Looking back: Week of Welcome

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you a wonderful 2014-15 school year!


Dr. Tod A. Burnett, President



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