Page 1

N E W S & V I E W S F R O M C O L L E G E O F T H E C A N Y O N S • FA L L   2 0 2 0



MakerSpace Donates Face Shields


he MakerSpace at College of the Canyons donated 100 face shields to UCLA Health Santa Clarita on Tuesday, Oct. 6. The face shields – which were created with MakerSpace’s 3-D printing machines – will help the medical professionals at UCLA Health Santa Clarita to continue safely handling COVID-19 cases with appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). “We at UCLA Health Santa Clarita Valley are pleased to accept this donation from College of the Canyons and their Makerspace program,” said Jeff Borenstein, MD, regional medical director at UCLA Health. “The masks – along with other infection control measures already in place in our offices such as social distancing, symptom screening, universal masking and enhanced disinfecting procedures – will See MAKERSPACE on Page 13

Dr. Dianne Van Hook


his fall semester is unlike any other in the 51-year history of College of the Canyons. When normally they would pulse with the energy and enthusiasm that comes from students, faculty, and staff engaging in the process of learning and discovery, our campuses are empty – the spirit of people is missing. It is very different. Yet although our classrooms are quiet, the engagement and collaboration for which College of the Canyons is known continues to be fueled by our trademark innovation and optimism. We are finding new ways to connect with students and the community, and See CHANCELLOR on Page 2

DONATION SUPPORTS Hybrid Vehicle Training


ollege of the Canyons received a $20,000 donation from the Greater Los Angeles New Car Dealer Association (GLANCDA) in support of the college’s automotive technology program. The funds will allow the program to purchase the equipment, curriculum materials, and supplies required to expand hybrid vehicle training. “We are so grateful to receive this funding from the Greater Los Angeles New Car Dealer Association to help provide our automotive technology students with the training and skills they need to enter the specialized field of hybrid vehicles,” said College of the Canyons Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook. “These kinds of partnerships are only possible through the collaboration and support of our business partners.” The college’s automotive technology program is designed to prepare students with the entry-level skills needed for an automotive technician position in a variety of settings including dealerships, independent automotive repair facilities, as well as with county or federal agencies. The program offers certificate and degree pathways that range from one semester to two years in length allowing students to get into the workforce quickly by providing in-depth training with extensive See DONATION on Page 14

From left: Dr. Gifty-Maria J. Ntim (UCLA Health Santa Clarita lead physician), Mike Bastine (regional director, Advance Manufacturing - South Central Coast), Harriet Happel (academic director, career & technical education), Christopher Walker (MakerSpace technician), Dr. Jeffrey Borenstein (UCLA Health regional lead physician)



ith the vast majority of classes scheduled to be offered online through the spring semester, College of the Canyons is uniquely positioned to help students to keep learning, given its leadership in teaching online. The college offered its first hybrid classes (part in-person and part online) in 1999 and fully online classes starting in 2005. Moreover, all of the college’s full-time faculty, and 95 percent of the adjunct faculty, are certified to teach in this format. Faculty are required to complete specialized training before teaching online classes. Key areas of training include building community and encouraging interaction online; making content accessible to all students, including those with disabilities; and assessing student learning in a distance format. The permanent certification course requires 39 hours to complete, and a condensed version was created specifically to equip instructors teaching in the summer and fall semesters. See ONLINE on Page 5




FROM PAGE 1 continuing to expand opportunities during this uncertain and unique time. SERVING OUR STUDENTS Keeping our students engaged, and ensuring they have the resources to be successful, has been a focus of our efforts since the pandemic required us to operate virtually. We switched our services to online delivery, with technology that allowed staff in the busiest offices, including Admissions and Records and Financial Aid, to answer their office phones from home. Other offices, such as Counseling, The Learning Center, and Student Health and Wellness, ensure access to in-demand services by consulting with students via Zoom. We have provided more than 1,200 free laptops and awarded more than $3.6 million in emergency grants to students funded by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. And through our Basic Needs Center (BaNC), we have distributed grocery gift cards to students, along with Jersey Mike’s gift cards generously provided by local owner Steve Youlios. Supporting our students is essential, and our main priority. At the same time, celebrating the success of our students is critically important, which is why we hosted a virtual Commencement ceremony in June for the 2,400-plus graduates in the Class of 2020, as well as smaller, more focused celebrations for nursing, early childhood education, culinary arts, medical lab tech, MESA, Honors, international, and nursing students. CONTINUED INNOVATION Although most classes are available only online this fall, that did not stop us from launching new programs. The School of Personal and Professional Learning, which offers tuition-free programs ideal for those looking to develop new skills and expand

their career opportunities, now offers the Personal Trainer Preparation Certificate of Completion. The program readies students to pass the Certified Personal Trainer exam required by the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Also new are eight math support classes that each provide 10 hours of focused instruction and instructor feedback designed to help prepare students for college-level math classes. While many performing arts venues remain dark, the show will go on for our students, thanks to the creativity of our faculty in the School for Visual and Performing Arts. Students are writing and producing an original show based on their pandemic experiences, and they will present it live online. COMMUNITY SUPPORT At the same time, we continue to prioritize connecting with and serving the broader community. The parking structure on our Valencia Campus houses a drive-through COVID-19 testing site operated by the County of Los Angeles. Our Nursing students and faculty helped staff the operation, allowing our student nurses the opportunity to complete instructional hours needed to graduate. With personal protective equipment in short supply, our MakerSpace swung into action, producing hundreds of face shields that were donated to frontline health care providers at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital and UCLA Health. Our classified staff organized fund-raisers to provide restaurant meals to frontline healthcare workers, and personally delivered them to doctors, nurses, and other staff working at Henry Mayo Hospital, along with firefighters tasked with launching the drivethrough testing clinic in our parking lot. BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE Knowing that eventually we will be back together on our campuses, we are improving

our facilities to make them more efficient and to support learning. A new fuel cell at the Valencia campus is pushing us closer to energy independence by providing nearly a megawatt of power generated on campus. At Canyon Country, we’re nearing completion of the Science Center, which will provide eight new laboratories for students. We’re already hard at work on the next project, with crews laying the foundation for our Student Services/ Learning Resources building. Both projects were funded by Measure E, the bond measure passed by local voters in 2016. Our community’s investment in College of the Canyons is making these improvements possible, and enabling us to facilitate future learning opportunities for our students. That spirit of partnership and collaboration is something we value at College of the Canyons. By working with others, we can create new possibilities that otherwise would not have existed. There is no better example of that than a recent donation from the Greater Los Angeles New Car Dealers Association to our Automotive Technology Program. Thanks to the leadership of Don and Cheri Fleming, the owners of Valencia Acura who initiated the contribution, we will expand our training programs for servicing hybrid vehicles, which meets a local workforce need, and enables our students to launch careers in a rewarding field. Although we find ourselves this semester in circumstances that we would not have chosen, we are not dwelling on what we cannot control. Instead, as a college, we are choosing to make the best of them and pushing forward with energy and innovation to support our students and serve the Santa Clarita Valley by looking for new ways to connect, and by creating opportunities for the future, even during this time of uncertainty. Dr. Dianne Van Hook serves as chancellor of College of the Canyons.

The Bottom Line is published by the College of the Canyons Public Information Office to inform the community of news and events of interest in the Santa Clarita Community College District.

Vice President, Public Information, Advocacy and External Relations Eric Harnish

Phone: (661) 259-7800

Managing Director, District Communications John Green

Internet: Mailing Address Santa Clarita Community College District 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road Santa Clarita, CA 91355

Editorial Team Jesse Munoz Stephanie Corral Layout & Design Evelyn Cox



espite the challenges posed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the College of the Canyons Veterans Resource Center (VRC) continues to meet the needs of student veterans. As of September, more than 350 COC student veterans have benefited from the Post 9/11 VA Education Benefits Program, which also provided more than $1 million in housing aid during the spring 2020 semester. “The program has always been an incredible opportunity, but with coronavirus, and economic challenges upon us, this program is more meaningful than ever before,” said VRC Director Renard Thomas. “The program is helping these veterans move forward

during some of the most difficult challenges our nation has ever faced, but it is also stimulating the local economy.” The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides education benefits for students who served on active duty for 90 or more days after Sept. 11, 2001. COC student veterans enrolled in the program receive a monthly housing allowance, paid tuition and fees, and an annual $1,000 book stipend. For Marissa Muñoz, a former U.S. Marine, accessing her GI benefits this semester provided her and her husband with a sense of relief. “I feel very fortunate to be able to attend school full time and receive a housing stipend,” said Muñoz, who also works as a

VRC college assistant. “I feel really supported at College of the Canyons. The VRC always had the answers to my questions, and if they don’t, they always point me in the right direction.” To provide timely and reliable assistance to student veterans, the VRC transitioned its services into a remote format and offers counseling services over the phone, virtually and via email. “We are effectively reaching more students using multiple mediums depending on their needs and available resources,” said Thomas. “Although it is not easy to keep all these different types of access points open and available for students, it is worth it because the need is real and present.”

STUDENTS SHOWCASE Work in Virtual Architecture Exhibition


hree College of the Canyons architecture and interior design students were selected to participate in the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Los Angeles 2x8 Student Competition, Exhibition and Scholarship program. Daniel Lemus, Claire Ross and Stephanie Moretta-Hidalgo represented COC, which was one of only three community colleges selected for this virtual exhibit, which opened on Thursday, Nov. 5. “The AIA 2x8 competition is a prestigious event our students get the opportunity to participate in. I am so proud to have College of the Canyons be one of the few community colleges submitting to this competition, it re-

ally showcases the strength of our program,” said Holly Hitt-Zuniga, an interior design instructor at the college who serves as the students’ faculty advisor. While Lemus, Ross and Moretta-Hidalgo had completed their architectural and interior design projects at the end of the spring 2020 semester, they had to work quickly to complete all the graphics and additional images for the competition package. “They managed to pull all of this together over the summer break in three weeks, while working full time and juggling other life commitments,” said Hitt-Zuniga. “Having this competition on their resumes is bene-

ficial because it shows potential employers that they know the importance of collaboration and can work under fast, unexpected deadlines.” Every year, the 2×8 Student Competition, Exhibition and Scholarship program showcases exemplary student work from architecture and design institutions throughout California, such as UCLA, Cal Poly, Woodbury, and SCI-Arc. The theme for this year’s exhibition explored solutions for addressing housing access in Southern California. Participating students have the opportunity to potentially receive scholarships to further their architecture or design studies.


Torres Named Chief Instructional Officer


r. Omar Torres has been named chief instructional officer at College of the Canyons. “It is a privilege to congratulate Dr. Omar Torres for his new position as chief instructional officer,” said College of the Canyons Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook. “His innovative spirit and passion for student success combined with his ability to make the most of these ever changing and unprecedented times is what will help College of the Canyons continue to excel in these dynamic and pivotal times in our college’s history.” Previously the college’s associate vice president of academic affairs and services, Torres has more than 18 years of faculty and administrative experience working for the California community college system. “It is both an honor and a privilege to serve beside our persevering students and exceptional faculty, staff, administrators, and Board of Trustees as the next chief instructional officer for College of the Canyons,” said Torres. “The college has an outstanding reputation meeting – and exceeding – the evolving instructional and workforce needs of our community, and I look forward to partnering with our campus professionals in our collective efforts to best support the present and future successes of our students.”

Omar Torres, chief instructional officer at College of the Canyons

Torres first came to COC in 2010 as an instructional dean for the Division of Mathematics, Sciences, & Engineering. In 2014, Torres accepted the position of vice president of academic affairs at Santa Ana College. He returned to COC to head the School of Mathematics, Sciences & Health Professions as instructional dean in 2015.

In 2017, Torres became the interim associate vice president of academic affairs, a position that became permanent in 2019. At COC, Torres has handled a breadth of academic programs and instructional support services in the academic affairs service area. He oversaw the development of annual class schedules using a Guided Pathways framework, enhanced opportunities for students through concurrent and dual enrollment, and supported college initiatives such as Cooperative Work Experience, noncredit instruction, inmate education, and public safety training. In addition, he served as the college’s accreditation liaison officer and is an active member of the college’s Educational Alliance, which resulted in the significant expansion of concurrent and dual enrollment courses offered at all Hart District high schools. Prior to joining COC, Torres taught chemistry at Moorpark College and Los Angeles City College. Torres earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Texas A&M University, College Station and a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2001. He holds a doctorate degree in organizational leadership from the University of La Verne. Torres began his new position on July 1, 2020, replacing Joe Gerda, who retired in June.

NEW FOUNDATION EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR APPOINTED T he Santa Clarita Community College District and the College of the Canyons Foundation have announced the appointment of Michelle Rey to the post of executive director. Rey, a Santa Clarita Valley resident who comes to COC with over a decade of experience in non-profit fundraising and development, will work closely with Chancellor Dr. Dianne Van Hook, the Board of Trustees and the Foundation Board of Directors to coordinate and lead the college’s ongoing fundraising endeavors, identify potential donors and develop and maintain collaborative relationships with community leaders. “I wish to extend my congratulations to Michelle and welcome her to the Cougar family,” said Dr. Van Hook. “She will play an essential role as the Foundation’s chief development officer in identifying and securing the resources our students and faculty need to reach their goals.”

Michelle Rey, Foundation executive director at College of the Canyons

Rey expressed excitement at the chance to be part of the legacy Dr. Van Hook has created through her vision, energy and commitment. “Her passion for the students, the community and the advancement of the institution is unparalleled and I look forward to supporting her vision for the future of academia in Santa Clarita Valley,” said Rey. Rey’s position is dedicated to securing major gifts and private donations to the college in order to provide greater access and increased opportunity to students. “I have always been an admirer of the countless opportunities College of the Canyons helps to create for students advancing both in their academic and their professional careers,” said Rey, a resident of Stevenson Ranch, and an alumna of Canyon High School. “It is an honor to serve alongside dedicated faculty, staff, administrators and our Foundation Board as we collectively See DIRECTOR on Page 13



ew for the fall semester, the College of the Canyons School of Personal and Professional Learning is offering a tuition-free personal trainer certificate program and math support classes for community members interested in developing new skills in hopes of gaining re-employment. “Non-credit courses that can provide short-term vocational training are important now more than ever,” said Gina Bogna, dean of career services at the college. “These courses provide students with the necessary skills to gain immediate employment, improve workplace wages or transition to college-level work.” The Personal Trainer Preparation Certificate of Completion is designed to prepare students for the Certified Personal Trainer exam as required by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Upon successful completion, students will receive a digital American Red Cross certificate for CPR, First Aid, and AED for an additional fee, which meets Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)/workplace requirements. The school’s eight new math support classes will benefit students taking the non-STEM path, GED students, community members and students who placed into Level 1 or Level 2 math, and anyone who wants to brush up on basic math and algebra. Each math class will provide students with 10 hours of instruction and instructor feedback. In addition, students can exit the class at any time. All the classes being offered will be taught online through Canvas or Zoom video conferencing, or a combination of the two platforms. The School of Personal and Professional Learning at COC provides lifelong learning classes to residents of all ages and skill levels, at no cost. For more information, visit


“Prior to the pandemic, many teachers chose when they wanted to embark on a career as an online instructor. The fact that we now have almost 100 percent of our faculty fully online certified is a credit to COC faculty and their ongoing dedication to our students,” Academic President David Andrus said. “This is especially true for our adjunct instructors, that in many cases had to receive new training at multiple colleges. The Academic Senate and Office of Instruction at COC is grateful to all of our faculty members.”

Innovation and faculty training contribute to College of the Canyons students performing better in online classes than other California community colleges. The college’s success rate for students in online classes is 71 percent, compared to 66 percent statewide, and 87 percent of students complete their online classes, compared to 84 percent statewide. Since the college transitioned to distance education in March, students have continued to receive free academic support. The library offers free 24/7 chat with a librarian,

14,000 e-books to check out, and dozens of databases of specialized research articles. Students can receive free tutoring online for most subjects, with the same qualified tutors who provided in-person support. During the fall semester, free tutoring is available to students 46 hours per week. Students can select from hundreds of classes that use Zero Textbook Cost materials, or free textbooks created by faculty to support what our students need to learn. During the 2019/20 academic year, students saved approximately $5 million in textbook costs.


Theatre Students

Producing Virtual Show


s the coronavirus pandemic has shuttered playhouses and theaters across the country, the College of the Canyons Theatre Department has found a way for the show to go on for its students this semester. The department will present two virtual performances during the fall 2020 semester: a new devised piece based on student experiences during the pandemic, and “Woyzeck.” Professor Susan Hinshaw, co-chair of COC’s Theatre Department, will direct a new devised piece with students that focuses on this unique time in history – a time of upheaval, turmoil and great social change. The pandemic has given rise to many things, including a new and budding art form: live video theatre. Student actors will take on this challenge by writing, performing and producing a completely original show based on their experiences during the pandemic. The performance will be a dynamic and fully staged live video theatre event. Two performances for this piece are scheduled to be live streamed Nov. 30 to Dec. 3. “We are dedicated to continuing our commitment to our students and their educational goals,” said Jennifer Smolos, dean of the college’s School of Visual and Performing Arts. “While many other colleges and programs have postponed or cancelled performances and performance-based train-

Theatre students utilized video-conferencing technology to perform the stage play “Pippin,” which was originally scheduled to take place at the Performing Arts Center.

ing courses, we continue our work to find innovative ways to adapt to this new learning environment. Flexibility is paramount for artists and it remains very important to us that we make virtual performance opportunities available to our students.” To ensure the safety of performers, faculty and staff, auditions and rehearsals were done through live video. Final performances will be streamed during November and December. Directed by David Stears, “Woyzeck” is a working class tragedy of the dehumanizing effects of doctors and the military on a young man’s life. Left unfinished at Georg Büchner’s death, the play had an enormous im-

pact on realism, naturalism, and expressionist movements in theatre and literature. The play’s “choose your own adventure” format will allow audience members to choose their own path as they journey through the story. The performance will be recorded and available to stream online Nov. 9 to 22. “These are two very different pieces, with different experiences for our students” said David Stears, producer for the theatre department. “While we are not on stage, there are still tremendous opportunities for training and learning. The rudimental basics of performance don’t change with the medium. This is a new emerging medium and we are training our students to embrace it.”



ollege of the Canyons partnered with the William S. Hart Union High School District to provide a three-hour training session for 45 instructional coaches and administrators, to help them with the transition to online learning. Held via teleconferencing software, the session addressed the best practices for online teaching and learning, and discussed how Hart teachers could apply these approaches in their virtual classrooms.

“We’ve enjoyed collaborating with and learning from our colleagues with the Hart District,” said Joy Shoemate, interim director of online education at the college. “Our students are their students, and their students are ours. We hope that this project paves the way for more collaboration.” The Hart teachers who participated in the Aug. 5 training session will share what they learned with their colleagues who are completSee HART DISTRICT on Page 14


Nursing graduates (left) celebrate virtually. An ECE student (right) picks up her valedictorian medal.

An Unprecedented

Commencement T

hey danced in their living rooms, composed music in their bedrooms, and got hands-on nursing experience at a coronavirus testing site. The College of the Canyons Class of 2020 is truly unlike any other in the college’s 50-year history. The graduating class was honored during a virtual commencement ceremony for all students on June 5, as well as smaller, more focused celebrations for programs such as Nursing, Early Childhood Education, Culinary Arts, and International Students. “I extend my sincerest congratulations to the Class of 2020 who have shown them-

selves to be those rare individuals who can thrive in adversity,” Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook said. “The success of our college is because of our graduates. I look forward to seeing the records the Class of 2020 will break and the change they will make in this world.” The class of 2020 numbered 2,427 students representing 102 majors. Liberal arts and sciences ranked as the leading field of study with 576 graduates, followed by psychology (314), business (308), accounting (178), and liberal arts and sciences with a health emphasis (153). More than 900 students graduated with

two or more degrees, 746 students graduated with honors, and 80 graduates achieved perfect 4.0 GPAs, granting them status as valedictorians. Also graduating were 77 veterans and 85 student-athletes. Although the average age was 24, the class of 2020 was decidedly multigenerational, with ages ranging from 17 to 81. Graduates from the class of 2020 transferred to numerous universities, including UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, UC Merced, UC Riverside, UC San Diego, USC, and many outside California.

International Services and Programs (left) congratulated students in a video message. Nursing graduates (middle) gathered for a drive-through celebration. The college gave lawn signs to the Class of 2020 (right).



College of the Canyons nursing students provide assistance at Los Angeles County’s drive-through COVID-19 testing site at the Valencia campus parking structure.


he coronavirus pandemic may have upended people’s lives, but College of the Canyons remains focused on supporting its students and the wider community. The college continues to offer instruction and student services in distance formats during the fall semester after faculty, staff and administrators undertook a remarkable effort in March to convert classes and services from in-person to remote in less than two weeks. “The health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and community is of paramount importance,” Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van hook said. “We are providing a wide range

of opportunities for students to continue their educations, and equipping community members with job skills to secure employment in an unstable economy.” More than 1,900 courses are available this fall, mostly in online formats. A significant emphasis was placed on general-education classes that students need to graduate, transfer, or meet specific program prerequisites. As well, the college is offering a wide range of free classes through its School of Personal and Professional Learning that will start throughout the fall semester and are designed to help local residents hone their career skills. “We are committed to offering quality online and remote experiences and do so within

health guidelines as we mitigate health risks and help to control the spread of coronavirus so that we can all resume education, work, and recreation in the Santa Clarita Valley as soon as it is safe to do so,” Dr. Van Hook said. The college found innovative ways to support students in the unique learning environment created by the pandemic. Departments accustomed to serving students in person provided a robust range of responsive virtual assistance through email, Zoom, and phone calls for counseling and transfer guidance, registration, financial aid, mental health services, career services, technical support, and even free online tutoring.



The College of the Canyons MakerSpace donated face shields to Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital. From left: Michael Bastine, regional director, advanced manufacturing, South Central Coast; Christopher Walker, MakerSpace technician; Harriet Happel, director, Career & Technical Education; Renee Leon, hospital donor relations officer, and Marlee Lauffer, president, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Foundation.

The college distributed $2.7 million in emergency grants to more than 4,000 students with federal funding through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. To ensure access to technology the college provided hundreds of laptops to students. At the same time, the college maintained its focus on serving the wider community. Members of the college’s classified staff initiated fund-raisers to provide meals from local restaurants for staff at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, plus firefighters who staffed the drive-through COVID testing site hosted by the college. Thousands of COVID-19 tests were administered at the testing clinic located in the Valencia Campus parking structure at the corner of Valencia Boulevard and Rockwell Canyon Road. In addition to providing space for the clinic, more than 80 students and faculty from the college’s Nursing Department volunteered to help staff the site during the spring semester. The Nursing Department also made a significant contribution of personal protective

equipment to Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital, including masks, face shields, goggles, gowns, gloves, and disposable thermometer covers. “College of the Canyons has had a longstanding relationship with Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, where so many of our nursing alumni are proud to be currently employed,” Chancellor Van Hook said. “During this unprecedented time, we are committed to helping our local medical first responders in any way that we can.” As personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare professionals remained scarce, the MakerSpace at College of the Canyons fired up its 3-D printing machines, producing 150 face shields that were delivered to Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital. “In today’s environment, it’s impossible to have too much PPE. Our entire staff, and especially our frontline healthcare workers, deeply appreciate COC’s resourcefulness and generosity,” said Marlee Lauffer, president of the Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Foundation and vice president of marketing and communications for the hospital.

Graduating nursing students participated in a “socially distant” drive-through commencement ceremony, which also included solo red-carpet walks, on June 6.


Chancellor Named To ‘Valley 200’


ollege of the Canyons Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook has been named to the San Fernando Valley Business Journal’s “Valley 200” list. “It is an honor to have been selected for inclusion on the ‘Valley 200’ list,” said Dr. Van Hook. “As CEO of College of the Canyons, it has been rewarding to watch our college team and see its impact extend far

past the Santa Clarita Valley as we continue to provide workforce training to businesses and higher education opportunities to the San Fernando Valley community.” The 200 people on the list were selected for being the most influential in the region. Other Santa Clarita Valley mainstays included on the “Valley 200” list are: Holly Schroeder (CEO and president of the Eco-

nomic Development Corporation), Cheri Fleming (CEO of Acura of Valencia), Tamara Gurney (president of Mission Valley Bank, Calvin Hedman (CPA/president of Hedman Partners) Roger Seaver (CEO of Henry Mayo) Mitzi Like (CEO of LBW Insurance and Financial Services), Todd Stevens (president & CEO of CRC), and John Shaffery (partner of Poole, Shaffery, & Koegle, LLP).

FUEL CELL UP AND RUNNING Workers make final adjustments to the new fuel cell system, which provides the college with nearly 1 megawatt of power.


hile College of the Canyons transitioned most of its courses and services to an online format, something else went online. The college came one step closer to energy independence when its new Bloom Energy Corp. fuel cell system went online for the first time on March 24. The first phase of the fuel cell system, which will provide the college with nearly a megawatt of power, achieved 100 percent output within 24 hours. The second phase, which will generate more than 500,000 kilowatts of power and bring total plant production to 1.5 megawatts, will be completed in the fall. “This is a very exciting step for the college’s sustainability efforts,” said Jim Schrage, vice president of facilities planning, operations and construction. “Our new fuel cell technology system will dramatically reduce the college’s emissions, carbon footprint, and dependency on the energy grid. We want to thank Bloom Energy Corp. for helping us improve our energy efficiency.” Located on the west side of campus, the fuel cell was part of an upgrade to the college’s existing fuel cell technology system, made possible by a $3 million award from the South Coast Air Quality Management District to COC. Previously, the college relied on the original Bonelli Hall central plant, the south campus plant and a third plant on the north side of campus for its heating, cooling and hot water needs. The system overhaul included removing two co-generators, upgrading the existing cooling tower, and adding a new chiller to com-

pensate for the lost production of cold water previously produced by the existing co-generator. A central plant is a facility that houses chillers, boilers, and cooling towers that serve as a single supply source for hot water and chilled water that services multiple buildings from a central location. The college has made use of central plants to reduce waste and create an energy efficient campus from the very beginning. The college installed its first central plant on the roof of what is now Bonelli Hall, but as the campus continued to grow, the need for expansion of the central plant became apparent in the early 1990s. Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook secured funding in 1996 from the state Department of Finance for the South Plant, located near Mentry Hall, which was the first real central plant in the California community college system. “College of the Canyons is proud to have been at the forefront of implementing new energy-efficient technology,” Dr. Van Hook said. “We are always looking for innovative ways to continue improving upon our sustainability efforts at both our campuses.” The college was one of only three educational institutions to receive an incentive fund from SCAQMD in 2019 to replace older, higher-emitting appliances and equipment with zero- and near-zero emission technologies. SCAQMD is the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major sections of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Bloom Energy recently shifted from manufacturing fuel cells to refurbishing ventilators to help assist hospitals during the coronavirus epidemic.




ollege of the Canyons has been ranked nationally No. 22 and 26 in The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine for enrolling the largest number of Hispanic students and granting the most degrees, respectively. The magazine rankings for the Top 100 Community Colleges for Hispanics were based from the National Center for Education Statistics Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System data for community colleges granting the most associate degrees in 2018-19. According to the data, the college had a Hispanic population of 10,004 students totaling 48 percent of the total student enrollment, which was 20,850 during 2018-19. That same academic year, of the 2,822 associate degrees awarded by the college, 1,249 degrees were awarded to Hispanic students. “We take great pride in the fact that our college reflects the diversity of the communities we serve,” said College of the Can-

yons Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook. “Higher education is a social justice issue, so we are passionately committed to removing any roadblocks for our students as they work toward their reaching their goals.” According to COC data, there has been a 52 percent increase in the number of Hispanic students who were awarded a degree between 2016 and 2019. Many Hispanic students attending COC have benefited from the college’s innovative programs, such as the Canyons Promise program, which gives incoming students the tools and resources they need to transition smoothly into college life. Of the 3305 students the program has served since its launch in 2017, 53 percent of students are Hispanic. The program provides increased opportunities for new full-time college students to achieve their educational goals by waiving tuition and fees during their first year of study. Students who maintain the program’s re-

quirements may have their Canyons Promise benefits extended to their second year of study. Accepted students enroll in a one-year sequence of courses with priority registration, preceded by a week-long summer boot camp to learn skills needed to be a successful college student. Canyons Promise courses are offered with the benefits of free Open Educational Resources to use as textbooks, peer mentors, and other learning community elements. To ensure students remain on track, ongoing counseling and student support is also offered. The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education Magazine’s annual ranking is based on total student enrollment, the percentage of Hispanic students in attendance, two-year schools awarding the most associate degrees to Hispanic students, and the percentage of associate degrees to Hispanic students by two-year schools.



Mental Health Services

he Santa Clarita Community College District has received a $400,000 grant from the California Community College Chancellor’s Office to expand and enhance mental health services and awareness to students and the campus community. The District was one of 16 to be awarded the 20-month grant. “We are very gratified to be one of the few California community colleges to receive this grant,” said Larry Schallert, assistant director of student health and wellness at the college. “With this grant we hope to sustain and improve the multiple efforts that we have initiated to improve student mental health, the climate at COC and the awareness of mental health issues on the campus and the community.”

The grant’s primary goal is to reduce racial disparities in access to mental health services, and to provide prevention, early intervention, and suicide prevention training. “We will be bolstering our outreach to low income and minority populations and we will be continuing and improving our relationships with key community providers and with our collocated partners, and developing more formal protocols for referrals between departments and partners,” said Schallert. The grant will allow the college to provide personal counseling services by increasing clinical hours and will fund the position of a mental health coordinator. Schallert added that the center will also develop a tele-mental health program in

partnership with USC to provide counseling to students via video conferencing or telephone. The center also plans to implement a depression screening program for all students seen at the center for medical as well as mental health concerns. The Student Health and Wellness Center also plans to provide educational seminars for students and faculty related to: • Mindfulness training and stress reduction • Human trafficking training • Resiliency training • SAFE zone training • Drug use and mental health • Autism awareness • LatinX mental health Issues • Suicide prevention and response




he Santa Clarita Community College District’s Independent Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee has accepted the results of an independent audit confirming that, for the 12th year in a row, the district has properly accounted for all bond expenditures and issued the district an unmodified opinion – the best rating possible – noting no adjustments, audit findings, nor questioned costs or instances of noncompliance. Eide Bailly LLP conducted the financial and performance audits for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019 and presented its report to the Independent Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee on Jan. 16. “It’s reassuring to have an independent auditor come in and look at everything to ensure full transparency,” said Nick Lentini, chair of the committee. The 2018/19 audit for Measure M confirms approximately $175 million in resources from the four bond issuances, which also includes earned interest and net premium on the bonds. The entire amount has been expended on authorized bond projects, closing out the Measure M bond fund as of June 30, 2019. The 2018/19 audit for Measure E confirms approximately $55 million in resources from the first bond issuance, which also

includes earned interest and net premium on the bonds. Of that amount, more than $36 million has been expended on authorized bond projects, leaving the district with a Measure E bond project fund balance of nearly $19 million as of June 30, 2019. Sharlene Coleal, assistant superintendent/vice president of business services, acknowledged the excellent work of Jim Schrage, assistant superintendent/vice president, facilities, and district staff members who contributed to a clean audit. “The team effort displayed between Business Services and the Facilities Department resulted in another year of exceptional audits,” Coleal said. Since Measure M’s passage by voters in 2006, the $160 million bond measure has helped fund a wide variety of facilities and campus expansions, such as the Mentry Hall expansion, The Learning Center (TLC)/Library expansion, Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center, Canyon Country campus, College of the Canyons Institute for Culinary Education, and the Canyons Hall student student services/administration building. The bond also helped secure $36.7 million in state matching funds that otherwise would have been lost. In 2016, voters approved Measure E for a total of $230 million to fund multiple

projects at both campuses. The bonds are funding construction of the Science Center at the Canyon Country campus. The approximately 55,000-square-foot building will be devoted primarily to physical and biological sciences, housing eight labs, plus lecture classrooms. The Student Services/Learning Resources Building will be the new home to Student Services and The Learning Center (TLC). The four-story building will sit adjacent to the Science Center at the center of campus and will provide office and library space. “We are very excited with the progress of the Science Center and are looking forward to breaking ground on the adjacent Student Services/Learning Resources Building, both of which will enhance the access, persistence, and success of our students,” Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook said. “None of this would be possible were it not for the support of our local community that shares our commitment to making higher education accessible in the Santa Clarita Valley.” Measure E also enabled the college to build a three-story parking structure at the Valencia campus, which added 1,659 parking spaces. Measure E funds will also go toward building a new health professions facilities, plus the renovation of several existing buildings on the Valencia campus.



DURING COVID-19 W hen COVID-19 reached the Santa Clarita Valley, the Economic Development Division at College of the Canyons mobilized quickly to transition their efforts to continue providing training and resources to the local community. The Employee Training Institute (ETI) did not have a history of remote delivery of courses and there was no infrastructure, policies, manuals, support materials, etc., available for an online transition. “Most of ETI’s instructors had little or no experience delivering courses in the online classroom environment,” said Jeffrey For-

rest, vice president of economic and workforce development at the college. “COC was able to provide the support the needed to facilitate the transition.” ETI’s team rapidly developed remote delivery protocol and manuals for use by instructors, trainees, and company representatives. In addition, the Small Business Development Center hosted by College of the Canyons (COC SBDC) provided COVID-19 pandemic outreach, disaster assistance and recovery services to the community, business owners and non-profits of impacted areas over the phone and virtually seven days

a week. This service was provided along with non-disaster related one-on-one business advising for entrepreneurs and business owners. The Paycheck Protection Program Loan was one of the disaster resources provided to SBDC clients with assistance related to critical information, applications, compliance and potential forgiveness. “Many of SBDC’s clients benefited from the additional working capital which enabled them to retain employees while making the adjustment to their business during this difficult time,” added Forrest.

Jeffrey Forrest, vice president of economic and workforce development at the college. “We are committed to helping our community during this public health crisis, especially those on the frontlines.” In April, MakerSpace donated 150 face shields to Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital and made 200 face shields for COC nursing students. The MakerSpace mission is to enable com-

munity members to design, prototype and create manufactured works that wouldn’t be possible to create with the resources available to individuals working alone. Both of the college’s MakerSpace facilities have been designed as collaborative learning areas that give users free access to tools, materials, technological resources, skills training and a variety of entrepreneurial opportunities.

rector of development for Santa Clara university, where she oversaw and managed philanthropic and advancements campaigns for one of the university’s graduate schools and managed a $32 million endowment. In addition, she also led the development of engagement and solicitation strategies for qualified major gift prospects over $100,000 while building and maintaining a portfolio of high-end donors and prospects among alumni, friends, corporations and foundations. From 2010 to 2016, she worked for City of Hope – one of the nation’s National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers – initially as a volunteer before becoming the hospital’s associate director of development. In that position, Rey coordinated five an-

nual fundraising and cultivation events to raise revenue in excess of seven figures and managed nine volunteer groups (national and international) to volunteer and generate revenue in support of the hospital’s comprehensive campaign. After earning a bachelor of mathematics degree from California State University Northridge, Rey earned her master of public administration from Villanova University. In addition, she holds a master certification in non-profit management from Villanova University and a non-profit management certification from the University of Texas. “I left the Santa Clarita Valley to grow in my professional career and I am grateful for this opportunity to return home and serve not only the students at COC, but the entire Santa Clarita Valley in this role,” said Rey.


help ensure the safety of local residents who seek medical care at our clinic. It’s wonderful to receive this support from the community.” Materials for the face shields donated to UCLA Health were funded through local and regional sources. “It is an honor to provide UCLA Health with the face shields they need to safely provide care to COVID-19 patients,” said


work to continue to open doors, increase access and create opportunities for success.” “I wish to welcome Michelle to the COC Foundation and look forward to working with her,” said Steve Corn, co-chair of the college’s Foundation Board of Directors. “Her expertise and insight will be extremely beneficial to our fundraising efforts.” Jill Mellady, who also serves as co-chair of the college’s Foundation Board of Directors, called Rey the perfect candidate for the role of Executive Director. “Michelle’s solid fundraising experience and local community roots make her the perfect fit for this vital role within the college’s Foundation,” said Mellady. “I look forward to working with her toward creating more opportunities for students.” For the past three years, Rey was the di-


From left: Bob Smith (GLANCDA executive director), Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook (College of the Canyons chancellor), Paul Wickline (COC associate vice president of educational pathways), Max Picado (Valencia Acura service manager), and Cheri Fleming (Valencia Acura co-owner)


hands-on experiences in all nine ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certification programs and State of California Smog Tech Training. This is GLANCDA’s second donation to the program, having made a $20,000 donation in 2019, also at the recommendation of

Cheri Fleming, co-owner of Valencia Acura. With roots that trace back to the early 1900s, GLANCDA provides educational and philanthropic benefits to new car dealer members and the local region. “I am very grateful to be a board member of the Greater Los Angeles New Car Dealer

Association,” said Fleming said. “Service technicians are essential to the auto industry and we employ many COC auto technician graduates at Valencia Acura. We are proud to present this donation to COC to help train the next generation of technicians.”


WILLIAM S. HART UNION HIGH SCHOOL DISTRICT ing a supplemental self-paced online course created by COC. The course covers topics including communicating with students, humanizing an online presence, building community online, promoting equity online, and assessing student learning.

“We are very grateful for our partnership with COC and their faculty who were instrumental in providing this online training for our teachers,” said Jan Daisher, director of special programs and professional development for the Hart District. “We enjoyed collaborating on this project throughout the month of July customizing the course for the Hart District. Through their experience as online instructors, they shared their best practices with our own teachers who are doing great work moving forward in providing online distance learning for the start of this new school year.” The live training session included a panel with experienced COC online instructors, including: Robert Wonser (Sociology), Julianne Johnson (History), Erin Delaney (English), Ambika Silva (Math), Erica Seubert (Biology), Jennifer Paris (Early Childhood Education), and Michelle LaBrie (Psychology). “During the fall semester, we’ll reconvene for another synchronous session, to see how it’s going, answer questions, and exchange experiences,” said James Glapa-Grossklag, dean of educational technology, learning resources, and distance learning at the college. “We’re excited to learn from our colleagues with the Hart district and look forward to more collaboration with them.”


CANYONS ELITE RECOGNIZES Leadership and Scholarship T

he College of the Canyons Athletic Department has announced the members of its 2020-21 Canyons Elite class of student-athletes comprised of each program’s top performers in the classroom, in their sport and in the community. Founded in 2018, Canyons Elite annually recognizes second-year Cougar student-athletes who rank among the leaders on their team in academic GPA; have logged significant hours in The Learning Center (TLC) each semester; contribute to their team at a high level; and are active members of the campus community. Those student-athletes selected to the Canyons Elite group are looked to as leaders and representatives of their respective programs, and serve as ambassadors for the COC Athletic Department.

This year’s Canyons Elite class includes 27 student-athletes (12 male/15 female) with a combined GPA of 3.72. Five Canyons Elite student-athletes will begin the 2020-21 academic year with perfect 4.0 GPAs. Also included among this year’s group of honorees are four All-Western State Conference (WSC) honorees. 2020-21 Canyons Elite Doyle Kane – Baseball Joel Carrillo – Men’s Basketball Diamyn Davis – Women’s Basketball Tarek Khezri – Men’s Cross Country Jisselle Lomeli – Women’s Cross Country Moises Haynes – Football Taylor Lewis – Football Trevor Ojoh – Football Aidan Rosette – Football

Chisato Kawahara – Softball Nataly Miranda – Softball Jenna Rorick – Softball Dylan Sullivan – Men’s Soccer Nicole Bulnes – Women’s Soccer Brianna De Santiago – Women’s Soccer Alexandra Prezioso – Women’s Soccer Jacob Gibbs – Men’s Swim & Dive Mikaela Martinez – Women’s Swim & Dive Taylor Cohen – Women’s Tennis Lauren Hannah – Women’s Tennis Miguel Galvan – Men’s Track & Field Cole Shirakata – Men’s Track & Field Sean Tomer – Men’s Track & Field Samantha Breitbach – Women’s Track & Field Bree Kelley – Women’s Volleyball Kianna Perry – Women’s Volleyball Kayla Tait – Women’s Volleyball

Excellence FROM PAGE 16

continue playing at Sonoma State University after earning All-State honors and helping the Cougars win the 2019 California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) state championship. Lavigne was in the midst of another outstanding season in 2020 before the Cougars had the remainder of their spring schedule suspended due to the COVID-19 crisis. Una Stanisavljevic, Women’s Tennis Stanisavljevic headed to USC after earning an associate degree in liberal arts & sciences with an emphasis in social & behavioral sciences. She posted a perfect 4.0 GPA and was recognized as a college valedictorian, in addition to also earning Intercollegiate Tennis Association Scholar Athlete honors. Stanisavljevic became the first player in COC women’s tennis program history to earn All-WSC honors as a freshman in 2019. Her play as a sophomore helped Canyons jump out to a 9-2 team record before having its final seven matches canceled due to COVID-19. Kilian Zierer, football A native of Höhenkirchen-Siegertsbrunn, Germany, Zierer, earned a football scholarship to the University of Auburn and enrolled for the spring 2020 semester. He was a key member of COC’s backto-back Southern California Football Association (SCFA) National Division, Northern League championship teams in 2018 and 2019, and a two-time all-conference selection at the left tackle position. He is the third member of the Cougars football program to transfer to a Southeastern Conference (SEC) school since 2017.

COC student-athletes have transferred to four-year schools across the nation, including: Washington State University, University of Hawai’i at Manoa, Middle Tennessee State University, Arkansas State University, University of Nevada at Las Vegas, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Montana State University, Wagner College, North Carolina Central University, Abilene Christian University, Mercer University, Mt. Mercy University, Dean College, Texas Wesleyan University, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Northeastern State University, Nebraska Wesleyan University, St. Mary’s University, University of Redlands, The Master’s University, University of La Verne, UC Riverside, UC Merced, CSU Fullerton, CSU Los Angeles and San Jose State University.

Santa Clarita Community College District 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road Santa Clarita, CA 91355 BOARD OF TRUSTEES Ms. Michele R. Jenkins Ms. Joan W. MacGregor Dr. Edel Alonso Mr. Michael D. Berger Mr. Steven D. Zimmer Mr. David Gonzales, Student Trustee


ACHIEVING EXCELLENCE on the field and in the classroom

ollege of the Canyons student-athletes enjoyed another banner year in the classroom, highlighted by the 85 Cougars who earned an associate degree and/or transferred to a fouryear school in 2020. Those same Cougars also combined to post a 3.30 GPA, while 21 graduated with honors as members of the college’s 50th Anniversary class last spring. Four graduates were named Student-Athlete Academic Excellence Award Winners for the 2019-20 academic year. Eligibility for the award is based on two seasons of competition, plus the students’ demonstrated leadership qualities and grade point average (GPA). Elizabeth Gannon, Women’s Volleyball After achieving a perfect 4.0 GPA, which granted her the status of college valedictorian, Gannon transferred to California State University, Northridge, where she plans to continue her athletic career. A two-time All-Western State Conference (WSC) honoree at the libero position, Gannon is the third COC women’s volleyball player to transfer to an NCAA Division I program since 2017. Jules Lavigne, Men’s Golf After arriving at COC by way of Vanves, France, Lavigne earned an associate degree in economics in just three semesters. He will See Excellence on Page 15

Elizabeth Gannon • Volleyball

Kilian Zierer • Football

Una Stanisavljevic • Tennis

Jules Lavigne • Golf