Dr. Rivera-Lacey’s Updates

Week of September 26, 2022 Update

I hope this update finds everyone in good spirits as we start the new month. Below is a brief recap of my Campus and Community engagement activities from the previous week.

Campus Engagement

  • Attended the 2022-2023 Budget Committee Meeting. Through the development of annual fiscal plans, the Budget Committee recommends budgeting parameters and aligns the college’s priorities to budgets and institutional planning.
  • Attended the Latin America Flavors event and enjoyed a pupusa in the Student Union Quad. Pupusas are a delicious food originally from El Salvador which happens to be where my family migrated from so I may be partial.  Here is the schedule for the one remaining event in the series. This week’s event will serve empanadas!
  • Attended a Special Projects meeting where we discussed timelines for the remaining three Prop M construction projects. We also discussed campus housing.
  • Attended the State of the Budget meeting.
  • Met with Council of Classified Employees (CCE) leadership meeting and focused on the topic of hiring.
  • Held my monthly Open Office Hours this week. I always enjoy meeting with colleagues, hearing from employees, and addressing questions and concerns.
  • Attended the Disability Resource Center’s Access and Equity Hour. This week’s event was focused on the Intersectionality of Incarcerated & Disabled Identities.
  • Attended the play Greetings from the Red Planet at the Palomar Performing Arts Studio Theater. This event is part of the 2022-2023 performing arts season. Here is a link to view other upcoming events. The play by Natalie Ann Valentine centers around a queer-gender-fluid barista that will be the first person to live on Mars as our planet races towards climate collapse. Congratulations Director Michael Mufson on another exceptional production. The play runs through October 9th.

Community Engagement

  • Presented to the California Retired Teachers Association. I had the opportunity to share about my path to becoming Superintendent/President of Palomar College, campus updates, my goals for college, and our plans for the future.
  • Received a Hispanic Heritage Month proclamation on behalf of Palomar College at the San Marcos City Council meeting. Thank you, Mayor Rebecca Jones and the San Marcos City Council, for recognizing Palomar’s commitment to promoting education in the Latino/a community.
  • Attended CSU San Marcos’ Annual Report to the Community event. President Ellen Neufeldt spoke about the university’s new five-year plan entitled “the Power of Us” which prioritizes increasing student social mobility and serving first-generation college students.
  • Attended a special workshop for College Presidents and Chancellors to learn about financial aid Title IV regulations and legislative updates.
  • Attended the COLEGAS Webinar, “Tu Lucha es Mi Lucha: Rebuilding Our Colleges by Honoring Students & Educators’ Ancestral Knowledge.” These events remind us of how to create environments that are affirming for our Latinx students.
  • Co-facilitated the Black/African American Community Advisory Council Meeting with Cheryl Kearse.
  • Attended the Boys and Girls Club of San Marcos’ Youth of the Year Celebration Dinner. At this event, winning Youth of the Year and winning Junior Youth of the Year were recognized. I had a great time participating as a judge at this year’s competition.
  • Attended a fundraising event to benefit the Fallbrook School of the Arts called “Art under the Stars.” I was invited by members of our Fallbrook Community Advisory board. A special thank you to Trustee Norma Miyamoto for joining me and representing Palomar College.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Updates and News

In honor of Disability Awareness Month, the Disability Resource Center (DRC) is hosting sessions and events to spread disability awareness and to recognize the value of our diverse workforce as well as the role and contribution of disability in society. Here is a link to the calendar. We invite our colleagues from across campus to host a session or event highlighting their efforts in bringing disability to the diversity, equity, and inclusion work being done at Palomar College. Please visit the sign-up form to present during Disability Awareness Month.

October is also LGBTQ History Month! The Palomar Pride Center is hosting several events throughout the month to celebrate. Here is a link to view the calendar of events. I look forward to seeing everyone at these events!

October marks Filipino-American Heritage Month. This year will be the 30th anniversary of Filipino-American History Month which began back in 1992. Here is a link to the Filipino American National Historical Society’s website where you can learn more about the history of this month and specifically Filipino-American history. Stay tuned for upcoming events taking place here at Palomar!

Educational and Facilities Vision Plan 2035
This past week, we opened registration for our community partner’s listening sessions, and they are filling up quick! This upcoming week we will begin advertising our listening sessions for students through Canvas, social media, flyers, and other methods of communication. Also, we are putting the final touches on our campus-wide survey that will launch this week. Finally, as I mentioned in my last communication, we will continue to hold our campus community listening sessions and have set up several “drop-in” sessions for those who have not been able to make it to their designated sessions. Thank you again for your wisdom and perspective as we develop this signature plan.

Our Accreditation Steering Committee held its first meeting of the year on Friday, September 30, 2022. The committee reviewed our follow-up report timeline and discussed our own self-improvement plans and projects identified in our Quality Focus Essay. This fall semester will be spent working to address our accreditation recommendation related to institutionalizing our processes and practices for integrated fiscal reporting, internal controls, and financial planning. In the spring, we will begin drafting our follow-up report in preparation to submit in November 2023.

Annual Security Report

In the spirit of continuing our Summer of Safety efforts, the 2022 Annual Security Report that contains Clery Act information within the report can be found here.

Hiring Update: Student Services

I am excited to announce, pending board approval, effective November 1, 2022, Dr. Brian Ellison will join Palomar College as the Acting Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Student Services. Dr. Ellison has served as a senior community college administrator for over 18 years and has served as both an Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Student Services and Instruction. His proven administrative capabilities in both Student Services and Instruction, paired with his belief in collaboration between the two areas being the primary generator of positive student outcomes, makes him a perfect fit for our college. Dr. Ellison also has an evidenced commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion as a principal author/contributor to Student Equity Plans. He has also facilitated multiple institutional efforts in support of closing student achievement gaps and has provided operational oversight for legislative initiatives associated with Student Services and Instruction.


I am also excited to welcome Director Adrianne Lee to Executive Cabinet. Through expanded duties, she has accepted to be the Student Services administrative lead with our focused institutional enrollment efforts. Enrollment, and the process for enrolling, remains a central focus for our institution and Director Lee’s extensive experience, and proven record, in Student Financial Aid, Veterans, and Promise will help us move this institutional priority forward.


Comet of the Week
The Comet of the Week is Police Dispatch Center Coordinator, Nieves Suarez. Nieves did an incredible job compiling this year’s Annual Security Report. The report is essential to keeping our campus and community safe and creating transparency. Thank you for your great work!


Have a great upcoming week. Go Comets!


For pictures of the various events, follow:

Twitter: @palomardrstar

Instagram: @palomardrstar

Week of September 19, 2022 Update

I hope this update finds everyone in good spirits as we head into the new week. Below is a brief recap of my Campus and Community engagement activities from the previous week.

Campus Engagement

  • I attended two Latinx Heritage Month workshops. The first workshop was “Deported Veterans,” led by Robert Vivar, Director of the Unified U.S. Deported Veterans Resource Center. This workshop spread awareness about the experiences of immigrants who have served in the United States Military and have experienced deportation. The second workshop was “Chicano Studies Majors Shape the Future,” led by Dr. Angelica Yanez, which created awareness regarding the value of a Chicano Studies major. The Ethnic Studies Department will continue to host a variety of workshops and events to support Latinx Heritage Month. The schedule can be found here.
  • Attended the Latin America Flavors event and enjoyed a tamale in the Student Union Quad. The festivities will continue this week and I encourage you to stop by. Here is the schedule for the other events in the series. Please join us as we celebrate.
  • Attended a Puente Club meeting. A special thank you to faculty members, and Puente Coordinators, Sonia Gutierrez, and Cynthia Cordova for providing their students with leadership and networking opportunities. The Puente Program is a national award-winning program that has helped thousands of students transfer to a university, earn degrees, and return to the community as leaders and mentors to future generations.
  • Attended the Governing Board Special Meeting. During this meeting, we approved the 2022-23 Emergency Conditions Allowance Plan and engaged in a listening/visioning session for the District’s Educational and Facilities Vision Plan 2035.
  • Attended a sneak-peak screening of a film produced by PCTV featuring our Transitions program and the stories of our formerly incarcerated students. This was an eye-opening experience, and I can’t wait to share it with our community at large. I would not be surprised if PCTV wins another Emmy with this powerful film!
  • Attended the Palomar football game on Saturday, along with Trustee Christian Garcia. It was also wonderful to see the large group CCE #4522 assembled to cheer on our student athletes. President Anel Gonzalez and CCE leadership conducted the coin toss, celebrated with great food, and even had an opportunity drawing for their members. CCE certainly knows how to throw a party! Palomar had a spectacular win 31-24 over College of the Canyons.

Community Engagement

  • Participated as a judge, alongside other community leaders, in the San Marcos Boys and Girls Club 2023 Youth of the Year competition. I had the opportunity to meet the stellar contestants, and I was impressed by the level of competition. The winner is scheduled to be announced this upcoming week. Thank you, Cathy Baur, CEO of the San Marcos Boys and Girls Club, for inviting me to participate in this event.
  • Attended the Honoring Our Region’s Heroes Awards Breakfast which recognized the dedicated officers, first respondents, military, and public safety leaders who have gone above and beyond in their duties. This event was hosted by the North San Diego Business Chamber. Thank you to Chief Moore and Foundation Executive Director Stacy Rungaitis for representing Palomar College.
  • Attended Teach for America’s inaugural Inclusive Excellence in K-12 Education convening event, along with Trustee Mark Evilsizer. This convening’s goal was to foster greater inclusion in the K-12 education system by bringing together people from different sectors and asking them to commit to diversifying the K-12 education workforce.
  • I am excited to announce that I have been selected as a 2023 Wheelhouse Fellow. Wheelhouse, part of the UC Davis’ School of Education, is a Center for Community College Leadership and Research. The institute selects 15-18 CEOs yearly to participate in the program specifically designed to support their performance, increase their effectiveness, and expand their network of resources.

Educational and Facilities Vision Plan 2035

Thank you to everyone who has participated in a listening session and/or plans to participate in one. Your perspectives on our current environment have been valuable and your ideas for our future are innovative. Our Governing Board participated in a workshop this past Tuesday and provided their thoughts and ideas as well.

We are not done yet! This week we continued to send meeting invites for internal listening sessions scheduled for October and November. We are also adding a few more drop-in sessions focused on our educational programs and services as well as general sessions for anyone who is interested or did not have time to participate. I will send additional communications with details as we finalize the dates and times of these sessions.

This week, we sent invitations to our external education, business, and community partners seeking their participation and ideas for shaping our future. In October, we will start holding listening sessions with our students. In the coming months, as we begin to craft our plan, I look forward to working with the Educational and Facilities Plan Vision Task Force to reflect upon the insights provided by all of you, our students, and our external partners.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Updates and News

  • California Native American Day occurred on September 23rd and was recognized by the District as a holiday on Friday. The day honors the cultural contributions of Native American communities. Palomar College is fortunate to have one of the longest running American Indian Studies department. I encourage individuals to take advantage of the amazing opportunity to explore earning a Certificate in American Indian Studies to gain greater cultural knowledge and insight into the rich contributions Native Americans have made.
  • September is Deaf Awareness Month. Deaf Awareness Month is a time to celebrate the rich cultural history of the Deaf community and continue the work of advocating for the rights of Deaf people everywhere. On Thursday, the National Deaf Center’s Community Engagement Manager Diego Guerra facilitated a webinar and student panel focusing on the deaf college student experience. This webinar examined how relationships with these students can increase their likelihood of feeling supported and included. Participants also learned strategies for providing deaf students opportunities for engagement on campus, and how to leverage campus and community resources to build partnerships that offer spaces for these meetings.
  • Along with 300+ community college educators from around the state, three of our Palomar employees Carmelino Cruz, Mercedes Tiggs, and Brikia Cephus traveled to the University of Cape Coast in Ghana, Africa to attend the All-African Diaspora Education Summit. This year’s summit focused on the policy initiative, Beyond the Return. I have been in contact with them this week while they were traveling and have already seen some amazing pictures and videos. I look forward to them sharing their experiences with our campus community in the future.
  • The PC3H Committee/Pride Center invites you to join them on Sunday, Oct. 2nd for the 2:00 p.m. performance of Greetings from the Red Planet and the “Post-Show Experience” with the cast and crew. They will discuss theater queer representation, examine the intersections of queerness with climate change in the play, and explore the play’s broad spectrum of queer identity. Don’t miss this special collaborative theatre experience! For more information, contact Lisette Lasater llasater@palomar.edu.
  • The Community College League of California is hosting its Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Town Hall event on Thursday, Oct 6 at 6 pm. This event will teach us about innovative student outreach strategies using a DEIA lens. Please join me and register online here.

Hiring Updates

Throughout the process of filling vacant positions in Executive Cabinet, I will be including periodic hiring updates in my weekly emails. Regarding the hiring of the permanent Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Instruction and the Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Finance and Administrative Services, we remain on track for a December Governing Board appointment. Thank you to both committees for remaining steadfast in their task. More specific details will be provided next week regarding our Student Services and Human Resources positions.

Comet of the Week

The Comet of the Week is Nichol Roe, Associate Dean of Workforce Development and Extended Studies. Nichol has an incredible work ethic and is always taking on new projects and opportunities. In addition to several projects she is currently overseeing, she serves as the co-leader of the Region X Workgroup for Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) and is working to create a statewide CPL framework. Thank you for making Palomar College a stand-out in the region.


Have a great upcoming week. Go Comets!

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




Week of September 12, 2022 Update

Campus Engagement

  • Hosted this week’s Executive Special Projects meeting where we were joined by Dr. Leslie Salas, Dean of Student Success, Equity and Counseling Services; Dr. Nancy Browne, Manager of Student Success & Engagement; Wendy Nelson, Communications Professor and Faculty Senate President; and Dr. Glyn Bongolan– Associate Professor/Counseling Chair who shared their work and ideas around the concept of Student Success Teams.
  • Virtually attended the Educational and Facilities Vision Planning Task Force Meeting where we discussed the long-term development plan for our educational and student support programs.

Community Engagement

  • Attended the San Diego & Imperial Counties Community Colleges Association’s (SDICCCA) Board Meeting. CEOs, Public Information Officers, and Board Members from all the San Diego/Imperial County Community Colleges discussed current issues the region is facing, gave updates on their respective colleges, and did collective planning for the 22-23 academic year.
  • Attended the Promise2Kids 2022 Dream on Fundraiser. Promises2Kids is an amazing organization that supports foster youth throughout the region. It was a wonderful opportunity for Palomar College, other community colleges in the region, and university educational partners to support their fundraising efforts. Community coming together to protect the educational dreams of foster youth was awesome!
  • Attended the National Community College Hispanic Council’s (NCCHC) Annual Leadership Symposium in Denver, Colorado. This was a three-day event where educational leaders from around the country gathered to discuss the social issues facing Hispanic Serving Institutions, and how we can remove structural barriers to make community colleges more accessible. At the event, I was also inducted onto NCCHC’s National Board of Directors to serve a 2-year term. I would like to thank Dr. Diane Studinka for taking on the role of Acting Superintendent/President while I was at the symposium.
  • Accepted the resignation of Dr. Vikash Lakhani, Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Student Services, and Mr. David Montoya, Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Human Resource Services. Official Governing Board ratification of the resignation agreements is expected to take place Tuesday, September 20, 2022. I have met with the Executive Team, all direct reports, and key campus leaders to inform them of this change. My highest priority is to assure normal operations. To this end, Dr. Leslie Salas, Dean of Student Success, Equity, and Counseling Services, is the designated leader for the Student Services Division, and Christine Winterle, Director of Human Resources, will lead the Human Resource Services Division through Wednesday, October 5, 2022. It is expected that formal interim replacements will be named at the Tuesday, October 4 Board Meeting. Please rest assured that a longer-range plan will soon be shared with the campus community. We thank Dr. Lakhani and Mr. Montoya for their service and wish them the best in their future endeavors.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Updates and News
Latinx Heritage Month has started! Latinx Heritage Month is celebrated every year from September 15 to October 15. As part of Latinx Heritage Month, our Ethnic Studies Department will be hosting a variety of workshops and events. See the schedule here. A special thank you to Dr. Angélica Yañez– Associate Professor of Ethnic and Chicano Studies and Alexander Gomez– Assistant Professor, Ethnic Studies.

Additionally, the campus community is invited to take part in our Latin America Flavors series enjoying tamales in the Student Union Quad on Tuesday, September 20 and Wednesday, September 21 at 11:30 a.m. Here is the schedule for the other events in the series. Please join us as we celebrate Latinx Heritage Month with delicious regional food from Latin America! A special thank you to Carmelino Cruz– Acting Chief Diversity Officer for organizing this event.

Educational and Facilities Vision Plan 2035
The work on our Vision Plan 2035 continues. As I have reported in previous weeks, through this planning process we will consider our educational and student support programs and how they will evolve over time.

A critical aspect of this planning is hearing from you! What would an ideal college have to offer its students in 2035? What are your thoughts and ideas about your area and related programs?  How might they change over the next twelve years? What factors will impact them? And how will that affect your technology, staffing, and facilities needs? Over the next two months, we will continue to hold our listening sessions where we will ask you and your colleagues these questions.

Wondering how you can participate? Marti Snyder is coordinating the listening sessions and will be sending out communications and meeting invites. Bilingual Spanish speakers will be present for the Educational and Facilities Vision Plan listening sessions and sign language interpreters will be available at your request. You may also participate through a campus-wide survey which will be sent out at the end of September. To learn more please visit the Educational and Facilities Vision Plan 2035 webpage.

Comet of the Week
The Comet of the Week is Accreditation Coordinator, Marti Snyder, for her excellent work organizing all aspects of the Educational and Facilities Vision Plan meetings (approximately 60 meetings are scheduled). These meetings are critical for the success of this project and for the future of Palomar College.

Have a great upcoming week. Go Comets!

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


Week of September 5, 2022 Update

Campus Engagement 

  • Attended our monthly Regular Governing Board meeting. Please note, the Open Session start time has changed to 4:00p.m. (versus 5:00p.m.) and the meeting can be accessed via zoom. I encourage all to attend to learn more about the governance of the District.
  • Attended a Special Governing Board meeting.
  • Facilitated a Special Projects meeting with Executive Cabinet members that focused on Position Control and hiring priorities.
  • Facilitated our first College Council meeting of the semester with new District leadership.
  • Attended the Associated Student Government’s Fall Leadership Retreat. A very special thank you to Director, Sherry Titus and Supervisor, Pippa Pierce for organizing the two-day training that included a full day on Saturday.
  • Attended our Club Rush event at the Student Union. Despite the inclement weather, the two-day event was well attended.
  • Attended the DRC’s Access & Equity Hour (HyFlex format) entitled, “Let’s Talk About the D Word: Disability-Friendly Language.
  • Attended a portion of the White Allies for Antiracism meeting.
  • Met with Administrative Association’s (AA) new President, Joe Ledesma.
  • Met with Palomar Faculty Federation (PFF) leadership.

Community Engagement

  • Provided welcoming remarks for the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) “Back-to-School” visit with Palomar faculty and classified employees. I was impressed by the turnout, and I am appreciative of the comments and feedback our employees expressed during the meeting.
  • Attended the National Community College Hispanic Council’s (NCCHC) New Board Member Orientation. I will share more about this project next week when I return from the NCCHC conference.
  • Attended A Step Beyond, “Creating Brighter Futures” fundraising event. I currently serve on the board of this youth development organization (based out of Escondido) and work is underway in creating a more streamlined process for students to choose Palomar College for their educational needs. Other educational partners in attendance at the event included Vista Unified School District and CSUSM representatives.
  • Attended the North County African American Women’s Association’s (NCAAWA) Annual Gentlemen’s Gourmet Scholarship Fundraiser event. The NCAAWA is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing a support network through education, health, awareness, and life skills programs for women and girls in San Diego North County to increase their self-sufficiency. MiraCosta College, CSUSM, and numerous elected officials were also in attendance at the event.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Updates and News
In collaboration with Faculty Senate, Palomar College submitted four different instructional areas to be considered to participate in the statewide Open for AntiRacism (OFAR) program scheduled to run from September 2022 through June 2023. 

Every Friday, from 12:00p.m. to 1:00p.m. in H-105 and on Zoom (Zoom ID: 849 9512 3146) the DRC hosts Access and Equity Hour. Please consider supporting these efforts. These workshops offer a great opportunity for all of us to learn how to become Disability Allies.

Educational and Facilities Vision Plan 2035
Last Thursday, the Educational and Facilities Vision Plan Coordinating Committee met with our architects and educational planners to discuss this upcoming week’s kick-off meeting with the Educational and Facilities Planning Task Force. We are excited about starting our listening sessions, and we are doing our best to ensure everyone has an opportunity to participate in this important planning process. While we recognize that face-to-face meetings are preferred for maximum engagement, we also value accessibility and need our campus community’s expertise and vision. To this end, we are adding ZOOM options to the listening sessions as needed.

Please note, most of the listening sessions this upcoming week are focused on our instructional programs. All faculty and department chairs should have received an email with instructions on how to sign up. If you are interested in participating in one of the instructional program’s listening sessions, please click the link below. https://www.palomar.edu/irp/education-and-facilities-plan-2035/. Once at the site, scroll down to the section on Listening Sessions: Instructional Programs. The listening sessions are organized by our Palomar Pathways. Select the session you would like to attend by simply clicking on the signup link.

Please note, for all other listening sessions (e.g., constituent-based groups, students, support services, etc.), we will be sending out meeting invites, which can be forwarded to others who would like to contribute to the dialog.

Comet of the Week
The Comet of the Week is DRC’s Counselor Alyssa Vafaei. Alyssa established the Disability Resource Center’s Access and Equity Hour and currently organizes the weekly event. Alyssa puts forth a lot of effort into these events, and they are always eye-opening. Thank you, Alyssa, for going above and beyond for the benefit of our students and our institution.

Have a great upcoming week. Go Comets!

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

Enjoy a Restful Labor Day!

As we enter week three of the semester, I hope you have a restful and safe Labor Day! Here is a brief recap of my activities from the past week.

Campus Engagement
This week, I had the opportunity to meet and present to the Palomar College’s Foundation Board of Directors to let them know the great things that are happening on campus.  I attended the Budget Committee Meeting where we were given a sneak peek of a draft of the Adopted Budget for the Fiscal year 2022-2023.  I attended the, All-Campus State of the Budget update. I met with Administrative Association (AA) and Confidential and Supervisory Team (CAST) leadership. I met with Council of Classified Employees (CCE) leadership. I met with the Palomar Black Faculty and Staff Association (PBFSA) members.

Community Engagement
I am very happy to announce that I have been appointed to the Boys & Girls Club of San Marcos (B&GCSM) Board of Directors. B&GCSM is a well-respected organization in our community, and I look forward to strengthening the mutually beneficial relationship between our two great organizations! Thank you, President and CEO, Cathy Bauer for this great opportunity.

Educational and Facilities Long-Range Plan
We are officially kicking off our educational and facilities long-range planning process! As I mentioned last week, this plan will establish the vision for Palomar’s programs and facilities over the next twelve years with a significant update in year six. As part of this effort, we will be holding more than 50 listening/visioning sessions with our Palomar College community and external campuses this fall. This means we need to get a start on these meetings now!

We will begin holding our listening sessions on Tuesday, September 13. Our first task force meeting will be held on Thursday, September 15.

Since our educational programs are central to everything we do, we will kick-off our listening sessions by focusing on these areas. We have organized the program listening sessions according to our Palomar Pathways. This coming week we will begin notifying our faculty and staff of the designated dates and times for the sessions. The communications will come through email and meeting invites. We have expanded the education program sessions to ensure we can cover our wonderful and diverse programs. Please be on the lookout for a meeting invite! Coming soon, we will have a webpage dedicated to this planning process. We will post progress, Task Force meeting days and times, and a calendar of the listening sessions.

Governing Board Meeting Update
To improve the efficiency of the Palomar College Governing Board meeting, effective Tuesday, September 6, 2022, Open Session will start at 4:00 p.m. (versus 5:00 p.m.). The Governing Board meetings are held in LRC-438 and the agenda and zoom link to join virtually can be found in Board Docs.

Comet of the Week
The Comet of the week is Chris Miller, Director of Facilities. Chris has been making great progress towards ensuring the greatest accessibility to our facilities. We are extremely pleased and grateful for his service to our students and faculty.

One last thing, please check out the latest Palomar News.

Have a great upcoming week. Go Comets!

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

Welcome to the 2022-23 Academic Year!

I hope everyone had a great first week back! Seeing so many students, and employees, on campus was awesome! I have high hopes for this year, and I can’t wait to see what the new year has in store for us. Here is a brief recap of my activities over the past week:

Campus Engagement

  • To kick off the academic year, I was happy to support and attend our 2-day Comet Together event at the Student Union. Tents were set up to distribute information and greet our students. I also had the opportunity to welcome our students back and hand out maps and swag bags throughout the week.
  • I was able to visit our Education Centers which are looking spectacular. A special thank you to our Education Center staff for doing such a great job in preparing for the start of the semester.
  • I attended the 2022 President’s Golf Classic Planning Meeting with our Foundation Executive Director Stacy Rungaitis. The committee looks forward to welcoming golfers at the beautiful Maderas Golf Club on October 10, 2022! Thank you to our dedicated committee members who support Palomar’s mission both on and off the course.
  • I attended the Disability Resource Center’s (DRC) Access and Equity Hour. This week’s topic covered how to support struggling students most effectively. The DRC is one of our great resources here on campus. The DRC assists our campus community in creating a more inclusive environment and equitable access to the college experience for students with disabilities.

Community Engagement

  • As for community engagement events, I attended the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office Annual Budget Workshop with Acting Vice President of Fiscal Services, Nancy Lane, and members of her team. This was a statewide meeting where we learned about the state budget’s impact on the college, major policy issues, and planned allocation schedules and guidance. At the workshop, it was announced that the Chancellor’s Office will release budget guidance memos in a comprehensive packet. The resource, known as the Compendium of Allocations and Resources, will provide fiscal and program guidance for districts in one central location – facilitating access to information.
  • I attended the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council’s Annual Dinner. The event focused on the council’s accomplishments and future plans. The Labor Council’s mission is to fight for the well-being of all workers and to create solidarity among workers. It was great to see our Palomar Union leaders present.


Palomar College received notification of our accreditation status over the summer. The Accreditation Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) has requested a follow-up report due in 18-months documenting the work the college is doing to fully institutionalize processes and practices for integrated fiscal reporting, internal controls, and financial planning to ensure long-term financial stability. We have developed an action plan to address this requirement and will prepare our report over the next year. Thank you to Senior Director, Michelle Barton, who is leading this effort as the college’s Accreditation Liaison Officer.

Educational and Facilities Long-Range Plan

This September we will kick off a new Educational and Facilities Long-Range planning process. Our College Council has approved the formation of a Task Force. As a governance body, the Task Force will be comprised of 33 campus community members. Calls for participation in the Task Force have gone out through your respective constituent groups. The Task Force will steward the development of our new 2035 Educational and Facilities Long-range Plan. This plan will establish the vision for Palomar’s programs and facilities over the next twelve years with a significant update in year six. During the fall semester, our educational planning consultants and architects will work with the Task Force to hold more than 50 listening/visioning sessions with our Palomar College community and external partners. We want to ensure that everyone has a voice in this process. We will continue to provide updates on our progress and invite you to participate through the task force, as part of a listening/vision session, survey, or open session. This is exciting work as it is our opportunity to shape the future of Palomar together!

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Updates and News

Our Acting Chief Diversity Officer, Carmelino Cruz, is currently exploring with campus leadership the possibility of submitting a proposal for Faculty Participation in the Open for Antiracism (OFAR) in California Community Colleges efforts that aims to make teaching practices and instructional materials more antiracist with the incorporation of student voices and experiences. A Palomar team of 4-6 faculty members would join the statewide Open for AntiRacism (OFAR) Faculty Cohort running from September 2022 through June 2023. Please reach out to Carmelino at ccruz@palomar.edu if you are interested as he is currently leading these efforts. Applications are due September 7, 2022. Find more information here: https://www.cccoer.org/ofar/ofar-application/#app

National Hispanic Heritage Month
September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month. It’s a time to celebrate and promote the culture, history, achievements, and contributions of Hispanic Americans. If your department, center, or classroom is conducting activities related to this celebration please send details to Acting Chief Diversity Officer, Carmelino Cruz at ccruz@palomar.edu who is working across the institution to support and promote these efforts.

Comets of the Week
Our Comets of the Week are Education Center Directors Tom Medel and Ryan Williams. Tom Medel is the Director of the Escondido and Rancho Bernardo Centers, and Ryan Williams is the Director of our Fallbrook and Camp Pendleton Education Centers. I was able to see first-hand their outstanding leadership as I visited the centers this first week of school. They have done an outstanding job managing the multiple centers, and I commend them for leading their teams in ensuring our students feel welcomed and cared for when taking classes at the centers! Fantastic job Tom and Ryan!

Have a great upcoming week. Go Comets!

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



Palomar College Recognizes Memorial Day

I sincerely hope that over the Memorial Day holiday you have the opportunity to remember, and honor, those patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice to secure the freedoms we enjoy today. These heroes, and their service to our country, will never be forgotten. Wishing everyone a restful and safe holiday.

Campus Engagement Highlights
Our 2022 (in person) Commencement took place this past Friday. It was an incredible event and a very special day for our students and our entire campus community. This year’s graduates had to overcome unprecedented obstacles to earn their degrees and certificates. We had a total of 445 graduates participate in the ceremony! I was especially moved to see so many of our Palomar employees cross the stage. This is also the first year where we live-streamed the ceremony. In case you missed it, you can find the recording of the ceremony here.

I cannot say enough about the countless individuals that made this event a reality! A huge thank you to Director Sherry Titus for her extraordinary leadership, and congratulations to her entire Student Life and Leadership team. They managed to pull off a flawless event! There is also not enough room in my update to note all the different campus contributors that made this event possible, so I will simply say to all of you who had a part in making commencement a huge success -THANK YOU! Your efforts are noted and sincerely appreciated!

Budget Committee and State of the Budget Meeting
This week the Budget Committee met, and we also held a State of the Budget meeting. At both events, last year’s budget was examined, planning efforts for our next year’s budget spending plan were discussed, and the 2022-2023 budget assumptions were noted. We also discussed the May revise highlights and a possible formation of a subgroup to review compensation.​ Thank you, Acting Vice President Nancy Lane for the informative and timely updates.

Palomar Architecture and Interior Design Student Showcase
The Architecture and Interior Design Student Showcase at the Rancho Bernardo Education Center was incredible. I was extremely impressed with the outstanding student work I saw! Graduating interior design students displayed their portfolios, and our architecture students presented several projects. I also was able to take a tour of the new space featuring computer labs, a design studio, a library, and a new student learning space. I was excited to see the departments working in their new facilities. Thank you Joseph C. Lucido, Rita Campo Griggs and Anita Talone for organizing this wonderful event.

Faculty Senate
Thank you to the Faculty Senate for inviting me and allowing me to provide an update on the District’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility, and Antiracism (DEIAA) efforts. I look forward to continued discussions as we keep these efforts at the forefront of our work as a District. Thank you to Vice President Vikash Lakhani and Vice President David Montoya who also provided updates on our enrollment and hiring efforts.

Enrollment Events
I was able to support the enrollment event at our San Marcos Campus this week. Many student programs and services came together to assist our students in registering and applying for financial aid. I have had the pleasure of attending several of these enrollment events over the course of the last month, and I want to thank our fantastic employees that have contributed to their success: Gabriela Lopez, Maritza Huerta, Jonatan Miranda, Julie Lanthier Bandy, Nancy Browne, Steven Salter, Leslie Aguilar, Omar Sanchez, Debra Avila, Rosalinda Tovar, Pipa Pierce, Cari Martinez, Patrick O’Brien, Ryan Williams, Joe Ledesma, Nellie H. Martinez, and Yvette Maynard.

Honors Recital Concert Hour
I was also able to virtually attend the Honors Recital Concert Hour. This was a great event, filled with beautiful music, that showcased our applied music students. After the performance, students received several scholarship awards. Thank you to our wonderful Performing Arts Department for always providing opportunities for our students to showcase their talents.

Umoja Rites of Passage Ceremony
I also had the pleasure of attending the Umoja ceremony to celebrate our students. Umoja (a Kiswahili word meaning unity) is a community-based program dedicated to enhancing the cultural and educational experiences of African Americans. The Umoja program is one of my favorite retention programs because it creates a welcoming environment that fosters self-efficacy and a strong desire to succeed. I also love that Umoja encourages socially responsible leadership from students, not only in their communities but in the world. Thank you Umoja leaders and supporters for providing this support system for our students. Thank you to all our Umoja supporters and a special thank you to Richard Carr and Kyle Owens for their leadership during the Spring Semester and hosting a great Rites of Passage event.

Cinema Class Screening
Thank you, Professor Lisa Cecere, for the invitation to screen the students final Cinema class projects. What a fantastic experience. There is nothing better than seeing students beam with pride to show their final work in front of their peers, family, and friends! I was excited to see how well attended the screening was.

Nursing Pinning Ceremony
I also attended the wonderful Nurse Pinning Ceremony for our spring 2022 graduates that took place in Escondido. It was heartwarming to see the graduates pinned by loved ones. So many of us commented on how moving the ceremony was. A huge congratulations to all the organizers of this wonderful event. A recording of the event can be found here.

Celebration of Black Graduates
The celebration of our Black Graduates was exceptional! Graduates, surrounded by friends and family, were recognized for their academic achievements. The program was filled with inspirational student stories and the closing of the program was excellent. The program ended with fantastic drumming and a performance by a troop of amazing acrobats! Thank you and congratulations to the Palomar Black Faculty and Staff Association (PBFSA) for hosting such a phenomenal event for our students! Thank you Amber Colbert, and all our wonderful PBFSA members, who made this event such a special one for our graduates and their loved ones.

Cabinet and Furniture Technology Scholarship Awards Ceremony
I was able to make an appearance at the Cabinet and Furniture Technology Department Scholarship awards Ceremony and Student Exhibition event on Friday. Again, I continue to be impressed by all the phenomenal instruction and student produced work that is taking place in this area. After Friday’s event, I am most definitely looking forward seeing our students’ work displayed at the San Diego County Fair! Thank you, Jennifer Anderson and Georg Kast, for your leadership at this well-attended special event that celebrated our students.

Comet of the Week
Great news! The Palomar College baseball team and coaches have made an impressive run to the State Championship! The team earned a spot in the CCCAA Final Four for the first time in seven years, following a stellar 37-11 season. This team plays with immense talent and heart. We are so proud of them, and the entire coaching staff, for this incredible accomplishment. Congratulations to Palomar Head Coach Ben Adams for leading the team successfully and navigating this competitive season. We wish you and the team the best of luck!

Thank you to our Palomar community for a successful spring semester and it is my hope you will get some well-earned rest over the summer. Go Comets!

*** Please note, my weekly emails will resume once again in the fall semester***

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

Classified Employee Appreciation Week

May 15th through the 21st was Classified Employee Appreciation Week. This annual event is meant to highlight all the great work our Classified members perform daily. Without them our college would not function. Classified members work directly with students, faculty, administrators, community members, and business partners. Much of their work is done behind the scenes, but we are thankful for the vital role they play in the day-to-day operations of Palomar College. Several events were held throughout the week to celebrate our classified employees, and I was fortunate to attend the following two:

Classified Employee Appreciation Week Luncheon
I was happy to join everyone for the Classified Appreciation Luncheon held under the clock tower. The weather was perfect, and the barbeque was fantastic. A special thank you to President Anel Gonzalez for her leadership, Patti Serafin for being a great MC, and Matt Grills for his DJ skills. Also, a note of gratitude for everyone who worked behind the scenes to make this event a success!

Classified Employee Appreciation Ice Cream Social
I arrived a bit late, but I was able to attend the Classified Appreciation Ice Cream Social on Wednesday. It was well attended, and I had a great time connecting with some of our classified employees. Thank you for the invitation.

Upcoming Events
Workforce Partnership Opportunities with Palomar College
Next week on Wednesday, May 25th, the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce is hosting a workshop about how business and industry members can partner with Palomar College to access key talent. Nichol Roe, Associate Dean of Workforce Development and Extended Education will be the event’s guest speaker. Participants will learn about Palomar’s work-based learning opportunities. Thank you, Nichol, for representing Palomar so well and highlighting the many wonderful opportunities we have to offer.

2022 Commencement
Commencement will take place Friday, May 27th, at 5:00 pm. A reception for employees will take place beforehand had at 4:00 pm at the Chamness Courtyard. All are welcome to attend the reception, however, please remember full academic regalia is required to actively participate in the 5:00 ceremony.

Campus Engagement Highlights
Transfer Recognition
Our students who are transferring were celebrated over two days. The event honored the hard work of those students transferring from Palomar to a four-year university, or college, to continue their education. I was delighted to see the many students who came through to receive their certificates and enjoy the festivities. I spoke to several students who expressed their gratitude for the support they received all along their transfer journey. Great job P.J. DeMaris and Brittany Wong!

Puente’s End of the Year Celebration
This week Palomar’s Puente Program recognized Cohort 5 and 2022 graduates at the Puente End of Year Celebration. Professors Cynthia Cordova and Sonia Gutiérrez did an outstanding job supporting these students through the pandemic (zoomlandia) and helping them achieve this awesome milestone. I was extremely impressed with the level of detail that went into the planning of the event. It was one of the best Puente celebrations I have ever attended.

Governing Board Special Meeting
At this week’s Governing Board Special Meeting, Vice President David Montoya led a presentation on the upcoming Reorganization Process for the District, and he outlined the goals of the project. He explained that the purpose of the reorganization process is to improve educational services, develop organizational structure efficiencies, and create new opportunities for current employees to help Palomar grow successfully into the future. We will be hearing a lot more about this endeavor in the immediate future.

Disability Resource Center Graduation
The Disability Resource Center (DRC) Graduation was emotionally impactful! The event did an outstanding job celebrating its graduates this week. I want to thank the entire DRC team for hosting such a moving event, and I especially want to thank Director Shauna Moriarty for her leadership. DRC has been unwavering in its commitment to inclusion, accessibility, and educational innovation. Evidenced from the student stories at the event, the DRC clearly is making a great and positive impact on the lives of our students.

Black/African American Community Advisory Council Meeting
This week also included meeting with the Black/African American Community Advisory Council. It is a great group with invested individuals in creating an affirming environment for Black/African American students and employees. We discussed the current Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis that is currently underway. We also discussed potential upcoming, culturally relevant, outreach activities.

Service Learning Awards Celebration
I was able to stop by the Service Learning Awards Celebration hosted by Dr. Angela Kong and Gina Wilson. I learned a great deal about our Palomar Service Learning program, and it was nice to see our students recognized through the Excellence in Service Learning Award.

La Raza Achievement Celebration
The La Raza Achievement Celebration was phenomenal. A huge congratulations and gracias to the Association of Latinos & Allies for Student Success (ALASS). Entire families came to celebrate, and each graduate was honored with a stole. Keynote speaker, Dean Leslie Salas, shared her moving words with the over 350 attendees. I am already looking forward to next year’s event!

Asian Pacific Alliance in Higher Education (APAHE) Event
This week, I was also able to support another fantastic Asian Pacific Alliance in Higher Education (APAHE) event in honor of Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The event was titled “Liberation Through Collective Healing & Praxis” presented by Hossna Sadat Ahadi and student/employee Sina Laie. The workshop included activities that had us reflect on areas of racial tension and focused on fostering liberation through collective healing.

Employee Recognition Ceremony
We virtually held our annual Employee Recognition Celebration this week to honor our faculty, staff, and administrators for their accomplishments, years of service, retirements, and special awards received. It was inspiring to be reminded of the good work that all of Palomar’s employees do week in and week out. Thank you to all who made this event possible with a special note of gratitude to Luis Guerrero and Matt Grills for their outstanding planning and leadership.

Celebrating Social Justice Leaders
I was able to attend an event hosted by Dr. Hossna Sadat Ahadi to celebrate Palomar’s stand-out social justice leaders. Honored at the event was Dr. Jack Kahn, Jenny Fererro, Dr. Rocco Versaci, Teresa Laughlin, and Lawrence Hamilton Lawson. The work these individuals have done to move Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility, and Antiracism (DEIAA) efforts forward have well positioned our institution for future gains in this area. Thank you all and congratulations on this well-earned honor.

Associated Student Government Banquet
I joined our student leadership at their annual Associated Student Government (ASG) Banquet to celebrate the graduation of several officers and the installation of incoming officers. A special thank you to Director Sherry Titus for her leadership in mentoring these students. It is amazing to see how much these student leaders grow over the course of an academic year!

IMPACT Magazine
​​This week I was able to read the latest edition of Palomar’s IMPACT Magazine. The award-winning, student-run, magazine was an excellent read. Thank you, journalism professor, and magazine advisor, Erin Hiro. The magazine has been published since 2011. IMPACT features the work of students in the college’s journalism program. Here is a link to the current issue. If you are interested in advertising with the magazine you can get more information here and here or e-mail ehiro@palomar.edu.

Community Engagement Highlights
Equitable Recovery in Action: Becoming an Antiracist, Student Ready Institutions
I attended the Chancellor’s Office webinar titled, Equitable Recovery in Action: Becoming an Antiracist, Student Ready Institutions. The webinar focused on addressing the need to accelerate system-wide equitable recovery. It highlighted ongoing efforts across the system to adopt, customize and scale equity-advancing strategies, tools, and resources to facilitate systemic change. The purpose of these efforts is to cultivate a more equitable, inclusive, and transformative teaching and learning ecosystem. The webinar focused on a range of issues required in becoming an antiracist, student ready institution, including designing strategic enrollment management policies and practices as a lever for system-wide changes in expanding access, outreach, retention, and completion. The recording of the webinar can be found in the Vision Resource Center Portal here.

COVID-19 Update Meeting
This week we held our bi-weekly COVID-19 update meeting. Here is the recording of the meeting. Please note, this upcoming week we will have antigen test kit distribution events on Tuesday, May 24th, and Wednesday, May 25th from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Performing Arts Center patio at the San Marcos Campus. All employees are eligible even if they have collected a kit previously. Students can continue to pick up kits from the Student Health Center during operating hours. If you happen to be at one of the centers, you can go to the COVID monitor station in any of the libraries and collect a kit there. And if you can’t make either of these events, you can request the antigen test kit via the facilities remedy process. Please note, as of May 31st, vaccines will no longer be required to enroll in face-to face campus courses. During the meeting discussed the metrics we are currently using to guide our decision making. From a public health standpoint, according to the CDC, we remain in a low-risk category for the county.  However, we will continue to monitor public health reports and make necessary changes if needed.

Comets of the Week
A couple of weeks ago, Palomar had a very successful day community outreaching at the Fallbrook Avocado Festival. Employees and volunteers engaged with hundreds of people throughout the day including high school students and Palomar Alumni. The team answered questions, spread the word about the Fallbrook Education Center, and encouraged many to join the Palomar family. I was very happy to see so many departments come together to support this event. The Fallbrook Chamber of Commerce stated it was arguably the largest number of attendees at well over 100,000 people. Here is a list of the Comets that made this day a success for Palomar: Nellie Martinez, Gabriela Lopez, Fabiola Hernandez, Maritza Martinez Garcia, Jonatan Miranda Eligio, Citlali Rodriguez Gonzalez, Yesenia Lazcano, Adriana Alvarez, Sheri Cully, Ryan Williams, Yvette Maynard, and Tracy Fung.

Have a great upcoming week. Go Comets!

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


National Peace Officers Memorial Day

May 15th is National Peace Officers Memorial Day. The purpose of this designation is to honor those Peace Officers who have died, or were disabled, in the line of duty. We thank those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in their service to others. We appreciate and thank Peace Officers who serve, protect, and strive to engage in policing that treats everyone with dignity and respect.

Campus Engagement Highlights
Asian Pacific Alliance in Higher Education (APAHE) Events
This week, I was able to support an event sponsored by the Asian Pacific Alliance in Higher Education (APAHE) titled Identity and Truth Through Poetry and Spoken Word. Presenters read poems that explored their Asian American identities. Thank you to everyone for sharing your poems and for inviting me to the event. Thank you, Dr. Angela Kong, Monica Diego Schmidt, Gary Sosa, Joe Limer, Stephanie Sajor, Eddy Gana, and Ashley Launza, for your continued support and participation in these types of events.

Queer Pride at Palomar
We had a great time celebrating the Pride Center’s Queer Pride event. It was a fantastic, well attended, event! It was heartwarming to see everyone come out to support our LGBTQIA+ community and Pride Center. During the event we unveiled Palomar’s new Pride Progress flag. The flag symbolizes our institutional commitment and dedication to inclusiveness and allyship. I want to thank the members of the Pride Center Committee to Combat Hate (PC3H) for making this event possible. A special thank you to Dr. Abbie Cory, Dylan Davison, Jenny Ferrero, Pippa Pierce, Lisette Lasater, Madelyn Byrne, Ben Mudgett, Jessica Horn, Susan Miller, Rafiki Jenkins, AJ Lewis, and Mark Raymundo.

EOPS/CARE/CalWORKs/FYRST/Palomar Promise, and TRIO SSS Class of 2022 Celebration
EOPS/CARE/CalWORKs/FYRST/Palomar Promise, and TRIO SSS did an amazing job hosting approximately 200 people in the student union to celebrate the graduates of these various programs. It is evident that the educational support these programs provide has a positive impact on student success. It was emotional to hear the phenomenal student speakers as they expressed their gratitude for the support they received. Thank you to our amazing employees in these programs who daily assist our students to ensure their success! Your work is making a significant and positive difference!

MODA Fashion Show
Palomar’s Fashion Merchandising and Design Program hosted the incredible MODA Fashion Show this week. This event highlighted the college’s 75th anniversary with the theme of, “Diamonds are Forever.” Ten student designers made their debut with unique and expressive handmade garments. The show was well attended and took place on the first floor of the Learning Resource Center. I was very impressed with the talent exhibited on the runway. Here is a great video put together by PCTV that explains the different aspects of what goes into arranging a show. Thank you, Rita Campo Griggs and Dean Susan Wyche, for the invitation and your leadership.

Phi Theta Kappa Ceremony
I had the pleasure of saying a few words at the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Induction Ceremony. This event celebrated new PTK members and recognized their hard work and commitment to academic excellence. I was particularly impressed with these students because they earned this distinction during the pandemic! I would like to express my sincere appreciation to PTK Co-Advisors Dr. Dana O’Callaghan and Jennifer Backman who tirelessly served as a source of support for these students during a difficult time.

Fortissimo and Palomar Symphony Orchestra Concert
Over the weekend I was able to welcome the Fortissimo Orchestra (students from local middle schools and high schools) who played side-by-side with our Palomar Symphony Orchestra. It was wonderful to experience this very special event. The amazing program also featured Maurice Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major which featured acclaimed pianist, and educator, Dr. Ching-Ming Cheng. The event was spectacular! I am thankful to our Orchestra Director, Dr. Ellen Weller, for her vision in providing this type of community-based programming.

I was also able to attend the live theater production of Kentucky. I was not familiar with the play prior to attending, but I was pleasantly surprised by the thought-provoking content. And as always, I was extremely impressed by the level of professionalism in the execution of the production. A big thank you to Director Michael Mufson for a job well done. A special note of appreciation to Tony Cucuzzella for the spectacular set design. And I must compliment Dr. Molly Faulkner’s performance of the grandmother character. I did not even realize it was her until half-way through the play! Absolutely fantastic all the way around! Finally, a special thank you to House/Box Office Manager, Heather Murray-Mowery for helping me coordinate my visits!

Community Engagement Highlights
A Step Beyond
I am excited about the developing partnership with A Step Beyond (ASB). I met with CEO, James Wright, to discuss establishing educational pipelines between our organizations for incoming students and their parents. A Step Beyond, a non-profit youth development organization in Escondido, possesses a stellar record for serving underserved students through the creative arts. I look forward to the good work we will do together to serve our surrounding community.

San Diego North Economic Development Council’s (SDNEDC) 9th Annual North County Economic Summit
This week the SDNEDC hosted the 9th Annual North County Economic Summit at CSUSM. The convening brought together over 400 leaders from throughout North County to hear insights about how national and international trends will impact our county. They discussed important consequential developments including inflation, housing prices, and the great “reset” of COVID-19. I appreciate our Palomar Foundation for hosting a table and allowing several district representatives to attend and hear this vital information that impacts our college.

The North County Higher Education Alliance (NCHEA) Presidential Breakfast
The North County Higher Education Alliance (NCHEA) is an educational consortium comprised of Palomar College, MiraCosta College, and CSU San Marcos. The goal of NCHEA is to improve the educational opportunities for North County citizens through a collaboration between the three member colleges. This week, we virtually held the annual President’s Breakfast where the Annual Report was presented. The Annual Report recapped the goals and achievements of NCHEA throughout the 2021/2022 academic year, and we discussed potential future plans for the organization. I am excited to announce that our very own, Luis Guerrero, will take the helm of the organization over the next year! Congratulations Luis and thank you for your leadership!

SDCAAWCC 2022 Annual Recognition Event Honoring Women Who Make a Difference
The San Diego Chapter of the American Association for Women in Community Colleges (SDCAAWCC) formally recognized four incredible Palomar College women for their amazing contributions in advancing women at the 2022 Annual Recognition Event. Congratulations to Sina Venise Laie (Student), Anel Gonzalez (Classified), Patti Dixon (Faculty), and Dr. Nora Kenney (Administrator)! These equity-minded leaders were honored for their significant contributions to the college’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism efforts. The event was held at Mesa College and Palomar College had a strong showing of support! I would also like to thank our Palomar leaders who made this event possible Dr. Mireya Aguello Gutierrez-Aguero, Dr. Hossna Sadat Ahadi, Mercedes Tiggs, and Jenny Ferrero who serve on the leadership of this great organization.

Comets of the Week
Last Saturday, May 7th, Palomar faculty, staff, and ESL students volunteered to beautify the Early Childhood Education Lab School in Escondido. Thank you Lisa Casas, Gary Sosa, Marcel Castillo, Trevyan Thomson and the ESL student volunteers who participated! You can watch the video here. It’s a pleasure to see our employees and students come together on a weekend to improve the space of our youngest comets.


Have a great upcoming week. Go Comets!

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


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