Dr. Rivera-Lacey’s Updates

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


Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. AAPI Heritage Month is observed annually to recognize the countless contributions Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made to American history, society, and culture. Palomar has a full schedule of events planned thanks to our amazing Asian Pacific Alliance in Higher Education (APAHE) members. There will be virtual sessions throughout the month to engage with AAPI history, activism, and identities. Here is a link to view the upcoming events planned.

National Autism Acceptance Month
April is National Autism Acceptance Month. In 2021, the Autism Society changed the word awareness to acceptance in the title to challenge the perception of autism being an illness. Autism Acceptance Month emphasizes the need to empower autistic people to live fully and is designed to highlight the importance of fostering inclusivity in communities. This year’s “Celebrate Differences” campaign is meant to make communities more aware of autism and educate people on the signs and characteristics of the autism spectrum. Here’s a link to the Autism Society’s website to learn more.

Important Registration Update
We have postponed our summer and fall registration by one week in order to provide clarity for our students regarding facial covering requirements and vaccination mandates. A notification was distributed to all students explaining priority registration will begin on May 9 and open registration will take place on May 16. If you have any questions, please contact the Office of the Vice President of Student Services, Dr. Vikash Lakhani at vlakhani@palomar.edu.  Please have students reach out to vpstudentservices@palomar.edu.

Campus Engagement Highlights
Media Days Event
The virtual Media Days event occurred this past week (April 25-28). It had a great line-up with a focus on Media Studies industry professionals who shared their stories and offered real-world industry advice. Thank you to all the presenters and the Media Studies Department for organizing another great lineup of events. I was moved by hearing the story of one of our former students, Jennesh Agagas, who is now an Associate Producer for Fox News in New York.​​ She expressed, that if it were not for Palomar College’s Media Studies department, she would not be fulfilling her professional dreams.

Media Studies Department Tour
I would also like to thank the entire Media Studies department for the fantastic tour I received on Friday. It was extremely informative, and I learned a great deal about the wide-range of course offerings we provide to our students. I also had some wonderfully unique experiences like getting a chance to see the first Telescope student newspaper (1947), picking up copies of our Impact magazine, learning that our radio station aired for the first time in 1956, and seeing the huge collection of awards our radio station (KKSM AM 1320) and PCTV have won over the years. I left extremely impressed that our students have access to such a wide range of opportunities that well prepare them for the industry! Thank you: Amy Caterina (Photography), Scott Klinger (Photography), Erin Hiro (Journalism), Wendy Nelson (Communications), Scott Richison (Digital Broadcast Arts), Lisa Cecere (Cinema), Candace Rose (Cinema), Zeb Navarro (KKSM), Jim Odom (Manager of ETV and KKSM), Justin Smiley (Dean), Ben King (Media Studies Staff), Niko Holt (Student Worker), and Emma Mings (Student Worker).

Palomar College Retirees’ Association (PACRA) Meeting
I again met with PACRA leadership this week. They each shared about their history at Palomar, and we discussed how to best partner in the future. Our retirees are critical members of our Palomar community, and we want to make sure to keep the lines of communication open between us. I was also able to, once again, express my compliments for the amazing annual luncheon meeting they held last week. A very special thank you to the organizers of last week’s event and this week’s meeting: June Rady, Bob Larson, Judy Dolan, Tom Humphrey, Jayne Conway, John Erickson, Becky McCluskey, and Cynthia Poole. Thank you for all you do on behalf of our retirees.

Palomar College Foundation
Thank you to Stacy Rungaitis and her amazing Foundation team who hosted another great Board of Directors meeting where I was able to present campus updates and our plans for the immediate future. It is always wonderful to spend time with these phenomenal community leaders who do so much on behalf of our Palomar community.

Community Engagement Highlights
Kiwanis Club of Lake San Marcos Meeting
The Kiwanis Club of Lake San Marcos invited me to speak at their meeting last week. I spoke about my vision for the future of Palomar College and my experiences during my first year as Superintendent/President. I look forward to future collaborations with the club.

Leading the Future: Community Reception to Benefit A Step Beyond
I attended the, A Step Beyond (ASB) benefit event at the California Center for the Arts Escondido. ASB is a creative development organization that serves youth and their families living at, or below, the poverty line. They provide free after-school dance classes, academic support, and social services. Vice President of Student Services, Dr. Lakhani, and I enjoyed learning more about this wonderful organization and how they are positively impacting our community.

SDICCCA Annual Dinner
San Diego and Imperial Counties Community Colleges Association (SDICCCA) hosted a dinner for Trustees and CEOs. The featured speaker was Chancellor Emerita, Constance M. Carroll who focused her presentation on the benefits and opportunities of community colleges pursuing the ability to offer baccalaureate degrees. Thank you to Trustee Kartik Raju, Trustee Roberto Rodriguez, and PIO Julie Lanthier Bandy for joining me in representing Palomar College.

CCLC Annual Trustees Conference
The Community College League of California (CCLC) held their Annual Trustees Conference this past Friday – Sunday in Dana Point. Trustee Kartik Raju, Trustee Norma Miyamoto, Trustee Roberto Rodriguez, Trustee Mark Evilsizer, Executive Assistance Kelly Miller, and Director Michelle Barton and I received invaluable training that will benefit the District. This event always represents a great opportunity to interact with other CEO’s and trustees from across the state.

Black Student Success Week
This year’s statewide Black Student Success Week was outstanding! The theme, A Vision for Black Student Success: Creating a New Landscape to Succeed, was timely and poignant. It focused on the current state of Black students in our community college system, and it explored new approaches to ensure the success of Black students. This is the third time the State Chancellor’s Office, has hosted this event and every time I walk away with a renewed sense of commitment. I highly encourage taking the opportunity to participate in the future. I am excited to see this type of programming on a statewide level, and I hope we can infuse this type of programming into our Palomar culture on an ongoing basis.

Tarde de Familia
I want to give a huge congratulations to all the organizers of this year’s Tarde de Familia event. It was a huge success! I enjoyed listening to the inspiring words of speaker, and ECELS faculty member, Martha Cortes-Rodriguez who told us about her educational journey. I was also able to share a bit about my own story in hopes of inspiring students and parents to further their education. The program also included awarding student scholarships and honoring Dr. Jack Kahn for his years of support for the program. The first hour of the event was dynamic and consisted of a resource fair, excellent food, and entertainment. I am convinced this event will have a long-lasting impact for all those who were able to attend. Thank you: Ruth Barnaba, Dr. Nancy Browne, Dr. Sabrina Menchaca, and Eduardo Aguilar for your leadership! I would also like to thank ALASS members, volunteers, and the departments who participated to make this event a success. I was extremely impressed to see the numerous classified professionals, faculty members, and administrators who came out to support the event- including Vice President David Montoya and Trustee Christina Garcia. Thank you all!

New Role
Please join me in welcoming Kimberlee Ahinger to the Superintendent/President’s Office. Kimberlee will share her talent as a part-time Executive Assistant while Michelle LaVigueur is on leave. You likely know Kimberlee for her contributions as the Senior Administrative Assistant for the Palomar College Student Health Center. She will be continuing her work with the Student Health Center, while ensuring the many initiatives of the Superintendent/President’s Office are prioritized and accomplished. Kimberlee has been with Palomar College for 3.5 years and her work exemplifies a steadfast commitment to the success of our students and institution. I am very appreciative of Kimberlee’s willingness to share her time and talent in this important role. Thank you, Kimberlee!

Upcoming Events
75th Anniversary Employee Luncheon and Presidential Installation (May 4)
Don’t Forget to RSVP for the 75th celebration luncheon at the clock tower this upcoming Wednesday, May 4. You can still RSVP here. I look forward to celebrating with everyone.

California Community Colleges Mental Health Action Week (May 2-5)
The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office is presenting a series of webinar sessions this week to support Mental Health Action Week. You can register for the sessions by clicking on the links below. The Board of Governor’s established Mental Health Action Week to strengthen trauma-informed care expertise across the system, improve our classroom climates and campus culture, remove structural barriers, and advocate for additional resources to meet the diverse mental health service needs of California community college students and employees.

  • Monday, May 2 | Introduction to Mental Health
    The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office invites you to the 2022 Mental Health Action Week virtual kick-off event. Join us in a discussion with system-wide leaders on current topics. 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Register Here
  • Tuesday, May 3 | Reap the Rewards by Creating a Self-Care Culture
    Dr. Gloria Morrow will highlight the importance of self-care and downtime. She will guide the audience to develop a self-care and wellness vision plan, including three practical self-care strategies and how to get started. Self-care is for everyone. 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Register Here
  • Wednesday, May 4 | The Social Determinants of Educational Success: Centered in Mental Health
    This webinar will introduce a framework of social determinants of educational success that highlights the three key social determinants that directly impact student success.  A roadmap will be presented to embrace this paradigm shift by laying out strategies that identify key levers, maximize flexibility for local planning and decision-making, and create enabling conditions to support the re-envisioning of a student-centered support ecosystem. 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Register Here
  • Thursday, May 5 | Trauma Informed Care: An Essential Tool for Colleges. Most often, it is non-clinical staff and faculty that have regular and ongoing contact with students experiencing mental health conditions. Join Dr. Kristin Dempsey in this introductory discussion of trauma-informed approaches and practices. Audiences will learn strategies for engaging in trauma-informed approaches to support post-traumatic growth and resiliency. You will gain knowledge on how to integrate trauma-informed principles and practices into the college culture. 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Register Here

Queer Pride at Palomar (May 11)
I am attaching a flyer for the upcoming Queer Pride event at Palomar College that will take place Wednesday, May 11 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.

Comets of the Week
Seven Palomar archaeology students and their instructors Betsy Pain and Jim Eighmey attended this year’s Society of California Archaeology Conference in Visalia, California. Four of the students presented posters on their original research from artifacts excavated at the Rancho Peñasquitos Adobe in San Diego. One of our students, Kimberly Algya, won Best Student Poster, competing with undergraduate and graduate students from many of the California State and UC colleges. The posters will be on display at the library. Congratulations Kimberly!

Have a great upcoming week. Go Comets!

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

Happy Earth Day 2022

Friday, April 22nd was the 52nd anniversary of Earth Day, and the official theme for this year was “Invest In Our Planet.” Earth Day is meant to be a time to celebrate our planet, recognize the importance of taking care of the environment, and conserving the earth’s resources. The hope is that future generations of people will be able to experience a healthy world. You can find interesting information by visiting the official Earth Day website to learn more about sustainability efforts and how to be more active in the movement.

Campus Engagement Highlights
This week, Spring Political Economy Days took place. There were many great presentations and lectures from a variety of speakers. I know that I personally learned a lot and I am thankful for these types of opportunities to expand my knowledge. Thank you to all the outstanding presenters, and a special thank you to organizers Peter Bowman, Jennifer Herrera, and Anastasia Zavodny.

On Tuesday, we held a special Governing Board Meeting where Director Michelle Barton led two informative workshops. The first workshop consisted of a board review of the survey of instruments utilized to determine their self-evaluation as required by the accrediting commission for community colleges. The second workshop consisted of an update on planning, a review of institutional effectiveness data, and a progress check on our vision for success metrics. Thank you Michelle for two excellent presentations.

The Bon Voyage Celebration for Dr. Jack Kahn also took place this past week. We had the opportunity to wish him all the best on his new adventure as the new President of Shoreline Community College. A big thank you to all those who helped set up this special event: Anna Kate Hilton, Monica Galindo, Richard Loucks, Krista Lough, Kelly Miller, and Kimberlee Ahinger.

I also had the pleasure of attending and speaking at the annual Palomar College Retirees Association (PACRA) Luncheon. I had a great time speaking with PACRA members about the state of the college and the ways in which the district can work to support our valued retirees. It was a phenomenal experience to see the collective wisdom and experience of these former employees all gathered in one room. Thank you Jayne Conway for the invitation and coordinating the details.

Friday afternoon, I held my monthly President’s Open Office Hours, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to dialogue with different campus stakeholders. I always learn so much about all the innovative and exciting projects that are underway throughout the district. I appreciate being able to learn more from those who are implementing the various projects. I am always in awe of the excellent work we do as a District to support student success and the variety of opportunities we offer.

On Friday evening, I attended the Palomar Performing Arts Latin Nights event. A great time was had by all. Participants engaged in dance lessons, experienced wonderful Cuban food, and had the opportunity to listen to great live music. Thank you Patriceann Mead, founder and director of Latin nights, for organizing this wonderful event.

Community Engagement Highlights
This week, I attended the SDSU Community College Leaders Alumni Group (CCLEAD) 2022 Fred McFarlane Lecture series featuring Rufus Glasper, President and CEO of the League for Innovation in the Community College. His lecture titled, The Paradigm Shift for Higher Education, focused on the changing landscape of the community college system and the type of leadership needed in this new reality.

We also held our Independent Citizen Oversight Committee (ICOC) Meeting where they reviewed and approved the 20-21 annual report, reviewed the communication plan to recruit new members, received a Prop M construction update, and reviewed our latest independent audit.

I had the privilege of representing Palomar at the10th annual Chefs, Cork & Craft Gala fundraiser for one of our basic-needs partners, the San Diego Food Bank. I am appreciative of the invitation by our long-standing community partner, the California Coast Credit Union.

And finally, my week concluded by attending the Fallbrook Avocado Festival, where Palomar College had a booth. The festival was attended by thousands of people, and I am proud that Palomar was represented well. A very special thank you to the many individuals who worked on the project to make it a reality Ryan Williams, Nellie Martinez, Gabriela Lopez, Maritza Martinez Garcia, Jonatan Miranda Eligio, Citlali Rodriguez Gonzalez, Yesenia Lazcano, Adriana Alvarez, Sheri Cully, Yvette Maynard, and Tracy Fung.

Upcoming Events
Black Student Success Week (April 25-29, 2022)
This year’s Black Student Success Week’s theme is, A Vision for Black Student Success: Creating a New Landscape to Succeed. It will focus on new approaches to ensure Black and African American students succeed within California Community Colleges as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Registration is required to attend the daily webinars.

Monday, April 25, noon–1:00 p.m. via Zoom: Beyond Mattering: Centering the Student Narrative
Tuesday, April 26, noon–1:00 p.m. via Zoom: No Leaks: Securing the Pipeline for Black Student Success
Wednesday, April 27, noon–1:00 p.m. via Zoom: The Path to Transfer Success: A Clear Highway or a Traffic Jam
Thursday, April 28, noon–1:00 p.m. via Zoom: Transforming Black Student Success through Courageous State Leadership
Friday, April 29, noon–1:00 p.m. via Zoom: Using Radical Action: Showing Up as Your Authentic Self

Mental Health Action Week 
The California Community College’s Mental Health Action Week begins the week of May 2nd. Mental Health Action Week was established to strengthen trauma-informed care expertise across the system, improve classroom climates and campus culture, remove structural barriers, and advocate for additional resources to meet the diverse mental health service needs of California community college students and employees. There will be a great series of webinars throughout the week. Here is a link to all webinars.

Campus Notables
The Name Pronunciation Project
The World Languages Department and English as a Second Language have come together to bring us the Name Pronunciation Project. This project is designed to assist members of the Palomar community in pronunciation of the names of anyone we interact with, be they faculty, staff, or students. Here is a link to the Professional Development Micro-trainings. Join our various professors from the World Languages Department and English as a Second Language as they lead us in a Micro-training of their specific language focus. I did an introductory video for the trainings where I talk about the importance of correct pronunciation and how this expands inclusivity by respecting people’s identity. You can view all of the training videos in a YouTube playlist by clicking here.

Pride Center
Our Palomar College Pride Center and PC3H (Pride Center Committee to Combat Hate) condemns Anti- LGBTQ legislation in Texas, Florida, and elsewhere with a powerful solidarity statement you can find here. This is as a direct response to the record 238 anti-LGBT bills introduced in state legislatures across the country since January 1.

This week we held our bi-weekly COVID-19 Update meeting. If you missed the meeting, please watch the recording here. To recap, at present we are continuing with our facial covering requirement for the remainder of the spring semester. Jason Bennett, our COVID administrator, announced that COVID library monitors will begin working at the Rancho Bernardo Center this upcoming week. We are still actively working on getting clear guidance out for the summer and fall semesters as circumstances are rapidly changing.

Comets of the Week
I would like to congratulate Sina Laie (Student), Anel Gonzalez (Classified), Patti Dixon (Faculty), and Dr. Nora Kenney (Administrator)! These equity-minded leaders are being recognized for their significant contributions to the college’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism efforts. The San Diego Chapter-American Association for Women in Community Colleges (SDAAWCC) will honor them at the upcoming Annual Region X SDCAAWCC Recognition event on May 13, 2022 at San Diego Mesa College. Congratulations!

Have a great upcoming week. Go Comets!

For pictures of the various events, follow:

Twitter: @palomardrstar
Instagram: @palomardrstar


National Arab American Heritage Month

April is federally recognized as National Arab American Heritage Month (NAAHM). Nearly four million Americans trace their heritage to an Arab country. In 2017, the Arab American Foundation launched the National Arab American Heritage Month initiative to educate people and to rewrite the stereotype representation of the Arab American community in the United States. In April 2021 President Joe Biden, with the U.S. Department of State, recognized April as National Arab American Heritage Month. Here is a link to a slideshow resource for educators to spread awareness about Arab American culture and history.

Campus and Community Engagement Highlights
This week entailed faculty hiring interviews and numerous standing meetings. Highlights included attending the “Val Sanders and a Few of His Pals” exhibition at the Boehm Gallery. The exhibit was magnificent. It was an honor to meet the 91-year-old energetic emeritus faculty legend!

Also noteworthy, is that at our weekly Executive Special Projects meeting, we discussed our plans to secure an intranet network for the college. Intranets are private networks used to distribute communications exclusively within a workforce, and it would be a major asset for Palomar. At the Budget Committee this week, we reviewed budget timelines, focused on budget assumptions, and discussed HEERF updates. Productive standing meetings also took place with PFF leadership, Palomar Black Faculty and Staff Association representatives, and with the Fallbrook Education Center Community Advisory Council.

Palomar Focus
New Grant for Student Housing
Last month, the California Department of Finance awarded Palomar College a planning grant in the amount of $820,000 to explore the feasibility of building safe-affordable student housing. Here is a link to the San Diego Union-Tribune article published this week that featured the grant.

Palomar Achieves Home College Status
On Friday, April 8th, Palomar College became the 67th California Community College to become a “Home” campus with the California Virtual Campus (CVC). Palomar College students can now take courses on the CVC Exchange and reach their educational goals faster. Palomar College students will apply directly through the CVC to the “Teaching” College and can take up to two CVC Exchange courses per term. The next step for Palomar College will be to become a “Teaching” college.  This will mean that students from other California Community Colleges will be able to use the CVC Exchange to enroll in Palomar College online courses.

Phi Theta Kappa Launches Newsletter
Phi Theta Kappa has published its first PTK newsletter to share with the campus community. The newsletter contains what PTK is about, the projects they have worked on, and information about the students who give their time and heart to Phi Theta Kappa at Palomar. Alpha Omega Rho is Palomar’s own Phi Theta Kappa chapter. Initiated in 1994, the chapter has earned various accolades including the designation of a Five Star Chapter.

Spring 2022 Political Economy Days
Palomar’s Political Economy Days are Tuesday- April 19th, Wednesday- April 20th, and Thursday– April 21. Now in its seventeenth year, the purpose of Political Economy Days is to broaden students’ exposure to political, economic, and historical topics. Lectures on a variety of topics feature faculty from Palomar College, SD Mesa College, CSU San Marcos, UCSD, and other educational institutions. All presentations will be held virtually. Here is a link to the schedule and list of speakers. The program is also attached.

Comets of the Week
This week’s Comets of the Week are Nora Kenney-Whitley, Rachel Miller, and Michelle Barton who authored the Rising Scholars Network Grant sponsored by Educational Services and Support Division of the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. We were notified this week that the grant was funded! The grant provides $172,000 annually (for the next three years) to support our formerly incarcerated and system-impacted students. Palomar’s application ranked 8th of the 59 granted in the entire state. This funding will go a long way in supporting our Palomar College Transitions Program!

Have a great upcoming week. Go Comets!

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

Welcome Back!

Welcome back, and I hope everyone enjoyed their spring break. Over the break, César Chávez Day was observed on March 31st. This holiday celebrates the birth and legacy of the civil rights labor movement activist whose lifetime commitment to empowering silenced voices continues to inspire us today. To learn more about the holiday, and to read the 2022 White House César Chávez Day Proclamation, click here.

National Deaf History Month
The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) has declared mid-March through mid-April as National Deaf History Month. The intent of this designation is to spread awareness about American deaf history and to highlight the experiences of people who are deaf and hard of hearing. We have a great upcoming opportunity to learn more by attending our Palomar Equity Speakers Series event featuring Catarina Rivera who will be speaking about her personal journey with disability, being hard of hearing, ableism and its societal presence, her perspective on intersectionality as a disabled Latina, and her work as an entrepreneur and content creator. The event will be held virtually, Thursday, April 14th from 4:00pm-5:15pm. More information is available here and the zoom link can be found here.

Community Engagement
This week I met with CSUSM College President, Dr. Ellen Neufeldt and MiraCosta College President, Dr. Sunny Cooke. We discussed, and planned, how to strengthen the relationship between our three institutions with a specific focus on what we want to accomplish through our North County Higher Education Alliance (NCHEA). Our NCHEA partnership has been extremely successful in supporting and improving the educational opportunities for North County citizens for many years. NCHEA promotes working relationships and active communication among faculty, staff, and students at our three institutions by focusing on student learning and the seamless transfer of students from lower to upper division programs. A special thanks to Luis Guerro, Matt Grills, and Marti Snyder who have been working closely with me in order to assure the continued success of this critical alliance.

Campus Engagement
During the Governing Board meeting this week, the Board passed a resolution officially proclaiming support of faculty, staff, and administrators who are working toward achieving our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) goals and objectives. This resolution, along with our Title IX policies and procedures, substantiates the District’s commitment to protecting the health and safety of our employees.

At the same meeting, President of the Palomar College Faculty Senate, Rocco Versaci, included in his report a statement in support of creating a safe and supportive environment for all employees who are involved with our District’s DEI efforts. The statement, supported by the Faculty Senate and its subcommittee, Educators for Equity, Diversity, and Cultural Consciousness, called for college leadership to implement policies and procedures that address threats against faculty with a sense of urgency. The following seven items were specifically called out:

  • Acknowledgement and transparency of threats to Palomar employees  
  • Swift and public condemnation of threatening and hateful attacks  
  • Response with urgency to support employees  
  • Immediately draft a plan to respond to these threats, which will then be brought to all constituent groups for feedback and input   
  • Proactive and intentional actions to provide protection and safety by creating and implementing practices to cultivate a physically and psychologically safe environment, rather than a reactive approach that places burden on targeted employees  
  • Develop a safe reporting mechanism in collaboration with EEDCCC and HR to keep a record, provide support, and accountability  
  • Align intention with action for social justice, DEI, and antiracism work and Palomar employees who conduct/embody these efforts for the Palomar College community  

I would like to take this time to underscore that I, and the Governing Board, are prepared to address these concerns immediately. Initial conversations already took place this past week at our All-District Leadership meeting and College Council meeting. I have also already scheduled, for our next Governing Board meeting, a presentation that summarizes and discusses the District’s current protections in place to ensure a safe working and learning environment for students and employees.

Please note, any student or employee who feels unsafe for any reason, is strongly encouraged to immediately contact our Title IX officer, Shawn Cohen (scohen@palomar.edu) at 760-744-1150 ext. 2608 or may choose to utilize the Unlawful Discrimination Complaint Form to file a discrimination or Title IX/sexual misconduct concern associated with any student or employee. In addition, the Student Incident Report is available to report any alleged student code of conduct violation or student concern that requires basic needs resources. For more information on resources and support, please visit the following webpage. Also please note, our Assistant Superintendent/Vice President of Human Resources, David Montoya (dmontoya@palomar.edu) is prepared to make himself readily available for any concerns or questions. These efforts remain a top priority for the District, and I will keep you updated on forthcoming discussions and associated results. Hate is not a Palomar College value and district leadership is prepared to protect the rights and safety of our community members.

Also, in the spirit of keeping our campus community safe, a very big thank you to Heather Schmidt with CCC Tech Connect who created a micro-training video on how to deter unwanted behavior during zoom meetings. The video has been closed-captioned for accessibility. Here is the link to the very useful video.

This week we held our COVID-19 Update meeting. We will be hosting a vaccination clinic on April 14th from 10:00am–2:00p.m. in the Student Union Quad (note: GradFest will also be held on this day). COVID monitors, in addition to serving San Marcos and Fallbrook, are now set up at the Escondido Library. As of now, no major changes to our current COVID-19 procedures are scheduled for the rest of the semester. The recording of the meeting can be found here. As a reminder, if you are not feeling well, please refrain from coming to campus, and fill out this form so we are able to support you.

Comets of the Week
Congratulations to our Media Studies and Digital Broadcast Arts colleagues! The Broadcast Education Association (BEA) has announced its first annual rankings of schools based on the creative achievement of their students. Palomar made the list, coming in at #91, in the company of some other great media programs around the country. You can read the full announcement from BEA here. Congrats and job well done!


Have a great upcoming week. Go Comets!

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

Enjoy Spring Break

Spring Break officially begins tomorrow Monday, March 28 and we will resume normal operations on April 4. I hope everyone has a well-earned relaxing and safe spring break!

Cabinetry and Furniture Technology Program Spotlight
Palomar’s Cabinetry and Furniture Technology (CFT) program was featured in, The Furniture Society’s newsletter (found here). The Furniture Society is the premier non-profit organization representing, promoting, and connecting furniture makers, designers, collectors, curators, educators, and manufacturers from around the world. Our CFT program prepares students to open their own woodworking business or become employed by a high-end woodworking related business. The program is 60 years old and features world-class facilities, phenomenal instructors, and a dedicated and talented student body. Palomar is very proud of this program and it’s great to see its excellence being recognized.

The Week in Review
Campus Engagement
This week, I was able to present at two Women’s History Month events. The first event was Rescatando Suenos/Rescuing Dreams de Latinas. I had the privilege of co-presenting with Dr. Sabrina Menchaca. The topic of the workshop was about accepting self-identity through an interactive process and building resilience by reconnecting with our dreams. We discussed self-care and facilitating personal and professional growth. The second event was Continuing Education Tips for Education Professionals. At this workshop, panel members shared ideas and best practices for working professionals who have decided to continue their education. We examined and discussed the competing priorities working professionals face. This presentation was organized and hosted by Cheryl Kearse. Thank you to both of these powerful women for providing the space for these important and timely discussions.

I also met with members of the Asian Pacific Alliance in Higher Education (APAHE) this week. I appreciate Angela Kong, Gary Sosa, Joseph Limer, and Monica Diego Schmidt for the gift of their time and insightful perspective. During our meeting we discussed institutional priorities that would support APAHE’s mission. APAHE is a collective group of students, employees, and community members dedicated to creating safe and courageous spaces to learn, network, present research, and provide supportive resources for teaching and learning. They are committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion and are passionate about sharing cultural identities and advocating for social justice education. If you are interested in learning more about the group, you can find their webpage here.

I also had the awesome opportunity to meet with the ESL Department. I met virtually with the larger group, and then I toured the department in person. I am absolutely amazed by the incredible work that happens in ESL. Thank you for the invite to learn more about the department, and a special thank you to Tracy Fung for coordinating the visit. I also met with the Pride Center this week, and we discussed upcoming events they are currently planning (including the Progressive Pride Flag unveiling). Great job Abbie Cory and Dylan Davison. I always enjoy meeting with student leaders, and this week I met with Student Trustee Rachel Alazar to discuss specific student concerns and to generate ideas to address them. Also, Faculty hiring continues, and I am excited about what these new hires will bring to Palomar College.

On Saturday, I had the incredible privilege of attending Mr. John Diaz’s Memorial. Mr. Diaz retired from Palomar in 2015, after serving as an Instructional Computer Lab Technician for 16 years. He was a highly decorated 26-year Veteran. His recognitions included the awarding of a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, and Silver Star. Palomar employees Jessica Horn, Robert Sedillo and I had the privilege of presenting the re-issuance of his Silver Star to the family at the service.

Community Engagement
This week, I attended the California Community College League of California’s CEO Webinar. The League provided an update on the state budget and the association’s efforts to advocate for districts in this critical budget year. I also met with three different outside organizations who are interested in partnering with Palomar, and I will have share more once the relationships become more finalized.

On Thursday, we held our Weekly COVID-19 Update Meeting to answer questions and provide updates. Please note, after spring break these meetings will be held on a bi-weekly schedule. The meetings will be held on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of every month. In case you missed the meeting, you can find the recording here.

The District is recommending COVID-19 testing for all employees, and students, who are traveling outside of California and the United States during spring break. During spring break the COVID-19 testing site at the main campus will only be open on Tuesday, March 29 from 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. All other testing sites will be closed during the spring break. Appointments are required and can be made through the Cleared4 platform. Our onsite testing schedule will resume normal operating hours on Monday, April 4. The testing schedule is noted here. Also, the San Diego County Department of Public Health Services continues to offer free COVID-19 testing. For your convenience, the County’s testing schedule can be found here.

Comet of the Week
Our Comet of the Week is Jason Bennett, our new COVID Administrator, who has done a great job onboarding our new campus COVID Monitors. These monitors have been helping students around the campus with COVID-clearance issues and answering questions. Thank you for all your hard work in this area Jason!

Have a great upcoming week. Go Comets!

For pictures of the various events, follow:

Twitter: @palomardrstar
Instagram: @palomardrstar