Innovative Ceramics Program Gives Veterans a Free Outlet for Creativity

Jason Conway, USMC, Iraq War Veteran; Steve Dilley, instructor; Duane Matthews, USMC, Vietnam War Veteran; Ryan Anderson, USMC; Nick Koscielski, USN, Veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan; Brandon Houser, USMC, Iraq War Veteran

It started with a casual conversation between ceramics instructor Steve Dilley and his long-time friend.  Inspired by research into alternative treatments for veterans experiencing post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Dilley wanted to start a ceramics program open to veterans as an escape from the emotional and physical trauma they may have suffered. That friend, who is a veteran, gave Dilley a check for $12,000 and, with help from Dean of Fine Arts & Media Technology Bart McHenry, Ceramics Instructor Richard White, and Community Education Director Estella Castillo-Garrison, the program started this semester at Saddleback.

The program, which is free to veterans and their spouses through Community Education, saw a doubling of students from its first week to the second and it looks to continue to grow as more student veterans discover it. Dilley is working closely with the college’s VETS Center, specifically with Kevin Williams’ Applied Psychology 140 class geared toward veterans, to tout the benefits of having a fun course like ceramics.

Dilley tells all students to come as they are, regardless of physical or mental limitations. “You can do ceramics with one hand. You can do it if you’ve had traumatic brain injury.  It really doesn’t matter. These veterans can do it.” Ceramics has the ability to help improve fine motor skills and concentration, even if veterans have severe injuries.

Dilley sees the program as a bridge to academics, especially for those who are not yet ready to take traditional classes. “When we’re talking about ceramics, we touch on chemistry, geology, anthropology, and a lot of other areas of study. This may be a way for these students to find their calling and career path.”

Although the current donation will only cover this semester’s course, Dilley is hoping to continue and expand it.  In addition to starting a similar program at another community college, Dilley is also hoping to work with the Department of Veterans Affairs to bring the program to military bases and hospitals.  It appears that he may be close to his goal — the VA has shown an interest in having him speak to injured veterans about alternative PTSD treatments.

Even though the program is already bigger than he ever imagined, Dilley still believes, “If I help lessen the pain of just one veteran, this program will have been successful.”

Remembering Associate Professor Joe Tinervia

It is with great sadness that I report the loss of Associate Professor Joe Tinervia, who passed away on Friday after his brave battle with pancreatic cancer.  Joe worked as an associate faculty member for the last 23 years in our Division of Business Science and Economic and Workforce Development, and was a respected author, writer, and editor who worked in the publishing industry for many years.

Many of us who didn’t get to work with Joe on a regular basis got to know him as we prepared the college’s accreditation self-study report, for which he served as editor.  Joe’s gift for grammar, English, and communications made him an obvious choice in this endeavor, and he did the job extremely well.  It was a true pleasure to work with him.

Joe was an incredible human being—warm, friendly, and caring, with a wonderful sense of humor.  As stated by his friend and colleague, Dr. Barbara Cox, “Joe was a great gift in my life.  Great gifts are also the hardest losses.”

Joe was an extremely generous man, giving abundant time to his students to answer questions and help them prepare for their academic and professional goals.  He cared immensely about his students, colleagues, and friends, and it showed.  Indeed, Joe—described often as a role model, hardworking colleague, and friend—will be greatly missed by all who were lucky to know him.

Our condolences go out to Joe’s family and friends.

Missing Saddleback College Professor Found

I am pleased to report that Professor Amy Ahearn was safely found this weekend by the Los Angeles Police Department.  We all have been very concerned about Amy and we are relieved to hear that she is back with her family and loved ones.

Thank you to all for keeping Amy in your thoughts and prayers.  We all wish Amy the very best and look forward to seeing her again soon.

Physics Professor Embraces the Future of Green Technology

Mitch Haeri stands next to his zero emission, hydrogen fuel cell car

Dr. Mitch Haeri, a professor of physics and astronomy, was recently selected to drive a hydrogen fuel cell car as part of a pilot program by Mercedes-Benz.  The program is part of an effort to get more clean energy cars on the road and bring awareness to the public about the zero emission vehicles that produce water as exhaust.  The perks of the program include free automobile insurance and fuel, which Dr. Haeri, who said he is “Mr. Green” because of his eco-friendly way of life, gets at local hydrogen filling stations.

Fuel cell cars generate electricity that feed an electric motor and are fueled only with hyrdrogen.  With a horsepower of 135, driving one feels no different from driving a regular car (Dr. Haeri was kind enough to let the author take his new wheels for a spin).  All car manufacturers produce hydrogen fuel cell cars, but as of now only Mercedez-Benz and Honda have them available in small numbers for the public to drive.

Dr. Haeri was one of the few selected for the program after submitting an essay to the auto manufacturer.  This is the third eco-friendly car he has driven, being the owner of two Toyota Priuses (including the first model that was released) before being selected to lease his new hydrogen-powered automobile.

Flex Week Wrap-Up

One of my favorite weeks of the year has once again come and gone. This year’s In-Service Week was another great success. I always enjoy welcoming our faculty and staff back to campus and meeting for the first time the newest members of our Saddleback College family. Special thanks to Professor Jane Horlings, our superb Flex Week Coordinator, who puts in countless hours organizing the week. I also want to thank everyone who made presentations this year!

President-Hosted Events

I was pleased to see you all at the President’s Faculty Breakfast and President’s Classified Staff Luncheon on Wednesday, August 17th; and the President’s Associate Faculty Dinner on Thursday, August 18th.  Those who attended these events were the first to see my Annual State of the College report. If you missed this information, it is available online here.

At the faculty breakfast, I was pleased to announce 17 new tenure track faculty that were hired to begin this semester. While many colleges are looking at layoffs as a way to cut costs, Saddleback is so proud to be able to hire new, quality faculty!

Welcome to all the new tenure-track faculty!

Our new tenure-track faculty are: Deanna Avetisian, Mathematics; Teresa Bear, Chemistry; Christina Bowles, Nursing; Hencelyn Chu, Medical Laboratory Tech/Phlebotomy; Carolyn Danko, Nursing; Ryan Even, Photography; Kirill Gliadkovsky, Music; Lawrence Grihalva, Emergency Medical Technician; Safiah Mamoon, Health Information Technology; Maria Mayenzet, Screen Acting and Video Production; Patricia McGinley, Nursing; Jedrek Mularski, World History; Candy Nelson, Nursing; Lucas Ochoa, Speech Communication; Stephen Robertson, Speech Communication; Penelope Skaff, Matriculation Coordinator/Counselor; and Kolin Williams, Veterans/Generalist Counselor.

At the Classified Luncheon, I was pleased to announce even more new hires! Seventeen classified staff were welcomed to Saddleback College and we are delighted to have so many people who will assist in helping our students achieve their goals.

Welcome new classified staff!

The newest classified staff are: James Baldwin, Administrative Assistant, Transportation Services; Ion Brezoi, Custodian, Facilities: Custodial; Rafael Granados Gomez, Groundskeeper, Facilities: Grounds; Elliot Klinge, Front of House Office Manager/Box Office Assistant, Fine Arts; Gina Lakow-Oram, Health Office Assistant, Student Health Center; Inna Link, Admissions and Records Specialist I, Admissions, Records, and Enrollment Services; Michelle Macdougall-Jackson, Theatre Production Manager, Fine Arts; Thomas MacKenzie, Application Specialist II, Distance Education; Andrea McGinley, Financial Aid Specialist, Office of Financial Assistance; Anthony Micallef, Senior Accounting Specialist, Saddleback College Foundation; Ashley Mooney, Program Assistant, Health Sciences; David Mora, Custodian, Facilities: Custodial; Courtney Motak, Program Senior Lab Technician, Health Sciences and Human Services; John Oropallo, Building Maintenance Worker, Facilities: Maintenance; Joyce Speakman, Administrative Assistant, Mathematics, Science, and Engineering; and Robyn Wilson, Senior Health Office Assistant, Student Health Center.

Patti Flanigan, Dean of Online Education and Learning Resources, Addresses the Audience

Finally, at the Associate Faculty Dinner, we were pleased to see more than 100 smiling faces in attendance! It was a great event and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting some new people and getting reacquainted with old colleagues.  It was also a pleasure to host this dinner with Dean Patricia Flanigan and Professor Teresa Bear, who organized a wonderful event to provide information on the resources available to our associate faculty.

The Annual State of the College Report

This year, I once again presented my Annual State of the College Address, which includes my top ten projects for the 2011-12 academic year. This year’s report is entitled “Being the First Choice” and is based on the college’s vision statement that was developed in 2009:

“Saddleback College will be the first choice of students who seek a dynamic, innovative, and student-centered postsecondary education”

In the report, I discuss what it means to be the first choice, and how our number one focus must be student success.  Over the past three years we have made great strides in our infrastructure and have improved immensely through the accreditation process.  Now it is time for our college to come together and find ways to help our students better prepare themselves for college, and the steps they need to take to success in their academic endeavors to achieve their educational and career goals.  We have all the tools in place to be the first option of graduating high school students and now it is time to put those tools into action.

Student Success

Fostering greater student success is at the top of my priority list, and it is also on the top of Chancellor Gary Poertner’s priority list. In his Opening Session, he stressed the importance of working collaboratively as a district to ensure our students get the highest-quality education possible. Everyone is on board with the student success efforts, including State Chancellor Jack Scott, who recently announced that the state board of governors launched a student success task force to develop a strategic blueprint to help community college students to succeed.

To meet the task force’s goals by 2020, California’s community colleges will need to at least double the number of completions. This means that Saddleback will need to double its number of degrees, certificates, and transfers over the next decade—and together we can achieve this critical goal. Beginning this fall, our college will embark on a campus-wide effort to discuss what’s at stake and begin the conversation of how our entire campus can take part in improving our completion rates.

My Top 10 Projects

Again in this year’s report, I presented my Top 10 Projects for the coming academic year.  These are the projects that I am personally focusing on during the 2011-12 school year.  This year, they are:

1. Student Success Meetings – The college will hold campus-wide meetings to discuss student success. We must bring together our entire college community to discuss what’s at stake and begin the con-versation of how the whole campus can take part in our student success efforts.
2. High School Partners – The college will develop and implement a comprehensive pilot program with local high schools to enhance student preparedness and success while marketing the college to prospective students.
3. Accreditation – The college’s accreditation will be reaffirmed after addressing the ACCJC’s recommenda-tions for the district and submitting a successful follow-up report in preparation for a second team visit in the fall.
4. Major Facility Projects – The college will complete renovation of the James B. Utt Library and Learning Resources Center and finalize architectural designs for constructing the new sciences building and for renovating the technology and applied sciences building.
5. New Faculty Center – The college will renovate the Center for Instructional Design and Distance Education (CIDDE) to provide a more optimal learning environment for faculty to strengthen teaching techniques and use instructional technology for on-campus and online classes.
6. Capital Campaign – The Saddleback College Foundation will initiate a major capital campaign to raise external resources for renovation of the athletic stadium and construction of a new wellness center.
7. Alumni Outreach – The college and the Saddleback College Foundation will reach out to all of our more than 500,000 alumni for the first time in history.
8. Economic and Workforce Development – The college will survey the south Orange County community to assess its economic and workforce training and development needs.
9. Student Success Technology – Saddleback will implement new technologies to facilitate greater student success while realizing significant efficiencies.
10. Advanced Technology and Education Park (ATEP) – Saddleback will establish a vision for the college at the district’s ATEP development project in Tustin.

Click here to view the full text of my Annual State of the College Report.

This year, I hope you will all join me in making student success a priority! Have a wonderful fall semester and I’ll see you on campus soon!

Farewell to Dr. Carmen Cortez Dominguez

We are excited to announce that Dr. Carmen Dominguez has been selected as the new dean of fine and performing arts at the College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita.  While we are happy for Dr. Dominguez, we are sad to see the departure of one of Saddleback’s highly accomplished faculty leaders.  When she came to the college in 1996 as a music instructor, the symphony orchestra had two members, no budget, and all of the equipment was 20 years old.  Since serving as chair of the music department, she has successfully expanded the college’s music program and staunchly advocated for new equipment.  Most notably, a 24 station state-of-the-art piano/keyboard lab, choral equipment, and a seven-foot Steinway grand piano, were donated to the college from the Nordstrom Corporation.  Last May she conducted the orchestra and college choirs in sold out performances of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sensational Phantom of the Opera and Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd in the prior year.  During  her past 15 years with Saddleback, Dr. Dominguez has served and provided leadership on numerous college and district committees, including serving as president of the academic senate for four  terms.

Dr. Dominguez is one of those rare individuals who has made a tremendously positive impact on our students, college, and community and she will be missed by all of us.  We asked Dr. Dominguez if she had a departing message for everyone at the college and not surprisingly she said,  “Thank you for the last 15 years, it’s been a HOOT!”  Indeed, it has been a hoot all these years, and we wish Dr. Dominguez the very best at her new college home.

To thank Dr. Dominguez for her years of service at Saddleback College and to wish her the best of luck as the new dean of arts at College of the Canyons, you are cordially invited to attend a celebration in her honor on Friday, August 5th from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. in the courtyard of the fine arts complex.  Click here for the invitation.

Thirty Faculty Members Retire After Devoting a Total of 829 Years to Saddleback!

The faculty of Saddleback College are a select and distinguished group of individuals who have committed themselves to one of the most valued and revered professions.  Respected for their commitment to academic pursuits and higher education, our faculty are well known throughout our community and are cherished on our campus for their academic achievements and enduring dedication to our students.

This is a bitter sweet time of year, as we say good-bye to our retiring faculty who have often spent decades at Saddleback College, committing themselves to their students and the continuous improvement of their programs.  These faculty, who have been elevated to the status of professor emeritus, will be missed for their many contributions to our college.

Together, the following retiring faculty have spent a total of 829 years of full-time teaching at Saddleback College, with many spending additional years as associate faculty, administrators, and classified staff :

Division of Advanced Technology and Applied Science
Zane Johnson, Horticulture, 36 years
Ken Patton, RapidTech Center, 10 years

Division of Counseling Services and Special Programs
Jo Ann Alford, 26 years
Pete Espinosa, 31 years
Miki Mikolajczak, 31 years

Division of Business Science and Economic & Workforce Development
Walter DeAguero, Accounting, 27 years
Carolyn Gillay, Computer Information Management, 27 years
Linda Newell, Business, 20 years

Emeritus Institute
Claudia Cline,  Physical Education, 22 years

Division of Fine Arts and Media Technology
Patrick Fennel, Theater Arts, 32 years
Terry Newman, Music, 35 years (with five additional years as a part-time instructor)

Division of Health Sciences and Human Services
Alda Babusek, Nursing, 32 years
Barbara Belyea, Nursing, 29 years
Ginny Giguere, Nursing, 31 years
Susan Nawa-Raridon, Nursing, 27 years
Danuta Zakrzewski, Nursing, 32 years

Division of Kinesiology and Athletics
Nancy Besette, Health Education, 35 years
John Hodges, Kinesiology and Baseball Coach, 22 years

Division of Liberal Arts and Learning Resources
Cheryl Altman, Reading, 22 years
Brenda Bruno, English, 25 years
Petrina Friede, German, 32 years
Jill Lagatta, Reading, 6 years
Jeanne Mazique, English, 21 years
Mike Reed, Journalism, 26 years
Kathleen Smith, ESL, 21 years

Division of Mathematics, Science, and Engineering
Christina Carol, Computer Science, 30 years
Robert Parsons, Physics, 43 years
William Summers, Mathematics, 26 years
Kazumitsu (Kaz) Tarui, Mathematics, 31 years

Social and Behavioral Sciences
Bob Ferguson, Psychology, 41 years