LRC Open House and Reception

The community is invited to attend an open house and reception to celebrate the re-opening of the Saddleback College Library and Learning Resource Center on Thursday, February 28th at 3:00 p.m. Refreshments and light hors d’oeuvres will be served and parking is complimentary in all campus lots.

The renovations were completed over two years and the updated Learning Resource Center (LRC) was opened to students in fall 2012. The renovations transformed the LRC into a bright, spacious space that is both beautiful and relaxing, creating an environment that is conducive to student learning.

In addition to the Library, the LRC is home to the Liberal Arts Division, Online Education and Learning Resources Division, and Fine Arts and Media Technology Division.

The renovation has increased the usable space of the Learning Resource Center building by 4,500 square feet, with a total usable area of 81,000 square feet. These spaces include hundreds computer work stations, 18 classrooms, 12 small-group study rooms, 18 new offices for faculty and staff, five labs, and two conference rooms.

Standing Room Only at Annual Family Night

Professor Ochoa Talks about Speech Communication and the Forensics Team

More than 200 high school students and their families packed into SSC 212 on November 5th for the Saddleback Outreach Department’s annual Family Night. Attendees visited with dozens of college departments at an educational fair, sampled hors d’oeuvres  prepared by culinary students, and listened to music from Students had the opportunity to learn about what majors and career training is offered at Saddleback and meet with deans, faculty, and staff from several departments.

Next, President Burnett, Leslie Humphrey, director of outreach and recruitment, Sahar Ghassemi, associated student government senator of kinesiology and athletics, Lucas Ochoa, professor of speech communications, and three members of Saddleback’s forensic’s team, provided valuable information about being prepared for college and ways to succeed. All seats were filled and people stood throughout the room as Sahar provided insight about what students can expect to get out of coming to Saddleback and what they need to put into their education while they are here. Professor Ochoa and the forensics team put on a great performance and showed why they are one of the best teams in the nation.

Finally, students were able to attend workshops about CTE, financial aid and scholarships, and, transferring and the honors program. All of the workshops were standing room only, the presenters were engaging and informative, and students and family members asked insightful questions.

Family Night has become one of our best events and everyone involved should be proud of the excellent work!

For more pictures, click here.



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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Community Invited to 12th Annual Gala to Raise Money for Student Scholarships and Campus Programs

Saddleback College invites all community members to the 12th annual foundation gala on Saturday, March 31st at 6:00 p.m. in the college’s gymnasium.  Tickets include gaming, a silent auction, dinner, music, and no-host cocktails.  This year’s theme is “A Glamorous Night of Stars” and will feature a tribute to five local community “stars” who have significantly donated to the college: The Bernard Osher Foundation, Dorothy Marie Lowry, Kia Motors, Linda Richardson Rice, and the Saddleback College Associated Student Government.

The gala will highlight the work of Saddleback students:  Culinary arts students will prepare and serve appetizers and desserts, fine arts students will accompany music instructor Joey Sellers’ jazz band to provide entertainment, event décor is being done by students of the Entertainment and Theatre Technology program, there will be several pieces painted by students that can be purchased, and a graphics class designed several printed pieces for the event.

Tickets are $100 each, $800 for a table of eight, or $1,000 for a table of 10.  Sponsorships for the event are available at two levels, Gold ($5,000) and Silver ($2,500).   For sponsorship opportunities or to reserve your tickets, please visit the event’s website at, call 949.582.4479, or email

“One of the most important missions of the Saddleback College Foundation is to raise money for students and the annual gala has always been the cornerstone for student scholarships,” said Donna Varner, President of Saddleback College Foundation Board of Governors. “We are so thankful to our many sponsors, especially our Gold Sponsors — Cox Communications, Mercedes Benz of Laguna Niguel and South County Bank — as well as to every individual and business that donated the wonderful items for the silent auction.”

Saddleback College’s 2012 Alumnus of the Year, Nico Melendez, will also be honored at the gala.  After completing his general education at Saddleback College, Mr. Melendez transferred to Chaminade University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in historical and political studies.  He then earned a Master of Public Administration degree from Troy State University in 2000. Currently, Mr. Melendez is a professional broadcaster/communicator working for the Transportation Security Administration. An officer in the United States Naval Reserve, Mr. Melendez was named the 66th Assembly District Veteran of the Year in 2011.

The Saddleback College gymnasium is located at 28000 Marguerite Parkway in Mission Viejo. If you would like to attend, please RSVP to (949) 582-4479, or email Business casual attire is recommended; no jeans, please.

Gauchos Celebrate Homecoming with a Tailgate Party and a Win!

On Saturday, September 24th, Saddleback College hosted its annual Homecoming celebration, featuring family-friendly tailgate events and food, halftime entertainment, and a football game versus Victor Valley College. The Gauchos won the game 48-14 and increased their record to 4-0. Saddleback quarterback Ben Gomez threw for a school, sing-game record 487 yards and three touchdowns. The team went into the game rated No. 4 in the latest Dirty 30 national rankings. Go Gauchos!

Photo Courtesy of Associated Student Government

The Associated Student Government hosted pregame tailgating activities will begin at 4:00 p.m. and kick-off for the game is at 6:00 p.m.  The tailgate events will be located in front of the stadium and are free. Admission to the game is free with an ASB Stamp or $5.00 for general admission; on-campus parking will also be free.

Homecoming King Jordan Larson and Queen Sydne Ames. Photo courtesy of ASG.

The Saddleback College Associated Student Government is sponsoring a pre-game tailgate event, which featured a DJ, Chomp Chomp Nation and Panfinity food trucks selling dinner and the Sea Salt Candy Company selling dessert. There was also a bounce house and an obstacle course for kids. During the tailgate, $200 in donations were collected for Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) and Max Wilford, son of Saddleback College Student Development Director Audra DiPadova, to help the family following Max’s recent brain surgery.

The Homecoming King and Queen were named before the game and a donation was made to the club of their choice. Jordan Larson made his donation to Chess Club and Sydne Ames made her donation to ASG. Congratulations to the winners and their clubs!

Saddleback College to Commemorate 10th Anniversary of 9/11

To pay tribute to the victims of September 11, 2001 and those who died in subsequent action, Saddleback College will be hosting a 9/11 commemoration ceremony at the college’s veterans memorial on Thursday, September 8th at 4:00 p.m.

Saddleback College President Tod A. Burnett and Associated Student Government President Joseph Hassine will provide the opening remarks, Emergency Medical Technician faculty member Ruth Grubb will lead a moment of silence, Marine Corps Veteran and Saddleback College student Elizabeth Tepe will speak, and student Chase Chandler will perform Taps.

Saddleback College 9/11 Commemoration Ceremony
Date: Thursday, September 8th
Time: 4:00 p.m.
Location: Campus Quad in front of the Veterans Memorial
Parking: Free parking in Lot 5 during the event

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!

KSBR Birthday Bash is a Hit

The Crowd Enjoyed a Beautiful Day Filled with Jazz and Sun - Photo by Kari Coulter

The KSBR Birthday Bash is one of the most popular music events in Orange County and the 2011 Bash was no exception. More than 1,000 people came out to the Village Green of Oso Viejo Park in Mission Viejo on a beautiful Sunday to watch 30 jazz musicians and bands perform. Rick Braun and Najee were surprise guests, making their first Bash appearances. This year, the event paid a special tribute to veterans during a pre-bash color guard presentation.

Did you attend the Bash? Please share your memories and stories in the comments section!

More photos from the event will be available soon at

Tim Davis Sings the National Anthem - Photo by David Hopley

Mindi Abair Put on an Exciting Show - Photo by Steve Wylie


The Show Closed with a Jam with Saxophonist Paul Taylor - Photo by Steve Wylie

Saddleback College Foundation Flag Day Ceremony

Please join us for a Flag Day ceremony honoring veterans at the Saddleback College Veterans Memorial. The newest memorial bricks will be revealed and light refreshments will be served.

What: Saddleback College President Tod A. Burnett to Speak

Color Guard Presentation

Wreath-Laying Ceremony

Soloist to Performance of the National Anthem

When:Tuesday, June 14, 2011

11:30 a.m. – Light refreshments will be served

12:00 p.m. – Program Begins

Where: Saddleback College Veterans Memorial, Park in Lot 5

28000 Marguerite Parkway, Mission Viejo, California 92692

For more information, call the Saddleback College Veterans Office, (949) 582-4871

KSBR Birthday Bash Jazz Festival Line Up

2010 Birthday Bash

2010 Birthday Bash, Photo courtesy of David Hopley

Saddleback College’s Radio Station, KSBR (88.5 FM), is proud to announce that Brenda Russell and Keiko Matsui will be among the more than 30 musicians appearing at the 2011 KSBR Birthday Bash Jazz Festival.  Both musicians will be making their Birthday Bash debuts on Sunday, May 29 on the Village Green of Oso Viejo Park in Mission Viejo.

Some of  the other artists appearing at this year’s event include sax men Paul Taylor, and Jackiem Joyner; guitarists Paul Brown, Blake Aaron, and Richard Smith; keyboardists Freddie Ravel, and Dan Siegel; and singer/songwriter Bill Cantos. In addition, there will be at least five special guests who are not being announced until they come on stage.

KSBR Birthday Bash Jazz Festival

When: Sunday May 29th, doors open at 3:00 p.m., music begins at 5:00 p.m.

Where: Village Green / Oso Viejo Park 24932 Veterans Way, Mission Viejo

How: Tickets are $45 advanced general admission; $100 Gold VIP table seats; $140 Premium Gold VIP table seats; and $175 Platinum VIP reserved seats.

Contact: The KSBR Bash hotline (949) 582-4501


General Admission tickets are $45 in advance and $50 at the door and are available at the Norman P. Murray Community and Senior Center, at the Saddleback College Fine Arts Ticket Office at 949-582-4656, and online at  In recognition of Saddleback College’s Veterans Education and Transition Services (VETS) program, veterans and active military personnel may purchase general admission tickets for just $25 through the Saddleback College VETS Office: (949) 582-4252. Reserved VIP seating is still available at $100-$175 per person, and is available at All proceeds support KSBR, a community radio station.

The concert is co-sponsored by the City of Mission Viejo. This will be the 22nd year of the station’s largest fund raising event, and it celebrates the 32nd anniversary of jazz on KSBR.