Saddleback College Receives $570,000 National Science Foundation Grant to Provide Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

Saddleback College’s innovative S-STEM Scholars Program has been awarded $567,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support academically talented and financially disadvantaged students who are pursuing degrees in a chosen STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) major. The program, which will begin in spring 2013, will provide comprehensive support to 14-20 students each year, including scholarships totaling approximately $9,200 per student for each academic year they are in the program.

L-R: President Dr. Tod Burnett; Dr. Jim Zoval, assistant professor of chemistry; Frank Gonzalez, assistant professor of mathematics; Cathy Arreguin, grants analyst; Dr. Chris McDonald, dean of mathematics, science, and engineering

“The S-STEM Scholars program provides an unparalleled financial and educational support system that will help our students transfer to a four-year college or university and will eventually lead them to lucrative career opportunities,” stated Dr. Tod Burnett, president of Saddleback College. “This National Science Foundation grant will make college a reality for many who never thought higher education was possible.”

“At Saddleback College we take pride in our ability to develop innovative ideas to tackle the problems associated with attracting, recruiting, and supporting students in STEM fields,” stated Dr. Chris McDonald, dean of mathematics, science, and engineering. “The S-STEM Scholars Program presents a wonderful opportunity for us to provide financial support to deserving, capable, and highly motivated Saddleback students.”

“I am very excited about the difference this NSF grant will make in the lives of our students who will be awarded these scholarships,” stated Dr. Jim V. Zoval, assistant professor of chemistry. “I am also glad that we can offer students an opportunity to participate in the undergraduate research that will be funded by this grant.”

Dr. Zoval also added, “Cathy Arreguin has contributed to every step of getting this grant, including a large part in the writing of the proposal.”

The Saddleback College Division of Mathematics, Science, and Engineering offers nine associate degree programs that qualify for the S-STEM Scholars Program – astronomy, biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, geology, computer science, engineering, and marine science. Current or future students who would like to apply for the two-year program and scholarship must meet a minimum GPA requirement and show a financial need. To find out more about the program, including how and when applications will be accepted, contact Frank Gonzalez at

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.