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The Community College of Aurora’s Academic Affairs division is undergoing a significant organizational restructure to better meet the needs of college employees and prepare for the future.
As part of the restructure, the schools of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies and Sciences will be dissolved. Academic programs will now be grouped in centers aligned with the college’s Guided Pathways initiative.
In recent years, Academic Affairs has been challenged by the instructional imbalance and division between the schools of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies and Sciences. The School of Liberal Arts had five departments with 19 programs and the School of Professional Studies and Sciences had eight departments, two major federal grants, and 39 programs. In addition to addressing this program imbalance, the restructure is intended to relieve some pressure that Academic Affairs staff were experiencing; some staff have been feeling overwhelmed and stretched in too many directions, said Dr. Tricia Johnson, Vice President of Academic Affairs.
Rather than have deans lead schools, CCA will have four deans and four associate deans who will serve as division-wide leads for institutional initiatives. Academic Affairs will add more staff and reclassify some positions to better support the initiatives.
Chris Tombari will become Dean of Academic Affairs and Transfer Initiatives and Dr. Bobby Pace will become Dean of Academic Affairs and Concurrent Enrollment. CCA will hire two additional Academic Affairs deans to lead two other initiatives – Workforce Partnerships and First Year Success.
In the restructured Academic Affairs, the four deans will each oversee a more manageable number of departments and programs and the workload will be more balanced. Department chairs will receive more support from their deans.
“We want to make sure we are supporting all of the employees - that people are feeling like they have a little bit of relief and at the same time, setting us up to build more partnerships with industry and education and stay relevant with our academic programming,” Johnson said.
The dean who leads the Workforce Partnerships initiative will have a vital role for Academic Affairs. That dean will oversee STEM and health academic programs. Those are areas where there is a tremendous amount of growth potential, Johnson said.
“We have to connect more with industry to see what's going on and see where the shortages are,” she said. “We have [University of Colorado] Anschutz right there - and they are going to go somewhere else if we don't deliver the type of training needed.”
That focus on creating partnerships and developing relationships will be crucial to all Academic Affairs deans, she added.
Johnson envisions the four deans will be resources for CCA faculty, staff, and instructors at CCA but will also have a presence in the community by sitting on committees or attending meetings.
“We don't want to continue to hear that ‘Oh CCA is the best-kept secret!’ " Johnson said. “If our deans are engaged in more external partnerships, anytime someone has an idea that has to do with education, employment, or training, they think of us and they want us to be a part of it.”
The Community College of Aurora Colorado Film School (CFS) and Downtown Aurora Visual Arts (DAVA) are continuing their partnership in July with CFS’s Film Camp for Kids program.
Now nearly a decade old, the camp provides an opportunity for middle and high school students from Aurora and the greater Denver metro area to create films and use CFS’s resources in the process.
The three-week camp invites more than 20 DAVA students to create films using techniques such as interviews, stop-action filmmaking, and animation.
Tony Morales has attended the camp for three years and said that when he started high school, he did not know what he wanted to do but since enrolling in the camp, filmmaking is now a possible career option for him.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my future,” Morales said. “With this I found something fun to do – it’s a passion for me.”
CFS’s close proximity – he can get to the film school in less than a half-hour – combined with its reputation as a film school makes for an exciting opportunity for Morales. He said he would like to enroll at CFS after graduating high school.
“I can have big dreams,” Morales said.
The camp gives the DAVA students life skills that they can apply in other areas of their education, said CFS Faculty Member Geoffrey Chadwick, who has coordinated the camp since its inception.
“It’s more than the students learning filmmaking,” Chadwick said. “They gain a lot of confidence. They learn teamwork.”
Hannah Berhane, a sophomore at Denver School of the Arts, has attended the camp for three years. Although Berhane doesn’t plan to pursue filmmaking as a career, she said she has applied a lot of what she learned at the camp to her education.
She learned Final Cut — a video-editing software — at the camp and used it in her creative writing class last year.
“Now that I have a lot of these skills, it has made a difference in my projects,” Berhane said.
Caption: Oliver Maceda, a junior at DSST: Conservatory Green High School, works on a stop motion film project at the Colorado Film School on July 10.
How long have you been with CCA and what do you do at the college?
It was two years on July 17. As Assistant to the Vice President of Academic Affairs, I provide executive assistant support to the vice president.
When you are not at CCA, what else are you doing?
I am currently president of the board of directors for Terra Nova Uganda, a community development organization in Kampala, Uganda that partners with its community in education, athletics, and leadership development.
How did you get involved with Terra Nova?
Terra Nova’s founders, Alisha and Abdul Damron-Seruyange, are friends of mine. I met Alisha when she was spending her summers in Uganda, and after she met Abdul they had this vision for transforming education in Uganda. That vision spurred them to create Terra Nova Soccer Academy in 2010 and Terra Nova Academy in 2013.
What does Terra Nova Uganda do?
The community that we serve is a neighborhood called Bunga in the capital of Kampala. It's a community that is ridden with poverty, as is much if not all of Uganda. It's one of the youngest populations in the world; over 50% of the population is under 15. This creates challenges with the economy and education. The education system is incredibly stretched because of the population; standard classrooms in Uganda have around 50 students. Severe corporal punishment is also common in classrooms. Children often leave school at a young age because they have been severely beaten and usually that punishment is tied to self-expression - a child offering the wrong answer or a child showing emotions. Terra Nova's vision is to create a classroom space that is safe that welcomes and invites creativity and self-expression. It's important for us to have classroom spaces that are bright and colorful and have playspace. We don't allow more than 22 students in a class so we keep the student-to-teacher ratio low.
What do you do on the board of directors?
My husband and I spent six months in Uganda in 2015 as interim directors of the program while Alisha and Abdul were in the U.S. When I returned to the states in 2016, I joined the board. Our board's primary function is fundraising and organizational governance; since we do not have any paid staff in the U.S., the board does all the marketing, fundraising, and oversees the finances of the organization.
Where do the funds raised go?
The funds are used to operate Terra Nova Uganda; 97% of every dollar donated goes directly to our work on the ground in Uganda. Parents pay about 20% of the school’s operating costs through tuition while 80% of the costs are funded through U.S.-based donations. We feel like this model of inviting parents to financially support their child's education is important because it restores dignity and gives the parent a sense of pride that they are contributing to their child's education.
Where can I find out more?
Kate O'Donnell Exhibition
Kate O’Donnell, Art Faculty, is a featured artist at the Sandra Phillips Gallery’s “In Search of Why We Draw” art show. The show opened on June 28 and runs until July 27.
Caption: Art Faculty Kate O’Donnell stands by two of her prismacolor pencil-on-paper drawings in the art show – “Candy Love” and “Jewelry Box.”
Macmillan Learning Award for Simpson
Dr. Ashley Simpson, Chair for Education and World Languages, took first place in the Higher Education Staff and Admin category in the Macmillan Learning Spring 2019 Driven to Achieve More contest. In her winning submission, Simpson shared her perspective on what drives her to achieve more as an educator.
Student Photography Project
Art Faculty Stacey Stormes’ photography students teamed up with the Aurora Sentinel and Mile High Behavioral Health for a photo project to build awareness of people currently or recently experiencing homelessness. The students were given a list of contacts and had to coordinate with subjects and each other to create this project. For every photograph in the article, the students completed several weeks of effort behind the scenes.
Faculty Fellowship Award for Cook
Sociology Faculty Tanya Cook was awarded a $40,000 faculty fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This program, in its inaugural year, was created to support community college faculty research projects in the areas of humanities and social sciences. Cook’s research project is titled “Always Keep Nerd Fighting: Fandoms as Social Movements.”
D'Angelo Directing in the Community
Stacey D’Angelo, Theatre Director, served the community this summer by directing “Well,” a play by Lisa Kron, with the Firehouse Theater Company at the John Hand Theater. Firehouse Theater Company is a non-profit theatrical organization dedicated to providing a collaborative environment where actors, producers, writers, directors, crew, and all other contributors — regardless of background, experience, or company affiliation — have the opportunity to learn, explore, and practice the art of theater. The show ran from June 22 to July 20.
Graham Wins NISOD Award
Vicki Graham, Communication Faculty, was awarded an Excellence Award at the annual National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) conference in May. The NISOD Excellence Awards were established in 1991 to provide NISOD-member colleges with an opportunity to recognize individuals doing extraordinary work on their campuses. Dean of Academic Affairs Chris Tombari nominated Graham for this award in part because she was presenting at the conference. In addition, Graham has done extensive research this past year into inclusive pedagogies specific to her Communication discipline, Tombari said.
Community ESL Growth
“I’d like to recognize Jackie Zvejnieks, Program Director of the Community ESL program. We have had record enrollment in the Community ESL program over the past two sessions. This summer, we increased the number of students by more than 100 over the previous summer. She has managed to increase enrollment even while taking on extra responsibility while we hire a coordinator for the program. I’d like to congratulate Jackie, and thank her for all her work!” – Anne Petti, Director, Center for Adult Education
Pony Anderson Recognition
Ed Seal, Hazmat Team Leader for the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Hazmat Team, sent a letter to CCA that commended the work that Pony Anderson, Director of the Disaster Management Institute, has done with Douglas County. An edited version of his comments is below:
“I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to you and your staff, especially Pony Anderson, for your continued support in making possible and available a world-class training environment to the responder community.
It is a recognition of her accomplishments and her character that causes me to write this letter. My team has often commented on the ability to train in such an amazing environment led by true professionals. They have asked me to pass on their sincere appreciation for Pony’s efforts in supporting them in this important undertaking. Pony has always been willing to assist in any way that was needed. She has shown her flexibility in rearranging her calendar to assist me in ensuring that the training needs of my team are met. Her punctuality and enthusiasm in her role allow me to fully focus on my team. We are very lucky to have her looking out for us. Pony is a true professional that exemplifies the positive image of your office.”
Lowry Campus Security Shoutout
Cara Wilson, Custodian Supervisor at the Lowry campus for the overnight shift, wanted to praise Lowry Campus Security for their responsiveness:
“I felt like someone was still in my building and within three minutes [staff] were inside the building searching. When I first started they made me aware of their presence and had surveillance outside the building all night. They have made me feel confident and safe to do my job and always have a kind word for me. I appreciate them immensely!”
CoTESOL Planning Meeting
CCA hosted the Colorado Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (CoTESOL) Board for its annual convention planning meeting on July 13.
The board discussed workshop proposals and built a schedule for CoTESOL's annual convention. Four CCA employees currently serve on the CoTESOL Board: Jackie Zvejnieks, Program Director of Community ESL, instructors Sarah Dahleh and Suzanne Saenz, as well as ESL Faculty Daniel Schweissing.
CoTESOL, an affiliate of TESOL International, is a non-profit organization whose primary purpose is to provide professional development opportunities to its members. Founded in 1976, CoTESOL is one of the five largest TESOL affiliates in the United States with more than 700 active members.
The Diesel Power Mechanics program celebrated its newest graduating class on June 26. This year the program had 22 graduate from its cohort.
Rhonda Hattar, Biology Faculty, her husband Scott, son Mason, and daughter Matilda welcomed a new addition to their family. Madeleine Jane was born at home on July 2 at 12:44 p.m.
Janel Highfill Promoted to Associate Vice President of Workforce, Partnerships, and Resource Development
Janel Highfill started as the Associate Vice President of Workforce, Partnerships, and Resource Development on July 1.
She will lead the college’s workforce development, strategic partner engagement, and development efforts. Reporting to Janel will be the directors of the Disaster Management Institute, Industry Relations, and Grant Development.
As Director of Strategic Partnerships and Resource Development for the past six years, Highfill has annually secured millions of grant dollars to support innovative projects at CCA.
Kelly Gaer Starts as Concurrent Enrollment Instructional Coordinator
Kelly Gaer started as Concurrent Enrollment Instructional Coordinator on July 1. Gaer has been with CCA since 2010 in a variety of roles, most recently as Credentials Evaluator.
Cheryl Waite Selected as Lead Advisor for CentreTech
Cheryl Waite has been selected as Lead Advisor for the CentreTech campus. She has been with CCA for 14 years and has worked as an advisor at CentreTech for 13 years.
Tamara White, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, holds a plaque she received at her farewell party on May 22. White left CCA to become the Associate Vice President of Student Support and Enrollment Services at Front Range Community College. She started at CCA in June 2014.
Victor Vialpando, Dean of the School of Professional Studies and Sciences, receives an award from Brian Steward, Director of the Colorado Film School, during Vialpando's farewell party on May 15. Vialpando started at CCA in August 2009. He left CCA to become Director of Academic Programs and Curriculum for the Colorado Community College System.
Cindy Hesse, Human Resources Director, presents a plaque to Kathy "Ms. Kathy" Jackson, Administrative Assistant for the Center for Recruitment and Orientation, during Jackson's retirement party on April 30. "Ms. Kathy" started at CCA in December 2005.
President Betsy Oudenhoven (in gray) hugs Sheryl Broadnax, Administrative Assistant, Office of Disability and Equity, at Broadnax's retirement party on May 29. Broadnax retired from CCA after 20 years at the college. She started in January 1999 as a student worker in the IT Department, and became an Administrative Assistant in the Learning Resource Center, before working for the Office of Disability and Equity.
Administrative Assistant Michelle Duran (left) and Library Services Coordinator Michelle "Shell" Samuel pose during Shell's farewell party on April 24. Samuel left CCA to pursue new opportunities. She started at CCA in August 2013.
More photos from Michelle "Shell" Samuel's farewell.
Concurrent Enrollment Specialist Catrina Semakula wipes away a tear while Recruiter Patrice Lewis talks during Semakula’s farewell party on May 2. Semakula, who started at CCA in August 2010, moved to Florida to pursue other opportunities.
Career Counselor Erica Hines presents Jason Bynum, Career Counselor and Internship Coordinator, several candy bars at his farewell party on June 12. Bynum, who started at CCA in August 2016, left to take a position at Emily Griffith Technical College.
Kathy Bodemann, Purchasing Coordinator, listens as Debbie Irvine, Human Resources Specialist, tells a story during Bodemann's retirement party on May 8. Bodemann started at CCA in August 1992 and worked for the college for more than 26 years before retiring.
Campus Safety Technician William Banks laughs while Security Director Travis Hogan looks on at Banks' farewell party on July 12. Banks started at CCA as a work-study with the Security Department in November 2011 and left to pursue an opportunity with a local school district.
LaPedra Evans, Computer Systems Technician
Elizabeth Gallegos, Financial Aid Advisor
Haley Heer, Academic Program Support Specialist, Colorado Film School
Roman Hernandez, Director of Procurement and Contracts
Aerial Hodgkiss, Pathways Advisor
Laura Longmire, Security Technician
Charmaine Lowe, Upward Bound Project Director
Jerusa Mathew, Custodian I
Adrienne Shabandarian, Administrative Assistant, Upward Bound
Cara Wilson, Custodian Supervisor
Catherine Zoerb, D2L Administrator