Nursing Professor Phillis Kucharski Recognized for National Award

Congratulations to  Saddleback Nursing Professor Phillis Kucharski, MSN, RN, OCN, who was named the 2012 Educator of the Year by the National Organization for Associate Degree Nursing (N-OADN) Foundation. The N-OADN Foundation Educator of the Year Award recognizes overall excellence in associate degree nursing education and is the highest award given by the foundation.

Phillis was recognized at the January meeting of the South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees.

It is a testament to Phillis’s excellence that she was nominated by several of her current and former students. Saddleback has one of the best nursing programs in the nation and it is largely due to the hard work and dedication of our nursing faculty who work tirelessly to ensure the success of our students.

Kucharski joined the Saddleback College Nursing Department in 2001 and teaches medical surgical nursing lecture and clinical, community health nursing, and pediatrics clinical. Kucharski served as an advisor for nursing students and helped increase the retention rate of the program to 93.5%. In addition to her role at Saddleback, she is the Oncology Educator for Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach where she teaches several nursing oncology courses.

Congratulations, Phillis!

Saddleback College Recognizes Maintenance and Facilities Staff at Dedication of New Bridge

The view of the new bridge from the LRC

Recognizing the commitment and hard work of Saddleback College’s facilities and maintenance staff, more than 150 guests attended a ribbon cutting and dedication on Friday, July 27th to celebrate the opening of the college’s new bridge that connects the upper campus to the newly-renovated Learning Resource Center. Brian McMahon, a 34-year veteran of the college and the longest-serving member of the facilities and maintenance department, was asked to cut the ceremonial ribbon.

“This event is all about our facilities and maintenance staff and the gratitude we have for the work they do each day,” stated Dr. Burnett. “At least a few times a week I hear someone mention how beautiful the Saddleback College campus looks. The staff has done a fantastic job and it shows.”

The facilities and maintenance staff pose in front of the bridge entrance

Marcia Milchiker, clerk of the South Orange County Community College District (SOCCCD) Board of Trustees, spoke at the event, “Having been a professor, I know that a clean, well-maintained campus is vital to student success. The work that the facilities and maintenance staff does has a huge impact on helping our students achieve their goals and it is important that they be recognized for their hard work.”

For more pictures and details about the event, continue reading…

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Dr. James Wright Appointed as Interim Trustee of South Orange County Community College District

On Monday, June 26th, the South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees selected Dr. James Wright, Saddleback College’s dean of mathematics, science, and engineering, to serve as interim trustee from July 1st, 2012 until December 17th, 2012. Dr. Wright will represent area 6, which includes Lake Forest and parts of Irvine.  At the Board of Trustees meeting, Dr. Wright, whose retirement from Saddleback College is effective June 30th, was also honored by the college for his dedicated 18 years of service.

After a distinguished career as a colonel in the air force where he spent 27 years of service, Dr. Wright started at Saddleback College in 1994 as a chemistry instructor, and has been the dean of his division since 1999.  When visiting his office, one can see the many awards that have been presented through the years to Dr. Wright that demonstrate how beloved he is by the college, district, and his students. His awards include Student Veterans 2012 Administrator of the Year, South Orange County Community College District Outstanding Administrator of the Year in 2009, Associated Student Government’s 2000-2001 Dean of the Year, and Special Services Department 2001 Administrator of the Year.

It is because of his wealth of positive attributes that we were all saddened to learn of Dr. Wright’s impending retirement, and the fact that he has been  a mentor to so many of us at the college made the news especially difficult.  Thus the board’s decision to appoint Dr. Wright as its interim trustee came as very welcome news, and we are looking forward to working with Dr. Wright in his new role.

Congratulations on your appointment, Dr. Wright! Everyone at Saddleback knows that you will continue to serve our district and colleges with honor and distinction.

Sandy Marzilli, Director of the Emeritus Institute, Retires after 22 Years of Service

At Monday’s meeting of the South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees, Sandy Marzilli, director of the Saddleback College Emeritus Institute, was honored for her 22 years of service to the college and our students.

Sandy Marzilli started at Saddleback in 1990 and previously worked as a gerontology instructor and wrote the curriculum for the college’s caregiver training program. As director of the Emeritus Institute, Marzilli oversees programs that have an enrollment of more than 20,000 senior citizens throughout south Orange County.  During her tenure, the Emeritus Institute thrived in many ways — it was awarded the prestigious SAGE award (Senior Achievement and General Excellence), received several large endowments, including one for $2.2 million, the program has grown 22% since 2010, and even  hosted students from Yamano College of Aesthetics in Tokyo, Japan!

Sandy Marzilli is an absolute delight to work with and has done a fantastic job serving our college and our emeritus students. Thank you for your service, Sandy, and enjoy your retirement!

John Polikaitis, Night Custodian, Retires after 33 Years of Service at Saddleback College

President Burnett, John Polikaitis, and Assistant Director of Facilities, Michael James

To talk to him, you’d never know that John Polikaitis, who works as a night custodian at Saddleback College, is 94 and a half years of age.  The genial man appears to be much younger and is highly respected by his colleagues, who describe him as a thoughtful and humble man of great character.  Mr. Polikaitis is retiring after 33 years of outstanding service to the college and was recognized at the June 25th Board of Trustees meeting, where we learned a little bit about his remarkable life.

Mr. Polikaitis certainly has an impressive story to tell.  Prior to working at Saddleback College, where he started in 1979, Mr. Polikaitis spent more than 30 years as a firefighter with the Los Angeles City Fire Department.  And before that, he served in the Navy during World War II and fought in the Battle of the Bulge.

A resident of Anaheim, Mr. Polikaitis drives to work every day, sometimes sharing rides with a co-worker.

Regarding his time at Saddleback College, Mr. Polikaitis says, “I didn’t intend to stay longer than just a few years at Saddleback – I wanted to stay until my children graduated from college; but things change.  I’ve liked working here and have had many good experiences and have made some good friends.”

Mr. Polikaitis also marveled at how the college has grown through the years, while the size of the custodial staff has remained virtually unchanged.  He is impressed by his co-workers and the amount of work they do.

Mr. Polikaitis looks forward to some relaxation after his retirement, and is thinking about moving to San Diego to be closer to his kids.  He has three children – two daughters and a son, who lives in Japan, and three grandchildren.

Congratulations to John Polikaitis, an extraordinary man who is loved by all who were lucky to know him.