Faculty Gather to Kick Off Year with Institute Day

A new academic year is in session and with it comes more money, faculty and opportunity for growth.

Glendale College hosted its annual Faculty Institute Day on Sept. 11 from noon to 4:30 p.m. To kick things off, the staff gathered in the student center for a luncheon to mingle with their peers and honor Ramona Barrio-Sotillo, division chair of student services and recipient of the William L. Parker Award for long and exceptional service to GCC.

A presentation about the different aspects of the institution followed in the auditorium. The itinerary included several welcome back speeches. Board of Trustees President Tony Tartaglia told the crowd that he is looking forward to the upcoming year.

“I’m excited that we’re actually going to talk and argue about money that we have, instead of money that we don’t,” Tartaglia said. “I think it’s an excellent opportunity for us to come to a common ground.”

Student Trustee and President of Associated Students of Glendale Community College, Christine Ovasapyan, expressed her gratitude for the faculty and staff who help students succeed and have a memorable experience.

“All [they] do for us … gives us everything we need to make our lives so much more successful than what it already is. We are proud to have a close relationship with faculty and to provide our students with the best possible educational experience that there is, both inside and outside the classroom,” Ovasapyan said.

“We do recognize and appreciate the valuable contribution you make towards the education of our students and thank you for your dedication,” added Saodat Aziskhanova, President of California Schools Employment Association.
Aziskhanova introduced Zohara Kaye, Guild President, who informed the new faculty about the association. “At its core, the guild achieves social justice through collective action, so workers are given a voice and marketing power,” Zohara said.

She, too, is excited because they have “the best budget we’ve had in years,” she said.

Academic Senate President Andy Young then took the stage to explain how the Academic Senate works. The senate prides itself on being the body that represents the faculty in any and all academic and professional matters, he said. Young strongly encouraged the new faculty to get involved in the governance committee.

Michael Ritterbrown, vice president of instructional services, then joined him to officially introduce each of the 14 new faculty members.
President David Viar assured that they “are the best of the best. You do have a great group of new faculty members who are joining with those that have come before and keep that great history and tradition of this college alive in the community as we move forward.”

The new faculty members are: April Bey, drawing and 2-D design instructor; Mark Bowen, physics and astronomy instructor; Catherine Dudley, nursing instructor; John Fuhrmann, mathematics instructor; Julie Gamberg, English instructor; Emily Haraldson, art history instructor; Christopher Herwerth, mechanical engineering instructor: Tiffany Ingle, non-credit ESL instructor; Suzanne Lavertu, mathematics instructor; Adina Lerner, emergency technology and instruction librarian; Vlasta Lyles, human biology and human anatomy instructor; Sarah Mechaneau, French instructor; Nicholas Smith, speech instructor; and Tobin Sparfeld, music instructor.

Viar said it is “one of the best parts of the job as superintendent/president … having the opportunity to be the person who, in the end, says these are the individuals that I want to join with the outstanding faculty and staff here at GCC to let us make our vision a reality.”

After the warm welcome, Lisa Brooks, executive director of the Glendale College Foundation, and Pat Crouch, foundation board president, took the stage.

“The foundation’s mission is simple,” Brooks said. “To raise funds that help strengthen Glendale Community College’s facilities, programs and students and to help build public awareness of the college in the community.”
Haraldson, art history instructor, won the exceptional adjunct faculty award.

The distinguished faculty award went to Joseph Beeman, associate professor of biology.

Each of the winners, who also took home a $1,000 grant — to be used at the awardees’ discretion for any educational purpose that promotes the intellectual growth of their students — were selected by their peers.

The foundation raises funds to provide such grants and make improvements when necessary, through special events and fundraisers. This money also comes from unrestricted donations, like the President’s circle, which has grown from a handful of people to over 50 members.

“We’ve been working hard to increase the profitability,” Brooks said. “This past year, we hit a record of $101,687. The more we raise, the more we can give away.”

The GCC Foundation was able to give out a record number of grants since its inception in 2010. These include: the theater/auditorium production and communication system, a music classroom sound technology upgrade, an Academic Senate fund to grant faculty programs that enhance student learning, study abroad scholarships for up to 12 students, a GCC classical concert series, an athletic resource room study area with laptops, library space redesign, an entrepreneurship program, an architectural students exhibit, new kinesiology equipment and technology, organic chemistry equipment for research projects, the visiting artist lecture series and a grant for the athletic department. The grants have totaled $121,000 so far.

“We’re just at the beginning,” Brooks said. “There’s more to come.”
Viar said he appreciated the opportunity to gather everyone together and hear from leaders of the various constituency groups at GCC and acknowledged the leaders for working so well together.

“We really do have the best group of leaders of our constituencies that you will find anywhere else,” Viar said. “We agree on working in a civil, straightforward, transparent way to help us achieve our vision of being the greater Los Angeles region’s premier community college.”

He hopes to reach the goal of having a 2 percent growth in the 2015-16 school year (approximately 300 full-time equivalent students) and a 2 percent growth in the 2016-17 school year (approximately 306 full-time equivalent students) by implementing a strategic plan that is ongoing.

There are four key areas, however, that need to be addressed in order to achieve the college’s goals. The touchpoints for growth at GCC include: public awareness; adjustments in the application, admission, enrollment and registration processes; program/course offerings and schedule; and retention, persistence and goal completion.

“We have to be a little bit practical in the operation of the organization and I think it’s important for all of us together to understand the basis for why we talk about growth,” Viar said. “Our mission is about serving people. The more people that we can serve, the happier we are as educators and leaders of our institution.”

There are approximately 764 full-time and part-time faculty members and Viar said he believes that they are the key part of moving forward.

“By serving people because you care … we can have the right mix to help us move to premier expenditure patterns that allow us to achieve our education goals of our own,” Viar concluded.

After a brief intermission, the faculty filed back into the auditorium for a video that summarized the support services available to help students succeed. A reception wrapped up the day’s events.