Dr. Rivera-Lacey’s Updates

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

Pi Day

This week began with Pi Day. Pi Day (March 14) celebrates the mathematical constant Pi, which is an irrational, transcendent, and never-ending ratio that helps describe circles of all sizes. Here is to hoping you got a slice of pie this week in honor of the day. Speaking of math and science, I have some great news for Palomar. The National Science Foundation has awarded Palomar a special grant. This grant forms a partnership between Southwestern College and Palomar College to provide online drone operation classes to the Pacific Island States (American Samoa Community College, College of Marshall Islands, College of Micronesia, Northern Marianas College, and Palau Community College) as well as to local high school students. Palomar’s main role in the grant is to run summer drone camps (virtual or in-person) for high school students in the local region as well as students in the Pacific Islands. This is an exciting project that will diversify the composition of the drone workforce, as well as ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion in our drone program. Thank you to Dr. Wing Cheung, and Richard Loucks for securing this wonderful opportunity.

Campus Engagement Highlights
On Monday, we had a very special event on campus: Disability & Innovation: A Conversation with Haben Girma. It was an honor to host Haben on our campus, she is both an inspiring speaker and advocate. Haben spoke about the importance of investing in accessibility and inclusivity for disabled people, and how to break down access barriers in education. I learned a lot about how we can make our community more inclusive. I am excited to put the principles she shared with us into action and to consider accessibility in our decision-making. A special thank you to our colleagues in the Disability Resource Center at Palomar and the Student Accessibility Services team at MiraCosta College. I love that a collaboration between our two institutions is what made this event a reality.

On Tuesday, the Governing Board held a special meeting. Our colleagues did an excellent job presenting to the Board. Dean Justin Smiley presented on our Arts, Media and Business Administration Division, Shawna Cohen presented on our district’s compliance officer training, and Adrianne Lee and Jessica Horn prepared an informative presentation on our Veteran’s Resource Center. At this meeting, Tricia Frady was also nominated as Palomar’s Classified Employee of the Year! Tricia is a Business Systems Analyst, and she has done exceptional work in making our websites and online processes simpler and more accessible to students. She has been a part of our team for over twenty years, and we appreciate her dedication, exceptional hard work, and support for the entire institution.

On Wednesday, I met with Director Sherry Titus and the Student Life and Leadership team to plan for our 2022 Commencement Ceremony which we are planning to have in person this year.

On Friday, we had an internal strategies meeting to discuss how to improve enrollment at our Education Centers. Thank you, Dr. Jack Kahn, Tom Medel, Ryan Williams, and Julie Lanthier Bandy for an extremely productive meeting. I am also happy to report that we made significant strides with electronic signage at our Escondido campus over the past few weeks.

This week I also engaged in several hiring interviews. The amount of work that goes into organizing and coordinating all these meetings is extraordinary. I want to take a moment to recognize our dedicated HR recruiting staff. Thank you, Supervisor Monique Dumbrique, Stephanie Ybarra, Celina de la Torre, and Patricia Bravo, for your exceptional work in this area.

I also had the good fortune of meeting with professor Tanessa Sanchez at a local event this week. We had the opportunity to discuss HyFlex teaching at Palomar. HyFlex is a teaching modality that makes class meetings and materials available both online and in-person, allowing the student to choose their preference. Erin Hiro, Barbara Hammons, Molly Faulkner, and Tanessa Sanchez are Palomar’s pioneers of the HyFlex teaching modality. They have successfully implemented, created training, and coached other faculty in this approach that meets the accessibility and equity needs for all students. I love learning about these types of amazing, forward-thinking approaches we are engaging in as an institution.

Speaking of amazing, the Little Shop of Horrors performance was outstanding! This is one of my favorite musicals and seeing it performed so well by our Palomar Performing Arts department was a moment of true Palomar pride. The in-person event was sold out, but there was also a zoom viewing option. I cannot say enough about this incredible event. A special note of appreciation to Director- Kathy Brombacher, Music Director- Ellen Weller, and Co-Director & Choreographer- Valerie Clark.

Community Engagement Highlights
On Tuesday, I attended a webinar hosted by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC). The meeting was about the changes in distance education regulations. They discussed ideas on how to address the new distance education regulations including concrete steps to communicate these changes and how to integrate them into policies and professional development.

On Thursday, I had the privilege of providing the keynote address at the EOPS Student Leadership Conference. The theme this year was, We are EOPS Strong: Rising Through Adversity!” I spoke about my passion and commitment to making higher education more accessible and inclusive. If you’re unfamiliar with EOPS (Extended Opportunity Programs and Services), it is a state-funded program designed to provide counseling, retention, and support services to increase college enrollment for those individuals who have previously not considered college as an option. Our own Palomar EOPS strives to alleviate the educational barriers that preclude many students from college attendance. Then on Friday, I spoke at the EOPS Employee Spring Retreat. I shared my thoughts on adjusting to a new “normal” after COVID and how to engage in self-care as we support our students through these changing times. Thank you, Steven Salter, for the generous invitation to speak and the amazing work you and the EOPS team do to support our Palomar EOPS students.

We hosted our Weekly COVID-19 Return to Campus and Update meeting on Thursday to provide updates and news regarding COVID. To recap, on Wednesday our COVID monitor team held an antigen test distribution event and delivered antigen tests to the sites that requested them. We are currently having vaccine events on campus. Here is a link to our campus’ testing schedule. You can also order free antigen tests from the federal government here. Communications regarding the importance of testing before and after leaving the state/country will be sent out soon. We encourage you to test prior to returning to campus. If you missed the meeting, please watch the recording here. Please note, after Spring Break, the meetings will move from taking place weekly to every other week.

Comet of the Week
The Comet of the Week is Child Development Professor Jenny Fererro. Jenny has been awarded the 2022 Woman of the Year at Palomar College by the Empowered Women’s Alliance. Jenny has contributed outstanding leadership in the college’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Antiracism efforts, and with the Women Empowerment efforts for the region. She is an active member and serves as part of the leadership of the Empowered Women’s Alliance and serves as a regional representative for Palomar College for the San Diego Chapter of the American Association for Women in Community Colleges. Her participation in the pronoun project, campus book clubs, lactation pods, women’s history month celebrations, food drives, pride month, academic senate involvement, and regional and statewide involvement with regards to DEI, Antiracism makes this choice obvious. Congratulations Jenny!

Have a great upcoming week. Go Comets!

For pictures of the various events, follow:

Twitter: @palomardrstar

Instagram: @palomardrstar

International Women’s Day

Tuesday, March 8th was International Women’s Day! This global celebration highlights the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. This year’s campaign theme is #BreakTheBias. Its purpose is to inspire people to act against bias and discrimination towards women, and forge equality and inclusivity.

Campus Engagement
To celebrate International Women’s Day, as well as Women’s History Month, a wide range of online events are taking place. You can view the calendar of events here. This week I was able to attend two of the events. The first was focused on Title IX: Rights, Resources, and Responding to Sexual Misconduct. The presentation provided participants with extensive information about how Palomar College responds to sexual misconduct incidents and the gender nondiscrimination rights and resources that Title IX affords. Great job Shawna Cohen for presenting this topic in a sensitive and informative manner. The second event I attended was the Women in the Labor Movement presentation. This talk explored the crucial role of women in the labor movement in the past and present. I learned more about how women’s efforts in the labor movement brought about increased rights, pay, safety, and solidarity. Thank you, Barbara Baer and Teresa Laughlin, for an excellent and informative presentation.

To prepare for Haben Girma’s visit to our campus tomorrow, I attended the Disability Resource Center’s (DRC) screening of a recorded interview with Haben on Tuesday. If you are unaware of Haben Girma, she is a celebrated author, human rights lawyer, and advocate for people with disabilities. She is also the first deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law School. She will speak during a special event in Brubeck Theater on Monday, March 14, at 4:00 p.m. During the event, Haben will share how she became an advocate and what communities can do to become more inclusive. The event is being co-hosted by Palomar College and MiraCosta College. The address will also be streamed via Zoom.

On Thursday, I was able to stop by the Puente Club sponsored movie night. We watched A Better Life, a film that explores the Chicano/a experience in America. For those of you unfamiliar with Puente, it is a national award-winning program that helps students transfer to obtain 4-year degrees. Thank you, Lisette Ordorica Lasater, Sonia Gutierrez, and Cynthia Cordova for the invite and creating a space for our students to come together and spend time with each other on campus.

Also, a big thank you to Jenny Ferrero, Rocco Versaci, and David Montoya for meeting with me this week and making progress on the faculty hiring process.

Community Engagement
My goal when it comes to community engagement is for Palomar to gain recognition for our amazing accomplishments and student-centered approach. I aim to be Palomar College’s best ambassador in the community which leads to increased visibility and garners potential financial opportunities. This week I was able to do so on a local, statewide, and national level.

I was also happy to attend the Celebrating Women in Business event hosted by the North San Diego Business Chamber. Thank you to our Foundation Executive Director, Stacy Rungaitis, foundation staff, and other President’s Associates members who attended the event and helped promote Palomar College.

This week I attended the American Council on Education Conference 2022. It’s always an honor to represent Palomar College on a national stage. The panel I served on discussed community college leadership and revolved around inclusive practices, institutional policies, institutional innovations, employee retention, student degree attainment, and student completion. I was honored to present with Dr. Julianna Barnes (President, Cuyamaca College), Dr. Carlos Turner Cortez (Chancellor, San Diego Community College District), Dr. Mark Sanchez (Superintendent/President, Southwestern Community College), and Dr. Ted Martinez (Superintendent/President Emeritus, Rio Hondo College).

My week ended at the USC Latino Scholarship Gala. The gala recognized students who displayed exemplary academic achievement, leadership, and community service. I felt honored to sit at the same table as the California Community Colleges State Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley where we were able to discuss about Palomar and our recent positive accreditation report. Other attendees included Dr. Mike Munoz (Superintendent/President, Long Beach City College), Dr. Mark Sanchez (Superintendent/President, Southwestern College), Dr. Annebelle Nery (President Santa Ana College), Dr. Pamela Ralston (President, Santiago Canyon College), Dr. Alberto Roman (President, East Los Angeles College), and Dr. Marvin Martinez (Chancellor, Rancho Santiago Community College District). It was great to see so many community college leaders in attendance. Community colleges serve as a gateway to higher educational attainment, and proactively strengthening the academic pipelines from the community college to the 4-year is paramount.

Thursday, we held our Weekly COVID-19 Update Meeting. We are aware of the constant changes happening in terms of mandates and we are meeting daily to stay updated. Our goal is to create a sense of stability for our campus. Our COVID monitor team members have distributed and shipped out antigen test kits and started working at the LRC to assist students with Cleared4 passes. To ensure that Palomar can provide support and resources to faculty, staff, and students with potential or confirmed exposure to COVID-19, the College is requesting that individuals (or a designee) complete this questionnaire. Our COVID website is updated with current onsite testing hours are noted. If you missed the meeting, please review the recording here.

Comet of the Week
The Comet of the week is Head Athletic Trainer, Flecicia Heise. On Friday evening, Flecicia won the California Community College Athletic Trainers Association’s Athletic Trainer of the Year award! This award is a tremendous professional honor, and we are very proud of Flecicia and her accomplishment.

Have a great upcoming week. Go Comets!

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

Accreditation Update

We did it! This week our accreditation site visit was conducted, and the preliminary results look extremely promising! Our Accreditation Peer Review team’s verbal Exit Report indicated no recommendations for Palomar to meet accreditation standards, and only three recommendations for institutional effectiveness improvement. The visiting team commended the College on several items, with a formal commendation related to Professional Development. This is the most positive Exit Report ever received by Palomar. With this news, Palomar College is on track for reaffirmation of our accreditation status.

Our success is a result of your daily commitment to meet our accreditation standards and your preparedness for the visit. I thank everyone who participated and our dedicated colleagues who led us through the process. I want to express my sincere gratitude to our outstanding Accreditation Liaison Officer, Michelle Barton, and our amazing Accreditation Writing Leadership Team (AWLT): Adam Meehan, Jeannette Garceau, Justin Smiley, Marti Snyder, and Rachel Miller. They were instrumental in this positive outcome as they led the work to craft our ISER and to prepare us for the visit. Also, a special thank you to Matt Grills, our room monitors, and the Information Services and Academic Technology team. They ensured we experienced a seamless virtual visit.

The visiting team will now finalize their formal report and provide us with an opportunity to make any factual corrections. Upon completion of this step, the report will then be provided to ACCJC for acceptance and action at their June meeting. It is expected that we will receive a formal response from ACCJC in July. Once the process is officially completed, we will most definitely celebrate as a campus! On behalf of the Governing Board, and myself, thank you to everyone who helped make this accreditation visit an overwhelming success!

Congratulations Dr. Kahn
Congratulations are in order for Dr. Kahn! He has been unanimously appointed as the new President of Shoreline Community College (near Seattle, Washington). Albeit bittersweet for Palomar College, we could not be happier for this well-earned accomplishment. Since joining Palomar College in 2013, Dr. Kahn’s student-focused work has always been a model of professionalism and dedication. His positive impact will be felt for years to come. I am very appreciative of Dr. Kahn, his work, his sense of humor, and his dedication to Palomar College. Please join me in officially congratulating Jack!

Housing Planning Grant
This week, Palomar College was recommended by the California Department of Finance to be funded for the State of California Affordable Housing Planning Grant. The purpose of the $820,000 grant is to explore the possibility of providing affordable student housing on campus. It could potentially move us forward in terms of equity, access, and student success. Final approval of the funds will come from the legislature in June. Thank you, Vikash Lakhani, Ambur Borth, Leslie Salas, Michelle Barton, Dennis Astl, and Chris Miller for preparing and submitting the successful grant.

CEO Symposium
Once the accreditation visit was over, I spent the weekend attending the Community College League of California’s CEO Symposium in San Diego. I joined other community college chancellors, superintendent/presidents, and presidents from across the state to discuss current issues we face as a system. A specific focus was placed on system-wide enrollment decline, COVID-19 protocols, and new funding models.

Women’s History Month at Palomar College
March is Women’s History Month. This month we honor the contributions and achievements women have made over the course of history. In honor of Women’s History Month, the Palomar College Empowered Women Alliance and Palomar’s Gender and Women’s Studies Club have teamed up to bring us a line-up of great events. You can view the calendar here. Please consider supporting these events which will all be held via Zoom.

We held our weekly COVID-19 Return to Campus and Update meeting. We discussed details about returning to campus and addressed potential improvements. In addition to hosting an antigen test distribution event on Thursday, our new team of COVID monitors provided test kits to the Student Health Center for distribution. The Emergency Operations Center is collaborating with Palomar College Television (PCTV) to create a video demonstrating how our COVID monitoring stations will work. The video will be posted on our COVID website and our social media sites next week. We also discussed that planning for an onsite-traditional Commencement is underway. The Governing Board also ratified vaccine incentives and telecommuting stipends for short-term and student employees. If you missed the meeting, please watch the recording here. Please note, we are aware of the changing mask mandates and will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Comet of the Week
The Comet of the Week is our Accreditation Liaison Officer (ALO), Senior Director Michelle Barton! Michelle’s efforts were incredible! She was the driving force behind our institutional accreditation efforts. Throughout the visit this past week there were times where we were on the phone at 7:30 a.m. strategizing for the day, talking with each other throughout the day, and then talking on the phone debriefing and planning as late as 10:00 p.m. I am extremely grateful for her extraordinary effort in this role, and I am convinced that her exemplary work ethic made all the difference in this process!

Have a great upcoming week. Go Comets!

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

Return to the Main Campus and Education Centers

Our main campus and Education Centers are once again open for onsite classes and services, and it is great to be back! This was made evident on Wednesday, February 23 when Student Life and Leadership, under the direction of Sherry Titus, hosted the successful Comet Together event. After being predominately online for the past two years, it was wonderful to see the different departments come together to welcome back our employees and students. Even in the rain, students were able to learn about the helpful services we provide to support their academic success. Also, a special thank you to Palomar TV for capturing some of the festivities. You can find the video they produced here. I am appreciative of all those who supported this event, including Trustee Kartik Raju and the entire Executive Team who were present for the event. I sincerely believe this marks the start of a great new chapter for Palomar.

Our accreditation site visit is here! The upcoming week will consist of several meetings where the visiting team will be looking for evidence of what we wrote on our Institutional Self Evaluation Report (ISER). Over the past month, the visiting team has reviewed our ISER and our supporting evidence. They will now have the opportunity to ask us questions about the information we submitted. Beginning Monday, and lasting through Thursday morning, the visiting team will virtually engage us through a series of interviews.

Open Forums: 

  • Monday, February 28th (4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.)
  • Tuesday, March 1st (10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.)

Exit Report:

  • Thursday, March 3rd (11:00 a.m.)

You can sign up to attend these meetings on the Accreditation webpage. As a reminder, if you are in a meeting with the accreditation peer review team, please make sure your camera is on, and you show your Palomar spirit by using one of our 75th Anniversary backgrounds. These backgrounds are loaded in your zoom background collection, or they can also be found here. The entire visit will be virtual, but we are convinced our Comet Pride will come through. This visit represents the culmination of all the work, effort, and dedication our colleagues put forth to prepare for this event that takes place every seven years. I am grateful to all who made this visit a success.

Women’s History Month
Women’s History Month begins this upcoming week on March 1st. There are many exciting events planned, including workshops focused on topics such as Women and the Labor Movement, Live Poetry, Working Moms, Gender Non-Conformity, Imposter Syndrome, Chicana Art, and more. All events will be held online. You can find the schedule and links here. Also attached is a flyer for your convenience. In support of these events, many faculty are offering their classes extra credit for attendance. Please consider in what ways you can support these events.

The Week in Review
Campus Engagement

The Palomar Black Staff and Faculty Staff Association (PBFSA) continued to host events in honor of the Black History Month Workshop Series: Black History: Wellness of Spirit, Strength of Will. I was able to attend two events this week: the Meet Palomar College Black Counseling Faculty Discussion Panel and the Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Abuse and Impact on the Developing Brain and Black Families workshop. I left both workshops with excellent resources and invaluable information.

This week I attended three budget focused events: the Budget Committee, the State of the Budget meeting, and a Budget Review meeting (with Trustee Christian Garcia and Board President Norma Miyamoto). All three of these events are designed to keep Palomar’s fiscal health, and potential concerns, as a central priority. We also successfully submitted our February Fiscal Monitor Report. If you are interested in reviewing it, it can be found here.

This week also consisted of meeting with Palomar employees. I held my monthly President Office Hours, and I was pleasantly surprised by the many different individuals who made the effort to connect. Although these meetings are only 20 minutes in length, it really helps for me to get a good sense of what amazing activities are happening on campus. I also visited the Graphic Communications department thanks to the invitation from professor Wade Rollins. Please continue to invite me so I can learn more about your specific area/department.

Meeting with constituent leadership remains a priority, and this week I had the opportunity to meet with CCE, CAST, and AA to discuss topics such as hiring priorities, reorganization, and updating handbooks. I also continue to meet with PBFSA leadership to make sure that we as an institution continue to prioritize what is important to our Palomar Black faculty, staff, and students. The week ended with a College Council meeting where discussion took place regarding the importance of transitioning to gender-neutral language in our Board Policies and Administrative Procedures. A very big thank you to Professor Jenny Ferrero for all the work she has done in this area. We also continued our discussion regarding enrollment challenges, and professors Cynthia Cordova and Eduardo Aguilar presented on recommendations for becoming an authentic Hispanic Serving Institution.

I would like to formally thank Disability Resource Center Director, Shauna Moriarty, her staff, and faculty who hosted Trustee Kartik Raju for a tour. I also appreciate the efforts of Escondido Center Director, Tom Medel, who toured Trustee Christian Garcia and myself on Friday morning. Being able to see our services and facilities up close makes a significant difference when establishing district policy and operation plans.

Last Thursday, the Emergency Medical Education Paramedic Academy Graduation and Awards Ceremony took place. I was joined by Board President Norma Miyamoto, Trustee Mark Evilsizer, Vice President Jack Kahn, and Dean Susan Wyche. It is always a highlight to see our students achieve the milestone of graduation, and to know they will make significant contributions in our communities.

We held our weekly COVID-19 Return to Campus and COVID-19 Update meeting. We discussed current COVID infection rates in the region and specifics regarding our return to campus. The process of hiring a team of campus COVID-19 monitors and establishing monitoring stations remain a top priority. If you missed the meeting, here is the link to the recording.

Next Thursday, March 3rd, the District will be distributing antigen test kits for employees at a distribution event to be announced. Forthcoming is communication regarding COVID-19 supplemental sick leave. Also, an updated set of Frequently Asked Questions was sent via email and posted on the COVID-19 webpage under the Employee Communications library section. A special thank you to Health Services for hosting our vaccination and immunization event this past Thursday. The COVID-19 Onsite Testing Schedule for February 22 – May 27 is now posted on the website.

Comets of the Week
Palomar’s very own Women’s Basketball Team are the 2021-2022 Pacific Coast Conference Champions! The Lady Comets finished the season with an overall 24-2 conference record. Congratulations to Head Coach, Leigh Marshall, and the entire team!

Have a great upcoming week. Go Comets!

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


Welcome Back to Campus!

I hope everyone had a relaxing four-day weekend in honor of Presidents Day. As you all know, we return to campus on Tuesday, February 22. I am very excited to be back on campus and to welcome everyone back. I understand there may be some anxiety about returning to campus, and I want to reassure our staff, faculty, and students that we are taking every necessary precaution to keep everyone safe. Let’s all work together to create a welcoming positive environment for our long-awaited return. A big thank you to Student Life and Leadership who will be hosting Comet Together on Wednesday, February 23 (see attached).  The entire Executive Team will be present at this resource fair along with several departments. The event will take place from 10:00am to 1:00pm at the Student Union Quad


HWY 78 Math Fields Day
Palomar, MiraCosta, and CSUSM will be hosting the third annual HWY 78 Math Fields Day competition (see attached). The event will take place on Saturday, March 5th, 2022, from 9 am-1 pm. Please promote this opportunity to our students. The competition is FREE for all students, and the registration link can be found here! Students taking algebra and above can participate.

  • The first 100 early registrations get free T-shirts (shipped).
  • There will be two tests, one solely on precalculus and below knowledge, and another solely on Calculus 1. Students can register to take both or just one of the tests. There will be Math talks for any students that choose not to take one of the tests.
  • Every student participates as an individual
  • Prizes will be awarded for the top places in each test
  • This is a virtual event

The Week in Review
Campus Engagement
In honor of Black History Month, the Palomar Black Faculty and Staff Association (PBFSA) continued hosting the workshop series entitled Black History: Wellness of Spirit, Strength of Will. This week’s thought-provoking line-up included, “How to Improve your Diversity IQ” and “The Demise of the Black Language and Those Affected by It”. For a list of upcoming events please click here or view the calendar of events on our website.

I was invited to the Academic Senate meeting this past week where I heard concerns regarding the number of face-to-face classes tentatively scheduled for the fall semester. We also discussed marketing concerns and how to reduce enrollment barriers and increase enrollment incentives. Also, this week our Governing Board held a special meeting to conduct their mid-year review of goals and tasks.

Community Engagement
On Monday, I attended the monthly San Diego Imperial Counties Community College Association (SDICCCA) for the monthly gathering of CEOs, Public Information Officers and Trustees. We discussed the enrollment challenges the region is experiencing and indoor masking requirements. In attendance for the first hour were representatives from Pacific Coast Athletic Conference. We discussed Senate Bill 206 and the need to give community college student-athletes the same protections that 4-year degree-granting institutions provide to their student-athletes. We also talked about the return of spectators and the future of public sporting events for community colleges. I was then joined by Governing Board Vice President Roberto Rodriguez for the Board Alliance portion of the meeting.  He reported on Palomar district updates and joined the conversation regarding the role of the alliance.

This week I virtually attended the first Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Spring 2022 webinar titled Annual Reporting and Annual Fiscal Reporting. Each spring, ACCJC accredited institutions are required to submit both an Annual Report and Annual Fiscal Report to the Commission. ACCJC, as part of its role, monitors institutional performance. ACCJC staff provided an overview of the recently revised reports and made themselves available to answer questions.

I also attended a legislative briefing with a representative from Darrell Issa’s Office. Alongside the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Chancellor and other representatives, we had the opportunity to advocate for resources that support our colleges. Thank you to our students who spoke and for the support of Trustees Christian Garcia and Kartik Raju who were present to support.

During the California Community College’s 2022 Student Equity and Achievement Plan 2.0 meeting, I learned about the intent behind the redesigned upcoming Plan. Discussion regarding the new questions, disproportionate impact data, and best practices took place. As you may recall, the Plan is focused on boosting achievement as measured by specific “success indicators” (access; course completion; ESL and basic skills completion; degrees and certificates awarded; and transfer rates) and requires each college to develop detailed goals and measures to address identified disparities.

Trustee Mark Evilsizer and I virtually attended a special presentation hosted by CSUSM Professor Dr. Joely Proudfit. The event, Confronting Anti-Indigenous Racism and Colonialism in California provided historical context for the current state of education, and ongoing barriers to equal educational access Indigenous Peoples are still facing today. It was well attended and sponsored by the Alliance for Regional Solutions that includes members from over sixty North County nonprofit organizations, eight North County cities, and the county. These types of events are a great reminder of why we must continually invest in equitizing our educational institutions.

On Thursday, we held our COVID-19 Return to Campus Update meeting. The meeting was focused on our return to onsite work and learning on February 22, and Governor Newsom’s new SMARTER plan. SMARTER is an acronym for the plan’s seven areas of focus: shots, masks, awareness, readiness, testing, education, and Rx treatments. The SMARTER plan is designed to begin treating the COVID-19 crisis as an endemic rather than a pandemic. You can review Governor Newsom’s new plan here. Please also review VP Montoya’s February 17 email to all employees to read our health and safety precautions for our safe return to onsite work and learning. The correspondence has been added to the Employee Communications Library on the COVID-19 website. Facial coverings will continue to be required indoors despite vaccination status. Additionally, antigen test kits will be distributed to employees and students during the week of February 28. If you missed the meeting, please view the recording at this link.

Our site visit is one week away! The accreditation writing leadership team is working to gather additional evidence and schedule interviews as requested by our visiting team. For more information on the site visit, please visit the accreditation website here.

Two open forums are scheduled for students, faculty, staff, and administrators to share their perspectives with the team on our efforts to meet Accreditation Standards. Registration is required to attend. You can register on the accreditation webpage here or through the 3PD portal. Below are the dates and times of the forums:

  • Tuesday, March 1 from 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, March 2 from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Since our visit is virtual, the Accreditation Steering Committee is requesting that everyone show their Palomar College spirit by using one of our new 75th Anniversary backgrounds. These backgrounds have been loaded into your zoom background collection. You can also access them here.

Finally, ACCJC asks that participants engaging in the virtual site visit keep their cameras on and include their name in their profile, so the team can easily interact with each attendee. You can access more information on our virtual site visit and tips for engaging with the team here.

Accreditation is a continuous improvement process. The report developed by our visiting team will provide an authentic review of our Institutional Self Evaluation Report (ISER) and document the outcomes of their visit. Once submitted, ACCJC will review the report of the visiting team and our ISER. We will receive both commendations and recommendations to address areas of improvement to either meet specific standards or strengthen institutional effectiveness. As part of this continuous improvement process, we will address our own self-improvement plans documented in our ISER and those identified by the ACCJC. Thank you to all who have participated in this process! We are looking forward to our visit, engaging with our peer review team, celebrating our successes, and continuing to improve to best meet the needs of our students.

Comets of the Week
Our Military Leadership (MIL) program continues to expand due to the dedication of Dr. Jack Kahn, Nichol Roe, Candace Rose, and Victoria Haynes. As of last week, the program expanded from the initial launch in Camp Pendleton and Twenty-Nine Palms to Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia and Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. The team enrolled new students and met with leaders who are extremely excited about our MIL program. We are projecting that this program will continue to grow rapidly. Thank you, Team!

Have a great upcoming week. Go Comets!

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