Saddleback Faculty Honored by Former Students

Each year, University of California, Irvine holds an Educator Recognition Reception and Award Ceremony during which their honors students have the chance to identify someone from their community college who was critical in helping them successfully transfer. On May 7th, five Saddleback College faculty were honored for their dedication to their students.

This year’s honorees:

  • Dr. William Alston, Organic Chemistry Professor, recognized by Seyed Pairawan
  • Dr. Scott Fier, Chemistry Professor, recognized by Arshan Ferdowsian
  • Dr. Carmen Hernandez-Bravo, Spanish Professor, recognized by Ashley Santellan
  • Elizabeth Ininns, Microbiology/Anatomy Professor, recognized by Sabrina Tamme
  • Dr. Kris Leppien-Christensen, Psychology Professor, recognized by Morgan Zisch

Honorees, students, and supporters!

Everyday our faculty work tirelessly to help their students meet personal goals, whether that is transfer, career training, or self-improvement and I am extremely proud of the professors who have been honored at this event. Because of your dedication, your former student are doing great things at UCI and are sure to be successful following completion of their degree.

I would also like to thank those who made it out to UCI to support our faculty – Gary Poertner, Chancellor, South Orange County Community College District; Dr. Don Busche Acting Vice President for Instruction; and Dr. Bob Cosgrove, President Elect, Academic Senate.

Saddleback College Recognizes Professors of the Year

Saddleback College named Dr. David DiLeo, a history instructor, Ken Lee, a landscape design instructor, and Rob Henry, a consumer health issues instructor in the college’s Emeritus Institute, as the 2012 Professors of the Year.  All three professors were nominated by their students and were honored at the April 30th meeting of the South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees.

Saddleback College has so many exceptional professors that it is always difficult to narrow it down, but the student feedback spoke volumes for Professors DiLeo, Lee, and Henry. Students sang their praises and it’s clear that these superb professors  have very positively influenced many lives.

Dr. DiLeo Addresses his History Class

Dr. DiLeo Addresses his History Class

Professor of the Year Dr. David DiLeo teaches history and has been a full-time professor at Saddleback College since 1993 and was praised by his students for being one of the most devoted and kind professors they have ever learned from. He was also commended for providing an inclusive learning experience that broadened their minds and pushed them to learn new ideas.

“I am honored to represent the entire Saddleback staff and faculty as the 2012 teacher of the year recipient. It is most certainly a privilege to do what we do. The pursuit of knowledge, and its cousin, understanding, is a necessary and worthy endeavor,” said Dr. DiLeo. “My hat is off to a tireless support staff, a dedicated board and administration, and my talented colleagues.”

Associate Professor of the Year Ken Lee

Associate Professor of the Year Ken Lee

Associate Professor of the Year Ken Lee began teaching landscape design classes at Saddleback in 2000. Lee’s nominating students called him their mentor and expressed appreciation for inviting them to his landscape design business for a glimpse into practical applications of their studies. Lee was described as professional, welcoming and down-to-earth.

“As a teacher and a mentor for a young generation, I believe that teaching should be a passion, not just a job. All teachers should be passionate about what they do. Without it, it would be impossible to influence the next generation to become better. Passion from a teacher, about any subject, is contagious, spreading out to everyone in the classroom,” stated Lee.

Emeritus Professor of the Year Rob Henry

Emeritus Professor of the Year Rob Henry began teaching for the Emeritus Institute in 2005 after teaching in the Division of Health Sciences and Human Services since 1987 and was  been nominated by his students an astounding 40 times! His emeritus students say he is an outstanding example of what an educator should be and his class is a “must” for everyone.

“I spent 18 years instructing traditional students on campus.  It wasn’t until I began teaching emeritus classes as well that I became fully fulfilled as an instructor,” said Henry. “The exchange of ideas and knowledge is truly rewarding.”

Saddleback Student Wins Outstanding Abstract Award at Statewide Honors Conference

Learon Inbar speaks to the plenary about her research

At the Honors Transfer Council of California’s (HTCC) annual statewide conference, Saddleback College student Learon Inbar was named as one of four winners of the Outstanding Abstract Award and took home a  $500 scholarship prize. Learon is in her second year at Saddleback and is studying a mix of art and theater, with an ultimate goal of becoming a theater costume and set designer. She is hoping to transfer to UCLA or Berkeley in the fall and, eventually, attend graduate school so she can teach and conduct research, in addition to theater work.

The HTTC conference took place at UCI on March 31 and involved students from member schools who were chosen by the council to present research in their field of choice. Learon presented the 400-word abstract and the results of her research to the council during the conference.

“I had taken the Honors Humanities 10A class with Professor Chattopadhyay and Professor Rosenberg, and that particular semester we had focused on the art and intellectual development of the Middle Ages in Europe; this led to my chosen time period for my research,” Learon said about her paper’s inspiration. She wrote about what textiles meant for people in the Middle Ages and found interesting connections between levels of power and a person’s evidence of wealth.

Two more students, Jonathan Fisher and Austin Burrow, were also honored as Exemplary Achievement scholarship winners at the event. Congratulations to all of our award-winning honors students!

Two of our students, Jonathan Fisher and Austin Burrow, are among these Exemplary Achievement scholarship winners

The Saddleback College Honors Program is an interdisciplinary effort to develop exceptional talent, ability, and scholarship in highly motivated students. It is not a club, service organization, or even a recognition of past academic achievement. It is, rather, a path to further and higher achievements. Any Saddleback College student may enroll in any Honors class. No special permission is required. If you would like more information about the Honors Program, visit

Classified Employee Outstanding Service Award Recipient and Nominees

Presenting Valerie Senior with her Classified Employee Outstanding Service Award

I am pleased to congratulate Valerie Senior who was selected as this year’s recipient of the Saddleback College Classified Employee Outstanding Service Award.  For those who many not know Valerie (though this is doubtful), she is an Application Specialist II in our acclaimed Center for Instructional Design and Distance Education (CIDDE).  I am thrilled that Valerie has received this much deserved honor, and commend her for her excellent work for our students, employees, and college.  I also commend her many nominees for recognizing the excellent job she has done for us.  Here is just some of the praise for Valerie her colleagues offered on their nomination forms:

“I truly respect what an incredible asset she is to CIDDE.  She has been a terrific mentor to me.  Her suggestions, recommendations and insights all come from a position of respect and kindness.”

“Valerie conceived and implemented the 2011 iPad project, which tracked faculty members taking the educator online courses and their success in the program.”

“Valerie has been an employee of Saddleback College for over 16 years, but her drive, enthusiasm, energy and fresh ideas are indicative of a new hire.”

“Valerie is excellent at her job.  She’s reliable, thorough, and patient when working with faculty one-on-one.  She conducts training sessions with professionalism, and shows not only her extensive knowledge, but also her dedication to the success of the faculty in teaching.”

“She’s smart, efficient, witty, friendly, and quick.  As a professional, she’s reliable, organized, and knowledgeable.  In sum, Valerie is a top-notch employee, and I am grateful to have her as a colleague.”

“I have witnesses Valerie make appointments for as early as 7:00 a.m. to accommodate faculty schedules.  She is ready to work from the moment she steps through the door with back-to-back appointments throughout the day.”

“Valerie collaborated with faculty to create the curriculum and the program for the online educator certificate program, which has been instrumental in increasing the quality of online education and promoting student-centered learning environments.”

“Valerie has not only taught technology to us at Saddleback, but has shown us her special traits that through generosity, a positive attitude, and by being friendly, helpful, and accommodating, there are ways to combat work-related stress and be more productive at work.”

As you can see, Valerie has many fans, and deservedly so.  Congratulations again to Valerie for this well-deserved recognition of her many accomplishments!

I also would like to congratulate several other outstanding individuals who were nominated by their colleagues for the Classified Employee Outstanding Service Award:

Barbara Benavides, Senior Transfer Center Specialist

Matt Brodet, Video Production Specialist

Linda Hall, Senior Administrative Assistant, Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Mira Manchik, Senior Administrative Assistant, Division of Business Science and Economic and Workforce Development

Don Mineo, Career Guidance Officer

Brooke Sauter, Senior Administrative Assistant, VETS Center

My Troung, Admissions and Records Specialist II

Marlene Weintraub, Senior Administrative Assistant, Division of Liberal Arts

All of our nominees are much deserving and thanks to all who took the time to give their colleagues recognition for their hard work and dedication to Saddleback College.

Professor of the Year Nomination Forms Now Available

Has one of your professors gone above and beyond your expectations? Did this improve your learning experience? Recognize your professor’s efforts. Nominate your favorite professor for Saddleback College’s Professor of the Year!

The nomination form is available at:

Nomination Deadline: March 30th by 5:00 p.m.

Submit nomination forms to: or in-person to Student Development SSC 210

Requirements: Student cannot be currently enrolled in the nominee’s class – Professor may either be full-time or part-time.

Saddleback College Veterans Memorial Honored by Freedoms Foundation

Saddleback College Foundation Board Member Joyce Van Schaack, Saddleback College Foundation Board President Donna Varner, Saddleback President Tod Burnett, SOCCCD Board President Nancy Padburg, President of Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge Orange County Chapter Lane Curtis

Saddleback College was thrilled to accept the 2011 George Washington Honor Medal from the Orange County Chapter of the Freedoms Foundation on Saturday, February 11th at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club. The award was bestowed specifically for the Saddleback College Veterans Memorial, the most significant tribute to veterans at any community college campus in the nation. The college has seen a growing number of service members attending the institution and currently serves more than 1,000 student veterans and active duty military personnel each year. The memorial is representative of the Freedoms Foundation’s values: educating our youth, promoting the ideals and principles of a free society, recognizing outstanding civic achievements, cultivating excellence in education, and inspiring tomorrow’s leaders.

The event was attended by several local elected officials, including Assemblyman Don Wagner, Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees President Nancy Padberg and Trustee Frank Meldau, Ph.D., Mission Viejo City Council Member Trish Kelley, and Laguna Niguel City Council Member Gary Capata. Also in attendance were the memorial artists, Professor Richard White and Fred Olsen, and Dr. Diana McCullough, wife of Dr. Richard D. McCullough, former president of Saddleback College and the person credited with first envisioning the creation of the memorial.

Joyce Van Schaack, a member of the Freedoms Foundation Orange County Chapter and of the Saddleback College Foundation Board of Governors, stated, “The George Washington Honor Medal is given to those who draw public attention to America’s rich heritage and unique freedoms. Saddleback College has not only set up programs specifically for our veterans, but they have actually built a veterans memorial to honor all veterans, and they are the only community college in the country to have done so.”

The concept for building the memorial began on Veterans Day 2004, when Dr. McCullough, then Saddleback College’s president, called a committee made up of veterans, college employees, and community members to discuss ways to permanently pay homage to veterans. To honor Dr. McCullough’s role in the development of the memorial, there was a moment of silence in memory of the former college president, whose loss is mourned by his friends and colleagues at Saddleback College after he passed away on January 31st.

The Freedoms Foundation was established in 1949 as a not-for-profit educational organization by Ken Wells, Don Belding, and E.F. Hutton. President Dwight D. Eisenhower served as its first chairman and chairman emeritus until his death in 1969. The Freedoms Foundation is a 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt organization and is supported primarily by voluntary contributions from individuals, corporations, foundations, service organizations, endowment funds, and its volunteer chapters.

Speech Instructor Receives Award from the American Legion

Stephen Robertson and Bill Cook

Congratulations to speech instructor and forensics coach Stephen Robertson, who was given a certificate of achievement from the American Legion Post 862 in recognition of his assistance with the American Legion High School Constitutional Oratorical Contest, which was held at Saddleback in December.

According to Program Chairman Bill Cook, “The American Legion Oratorical Contest exists to develop deeper knowledge and appreciation for the U.S. Constitution among high school students.”

The national contest awards $138,000 in college scholarships to several students, including a $1,500 for each state winner. Local winners will advance to the district competition on January 29th, in hopes of moving on to the national competition.

Well done, Stephen!

Saddleback Interior Design Team Raises $30,000 for HomeAid Orange County

The Saddleback College Interior Design Team participated in HomeAid Orange County’s signature fundraiser Project Playhouse, which raises money to help the county’s homeless population. The team designed a playhouse, titled Over The Rainbow Cottage, which was displayed at the Irvine Spectrum and then auctioned off. Over The Rainbow Cottage not only raised $30,000, it was also received the People’s Choice award!

Congratulations to the team of design students who created this fantastic playhouse: team leader Barbara Schierhold, Susan Koubas, Keith Stanley, Carolyn Hall, Kaitlin Galati, and Joni Owen.

Nominations Now Being Accepted for the 2011 President’s Award for Leadership and Innovation

The President’s Award for Leadership and Innovation was created to recognize members of Saddleback College’s faculty, classified staff, and management who have demonstrated and exemplified the spirit of leadership and innovation over the past year.  Leadership and innovation refer to a new and more effective way of doing things or doing what it takes to make things happen which have a positive impact on our students, campus, and/or community.

The President’s Award for Leadership and Innovation will be given annually to one person from each of the following groups:

1) Full-time Faculty;
2) Part-time Faculty;
3) Classified Staff;
4) Classified Manager; and
5) Administrator

The four awards will be presented during the coming Spring in-service week at the President’s faculty breakfast and classified staff lunch.  Award recipients will receive district-wide recognition and a $250 gift certificate from the Saddleback College Foundation.

To nominate yourself or another person, complete the form, which can be found by following this link: Leadership-and-Innovation-Award-2011. Submit the form to Sophie Miller in the President’s Office at by December 2, 2011.

Prior award recipients include:
Elizabeth Horan, Distance Learning Librarian
Don Lindboe, Senior Fiscal/Veteran’s Specialist
Estella Garrison, Director of Community Education
Diane Pestolesi, Professor of Nursing
Penny Skaff, Counselor
Matthew Brodet, Video Production Specialist
Audra DiPadova, Director of Student Development

Saddleback Students Take Home National Awards

(left to right) Zac Rodriguez, Debra Hill, Ryan Rodriguez, Kelly Jones and Larissa Garrett.

Have you received the new Saddleback spring 2012 postcard in your mailbox? The card features five Saddleback College Cinema/Television/Radio students who recently came back winners from the College Broadcasters, Inc. National Student Production Awards at the 2011 National Student Media Convention in Orlando.

Zac Rodriguez, Debra Hill, Ryan Rodriguez, and Larissa Garrett took home the prize for Best Documentary for their short film “Bullets to Bubbles,” which tells the stories of veterans who have turned to SCUBA diving for mental and physical rehabilitation.

Kelly Jones, a disc jockey on Saddleback radio station KSBR 88.5 FM and online at took home the prize for Best DJ.

To view “Bullets to Bubbles” and to find out more about enrolling in spring semester classes, visit the New Students page at