground was an assistant coach on the 2002 team but the head coach in 2010 when Perry Webster, TJ Lipold, and Kyle Wallace were a few of the players which helped the team win a title that year. Ground got his second state title this past weekend with Webster, Lipold, and Wallace on the bench as assistant coaches. Darryl Brown was an assistant coach on both the 2010 and 2015 teams.

Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president of Saddleback College, stated, “Congratulations to the Gauchos men’s basketball team, which played a terrific season and have made Saddleback College very proud. I must also congratulate the fine work of our first-rate coach, Andy Ground, and the entire coaching team for true leadership in coaching fine players who are also taught the importance of academic excellence.”

The Gauchos led only once in the first half against East Los Angeles in the title game and found themselves down 28-25 at halftime. Saddleback would never take the lead in the second half until Dusty Baker’s jump shot with just under three minutes to play gave the Gauchos a 46-45 lead. Baker added another jump shot to extend the lead to 48-45 and Maleke Haynes would add a lay-up to account for Saddleback’s final points. Meanwhile, Saddleback’s stingy defense gave the Huskies trouble in the second half. After taking a 44-40 lead with 8:35 to play, the Huskies would not score another field goal for the remainder of the game and converted only three free throws to give them their 47 total points.

“The mark of a great basketball team is how it responds when its back is against the wall,” Ground said. “This weekend our backs were against the wall a lot and we kept fighting. We just continued to battle through it.”

Sophomore center Conor Clifford had 16 points and six rebounds in the championship game while Andrew Bournes added 14 points and four rebounds. Baker ended up with eight points and five rebounds while Maleke Haynes piloted the offense with seven assists.

The 50 points Saddleback scored in winning the state title, the 47 points allowed on defense, and the 97 combined points were the lowest totals for a championship game in 30 years and was a testament to Saddleback’s emphasis on playing fundamentally sound defense.

The Gauchos reached the championship game in dramatic fashion, edging Canada College, 75-68 in overtime, during a semifinal game on Friday. The Gauchos trailed by as many as 12 points in the first half and never held the lead in the second half until Baker’s 3-point shot at the buzzer tied the game at 63’s to send it into overtime. Saddleback took control of the final minute of the overtime period, breaking a 68-68 tie to score the final seven points of the game and advance to the state championship. Clifford had 20 points in the semifinal game while Baker added 16 points and Josh Mishler came off the bench to add 13 points and grab five rebounds.

“Whenever we’re looking for a last shot, I want to take it. I want it to be me,” Baker said of the buzzer-beater at the end of regulation. “I wanted to get my legs under it. As soon as I flicked it off my wrist I knew I had a great touch on it and a great arc. I just knew it was going in.”

For his efforts, Baker was named as the state tournament MVP while Clifford and Haynes were also awarded all-tournament honors. Saddleback completed the season with a 33-2 overall record, one victory shy of the school record. It was the fourth time the men’s basketball team has won over 30 games.

In Memory of William O. Jay, 1935-2015

Dear Saddleback College Family,

The Saddleback family suffered a very sad loss last week. Trustee and former college president William O. Jay, Ed.D. passed away on March 2nd.  Bill was an ardent supporter of Saddleback College for over 40 years, and we know he was deeply admired and appreciated by many for his commitment to education, compassion for students, and great sense of humor.

Bill was a Gaucho through and through.  His service began in 1974 as a mathematics professor, and subsequently served as dean of instruction and president of the college.  Bill also served as vice chancellor of administrative services and human resources for the South Orange County Community College District, and over 10 years on the board of trustees.  Indeed, Bill was very well liked at Saddleback, and we have been fortunate that he remained an active member of Saddleback’s family for most of his life.

Upon the news of Bill’s death, we heard from many current and former faculty, staff, and administrators who shared their thoughts about him:

Dixie Bullock, former college president and interim chancellor: “I first met Bill in 1976 when I was a new faculty member and he was the vice president for instruction at Saddleback College.  He came to nearly every nursing faculty meeting we had regardless of how late in the day it was and stayed with us until 6 pm, always listening to issues we had and helping when he could.  He was a wonderful vice president, and continued his caring and dedication to education at Saddleback through his service to the college, the district, and to the community he represented as a board member.”

Zane Johnson, horticulture instructor, 1975-2011: “I remember Bill’s friendly smile, laugh, as well as his interest in whomever he talked with about any subject.  I always felt I could talk with Bill and discuss personal interests or education issues, and he was open and willing to discuss them or direct me to the right person if I needed more answers to a question.  While employed at Saddleback College, I never heard anyone say anything negative about him, in fact, I only heard positive things.”

On a personal note, I have the utmost respect and admiration for Bill.  I will always cherish his unending support and kindness toward me and the college.  I am deeply saddened about his death, and my heartfelt condolences go out to his wife Bobbie and the entire Jay family.  To say that he will be missed is a grave understatement.

We are pleased to announce that Bill’s legacy will live forever through the establishment of The Dr. William “Bill” Jay Memorial Scholarship by our Saddleback College Foundation.  To make a contribution in Bill’s memory, please visit

Plans are underway to hold a memorial service for Bill on our campus, and information will be provided when it becomes available.

Thank you Dr. Bill Jay for your incredible life’s work dedicated to Saddleback College.  We will miss you always.

Tod A. Burnett, Ed.D.


Saddleback College


William O. Jay, 1935-2015



South Orange County Economic Coalition Welcome Over 200 Guests to Unveiling of Inaugural South Orange County Economic Report

Duance Cave of the South Orange County Economic Coalition welcomes the audience

Duance Cave, Chairman of the South Orange County Economic Coalition, welcomes the audience.

Saddleback College and the South Orange County Economic Coalition released the inaugural 2015 South Orange County Economic Report, a data and market analysis of south Orange County, at a luncheon at Saddleback College on Friday, February 27th. More than 200 guests were in attendance, including the following local elected officials:

City of Aliso Viejo
Mayor William Phillips
Dave Harrington, Council Member

City of Lake Forest
Scott Voigts, Council Member

City of Laguna Hills
Barbara Kogerman, Mayor Pro Tem

City of Laguna Woods
Shari Horne, Council Member
Carol Moore, Council Member

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

City of Rancho Santa Margarita
Carol Gamble, Council Member
Mike Vaughn, Council Member
Jennifer Cervantez, City Manager

City of San Juan Capistrano
Sam Allevato, Council Member
Kerry Fergeson, Council Member
Karen Brust, City Manager

South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees
Tim Jemal, Trustee
David B. Lang, Trustee
Keefe Carillo, Student Trustee

Long Beach City College
Jeff Kellogg, Trustee

Capistrano Unified School District
John Alpay, Trustee
Gila Jones, Trustee
Martha McNicholas, Trustee
Amy Hanacek, Trustee

Larry Dick, President, Municipal Water District of Orange County
Duane Cave, Director, Mouton Niguel Water District
Joone Lopez, General Manager, Moulton Niguel Water District

Francisco Barajas, Parks Commissioner, City of Lake Forest
Robert DeAlmeida, Planning Commissioner, City of Lake Forest

Additionally, representatives from the following elected officials were in attendance: Congressman Darrell Issa, Congresswoman Mimi Walters, Office of Board of Equalization Member Diane Harkey, Office of State Senator Pat Bates, Office of Assemblyman Bill Brough, Office of Assemblyman Donald P. Wagner, and Office of Orange County Supervisor Lisa Bartlett.

The report is the first of its kind to provide extensive data analysis and predictions for economic growth in the cities of south Orange County specifically, which contribute over $25.6 billion annually to the Orange County economy. The report, which was authored by Anthony Teng, dean of business science and workforce and economic development, covers the cities of Aliso Viejo, Dana Point, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, and San Juan Capistrano, as well as the region’s unincorporated communities.

Tony Teng, sharing the findings of the report.

Tony Teng, sharing the findings of the report.

Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president of Saddleback College, stated, “We are proud to partner with the South Orange County Economic Coalition and strive to continue to make our region the place where businesses want to grow and people want to live, and where opportunities for prosperity continue to be discovered.”

Duane Cave, chair of the South Orange County Economic Coalition, stated, “This event shines a spotlight on the vital role our region plays in the broader Orange County economy, underscoring how important it is that the South Orange County Economic Coalition continues its effort to ensure a healthy and strong economy, business climate, and workforce. Our partnership with Saddleback College is critical to this effort.”

Guests received a hard copy of the report and heard presentations from Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president of Saddleback College, Duane Cave, chairman of the South Orange County Economic Coalition, and Anthony Teng, interim dean of business science and economic and workforce development. South Orange County Community College District Trustee David B. Lang led the Pledge of Allegiance.

To view the report, visit

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

The South Orange County Economic Coalition is the premier voice of business in the south county region and your opportunity to make a difference. Working hard to promote a strong economic climate, we provide current updates on issues discussed at the state, county and local levels. With this knowledge, you can make informed decisions to strengthen your business. To learn more about our efforts and to join the coalition, visit the


The crowd was encourage to share highlights of the report via social media.


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.