The Start of 2013/2014 Academic Year

On Monday we kicked off the start of the 2013/2014 academic year at Saddleback College.  As I mentioned throughout last week including at the faculty breakfast, associate faculty dinner, and classified staff luncheon, the next 12 months promise to be an exciting period in our college’s history.  The title of this year’s Annual State of the College is The Next Five Years.  For a copy, please click here.  In 2018, Saddleback will be celebrating its 50th anniversary and over the next year we will be greatly determining how our college will look in five years.  After impressive accomplishments for Saddleback over the past five years due to the tremendous efforts of our students, faculty, staff, management, and community, we are ideally positioned to take our college to the next level of success.  The coming year presents many opportunities for our college community to shape the future of Saddleback by finalizing our new six-year strategic plan, instituting college-wide efforts for enhancing student success, developing a comprehensive enrollment management plan, creating a model economic and workforce development plan, and supporting employee success.  Together our efforts over the next five years can ensure that Saddleback is the first choice college for attaining degrees, certificates, transfer, basic skills, and life-long learning.

During this past week’s Flex Week activities we were pleased to introduce to the college community our 15 new full-time faculty and 16 new classified staff, as well as our new vice president for instruction, director of technology services, student payment and veterans office manager, grants and contracts manager, director of annual giving, and police chief.  We are excited to welcome these new additions to our Saddleback Family and look forward to working with them.  To see a listing of all new employees, please click here.

Also this past week, we were pleased to present the 2013 Annual Report for our Saddleback College Foundation that highlights many accomplishments made over the past year and beyond.  I am particularly proud to highlight the fact that our foundation raised a record amount of scholarship funds last year.  We awarded 326 students a total of $509,790, which was a 50% increase over the prior year.  For a copy of the Saddleback College Foundation 2012/2013 Annual Report, please click here.

Saddleback had another successful year in 2012/2013, and the coming year promises to be equally successful.  The past five years have been highly successful, and the next five years will also be highly successful if we continue walking down the same path.  In 2018 our college will turn 50, and  I am confident that we will not only be celebrating Saddleback’s golden anniversary, but also the tremendous accomplishments of our students, employees, and community.  Saddleback will be the state’s leading community college for student success, and we will be the first choice college of our  community and beyond.

Thank you for all that you do each and every day for our students.  Have a wonderful fall semester!

Jacob Mathews Condolences and BGS Building Update

Dear Saddleback College family,

On Thursday afternoon I returned from a week of rafting through the Grand Canyon and learned for the first time about the tragic fire that occurred on our campus that took the life of student Jacob Mathews.  Like you, I was devastated by this tragedy.  Nothing breaks our hearts more than the sudden loss of one of our promising students.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jacob’s family and friends, and on Friday we reached out to the family to extend our deepest condolences and support for them during this most difficult time.

We all react to loss in different ways and I encourage you to reach out to your fellow students, colleagues, family, and friends during this stressful time.  Please know that Saddleback College is here for you, and if you or anyone you know might need additional support, please take advantage of our many campus services such as: grief counseling and other services offered through our Counseling Services Division (949.582.4573) and Student Health Center (949.582.4606); our Crisis Intervention Hotline (949.348.6214); and our Employee Assistance Program (949.582.4898) which provides free and confidential counseling services for all college and South Orange County Community College District employees.

The fire caused significant damage to classroom 356 in our Business and General Studies Building (BGS).  Immediately after the fire was contained, our college and district personnel began working around the clock to repair the damage and minimize the impact to students and faculty.  All three floors of BGS are closed, but we expect to reopen the building on Monday, July 22nd and all classes originally located in BGS will resume as scheduled.  In the meantime, temporary locations for all classes have been arranged and can be found on the home page of our college website at

I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the outstanding leadership and efforts undertaken by many staff, management, and faculty at the college and district in dealing with this tragedy.  Thanks to Vice Presidents Juan Avalos, Carol Hilton, and Kathy Werle for their leadership in guiding all aspects of the campus while I was beyond reach.  Thanks to Trish Fain and the office of instruction along with the technology division and facilities and maintenance division for their hard work in relocating more than 130 classes.  A big thank you also goes to Police Chief Chris Wilkinson and his officers and staff for their swift and professional response to this emergency and for being our college’s primary liaison to county authorities.  I must also thank Jennie McCue, Amy Stevens, and Tere Fluegeman for their steady and timely communication efforts made to our college community.  There are many other people that are playing critical roles at the college and district levels, and I want to thank each and every one of them for stepping up during this challenging period.

Finally, while we are grieving and working feverishly to bring our campus back to normal status, we are also continuing to cooperate with the Orange County Fire Authority and Orange County Sheriff who are conducting a thorough criminal investigation of the incident.  On Friday, some of our college and district personnel met with the county’s investigation team who communicated to us how devastated the family is and asked that their privacy be respected.  The team also stressed that no further information can be released until the criminal investigation has been concluded.  For these reasons, I am asking our college community to respect and support the county’s process and please only provide constructive support and dispel any rumors while we wait for details.  If you would like further information, please feel free to contact my office at 949.582.4722 and direct any media inquiries to our public information office at 949.582.4320.

Times like these underscore the critical importance of Saddleback College in our community and how we impact the lives of tens of thousands of people each and every day.  The tremendous commitment and work of our faculty, staff, management, and community partners make a positive difference for all of us, and for this we are most appreciative.

Tod A. Burnett, Ed.D.
Saddleback College




Accreditation Institute 2013

On February 8th and 9th, I have the privilege of joining faculty members Dr. Bob Cosgrove, Jenny Langrell, Tony Teng, and Dan Walsh at the seventh annual Academic Senate for California Community Colleges’ Accreditation Institute, Meeting and Exceeding the Standards: The Evolution of Accreditation. The institute was co-hosted by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC).

The event gave the Saddleback representatives the chance to hear great presentations and to talk to our colleagues from around the state.

On Friday, we attended a general session with ACCJC President Barbara Bano, then we had the chance to attend the following breakout sessions: Accreditation 1010: The Rubrics and Beyond; Budgets, Dialog and Sustainability; and Integrated Planning. Following lunch, Academic Senate President Michelle Pilati welcomed the group and Dr. Nathan Tharp from Feather River College presented his dissertation at a general session entitled Accreditation in the California Community Colleges: Influential Cultural Practices. The second round of breakouts included ” Institutional Effectiveness and Student Learning: the Integration of Student Support and Learning Support Services; Governance, Boards, and Standard IV; Data: What Do We Mean and What Kind Do We Need?. The day wrapped up with a general session – Hot Topics in Accreditation.

Saturday started with three breakout sessions – Faculty Leadership in Accreditation; Accreditation in a Multi-College District; and Distance Education and the Accreditation Process – and ended with Sanctions: The Phoenix Factor, a general session with Kevin Bontenbal from Cuesta College.

Accreditation is an issue that is always in the front of my mind and this institute helped to address many issues that Saddleback has faced. I look forward to implementing what we learned.

Reception with CSUF President Mildred García

On Thursday, I had the privilege of attending a reception dinner hosted by Mildred García, president of California State University, Fullerton. García became the fifth president of CSUF in June 2012. Prior to her appointment, García served as president of Cal State Dominguez Hills for five years, where she was the first Latina president in the CSU system.

California State University, Fullerton is one of our largest transfer colleges and I look forward to working with President García on strengthening our partnership.

Saddleback College Emergency Procedures

We are shocked and very deeply saddened about today’s shooting rampage that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CN.  Our condolences and prayers go out to the families and friends of the 20 children and 7 adults who were mercilessly killed.  This past week, a graduate student was shot and killed after a violent encounter with three uniformed police officers at California State University, San Bernardino and on Wednesday a lock down occurred at California State University, Fullerton due to a report of armed suspects being on campus.

We would like to take this opportunity to let the entire Saddleback community know that your safety is our number one priority.  As such, we are sharing with you some important safety and emergency procedures and actions you should follow if a similar incident ever were to happen on our campus.


Campus Police (949) 582-4444 (dial 4444 from on-campus phones)

Campus Police (non-emergencies) (949) 582-4585

Orange County Sheriff/Fire/Paramedic 911 (dial 9 + 911 from on-campus phones)

Note:  when calling about an emergency on campus, please immediately provide operator with college address (28000 Marguerite Parkway, Mission Viejo) and location on campus.

CAMPUS WIDE EMERGENCY NOTIFICATION.  Saddleback uses InformaCast Alert software that provides our campus police with the means to handle emergency communications from one central, secure, and easy to use interface with SMS messaging and prerecorded messages.  This system is tested periodically and most recently at our college’s California Great Shakeout exercise in October.  This system was successfully used during the 2007 wild fires and Laguna Canyon fire in 1993.

ACTIVE SHOOTER PROFILES.  There is not a typical “profile” of a school shooter.  Each of the assailants that carried out previous attacks differed from one another in numerous ways. School shootings are rarely impulsive acts.  They are usually well thought out and planned in advance.  Many of the assailants experienced a significant personal loss in the months leading up to the attack, such as a death, breakup, or divorce in their families.  Many assailants engaged in repetitive viewing of violent media and were often fascinated with previous school shootings. Repeated viewing of movies depicting school shootings, such as “Zero Day” and “Elephant,” may indicate a fascination with campus attacks. Be aware of people’s online videos, blogs, and social networking activities for possible signs of distress.

CAMPUS LOCKDOWNS.  If an emergency occurs that requires our campus to be locked down, no one should leave their position of safety.  Classroom doors should be locked and if the door cannot be locked, use tables and chairs to barricade the door.  Students should be instructed to remain quiet, get down low, and sit out of view of all windows and doors.


  • Call 911 and stay on the phone.
  • Meet law enforcement if possible.
  • Isolate and evacuate as soon as possible.
  • Collect as much information as possible.
  • Don’t try to be a hero.
  • Allow police first responders to make contact.

SADDLEBACK COLLEGE POLICE DEPARTMENT.  Our Saddleback Campus Police is staffed by fully-sworn peace officers, trained and regulated by standards established by the California Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission(P.O.S.T.).  Our campus police officers have the same authority as a municipal police officer or county deputy sheriff and they are equipped and trained to respond to similar incidents.  Saddleback and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department have a memorandum of understanding that establishes procedures for how to respond to acts of violence taking place on our campus and our campus police frequently work with them conducting joint training sessions.  Please take the opportunity to review our campus police website at for additional emergency planning and preparation information.

Saddleback and our campus police are continuing to work on ways to improve the safety and preparedness of our college community.  Over the coming months, we will be providing training opportunities for all employees and updating our emergency operations plans.  If you have any questions or comments, or would like to volunteer to serve on one of our emergency planning and preparedness teams, please contact Chief Chris Wilkinson at or Deputy Chief Jim Pyle at  Both also can be reached at (949) 582-4444.

Thank you for making a personal commitment to being prepared for dealing with possible emergencies.  As stated previously, the safety of our students and employees is our number one priority, and your efforts will help ensure that we are well prepared to respond to any emergency on campus.

Attending Local College Events

Recently, I have had the privilege of attending several college events to support and represent our college and its students, alumni faculty, staff, and administration.

Zachary Storey and Wade Kilbarger in Spring Awakening (Photographer: Ken Kinder)

First, I had the pleasure of seeing Spring Awakening, a fantastic Saddleback student performance at the Studio Theatre. The cast was extremely talented and the show sold out all nine performances! Congratulations to Director Daniel R. Trevino and everyone involved in the production.

I also attended the Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology’s 40th Anniversary celebration with recent graduate Dr. Estella Castillo-Garrison, director of community education, and Mike Engels, counselor, who is considering starting the program. The event featured 40 donors and was entitled, “Why I Give.” Many of our Saddleback alumni transfer to Pepperdine and it was an honor to support the university and their students.

Finally, Dr. Donna Rane-Szostak, our dean of health sciences and human services, and I met with Dr. Janeen Hill, the interim dean of Schmid College of Science and Technology at Chapman University, to discuss how we can collaborate on developing Chapman’s health sciences programs. Chapman is particularly interested in the proposed simulation hospital that would be housed at ATEP. Following the meeting, I was honored to be Dr. Hill’s guest at the opening night of Chapman’s College of Performing Arts’ American Celebration. It was a productive meeting and an impressive performance by Chapman students.

Meeting with colleagues at local colleges and universities is one of the best ways to initiate collaborations, which often translates into improved student success. I look forward to more of these meetings with local schools, businesses, and community members.

USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy Symposium

Yesterday I had the privilege of attending the inaugural USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy symposium. Nearly 1,000 attendees learned about successful, real-world, bipartisan solutions to education, energy and the environment, fiscal and economic policy, health and human wellness, and political reform. The event stressed the importance of “reaching across the aisle” to address the major issues that our state and, consequently, our college is facing. I know that everyone at Saddleback recognizes the importance of collaboration, but it was extremely eye-opening to hear that sentiment from some of the most respected politicians and entertainment executives in the country.

The program included two distinguished panels and a lunchtime discussion.

The morning panel, “Political Leaders’ Views on the Importance of Post-Partisanship,” included Arnold Schwarzenegger, inaugural holder of the Governor Downey Professor of State and Global Policy at USC; Charlie Crist, former governor of Florida; Tom Daschle, former U.S. Senate majority leader; John McCain, U.S. senator from Arizona; Bill Richardson, former governor of New Mexico; and Tom Ridge, former governor of Pennsylvania and the first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. ABC News political commentator Cokie Roberts served as the moderator.

The lunchtime discussion, “Local Solutions to Global Problems,” featured R. K. Pachauri, chair of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster. NBC 4-Los Angeles reporter Conan Nolan moderated the panel.

Finally, the afternoon panel, “The Power of People and Innovation,” included Schwarzenegger; Rob Friedman, co-chairman of Lionsgate; Brian Grazer, chairman of Imagine Entertainment; Jimmy Iovine, chairman of Interscope Geffen A&M and chairman and co-founder of Beats; and Ron Meyer, president and chief operating officer of Universal Studios. Ben Smith, editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, moderated the panel.

It was an honor to be invited to and attend this event. I am dedicated to sharing the lessons learned from this event with faculty, staff, administration, and students to find ways to improve collaboration within the entire Saddleback community.

Thanks for Another Successful In-Service Week

A big thanks to Professor Jane Horlings, our amazing Flex Week coordinator!

In-Service Week is always one of my favorite times of the year. It is wonderful to meet our new faculty and staff, attend the informative presentations and meetings, and see everyone back on campus. This year’s In-Service was heavily focused on what we as a college and district will be working on this year: improving completion rates. It was exciting to hear the innovative work that our faculty, staff, and management are doing to help our students complete their degrees, certificates, job training, and transfer. I look forward to continuing this discussion throughout the 2012-13 academic year.

This year we welcome 27 new full-time tenure track faculty to Saddleback.  All of our new faculty are extremely talented and knowledgeable in their fields and I can say without hesitation that Saddleback is lucky to have hired each and every one of them.  Thank you to Professor Jane Horlings, our amazing Flex Week coordinator, for once again planning a fabulous in-service that provided wonderful sessions for our new and veteran faculty alike.

Dr. David Morse, a professor of English at Long Beach City College and a member of the Student Success Task Force, presented “Faculty, Local Senates, State Senate & Student Success Task Force: We Need to Know What We Are Getting Into”

President-Hosted Events

Once again, I was happy to host three In-Service Week events – the Presidents’ Faculty Breakfast and Associate Faculty Dinner co-hosted by Academic Senate President Bob Cosgrove, and the Presidents’ Classified Staff Luncheon co-hosted by Classified Senate President Donald Mineo.

At the faculty breakfast, I was pleased to announce 27 new tenure track faculty, which is one of the largest classes Saddleback has ever hired! I would like to thank everyone at the college – especially our Academic Senate and Board of Trustees – for being so supportive of our faculty. It was great to look out into the audience and see so many people who support our faculty and college, including Marcia Milchiker, clerk of the South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees, and Chancellor Gary Poertner.

It was a pleasure to welcome our associate faculty at our associate faculty dinner, a tradition that was just started last year but has already become popular. The college is committed to providing more support for our more than 600 associate faculty and the dinner was a great way for them to get acquainted with the college and the services available to them. Teresa Bear, chemistry professor (and a former associate faculty member), Christina Hinkle, political science and history associate faculty, and Patti Flanigan, dean of online education and learning resources, provided excellent information about the Associate Faculty Support Committee.

Thank you to Bob Cosgrove for presenting information about the Academic Senate at both faculty events.

At the classified luncheon, I was pleased to announce even more new hires: Fifteen classified staff were welcomed to Saddleback. Speakers at the luncheon included South Orange County Community College District Trustees Dave Lang and Dr. Jim Wright, Donald Mineo, president of the classified senate, Sara Sheybani, CSEA president, and Dr. Caroline Durdella, director of planning, research and accreditation.

At each of these events, I was pleased to present the 2012 Annual Report for our Saddleback College Foundation that highlights many of the impressive gains over the last couple of years.  For example, our foundation’s endowment has grown from $500,000 in 2008 to $5 million today—a ten-fold increase in less than four years.  The foundation has also increased the amount of annual student scholarships from $198,000 to $339,000 over this same period.  For a copy of the Saddleback College Foundation Annual Report, please click here.


Renee Bangerter, liberal arts professor, presents the work she has done to bridge the gap between high school and college preparedness

The Annual State of the College Report – Complete to Compete

This year, I once again presented my Annual State of the College, which includes my top 10 projects for the 2012-13 academic year. I borrowed the title of my report, “Complete to Compete,” from the National Governors Association report on the need to improve college completion rates, which has become a priority in our nation, state, and district. The United States, once the world’s leader in education, has fallen behind in the education of its citizens – a vital component of our economic well-being.  To get us back to where we used to be, improved attainment of degrees and certificates has become a centerpiece of the national conversation on education.

President Obama has called for an increase of five million additional graduates by 2020 and California’s community colleges are being asked to increase their graduates by one million by 2020. This means that here at Saddleback we must double the number of completions.  This is a monumental task that is going to take the entire Saddleback community to achieve. Recently, our state legislators established criteria for meeting the challenge to meet this goal, and state Chancellor Jack Scott established the Student Success Task Force (SSTF), which analyzed system-wide topics related to student success and developed the following eight statewide recommendations:

  • Increase College and Career Readiness
  • Strengthen Support for Entering Students
  • Incentivize Successful Student Behaviors
  • Align Course Offerings to Meet Student Needs
  • Improve the Education of Basic Skills Students
  • Revitalize and Re-Envision Professional Development
  • Enable Efficient Statewide Leadership and Increase Coordination Among Colleges
  • Align Resources with Student Success Recommendations

We are already taking these recommendations seriously at Saddleback: We have made presentations to our Board of Trustees, will participate in college-wide student success discussions, are in the process of developing student success metrics and developing strategic planning, and we continue to do the fantastic work we do each day for the success of our students.

My Top 10 Projects

Again in this year’s report I presented my top 10 projects for the coming academic year.  While the college will continue to focus on strategic planning, accreditation, and other priority projects, I will be working on these projects with diverse groups on campus: This year, they are:

1. Student Success Task Force Recommendations – We need to develop strategies for implementing the SSTF recommendations and increase student completions.
2. High School Student Success Partnerships – We need to formalize relationships with our local high schools and have already been working with our outreach department to create an innovative pilot program that will be more broadly implemented.
3.  Student Completion Metrics – If we are going to improve completions, we need to first define what that means for our college.
4. Strategic Plan – This year we will be evaluating the effectiveness of our 2010-2013 strategic plan and update the planning process in preparation for development of the next plan.
5. New Faculty Training and Development – Develop and implement a year-long support program for new faculty hires that includes training for development.
6. Alcohol and Drug Prevention – Alcohol and drug abuse is a major issue for our students and can impact their success. We will be embarking on a college-wide effort to provide awareness and support to prevent abuse.
7. Campus Safety and Emergency Planning – Working closely with our police department, we will be updating our emergency preparedness and implement recommendations.
8. Foundation Personnel – Our foundation has be performing extraordinarily well, even with their limited resources they have. This year our director and the president of the board of governors will be finding ways to fund new positions to better support their mission.
9. Learning Resource Center – The LRC is opening on Monday and we will continue to improve it as well as host a grand opening early next year.
10. Student Payment Services and One-stop Veterans Center – Currently, the payment services are located across the quad from the Student Services Center (SSC), which is not convenient for our students. We are working on a reorganization to bring the payment offices into (SSC).

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

As I stated last week, our college is fortunate to have the most accomplished faculty and best staff, administrators, and managers of any community college in the state.  Locally we have the finest k-12 schools and we get great students.  We arguably have the most financially stable district in the state with a great chancellor and board of trustees.  I know that by working together we can be a model college for enhancing student success and increasing student completions, and I hope you share in my excitement about our future.

Thank you for all that you do each day for our students, college, and community, and have a wonderful fall semester!

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!