Classified Employee Outstanding Service Award Recipient and Nominees

Presenting Valerie Senior with her Classified Employee Outstanding Service Award

I am pleased to congratulate Valerie Senior who was selected as this year’s recipient of the Saddleback College Classified Employee Outstanding Service Award.  For those who many not know Valerie (though this is doubtful), she is an Application Specialist II in our acclaimed Center for Instructional Design and Distance Education (CIDDE).  I am thrilled that Valerie has received this much deserved honor, and commend her for her excellent work for our students, employees, and college.  I also commend her many nominees for recognizing the excellent job she has done for us.  Here is just some of the praise for Valerie her colleagues offered on their nomination forms:

“I truly respect what an incredible asset she is to CIDDE.  She has been a terrific mentor to me.  Her suggestions, recommendations and insights all come from a position of respect and kindness.”

“Valerie conceived and implemented the 2011 iPad project, which tracked faculty members taking the educator online courses and their success in the program.”

“Valerie has been an employee of Saddleback College for over 16 years, but her drive, enthusiasm, energy and fresh ideas are indicative of a new hire.”

“Valerie is excellent at her job.  She’s reliable, thorough, and patient when working with faculty one-on-one.  She conducts training sessions with professionalism, and shows not only her extensive knowledge, but also her dedication to the success of the faculty in teaching.”

“She’s smart, efficient, witty, friendly, and quick.  As a professional, she’s reliable, organized, and knowledgeable.  In sum, Valerie is a top-notch employee, and I am grateful to have her as a colleague.”

“I have witnesses Valerie make appointments for as early as 7:00 a.m. to accommodate faculty schedules.  She is ready to work from the moment she steps through the door with back-to-back appointments throughout the day.”

“Valerie collaborated with faculty to create the curriculum and the program for the online educator certificate program, which has been instrumental in increasing the quality of online education and promoting student-centered learning environments.”

“Valerie has not only taught technology to us at Saddleback, but has shown us her special traits that through generosity, a positive attitude, and by being friendly, helpful, and accommodating, there are ways to combat work-related stress and be more productive at work.”

As you can see, Valerie has many fans, and deservedly so.  Congratulations again to Valerie for this well-deserved recognition of her many accomplishments!

I also would like to congratulate several other outstanding individuals who were nominated by their colleagues for the Classified Employee Outstanding Service Award:

Barbara Benavides, Senior Transfer Center Specialist

Matt Brodet, Video Production Specialist

Linda Hall, Senior Administrative Assistant, Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Mira Manchik, Senior Administrative Assistant, Division of Business Science and Economic and Workforce Development

Don Mineo, Career Guidance Officer

Brooke Sauter, Senior Administrative Assistant, VETS Center

My Troung, Admissions and Records Specialist II

Marlene Weintraub, Senior Administrative Assistant, Division of Liberal Arts

All of our nominees are much deserving and thanks to all who took the time to give their colleagues recognition for their hard work and dedication to Saddleback College.

Annual President’s Chat

This week I held a President’s Chat, where all college employees are invited to ask questions about any topic in an informal setting.  I was very pleased with the turnout and was happy to see that all of our governance groups were well represented.

The first question allowed me to address a topic that is of interest to many: smoking on campus. Saddleback allows smoking on campus, except inside a building or within 25 feet of a building’s entrance.  I was asked if there was any way to make our campus smoke-free. Currently, Associated Student Government (ASG) is conducting a survey to gauge the mood of their peers and will decide on a plan of action when they get the survey results. Once ASG provides its recommendation, college administration will determine the next steps.

In light of recent reports about the Cal State System’s enrollment freeze, the group voiced their concerns about how this would affect students. The sad news is that higher education cutbacks have already begun to affect our students, we are more impacted than ever and even our highly-qualified transfer prospects are finding it increasingly difficult to get into a CSU or UC.  Despite all of this, there are some positive things — we have secured new TAG agreements to CSU and UCs, and our top feeder school, CSU Fullerton, is one of the few that is still accepting spring transfers.  It is our responsibility to make our transfer students as competitive as possible, which is something that everyone in the Saddleback community is dedicated to doing.

As the state budget continues to deteriorate, it will be interesting to see how the community college system adapts and at least one school is already taking drastic steps to serve their students:  Santa Monica College has proposed a tiered pricing systems. This topic was raised at the chat and it is something that we are definitely watching.

I also provided a library and learning resource center update.  The new building is expected to be ready for services at the start of the fall semester and we will begin moving stacks and personnel during the summer. A grand opening event is expected to occur during the fall semester.

Other topics included the Student Success Task Force update and the ATEP campus. The task force recommendations are currently going through the legislative process, but the good news is that we are already doing many of the recommended steps to improve student success. The SOCCCD Board of Trustees recently approved a proposal for ATEP, which will give Saddleback and IVC the opportunity to develop on the land. We are very excited about the Allied Health Center for Innovation and Healthcare Education, which will be the leading healthcare training center in the country. More details will be coming about the site, including industry and educational partners.

I want to thank everyone who participated in the President’s Chat and please keep an eye out for future invitations!

Professor of the Year Nomination Forms Now Available

Has one of your professors gone above and beyond your expectations? Did this improve your learning experience? Recognize your professor’s efforts. Nominate your favorite professor for Saddleback College’s Professor of the Year!

The nomination form is available at:

Nomination Deadline: March 30th by 5:00 p.m.

Submit nomination forms to: or in-person to Student Development SSC 210

Requirements: Student cannot be currently enrolled in the nominee’s class – Professor may either be full-time or part-time.

Community Invited to 12th Annual Gala to Raise Money for Student Scholarships and Campus Programs

Saddleback College invites all community members to the 12th annual foundation gala on Saturday, March 31st at 6:00 p.m. in the college’s gymnasium.  Tickets include gaming, a silent auction, dinner, music, and no-host cocktails.  This year’s theme is “A Glamorous Night of Stars” and will feature a tribute to five local community “stars” who have significantly donated to the college: The Bernard Osher Foundation, Dorothy Marie Lowry, Kia Motors, Linda Richardson Rice, and the Saddleback College Associated Student Government.

The gala will highlight the work of Saddleback students:  Culinary arts students will prepare and serve appetizers and desserts, fine arts students will accompany music instructor Joey Sellers’ jazz band to provide entertainment, event décor is being done by students of the Entertainment and Theatre Technology program, there will be several pieces painted by students that can be purchased, and a graphics class designed several printed pieces for the event.

Tickets are $100 each, $800 for a table of eight, or $1,000 for a table of 10.  Sponsorships for the event are available at two levels, Gold ($5,000) and Silver ($2,500).   For sponsorship opportunities or to reserve your tickets, please visit the event’s website at, call 949.582.4479, or email

“One of the most important missions of the Saddleback College Foundation is to raise money for students and the annual gala has always been the cornerstone for student scholarships,” said Donna Varner, President of Saddleback College Foundation Board of Governors. “We are so thankful to our many sponsors, especially our Gold Sponsors — Cox Communications, Mercedes Benz of Laguna Niguel and South County Bank — as well as to every individual and business that donated the wonderful items for the silent auction.”

Saddleback College’s 2012 Alumnus of the Year, Nico Melendez, will also be honored at the gala.  After completing his general education at Saddleback College, Mr. Melendez transferred to Chaminade University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in historical and political studies.  He then earned a Master of Public Administration degree from Troy State University in 2000. Currently, Mr. Melendez is a professional broadcaster/communicator working for the Transportation Security Administration. An officer in the United States Naval Reserve, Mr. Melendez was named the 66th Assembly District Veteran of the Year in 2011.

The Saddleback College gymnasium is located at 28000 Marguerite Parkway in Mission Viejo. If you would like to attend, please RSVP to (949) 582-4479, or email Business casual attire is recommended; no jeans, please.

Commencement Speaker Application Deadline Extended

Saddleback College is currently accepting applications for a student commencement speaker. The Commencement Committee is looking for someone who wants to inspire and be the voice of their graduating peers! The deadline for applications has been extended to April 6th by 5:00 p.m. You can apply, even without your speech completed; students only need to include a proposed outline of their commencement speech in the application.

Commencement 2012 Student Speaker Application –

Updated Commencement Committee Timeline (Please refer to this list, not the dates on the application)

April 6 – Applications Due by 5:00 p.m. to Student Development in SSC 210

April 16 – Leadership Council Review at 3:00 p.m. in the ASG Conference Room, SSC 211C

April 24- Applicants present their speech in person to the Commencement Committee 4:00 p.m. in SSC 211C

Do not include your name or student ID number on the speech. If you have any questions, please contact the Student Development Office via email or call 582-4555 All applications are due no later than Friday, April 6, 2012 by 5:00 p.m. and must be turned into the Student Development Office (SSC 210) with original signature. Student commencement speakers must meet all graduation requirements.

Senior Day is March 29

Saddleback College will welcome hundreds of high school seniors to the college’s annual Senior Day on Thursday, March 29th from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. in the quad outside of the Student Services Center. The festivities will include informational workshops on the academic, career, and counseling programs offered to Saddleback College students, as well as a free In-N-Out Burger lunch, games, and prizes.

2011 Senior Day Scavenger Hunt

Senior Day is a wonderful opportunity for high school seniors and their parents to learn about the outstanding programs and services offered at Saddleback College, where student success is our top priority. I look forward to seeing our future students on campus at Senior Day.

Saddleback students, faculty and staff should be aware that campus will be busier than a typical Thursday and should adjust their schedule accordingly.

Athletic Department Releases Fall 2011 Honor Roll

By: Jerry Hannula, Assistant Athletic Director  for Sports Information, Eligibility and Compliance

The Saddleback College athletic department is pleased to announce that 162 of the college’s 371 student-athletes have been named to the Fall 2011 Athletic Honor Roll, including 16 student-athletes with a perfect 4.00 grade point average.

“This is, by far, the largest number of student-athletes that we’ve ever had listed on our Athletic Honor Roll,” said Tony Lipold, Dean and Athletic Director at Saddleback College.  “We really push the importance of doing well in the classroom to our student-athletes and this past fall semester is a testament to all of our efforts.  We should really be proud of how well these student-athletes are doing academically, especially knowing how much hard work and extra time they spend practicing for their sports each week.”

The 162 student-athletes on the honor roll represent 44 percent of all student-athletes at Saddleback College this year.  In order to make the honor roll, student-athletes must have passed at least 12 units during the Fall 2011 semester with a 3.00 GPA or higher.

Saddleback College Fall 2011 Athletic Honor Roll

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White House Jobs Council Visits Saddleback College

Photo courtesy of Michael O'Meara

On the morning of Monday, March 5th, Saddleback College hosted the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which facilitated a discussion with local and national healthcare stakeholders to discuss workforce training needs within the healthcare sector. The U.S. Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, chose Saddleback College as the venue for this panel discussion and listening session because the college is launching a new health career boot camp, an innovative basic skills development pilot program for students entering allied health educational programs.

Saddleback College was very lucky to host our distinguished guests and I am confident that these discussions will help shape the future of healthcare education. I am extremely proud of the hard work that our administrators, faculty, and staff have put into ensuring that our students are prepared to meet the growing workforce needs of the healthcare industry, and I look forward to watching this program thrive as it helps our students acquire the skills they need for career success.

The President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness has partnered with California Community Colleges to develop national models for accelerated training and placement of health care workers into available jobs. The event highlighted the California Community College Chancellor’s Office Health Workforce Initiative and California as a national model for how cities and states across the country can address their healthcare workforce training needs.

The discussion at Saddleback College featured a panel of representatives from the White House, California Community Colleges, and healthcare industry partners, who all spoke about their areas of expertise and took questions from the audience.

The panel was introduced by Chancellor Gary Poertner and included: Don Graves, Executive Director, President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness; Alicia Villarreal,  West Coast Regional Representative, U.S. Department of Labor; Linda Zorn, Statewide Director, Health Workforce Initiative, California Community Colleges; Tim Rainey,  Executive Director, California Workforce Investment Board; Maria-Jean Caterinicchio,  Director, Workforce Development and Professional Practice at Saddleback Memorial  Medical Center and MemorialCare Medical Centers – Orange County; Donna  Rane-Szostak, Dean of Health Sciences and Human Services, Saddleback College; Jim  Collins, Dean of Science and Allied Health, Sacramento City College; Courtney Sinclair,  Saddleback College Nursing Program Graduate.

Prior to the discussion, Donna Rane-Szostak led the panelists on a tour of Saddleback’s allied health program simulated labs, where they watched students in the paramedic and nursing programs simulate an emergency response situation. Dr. Rane-Szostak stated, “We are very excited about our pilot program and believe it has real potential to be a model in the state and throughout the nation. The program will be piloted at Saddleback College beginning this summer and will focus on health care sector-specific basic skills to enhance student success.”

To view the panel discussion online, visit To view photos from the event, visit

Science Lecture Series hosts Research Scientist who is Currently Working on the First Cystic Fibrosis Treatment

(L-R) Dr. Curt McLendon, Professor Emeritus; Sara Sheybani, Sr. Lab Technician; Teresa Bear, Professor; Dr. Brian Bear, Vertex Pharmaceuticals; Stacy Motenko, CF Patient;Paul Motenko, OC Chapter President, CF Foundation; Dr. Jim Zoval, Professor; Steve The, Co-chair of Biological Sciences & Professor

On Friday, March 2nd, Dr. Brian Bear spoke to a packed lecture hall about the first-ever FDA approved treatment of the underlying cause of Cystic Fibrosis (CF). According to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, “Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide).”

Dr. Bear is a Senior Research Scientist at Vertex Pharmaceuticals in San Diego, which recently got FDA approval for the drug Kalydeco. The drug treats a specific gene mutation in CF patients ages six and older. Dr. Bear talked about the current drug and his company’s hopes to expand treatment to even more patients. Following his lectures, students asked several questions about his research and the drug and many stayed after the lecture to get some face-to-face time with Dr. Bear.

Dr. Bear introduced the President of the Orange County Chapter of the CF Foundation, Paul Motenko, who told the audience the story of his daughter, a young adult about their age who is living with CF. Both he and his daughter, Stacy Motenko, spoke about the many friends she had lost to the disease and how her hope for a long life have been renewed with the advancement of drugs like Kalydeco.

The Science Lecture Series is designed to give students and the college community the chance to meet renowned scientists and learn about their area of expertise. The Series is composed of eight, 90-minute lectures that end with an open forum discussion. Audience members interact directly with the distinguished expert. For a list of future and past engagements, visit