Final Stretch to Commencement!


Dear Faculty, Staff, and Management:

In three weeks on Friday, May 23rd we will be celebrating the degree, certificate, and transfer completions of thousands of our students at Saddleback’s annual commencement ceremony.  As we enter this final stretch of the academic year, I want to congratulate and thank our amazing faculty, staff, and management for their incredible work and accomplishments this semester.

At Monday’s board of trustees meeting, we recognized our professors of the year.  Congratulations to Dr. Alannah Rosenberg, chair and advisor of the honors program, Fariba Vatandoust, chemistry instructor, and Collette Chattopadhyay, Emeritus Institute art history instructor.  These three wonderful members of our faculty represent the quality and commitment of all of our faculty, and we appreciate their contributions.  We also greatly appreciate our classified staff, and a few weeks ago our college chose Giziel Leftwich as our classified employee of the year.  Also at Monday’s board meeting, our faculty, led by professors Christina Hinkle, Marina Aminy, Gary Luke, and Kia Shafe, and Dean Patti Flanigan and  Director Patti Weekes delivered an excellent presentation on the recent successes of our LRC Tutoring Center.  Did you know that we more than doubled the number of tutoring hours this past year, and that students who take advantage of tutoring have a 10% higher success rate and an incredible 20% higher persistence rate?

Speaking of student success, our college is operating on all cylinders.  Our college-wide Student Success Coordinating Committee led by faculty coordinators Bruce Gilman and Penny Skaff has been working hard to help implement our Academic Senate’s six student success recommendations and Saddleback’s strategic planning goals and objectives, in addition to numerous other student success efforts happening throughout our campus and community.  Last week, some of you were able to attend our student success summit held jointly with Irvine Valley College.  This was a highly successful day of workshops and guest speakers that allowed the faculty, staff, and management from both campuses to collaboratively learn about various student success efforts going on in our district and hear some best practices.  A big thanks to Dean Patti Flanigan and Professor Jane Horlings and Professor Roopa Mathur and Dean Cathleen Greiner at IVC for their outstanding leadership in making this summit a success.

As we all know, one of the biggest challenges for many of our students is their financial circumstances.  At the March board meeting, Financial Aid Director Christian Alvarado and IVC Interim Financial Aid Director Ruth Higgins gave a comprehensive presentation on student financial aid which revealed many of our students’  financial challenges but also showed the tremendous progress that Saddleback has made over the past few years in expanding financial aid opportunities for substantially more students.  An important financial resource for our students is our Saddleback College Foundation.  On Friday, May 16th at 4pm we will be holding our annual scholarship awards ceremony where we will be awarding over $700,000 in scholarships to over 450 students.  This is the most ever awarded in scholarships by Saddleback, and our foundation is now one of the highest performers in the state.  In April, the foundation held its annual gala and doubled the amount of money raised, thanks to the generous support from our college community.  Your efforts are helping to reduce the barriers that many of our students come up against, and these efforts are a testament to the role that each and every one of us plays in helping students succeed.

Advocating for students and student success is our passion.  In April, I was pleased to have represented our college and district in Washington, D.C. to continue developing important relationships with federal officials and agencies.  Meeting with our state’s two U.S. senators, three local congressional representatives, and several departments including labor and education, I was struck by how well known our college and district are now by folks in our nation’s capitol.  The work that our chancellor, board of trustees, college presidents, and others has really paid off.  You may recall that last year we received a $2.7 million U.S. Department of Labor grant and we expect more opportunities to come our way soon.  Also while in D.C., I attended the American Association of Community College’s annual convention and had the privilege to join Dr. Glenn Roquemore, IVC president, and Tere Fluegeman, district director of government relations, to hear Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and his wife, Jill, address the 2,000 or so community college leaders.  The vice president delivered one of the finest speeches espousing the importance of our community colleges.  He said, “the middle class has its best shot of growing through all of you.  You really are the heart of expanding opportunity for millions of Americans.”  He also used this opportunity to announce the launch of a new $100 million job training initiative—the Registered College Apprenticeship College Consortium—which we hope to participate.

Last week, Chancellor Poertner, President Roquemore, and I attended the annual Southern California CEO Meeting and had the pleasure of hearing from state Chancellor Brice Harris.  Dr. Harris gave updates on several state-wide issues including community college baccalaureate degrees, student success initiative, adult education, accreditation, and a proposed new center for policy and leadership development.  I was most pleased to see that when he gave an update on the progress of implementing CSU associate degrees for transfer, Saddleback was at the top of the list for implementing these degrees and we will shortly have 100% completed.  A big thanks to our academic senate and curriculum committee chair Karah Street for their excellent work.

As you can see, when it comes to student success, our college is operating on all cylinders.  I hope that each and every faculty, staff, and manager and administrator will be attending Saddleback’s commencement and scholarship awards ceremony, as well as the many other end of the year celebrations going on throughout the college over the next three weeks.  Once again, thank you for your incredible work and accomplishments this semester.


Tod A. Burnett, Ed.D.                                                                                                                           President

Congratulations to our Newly Tenured Faculty

Students, faculty, staff, and management celebrated newly tenured faculty and their achievements on Monday, April 28th at a reception hosted by Saddleback College deans in the fine arts courtyard.

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Congratulations to:

Kim Branch-Stewart, Human Services

Carolyn Danko, Nursing

Lisa Inlow, Culinary Arts

Rebecca Knapp, Business

Candy Nelson, Nursing

Thomas O’Leary, Art History

Marcelo Pires, Biological Sciences

Gina Shaffer, English Composition

Matthew Sherman, Kinesiology/Women’s Track and Cross Country Coach

Robert Stevenson, Mechanical Drafting/CAD

Amina Yassine, Spanish/Arabic

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Saddleback College Partners With Orange County Fire Authority and Sheriff’s Department in Active Shooter Incident Exercise


Mission Viejo, CA – Representatives from more than 15 law enforcement and emergency response agencies joined Saddleback College yesterday in the college’s first multi-agency, multi-discipline, multi-jurisdiction training response to an active shooter drill. The collaboration between Saddleback College, the Orange County Fire Authority, and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department included more than 100 volunteers, bystanders, and observers, and echoed the precautions law enforcement officers are taking nationwide in response to recent shootings.

“You’ve seen these in the news,” said Orange County Fire Authority Captain Mike Morganstern. “It happens in the east, west, at universities, high schools, and even elementary schools. We are doing these drills all across the county because the more we practice the better off we are. The more realistic this is the more training officers and firemen can get.”

Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president of Saddleback College, was among Tuesday’s participants expressing that student safety was his first priority. “As college president, as a citizen, as a human being, I cannot imagine a worse nightmare than if this scenario were to unfold.  We must take every step necessary to be prepared and to quickly and effectively act if such an event were to occur. ”

Tuesday’s exercise included over 50 student and staff volunteers who simulated the roles of victims and bystanders. The student volunteers are taking classes in the college’s cosmetology, nursing, or theatre program and were encouraged to make the exercise realistic.  As such, make-up was applied by the cosmetology students to simulate wounds, and nursing students used their knowledge in their response to other “victims.”  Students in the theatre program used their acting skills to add to the realistic environment.

Many student volunteers said they were excited to be of help to participating officers and to be given an acting role in the simulation. Saddleback nursing student and volunteer Christine Stich said she believed the exercise had also served as training for their prospective careers.

“As a nursing student I gained a perspective as to what the experience might be like for the victim,” said Stich. “To think about the possible mechanics of their injury. We do trainings like this in our program too. The more you treat it like it’s real, the more you benefit from it.”

Saddleback student Don Congjuico said the simulation allowed volunteers to understand the large role law enforcement would have in a real event. “Today was insight into their world.  Seeing how they operate, God forbid it happens, we now know what to do to better help officers.”

“Two simulations were performed in an effort to give as many law enforcement officers and firefighters, as possible, an opportunity to participate in the simulation,” said Saddleback College Chief of Police Christopher Wilkinson.  Rescuers had applied the success and learnings of the first scenario to the second exercise that gave way to a more efficient rescue.

“Recent events have brought this about,” said Captain Morganstern. “We want to work closely with our local law enforcement to better understand our roles in an event like this.”

Participating agencies included:

California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services
California State University, Fullerton
Cerritos College Police Department
El Camino College
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Irvine Valley College Police Department
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Emergency Operations Bureau
Mira Costa College Police Department
Mission Viejo Police Department
Orange Coast College
Orange County Fire Authority
Orange County Sheriff’s Department
Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Juvenile Services Bureau
Palomar College
Saddleback College
Saddleback Medical Center
University of California, Irvine
University of California, Los Angeles
Vanguard University

To view additional news coverage visit: CBS Los Angeles and Orange County Register.

Jimmy Kimmel Live and the MaxLove Project

Max Wilford, the seven-year-old son of
Audra DiPadova, our wonderful Director of Student Life, has been bravely
battling brain cancer.  Since Max’s diagnosis on August 5, 2011, we’ve
closely followed his progress and have been awed by his bravery.  We’ve
also been inspired by the efforts of the Wilford Family as Audra, Justin, and
Max have raised awareness of childhood cancer through the many heroic efforts
of their foundation, the MaxLove Project.

The current Rainbow Loom trend (if you have kids, you definitely already know
about Rainbow Loom) has been a wonderful way for the MaxLove Project to raise
awareness, with thousands already taking part in helping Max to create the
world’s longest Rainbow Loom chain to raise money for cancer
research.  The kids and faculty at Max’s school, Arroyo Elementary in
Tustin, have rallied behind Max’s efforts, and ultimately caught the attention
of Jimmy Kimmel, the late night talk show host, who has taken an interest in
Rainbow Loom and had a “Suit of the Loom” weaved from the thousands of Rainbow
Loom creations sent in by the children of his viewers.

Fourth graders at Max’s school created a video encouraging Jimmy to meet Max,
and last night, he did just that.

Yes, that’s right.  Max was a guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live last night.  If you missed it, we’ve provided a clip for you here.  The kindness shown toward Max is very
moving, to say the least.  It is a pure joy to see the likes of Jimmy
Kimmel and Ellen Degeneres (who was also a guest on the show) display such
warmth to this little boy we all care so deeply for.

Jimmy Kimmel is auctioning his Suit of the Loom on e-Bay, with the proceeds
benefiting the MaxLove Project.  To see the suit, click here.  At my
last glance, the suit was going for over $8,000!

In celebration of Max’s birthday, a Loom-a-Thon will be held this
weekend.  An article in today’s Orange County Register provides
information on the Loom-a-Thon and how you can participate in Max’s goal to
create the world’s longest rainbow loom.  To see the Orange County Register article, click here.

I know all of us are very proud of Max, Audra, and Justin.  They are truly
unique people who have selflessly raised awareness of childhood cancer and
thousands of other children and their families.  Their compassion knows no
bounds and we are very fortunate to know these truly good people.  For more information on the MaxLove Project, visit

Men’s and Women’s Basketball Teams to Enter Playoffs this Friday

The Saddleback men’s and women’s basketball teams both captured Orange Empire Conference championships last week and will begin post-season play starting this Friday.  This marks the first time since the 2002-2003 season that the Saddleback men’s and women’s teams both captured conference titles during the same season.

The Gaucho men’s team (24-5) shared the conference title with Santa Ana College but was awarded the conference’s highest seed into the playoffs and was selected as the No. 5 team in the 18-team regional playoff bracket.  The Gauchos will play host to Pasadena City College (20-9), the second-place finishers in the South Coast Conference’s North Division, this Friday (February 28) at 7:00 p.m. in the campus gym.  It will be Saddleback’s only home playoff game unless No. 4 Chaffey (25-5) gets upset in its first-round playoff game against either San Diego City College or Allan Hancock College.

The Saddleback women’s team captured their Orange Empire Conference title outright with a victory over Fullerton last Friday.  The Gauchos (19-10) finished one game ahead of Orange Coast College in the conference standings and received the No. 10 slot in the 18-team playoff bracket.  The Gauchos will travel to face No. 7 San Bernardino Valley College (18-6) on Friday (February 28) with that game also tipping off at 7:00 p.m.  San Bernardino captured the Foothill Conference title this season.

Congratulations to the Gauchos men’s and women’s basketball teams for a terrific season.  While winning the conference title for one team is always a cause for celebration, having both the men’s and women’s teams capture the title is truly remarkable.  I wish the teams all the best in the playoffs, and thank our head coaches, Andy Ground and Fentriss Winn, for their leadership and ability to nurture the very best in our talented players.

The Saddleback men’s team is led by conference MVP Eric Thompson.  Thompson averaged 13.0 points and 8.7 rebounds this season, making 68 percent of his shot attempts.  Guard Dalante Dunklin was also named to the first-team all-conference while both Andre McPhail and Dayton Boddie were selected as second-team all-conference picks.  Head coach Andy Ground shared conference coach of the year honors with Santa Ana’s Dave Breig.

The Saddleback women’s team is led by conference MVP Deja Brooks.  Brooks led the team by averaging 11.6 points per game and also added 5.0 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.  Brooks was joined on the first-team all-conference list by teammate Tatiana Moana while Lillie Rellin, Shannon Abdulla, and Whitney Braeutigam were each named to the second-team all-conference list.  Head coach Fentriss Winn was named as the conference’s coach of the year.

It is the third consecutive conference title for Coach Ground and the fourth title in the six years that he has held the coaching reins.  It is the second conference title for Coach Winn and the women’s program in the 10 years he has been with Saddleback, which also includes two conference runner-up finishes.

Introducing the Orange County Social Entrepreneurship Competition

Saddleback College is pleased to announce the inaugural Orange County Social Entrepreneurship Competition, the nation’s first county-wide competition for individuals, groups, non-profit, and for-profit entities.  Social entrepreneurship is “the process of pursuing solutions to complex social problems through sustainable business models.”  As one of our county leaders, we invite you to join with us to spread these growing efforts throughout the region to help solve challenges in a wide range of areas including but not limited to poverty, homelessness, environment, urban revitalization, health, and education.

There are many ways that you and your organization can participate, and we encourage you to visit for more information on guidelines for submitting a business plan, opportunities for partnerships and sponsorships, and much more.  We will be holding a kick-off luncheon at Saddleback College on February 26th at 11:30am in SSC 212 and we hope that you and your guests will join us for this momentous occasion as one of our partners and/or sponsors.  Please feel free to contact Dr. Barbara Cox at or 949.348.6226 or myself for additional information or to RSVP for the upcoming kick-off event. 

This is an exciting new opportunity for our county, and we look forward to working with you and all of our business/industry, non-profit, government, and philanthropic partners to unleash the social entrepreneurial talents throughout our region.



U.S. Solar Decathlon: Congratulations to our Team Orange

You may have heard that Team Orange, a consortium of Saddleback College, Irvine Valley College, University of California, Irvine, and Chapman University, was selected to compete in next year’s U.S. Solar Decathlon.  This is the first time that Orange County will be represented in the biannual competition, which will be held for the second time at the Orange County Great Park in 2015.

The U.S. Solar Decathlon is hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy, which selects competitors and provides them with funding to build solar-powered homes.  The selected teams will now begin to build solar-powered, highly energy-efficient houses that combine affordability, innovation, and design excellence. The teams will design, construct, and test their houses before reassembling them in fall 2015 at the competition site.

Team Orange’s home design is inspired by the California poppy, which opens to soak in sunlight before closing up at nightfall.  Each member of Team Orange will focus on a specific area – for Saddleback, we will lead the team’s efforts in architecture, interior design, construction, and code compliance.  UC Irvine will oversee engineering, automation, entertainment, 3D printing, and fundraising, while Chapman will lead the marketing and outreach efforts, including the team’s website and social media.  Irvine Valley College will be responsible for the team’s engineering tech work, electrical work safety, drafting, and recycling.  Representing Saddleback are Blake Stephens, architecture department chair, and Dan Riley, architecture associate faculty, who will be assisted by approximately 30 students.

Team Orange is one of 20 student teams that will compete in the U.S. Solar Decathlon.  The other teams represent colleges and universities throughout the globe:

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
California State University, Sacramento
Clemson University
Crowder College and Drury University
Lansing Community College and Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University
Missouri University of Science and Technology
New York City College of Technology
Oregon Institute of Technology and Portland State University
Stanford University
State University of New York at Alfred College of Technology and Alfred University
Stevens Institute of Technology
University of Florida, National University of Singapore, and Santa Fe College
The University of Texas at Austin and Technische Universitaet Muenchen
University at Buffalo, The State University of New York
University of California, Davis
Vanderbilt University and Middle Tennessee State University
West Virginia University and University of Roma Tor Vergata
Western New England University, Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá, and Universidad Tecnológica Centroamericana
Yale University

For more information, a joint press release was distributed by UC Irvine last week after the Department of Energy announced the competitors:

Congratulations to Team Orange for this very unique opportunity, and we look forward to seeing the fruits of your labor in 2015!

SOCCCD, Saddleback College managers and administrators attend NIMS, NRF conference

Saddleback College President Tod Burnett stands with Andrew Craven, police technical services specialist, Susan Cook, administrative assistant for the Division of Math, Science and Engineering, and Karen Kelley, senior lab technician, who were recognized for their work on the college’s Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).

On Friday, November 15th, South Orange County Community College District (SOCCCD) and Saddleback College managers and administrators attended a National Incident Management System (NIMS) and National Response Framework (NRF) conference that provided training on and resources in emergency preparedness.

The exceptional workshop was led by Saddlebacks’ Chief of Police Christopher Wilkinson, and Kim Aufhauser, special advisor for emergency Management to the California Community College State Chancellor’s Office.  The day-long conference provided attendees with information on NIMS, a foundation for incident management at all jurisdiction levels, and NRF, a framework that defines guiding principles on how the nation responds to emergency situations.

Broken into two sessions, the morning lecture focused on several NIMS components such as, preparedness, communication and information management, resource management, and command management. The afternoon session focused on NRF roles and responsibilities, response actions, response organization, and planning activity.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Mobile Incident Command Vehicle was also onsite for managers and administrators to tour.

During the event, Andrew Craven, police technical services specialist, recognized the college’s Community emergency Response Team (CERT) members, Susan Cook, administrative assistant for the Division of Math, Science and Engineering, and Karen Kelley, senior lab technician for their response to an emergency on campus.

At the end of the day, managers and administrations completed a final exam and were presented with a certificate of achievement and a Government Emergency Telecommunications Service (GETS) Card to communicate with key national security and emergency preparedness personal during emergency events.


Foundation Board of Governors Presents Kia Motors with Certificate, Plaque

On Thursday, October 24th, Saddleback College Foundation Board of Governors First President Gary Capata presented Scott McKee, a Kia Motors America representative, with a plaque and certificate for their contributions to Saddleback’s Automotive Technology Program during a Board of Governors meeting.

Alan Davis was also presented with a plaque and certificate for his work in facilitating a partnership between Kia Motors America and the college’s Automotive Technology Program. The relationship started when Davis’ son started classes at Saddleback College in 2007.

During the past six years Kia Motors America has given the college’s Automotive Technology Department cars and equipment totaling more than $173,260 in value.

Clifford Meyer, professor and department chair of automotive technology, stated “It has been a wonderful relationship with great benefit to the students.  Thank you for your help and support.”

Don Busché, acting dean of advanced technology and applied science, stated, “Saddleback College has had a strong auto program since 1976, which has become stronger due to support from Kia and other auto donors like them.”

Saddleback College to Celebrate Veteran Success with Noted Speakers, Reception

On Tuesday, November 12th Saddleback College will celebrate five years of veteran success and the opening of the college’s newly-renovated veterans center that offers comprehensive services for veterans including benefits assistance, counseling, and other services to help veterans transition to civilian and college life.  The event will be held from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the Saddleback College Student Services Center.

The keynote speaker of the event is Secretary Peter James Gravett of the California Department of Veterans Affairs. Secretary Gravett is a retired major general of the United States Army and is the highest ranking official of veterans services in the state.  Gravett retired with more than 40 years of service in the U.S. Army and California National Guard, and served as commanding general of the 40th Infantry Division and became the first African American National Guard division commander in the 225-year history of the National Guard in the United States.  Additional speakers include David J. Davis, acting director of the Department of Veterans Affairs regional office in San Diego, and Jack Williams, an Iraq War veteran of the Marine Corps and alum of Saddleback College who is now in his third year of law school at the University of California, Irvine.  Additional student veterans, as well as college administrators and staff, will offer remarks.

Dr. Tod A. Burnett, president of Saddleback College, stated, “Saddleback places a high priority on providing comprehensive services to veterans to help them succeed at the college and beyond.  I am very proud of the work of our faculty and staff who each day help our more than 1,300 veterans in their transition to civilian life.  This event will not only celebrate the accomplishments of our student veterans, but also those at the college and in our community who dedicate themselves to ensuring that our veterans get the support they deserve.”

The event will feature the First Marine Division Band, and the Southern California Army Recruiting Battalion will serve as Color Guard.  John Huntington, associate faculty in the college’s division of fine arts and media technology, will sing the National Anthem.  Additionally, an American flag flown in Kabul, Afghanistan will be presented to student veterans.

As part of the festivities, the college’s Veterans Club will be hosting “Veterans Week,” which will include opening day festivities on Tuesday, November 12th, featuring a performance by the Marine Corps Band.  This event will include a $5 entrance fee and lunch will be provided.  On Wednesday, November 13th, a “Warrior Challenge” will include an obstacle course and the opportunity to win a free t-shirt, and on Thursday, November 14th a military gear show will give guests the chance to meet Saddleback veterans, who will display the gear they used in the military.  All Veterans Week events will be held in the quad from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Saddleback College’s wide-ranging services for veterans were recently augmented by a recently- signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide VetSuccess on Campus (VSOC) services, allowing the college to host an experienced VA vocational rehabilitation counselor to assist students in achieving their educational and career goals through the Post-9/11 GI Bill and other education benefit programs.   This landmark MOU, which created a partnership between the VA, Saddleback College, and Irvine Valley College, has made the colleges two of fewer than 100 colleges nationwide to offer VSOC services.