Dr. James Wright Appointed as Interim Trustee of South Orange County Community College District

On Monday, June 26th, the South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees selected Dr. James Wright, Saddleback College’s dean of mathematics, science, and engineering, to serve as interim trustee from July 1st, 2012 until December 17th, 2012. Dr. Wright will represent area 6, which includes Lake Forest and parts of Irvine.  At the Board of Trustees meeting, Dr. Wright, whose retirement from Saddleback College is effective June 30th, was also honored by the college for his dedicated 18 years of service.

After a distinguished career as a colonel in the air force where he spent 27 years of service, Dr. Wright started at Saddleback College in 1994 as a chemistry instructor, and has been the dean of his division since 1999.  When visiting his office, one can see the many awards that have been presented through the years to Dr. Wright that demonstrate how beloved he is by the college, district, and his students. His awards include Student Veterans 2012 Administrator of the Year, South Orange County Community College District Outstanding Administrator of the Year in 2009, Associated Student Government’s 2000-2001 Dean of the Year, and Special Services Department 2001 Administrator of the Year.

It is because of his wealth of positive attributes that we were all saddened to learn of Dr. Wright’s impending retirement, and the fact that he has been  a mentor to so many of us at the college made the news especially difficult.  Thus the board’s decision to appoint Dr. Wright as its interim trustee came as very welcome news, and we are looking forward to working with Dr. Wright in his new role.

Congratulations on your appointment, Dr. Wright! Everyone at Saddleback knows that you will continue to serve our district and colleges with honor and distinction.

Sandy Marzilli, Director of the Emeritus Institute, Retires after 22 Years of Service

At Monday’s meeting of the South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees, Sandy Marzilli, director of the Saddleback College Emeritus Institute, was honored for her 22 years of service to the college and our students.

Sandy Marzilli started at Saddleback in 1990 and previously worked as a gerontology instructor and wrote the curriculum for the college’s caregiver training program. As director of the Emeritus Institute, Marzilli oversees programs that have an enrollment of more than 20,000 senior citizens throughout south Orange County.  During her tenure, the Emeritus Institute thrived in many ways — it was awarded the prestigious SAGE award (Senior Achievement and General Excellence), received several large endowments, including one for $2.2 million, the program has grown 22% since 2010, and even  hosted students from Yamano College of Aesthetics in Tokyo, Japan!

Sandy Marzilli is an absolute delight to work with and has done a fantastic job serving our college and our emeritus students. Thank you for your service, Sandy, and enjoy your retirement!

John Polikaitis, Night Custodian, Retires after 33 Years of Service at Saddleback College

President Burnett, John Polikaitis, and Assistant Director of Facilities, Michael James

To talk to him, you’d never know that John Polikaitis, who works as a night custodian at Saddleback College, is 94 and a half years of age.  The genial man appears to be much younger and is highly respected by his colleagues, who describe him as a thoughtful and humble man of great character.  Mr. Polikaitis is retiring after 33 years of outstanding service to the college and was recognized at the June 25th Board of Trustees meeting, where we learned a little bit about his remarkable life.

Mr. Polikaitis certainly has an impressive story to tell.  Prior to working at Saddleback College, where he started in 1979, Mr. Polikaitis spent more than 30 years as a firefighter with the Los Angeles City Fire Department.  And before that, he served in the Navy during World War II and fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

A resident of Anaheim, Mr. Polikaitis drives to work every day, sometimes sharing rides with a co-worker.

Regarding his time at Saddleback College, Mr. Polikaitis says, “I didn’t intend to stay longer than just a few years at Saddleback – I wanted to stay until my children graduated from college; but things change.  I’ve liked working here and have had many good experiences and have made some good friends.”

Mr. Polikaitis also marveled at how the college has grown through the years, while the size of the custodial staff has remained virtually unchanged.  He is impressed by his co-workers and the amount of work they do.

Mr. Polikaitis looks forward to some relaxation after his retirement, and is thinking about moving to San Diego to be closer to his kids.  He has three children – two daughters and a son, who lives in Japan, and three grandchildren.

Congratulations to John Polikaitis, an extraordinary man who is loved by all who were lucky to know him.

Announcing Saddleback College’s New Dean of Mathematics, Science, and Engineering: Dr. Christopher McDonald

After a nation-wide search, Saddleback is pleased to announce the hiring of Dr. Christopher McDonald as the new dean of mathematics, science, and engineering. Dr. McDonald is sure to be an excellent successor to Dr. Jim Wright and serve the college and students very well.

Dr. McDonald began his tenure at Mt. San Antonio College in 2002 as a mathematics professor and was chair of the department beginning in 2008.  In this capacity, he provided leadership and oversight of the operations, services, and instructional programs for a department serving more than 8,500 students each semester and includes 40 full-time faculty, 44 adjunct faculty, and four full-time classified personnel.  Also as department chair, he managed the strategic planning, budget, scheduling, student learning outcomes assessment, program review, associate degree, course articulation, student petition, and curriculum development processes for the department.

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Announcing Saddleback College’s New Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences: Dr. Cadence Wynter

Saddleback College is thrilled to announce that Dr. Cadence Wynter has been hired as the new dean of social and behavioral sciences.  Dr. Wynter started in her new position on June 11th and Saddleback is very lucky to be welcoming such an impressive educator to the college. The hiring committee and second-level interviewers were struck by Dr. Wynter’s extraordinary qualifications and everyone is very much looking forward to working with her.

Dr. Wynter comes to Saddleback from Columbia College in Chicago, where she has held several positions of increasing responsibility over the past 16 years, including history coordinator, associate chair, acting chair, and most recently interim chair of the college’s department of humanities, history, and social sciences, which is a large multi-discipline department serving nearly 6,000 students each semester.  Also at Columbia College, Dr. Wynter was an associate professor of history and African Diaspora studies and has taught courses in Caribbean, Latin American, and African American history.

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Announcing Saddleback College’s New Director of Planning, Research and Accreditation: Dr. Caroline Durdella

Saddleback College is delighted to announce and introduce Dr. Caroline Durdella as the new director of research, planning and accreditation.  Dr. Durdella is no stranger to community colleges; she has 13 years of director level experience and substantive teaching experience in the California Community College system.  Most recently, she served as the assistant dean of institutional effectiveness and assessment at Santiago Canyon College where she provided leadership in student learning outcomes assessment, accreditation standards compliance, and accreditation annual reports.  Dr. Durdella also led the college’s educational master planning committee.

From 2007 to 2010, Dr. Durdella served as the dean of institutional research at Santa Monica City College.  There, she served on and co-chaired several shared governance committees, including the student and institutional learning outcome committee, basic skills initiative, career and technical education committee, district planning and advisory committee, and accreditation standards and steering committees.  Dr. Durdella contributed to the development of new educational programs through grant applications and annual reporting for federally funded grants.

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Announcing Saddleback College’s New Transfer Center Coordinator: Orlantha Nin

It is with great pleasure that Saddleback College announces that Orlantha Nin has been selected as the new transfer center coordinator.  If her name sounds familiar, it is likely because you have seen her on campus over the past 12 years.  A part-time counselor and associate professor, Ms. Nin worked in the transfer center from 2000 to 2003, and has worked in EOPS/CARE since 2006.  She has also served as the counselor representative on the careers with children grant, and was a member of the child development program advisory board, faculty association, and associate faculty support committee.  After her years of committed service as part-time faculty, it is wonderful to welcome Ms. Nin as full-time, tenure-track faculty.

From 2007 to 2010, Ms. Nin was a lecturer at CSU Long Beach’s educational opportunity program, where she developed curriculum and taught three sections of the program’s student success, orientation, and study skills class.  She also offered instruction on study skills, goal setting, learning styles, term paper development, and writing and research skills.

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Saddleback’s Statement of Mutual Respect and Collegial Behavior

Saddleback College is very pleased to present the Saddleback College Statement of Mutual Respect and Collegial Behavior (click the link to download a PDF version of the document) that was unanimously approved by Consultation Council at Tuesday’s meeting and subsequently endorsed by President Burnett.  Everyone at the college should be extremely proud of this effort.  This is the first statement of this kind ever drafted by our college, and it was completed in a process that was true to the very principles being drafted.  Under normal circumstances it is difficult to get consensus on a statement like this one, but this was not the case at Saddleback.  The college’s Academic Senate, Classified Senate, Associated Student Government, and Management Team worked together over the past year in a respectful, collegial, and productive manner in discussing and developing this statement.  In addition, each of our district bargaining units reviewed and signed off on the final statement.  The outstanding support from the Faculty Association, California School Employees Association (CSEA), and Police Officers Association (POA) has been very much appreciated.

All college faculty, staff, and administrators are encouraged to print out a copy of the Saddleback College Statement of Mutual Respect and Collegial Behavior and display it in his/her office to show support for this important effort.  Everyone is also encouraged to emulate these principles every day and help us to continue the college’s strong commitment to our mission of student success.

2012 Great Scholarship Giveaway Recipients

In May, Saddleback College’s foundation, outreach department, and financial assistance department announced the Great Scholarship Giveaway, a scholarship that would be awarded to graduating high school seniors attending school within the South Orange County Community College District service area. Selected students would each receive a scholarship for the equivalent of one full-time semester at Saddleback. The group was pleasantly surprised by the number of applications (50) and also very impressed by the high quality of the applicants. Because there were so many outstanding applications, the representatives from the foundation, outreach department, and financial assistance department had a tough time deciding on the recipients, but they managed to select 14 exceptional scholarship winners. An awards reception will be held in the fall to recognize the recipients.

The 14 recipients are listed below with their high school name, high school GPA, and intended Saddleback College major.

  • Amir Ali, Mission Viejo High School, 4.19, Business Management
  • Keatyn Bucknam, San Juan Hills High School, 4.0, Marine Science
  • Jacqueline Doan, Tesoro High School, 3.9, Biology
  • Erin Kelley, Capistrano Valley High School, 3.89, Child Development and Educational Studies
  • George Widdowson, San Juan Hills High School, 3.73, Engineering
  • Stephen Morris, Aliso Niguel High School, 3.72, Music
  • Sahra Agharezaei, Laguna Hills High School, 3.7, Political Science
  • Haben Mekonnen, San Clemente High School, 3.7, Engineering
  • Rebecca Azeltine, Mission Viejo High School, 3.6, Nursing
  • Austin Purmort, Mission Viejo High School, 3.45, Theatre Arts
  • Alyssa Franklin, San Clemente High School, 3.4, Psychology
  • Francesca Manzo, Capistrano Valley Christian High School, Undecided
  • Brenda Moreno, Mission Viejo High School, 3.3, Nursing
  • Jordan Rdarte, J. Serra Catholic High School, 3.3, Graphics

Congratulations to all the scholarship recipients! We look forward to seeing you next semester!