Teacher Appreciation Week

Teacher Appreciation Week was observed May 2nd through May 6th. The week is meant to celebrate our wonderful teachers and thank them for their indispensable impact on all our lives. Many educators go above and beyond to form life-changing relationships with their students and inspire them to do more than they could have imagined. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our great educators at Palomar College who daily aim to make a positive difference in the lives of our students.

New Displays at the Rancho Bernardo Education Center Library in honor of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month
In honor of AANHPI Heritage Month, the Rancho Bernardo Education Center Library is currently presenting displays that highlight the influential role of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. The displays center on modern architecture, design, non-instrumental navigation, and vessel design. You can view the displays online or in person at the library. Here are the links: Polynesian Voyaging and Wayfinding and AANHPI Architects & Designers. Thank you, Librarian/Professor Tamara Weintraub, for bringing this to my attention.

High School Students Visit Palomar’s Cadaver Lab
Sixty high school seniors from Sage Creek’s biomedical science pathway visited Palomar College’s Cadaver Lab and participated in four lab rotations with college professors. Palomar has three cadavers on campus for students looking to specialize in fields such as medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, kinesiology, and physical therapy. You can find the Carlsbad Unified School District’s article featuring the visit here. Thank you, Professor Gene Gushansky, for facilitating the tour and sharing the good news.

Upcoming Events
Queer Pride at Palomar on May 11
The Queer Pride event will take place Wednesday, May 11th from 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. in front of the Student Union. The Pride Center Committee to Combat Hate (PC3H) will hold an “opening ceremony” where the Progressive Pride flag will be unveiled to the campus community. A “festival” atmosphere around the unveiling of the flag is planned. It is the goal of the committee to show support for our LGBTQIA+ community at Palomar College. If your department would like to participate, please contact Dr. Abbie Cory acory@palomar.edu or Dylan Davison ddavison@palomar.edu. This is a wonderful opportunity to promote your department and to create an atmosphere of inclusivity for our students. Please consider participating.

New Role
Acting VPI, Dr. Diane Studinka
Please join me in welcoming Dr. Diane Studinka as our Acting Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Instruction. Dr. Studinka will serve in this role until a permanent Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Instruction is hired. Dr. Studinka has been a dedicated Palomar College employee for over 26 years. Many of you have had the opportunity to work with her as the Interim Dean of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Division, others of you have collaborated with her while she served as the Early Childhood Education Lab School (ECELS) Liaison, or as a faculty member in the Child Development Department. Dr. Studinka has a proven ability to lead and motivate others through difficult situations by relying on her strong knowledge of administrative processes and procedures. I am very much looking forward to working with Dr. Studinka in this new role, and I am grateful for her willingness to take on the associated integral duties to lead the Office of Instruction.

Campus Engagement Highlights
Palomar Community Showcase
On May 4th the Foundation held its third annual Community Showcase at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido. This year we celebrated our 75th anniversary, I was also officially installed as the 11th Superintendent/President. The program also consisted of opening Palomar’s 75th year time capsule and featured our Archeology program. It was a huge success with over 300 guests in attendance.

As you can imagine, it took many individuals to make this event a success. A very special thank you to Foundation Executive Director Stacy Rungaitis and her fabulous Foundation team. Also, a note of gratitude to our Foundation President Pete Rogers, Former Palomar College Presidents Bob Deegan, and Dr. George Boggs for participating in the program. Gratitude is also in order for trustees Roberto Rodriguez, Mark Evilsizer, and Student Trustee Rachel Alazar who were part of the program. Also, special thanks to our facilities crew who went above and beyond: Chris Miller, Tyrone Davis, Juan Monroy, Timothy Cross, Sasha Craig, Matt Coleman, Alex Medina, Edward Zale, Cynthia Davalos, Jeffery Jones (aka JJ), Jeff Bennett, Steve Smith, and Derrick Upson. Other individuals that deserve recognition are: Julie Lanthier Bandy, Linda Moynan, Deanna Shoop (and her student ambassadors), Paul Kurokawa (and the student jazz group), and Archaeology Professors Betsy Pain and Jim Eighmey.

Palomar College 75th Anniversary Campus Luncheon
On the same day, we held our Palomar College 75th Campus Luncheon. The luncheon was held beneath the iconic clock tower at the San Marcos campus. We had over 200+ employees attend, and it was great for all of us to be together in person. We were also able to deliver lunch to our employees at the Education Centers so they could celebrate with us. Thank you to Trustee Norma Miyamoto, Foundation Executive Director Stacy Rungaitis, and Student Trustee, Rachel Alazar for conducting my official Superintendent/President installation. I would also like to thank a few other amazing individuals who made this event possible: Lisa Taylor, Jill D’Errico, Kelly Miller, Kellis Neidiffer, Sheri Frankfurth, Kimberlee Ahinger, Tim Cross, Linda Moynan, Kayla Kelsey, Bob Fulmer, David Montoya, and Desiree Redulla.

Arboretum and Cactus Collection Tour
On Saturday morning, I took the amazing free tour we offer to the public of the Palomar arboretum and cactus collection. It was fantastic, and I learned quite a bit about the amazing plants we have there. I want to encourage our campus community to spend time in this beautiful space. We are truly fortunate to work in a park! I was also able to meet Professor Emeritus, Wayne Armstrong who worked at Palomar for over 40 years. He is a Palomar legend and if you have not seen his very cool website called Wayne’s Word, you can find it here. I want to extend my gratitude to Tony Rangel for coordinating the event and to Dennis Astl who was able to point out all the interesting birds, and shared potential long-term visioning for this beautiful space.

Baseball and Softball Champs
I was happy to be able to stop by and cheer our Baseball and Softball teams during their playoff series games. Both teams won and the athletes were phenomenal to watch. I am always in awe of the incredible coaching staff. Great job, Baseball Head Coach Ben Adams and Softball Head Coach Lacey Craft. Also a big congratulations to the assistant coaching staff (Baseball: Hayden Carter, Jeff Doyle, Chase Grant, and Vincent Kolbe) (Softball: Mark Eldridge, Megan Wachholtz, and Kali Pugh) that also play a vital role in our teams’ success. I would also like to recognize the staff behind the scenes who make these opportunities available for our students. Thank you to our grounds crew that had to prepare 2 fields for three games each, in a very tight time window.  Jason Schmeiser, and Jeffery Jones (aka JJ) from facilities did an amazing job prepping the fields in a short window of time with multiple games taking place. A big thank you to John Hennessey, our Athletic Equipment Assistant, who painted all the lines on both fields before and after each contest. He also prepped over 65 sets of uniforms for all the games played. Another thank you goes to our Sports Information Specialist, Cara Heise. Cara made sure that all press operations functioned smoothly throughout the weekend, uploaded the Softball stats to the CCCAA website, interviewed players, took hundreds of pictures, and wrote the scripts for our two wonderful PA announcers Rick Hoff and Mike Gross. Also, the Athletic Training Staff, Dennis Greenhill and Ivan Hirsch, lived up to their incredibly high standards and kept all the players safe and healthy. And finally, thank you Bianca Littleton our Athletic Department ADA who organized all the ticket takers and multiple other responsibilities – including helping me understand the plays. I have no idea how our wonderful Athletic Director Daniel Lynds does it, but he was there the entire time. These incredible-hardworking-behind the scenes individuals are providing our student athletes with an amazing college experience!

Governing Board Meeting
On Tuesday, the Governing Board held its regular monthly meeting. There were several presentations about ongoing projects and initiatives. The Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (ICOC) 2020-21 Annual Report was reviewed. Dean Susan Wyche presented on the instructional programs and services available to students in the CTEE Division. Associate Dean Nichol Roe led a presentation on our Non-Credit CTEE Growth Plan. PIO Julie Lanthier Bandy, Web Coordinator Kelly Helming, and Academic Technology System Administrator Chris Norcross presented on the Students-First Web Redesign project. This project’s goal is to make Palomar’s website easier to navigate for students. Dennis Astl also led a presentation on the new Fallbrook 40 building design. And finally, VP Vikash Lakhani and VP David Montoya presented on Palomar’s Incident Report Process.

Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education (APAHE) Events
This week, I was able to support and event sponsored by our Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education (APAHE) titled So, what are you REALLY?: Reflections of Biracial/Multiracial Asian Americans. Presenters Monica Diego Schmidt, Matthew Estes, Tamara Richey, and Gary Sosa spoke about their experiences being Asian biracial/multiracial. A Q&A session followed. Thank you to everyone for sharing your stories, and thank you Professor Angela Kong for inviting me to this event.

Community Engagement Highlights
SDICCCA Board Alliance Meeting
This week I attended the San Diego Imperial Counties Community College Association (SDICCCA) Board Alliance meeting for the monthly gathering of CEOs, Public Information Officers, and Trustees. We discussed upcoming legislation and how mask mandates and vaccination requirements are rapidly changing in the county.

Chicano Federation Unity Luncheon
This week I also joined the Chicano Federation for their annual Unity Luncheon. This year’s Unity Luncheon brought together hundreds of community members and business leaders to raise funds to support and grow the Federation’s many community programs and services. The Chicano Federation was established in 1969 to build resilience and promote self-sufficiency in under-resourced communities. Their overall goal is to help diverse communities thrive. I feel strongly that, as a Hispanic Serving Institution, it is important Palomar is represented at these events.

Leadership Meeting with San Diego Sheriff’s Department
Thank you, Associate Dean Nichol Roe, Dean Susan Wyche, and Transitions Coordinator Nora Kenney Whitley for facilitating a very productive meeting with Assistant Sherriff Theresa Adams Hydar, and Undersheriff Kelly Martinez. It was wonderful to discuss our goals for expanding our amazing programming in the Vista Detention Facility and the successful bridging of students into our Transitions program on campus. They were impressed by all the good work that has been done thus far, including our plans for dedicated space, and our newly acquired multiple funding awards we have received. Speaking of funding awards, the San Diego District Attorney’s Office just this week awarded our Transitions program a $50,000 grant that will be used to support our summer bridge program. This program is truly impressing our community partners, and we are seeing their enthusiasm translating into concrete commitments!

COVID-19 Update Meeting
During this meeting, we discussed the recent updates in health and safety requirements that will be in place during the summer and fall terms. Here is a link to a recording of the meeting if you were unable to attend. Starting May 31, facial coverings will no longer be required but strongly recommended. Additionally, proof of COVID-19 vaccination will no longer be required for employees and students. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination is no longer required by students to register for summer and fall onsite courses at the main campus or education centers. All students and employees are still required to complete the Cleared4 daily health screening before coming to the campus or education centers. These decisions are never made lightly, and we are still moving forward with employee and student health at the forefront of our decision-making. We will continue to monitor infection rates and change these protocols if needed. We are currently updating the FAQs on our COVID-19 webpage to reflect these changes. We are also updating all our signage for the campus to avoid confusion. Please go to our COVID-19 website for more detailed information.

Comets of the Week
The Comets of the Week are the winners of the Faculty Awards. Congratulations Faculty Service Award winner Luis Guerrero (Math Department), Scholarly & Professional Achievement Award winners Martin Japtok (English Department) and Andrew Steinberg (Performing Arts), and the “Margie Ruzich Gift of Time” Award winner Alyssa Vafaei (Disability Resources Center). Congratulations! Thank you to our Academic Senate that makes sure these hard-working individuals are recognized for their commitment to students and to the College.

Have a great upcoming week. Go Comets!

For pictures of the various events, follow:
Twitter: @palomardrstar
Instagram: @palomardrstar