The Community College of Aurora on April 15 received the American Association of Community Colleges Advancing Diversity Award — a national recognition of the college’s effort to create an equitable and inclusive environment for students, staff, and faculty. CCA was announced as the winner at the AACC’s annual convention in Orlando, Fla.
The award recognizes colleges that have contributed significantly and over a sustained period of time to advancing diversity in community college leadership, the community and within higher education as a whole.
“This national recognition by our peers is both humbling and encouraging. It affirms the hard work of this entire college community as we strive to become a more equitable institution, improve outcomes for all of our students and close the achievement gap for our students of color,” President Betsy Oudenhoven said. “Both individually and collectively we are imperfect in this work — but we never stop trying. And that makes me proud.”
Caption: AACC President Walter Bumphus and AACC Chair Sandra Kurtinis present CCA President Betsy Oudenhoven (middle) with the Advancing Diversity award on April 15.
Colleges must meet several criteria to be eligible for the award, including sponsoring programs to promote diverse leaders and engage diverse student populations, modeling innovative and progressive practices to support institutional equity and maintaining and advocating policies that support diversity.
The AACC — the primary advocacy organization for the nation’s community colleges, representing nearly 1,200 two-year, associate degree-granting institutions and more than 12 million students — cited several reasons for honoring CCA with the award, including:
CCA applied for the award in November 2018 as part of its ongoing commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. The college has developed an Inclusive Excellence Council and a strategic plan that details numerous ongoing and future initiatives. CCA has focused on diversifying its workforce and embedding equity work throughout the college, with the goal of improving overall student success and closing the equity gap.
“We are extremely grateful for this esteemed award from AACC. We are even more grateful to the employees and students at CCA who have supported and contributed to the transformation of embedding equity, diversity and inclusion in all that we do at CCA,” said Quill Phillips, Special Assistant to the President for Inclusive Excellence at the college. “We continue to be committed to this work and are looking forward to the journey ahead as we continue to support students and strive to create an environment where they feel they belong, feel they matter and feel they are valued.”
CCA students will soon discover that finding an advisor on campus will be easier after a renovation project planned for the Administration Building this summer creates a more visible advising area.
Several departments - Admissions, Registration, and Records; Recruitment and Orientation; the Associate Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students; Welcome Center; and Advising – are included in the renovation.
The renovation will move the Advising offices to the front of the Administration Building with Admissions, Registration, and Records moving to where Advising is now located. Career Services will also move into the new space.
The project will also optimize space in that section of the building and allow for future growth. For instance, there will be more waiting room for students who are seeing advisors; currently, those students wait in the hallway. A new conference room will also be built.
Caption: The above rendering is a proposed design for the Administration Building renovation.
The project's more than $250,000 cost is a gift from longtime CCA supporter Bill Wiggins. The new area will be named the Lore Isa Wiggins Advising and Career Center in memory of his late wife. Wiggins is an original member of the Community College of Aurora Foundation board and is still very active with CCA.
“We are excited and grateful for the donation from Mr. Bill Wiggins in memory of his wife to fund this new space,” said Paulette Dalpes, Vice President of Student Affairs. “This center reflects our commitment to the Guided Pathways framework. We start with the end in mind by co-locating services focused on orientation, academic advising, and career services. In this manner, we ensure support for students throughout their educational experience at CCA and keep their career destination at the forefront. We are confident that this new center will create more opportunities for students to succeed.”
Construction may start as soon as May 13 depending on the bid process and contractor. If construction starts by that date, the renovation could be completed as soon as July 4.
CCA staff who work in the renovation area will be temporarily relocated to classroom space elsewhere on the CentreTech campus.
CCA’s graduation ceremony on May 11 is a time for all of us to celebrate the accomplishments of our students – and to reflect on our role in their success. Every year holds opportunities for learning and growth, not just for our students but also for us as individuals and as a college.
There were innumerable accomplishments on an individual and program level this year as well as some good news for the college as a whole. Your individual and collective commitment to equity and student success led to a national award from the American Association of Community Colleges. Our Guided Pathways work continues to evolve including the implementation of the Navigate tool. Our reorganized Advising Department has become more effective and proactive. We have completed the first stage of our new strategic plan thanks to broad input and a very enthusiastic committee. Assessment was embraced college-wide and our efforts were well-received by our accrediting body during a visit this spring.
We also had some challenges – some under our control and some not. I am not sure why every weather event and unexpected emergency happened mid-week and I appreciate everyone’s resilience. Enrollment fell this year which required us to cut back in our current budget and make some proactive adjustments for next year. I am confident that this can turn around quickly with increased enrollment from our concurrent enrollment students after high school, improved retention of our current students, and the development of new CTE programs that will meet employer needs and provide opportunities for our adult learners. In addition, our facilities are getting old and our roofs are getting leaky. Many thanks to all of the inhabitants of the Sim Center for their resilience while we awaited the completion of a new roof.
And while end-of-the-year celebrations and graduation are the best parts of this time of year, the hardest part is to say goodbye to our colleagues who are retiring, advancing to new positions, or simply making different life choices. I want to thank all of them. Regardless of length of tenure, every one of these individuals has had an impact on this college and our students which will continue to ripple through the future - and we will miss them. We are bound to each other not just by our jobs but also by our lives; both the joys and the heartaches. That’s the beauty of a community like this. I hope you will wish them well.
Thanks for everything you do and for doing it so well. Enjoy commencement and have a great summer.
The end of the spring semester and finals are stressful but CCA understands that school isn’t the only thing that students have going on in their lives. In a partnership with Aurora Mental Health Center, the college has counseling services available to help students address individual problems and challenges.
CCA has two counselors who serve students on both campuses. The counselors are available to help students deal with stress, anxiety, depression, and many other mental health issues that students face. Referrals for the services can be made online by staff and faculty by visiting the CCA Counseling Services page. This simple online form has sped up the referral process and allows the counselors to see students efficiently. Students can also call the appointment line at 303-360-4949.
Students can use this free service for up to six or eight visits, then the counselor may provide the students with options and other resources to continue care if needed. The counselors do not provide medication, including prescriptions or refills. If a student has emergency or crisis care needs, counselors will refer them to Colorado Crisis or encourage them to call 911. Counseling services are for CCA students only; if faculty and staff need these types of services, CCA offers the Colorado State Employee Assistance Program or C-SEAP.
In fall 2019 Counseling Services plans to hire a CCA student employee to aid with outreach and event services and help communicate about counseling services. In spring 2020, Counseling Services plans to hire graduate-level interns to better meet the needs of students.
In 2020, Counseling Services plans to provide wellness groups on campus to provide another avenue for sharing and support for students. These groups will focus on coping skills, healthy relationships, and other support topics to help meet the needs of the college's student community.
CCA’s National Model United Nations team received an honorable mention award at the National Model United Nations Conference on March 28 in New York City. CCA was one of just two community colleges in the country to receive honorable mention honors. It was the fifth-straight year the Model UN team from CCA received an award at the annual conference. Fifteen CCA students participated in the conference representing the country of North Macedonia. They were fortunate enough to have a mission briefing with Ambassador Sanja Zografska-Krsteska, Charge d’ affaires of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of North Macedonia to the UN. Student Christina Sachi had the honor of advocating for the Model UN’s 17 sustainable development goals in front of thousands of Model UN participants in the UN General Assembly hall. Her speech was streamed live on United Nations TV.
Caption: CCA’s Model United Nations team celebrates with CCA staff at Denver International Airport after the team returned from the conference.
Kid’s Corner at the Library
The Library now has a Kid’s Corner, a dedicated and welcoming space with age-appropriate furniture and activities in the corner of the computer lab.
Michelle Duran, Administrative Assistant for the Library, designed the space to support the studying needs of students with children. Kid’s Corner's proximity to the computer lab ensures that children are safe and near while their parents study.
Employees of the Year Recognized
CCA’s four employees of the year were honored at the Governor's Mansion and received the Colorado Community College System's (CCCS) Commitment to Excellence Awards on April 10.
Maintenance Supervisor Tom Morrissey was named Classified Employee of the Year; Instructional Intervention and Support Director H. Ray Keith was named Administrative/Professional Technical Employee of the Year; Art Faculty Kate O’Donnell was named Faculty of the Year, and Early Childhood Education Instructor Shirley Smith was named Instructor of the Year. The four employees were also recognized on January 16 at the spring semester kickoff event.
Caption: CCCS Chancellor Joe Garcia, Early Childhood Education Instructor Shirley Smith, Instructional Intervention and Support Director H. Ray Keith, Maintenance Supervisor Tom Morrissey, Art Faculty Kate O’Donnell, and President Betsy Oudenhoven at the Governor’s Mansion on April 10.
CCA Graduate and Employee Jugbeh Charles Wins Statewide Creative Business Plan Award
Accountant Jugbeh Charles was named the winner of the statewide Leading Edge Best Creative Business Plan competition at a graduation ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion on February 21. Born and raised in Liberia, Charles immigrated to Aurora, where she earned an associate’s degree from CCA and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Colorado Denver. She also recently completed CCA’s Entrepreneurship program. Charles purchases handmade clothing and textiles from Liberian craftswomen at fair prices, then imports and sells the goods in the U.S.
HLC Final Determination Finds CCA Has Made Needed Progress in Assessment of Student Learning
The Higher Learning Commission has found that CCA has demonstrated sufficient evidence that the college has made progress in its assessment of student learning. The HLC finding concurs with the evaluation team’s findings from its February campus visit. That evaluation team concluded that CCA is making adequate progress in assessment with no further action or review by the Commission needed until the regularly scheduled visit in 2022.
Quill Phillips and Tamara White’s Presentation Draws from Book Chapter Written by CCA Employees
Quill Phillips, Special Assistant to the President for Inclusive Excellence, and Tamara White, Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, gave a presentation titled “A College with an Equity Mindset: Advancing Equity and Inclusive Practice” at the Association of American Colleges & Universities Diversity, Equity, and Student Success Conference March 7 to 9 in Pittsburgh. The presentation was informed by a chapter written by several current and former CCA employees — Javon Brame, Derrick Haynes, Kathryn James, Elena Sandoval-Lucero, Phillips, and White — in the book Cultural Awareness and Competency Development in Higher Education. Phillips and White discussed how CCA has become a college with an equity mindset and how CCA is advancing equity and inclusive practices across the campus.
Bowman Award Winners
Andrew Singer, Diesel Faculty, and Mandy Geddes, English Instructor, have received the Dr. Linda and Roger Bowman Award for Instructional Excellence.
The recipients are nominated by students based on four criteria: campus-wide impact, student learning/instructional activities, student success, and uniqueness. Singer and Geddes were chosen from a pool of nominees submitted by students. The award was founded by former CCA president Dr. Linda Bowman.
Students said this about Singer: “He has a sense of knowing if a class or student is struggling and will actively attempt to reevaluate what he’s teaching to make sure you can understand the material and to also evaluate himself to see if how he is teaching, if the material makes sense to the students.”
Students said this about Geddes: “Geddes has been an astounding instructor. She alone helped five students' essays become part of the play 'Living Echoes' at CCA. She is an amazing instructor and is willing to help her students with anything they need, and our success is her priority.”
Brandon Feres, English Department Chair, welcomed his daughter, Georgia Mae, on April 3. She weighed 6 pounds, 9 ounces and measured 19 inches long.
Joe Florkowski, Web Content Specialist, and his wife, Ashley, welcomed their daughter, Dana Leona, on February 15. She weighed 8 pounds and measured 20 inches long.
Student employee Mustafa Al Hamowandi became an American citizen on March 28 at a swearing-in ceremony at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office in Centennial. Al Hamowandi immigrated to the United States from Iraq in May 2012.
Instructor Publishes New Book
Amanda “Jo” Erven, Business Department Instructor, published her first book, Total Quality Auditing: How a Total Quality Mindset Can Help Internal Audit Add Real Value, in March. The book shows how to put TQM concepts to work in the world of internal auditing.
Art Jury Work
Art Faculty Kate O’Donnell volunteered as a juror on April 6 for the Jefferson County Art Show. The Art Show features artwork from Jefferson County middle and high school students.
World Denver arranged a visit of English teachers from countries such as Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia who came to the Lowry campus to learn more about the Community ESL program on April 22. The teachers toured classrooms in the North Quad Building and visited with Community ESL staff and students.
West Named Director of TRIO Student Support Services
Nnena West was named Director of TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) in January. She serves as Project Director for both of CCA’s TRIO Student Support Services federal grants. For five years, West has led the TRIO Traditional SSS. Prior to that role, she served as an Admissions Specialist at CCA for two years.
Zvejnieks Named Program Director for Community ESL
Jackie Zvejnieks has been named Program Director for the Community ESL program. Zvejnieks has been with the Community ESL program as the Assistant Coordinator and then as the Coordinator for more than three years. Prior to coming to CCA, Zvejnieks taught English in Greece and China. She has also tutored elementary school students in ESL and literacy skills, and volunteered as a mentor for recently-arrived refugees. She is a member of the COTESOL board (Colorado Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) and was recently elected to the Aurora Immigrant and Refugee Commission.
Beauchamp Named Coordinator of STEM Initiatives
Stepheny Beauchamp started as Coordinator of STEM Initiatives on March 18. Beauchamp previously was the Coordinator for Concurrent Enrollment, where she focused on STEM-related disciplines.
CCA staff, students, and faculty celebrated the near completion of the roof repairs to the Center for Simulation on April 18.
The Raise the Roof celebration was held at the Center and CCA staff enjoyed fun and games outside the building.
Caption: CCA staff mingle and chat during the Raise the Roof celebration.
For more than 10 years, the roof of the Center for Simulation leaked. The leaking became progressively worse and spurred CCA to shut down five classrooms in the building. CCA secured emergency funding for the project which cost more than $900,000.
Faculty and staff in the Center for Simulation are excited to have the formerly closed space within the building open and usable again, said John Bottelberghe, Facilities Director.
“They are happy to have a more presentable building,” Bottelberghe said. “They are excited that it is not affecting students anymore.”
Confluence is an all-day academic conference, started in 2016, to highlight student work at CCA from the past year.
Geoff Hunt, retired CCA History Faculty and creator of Confluence, delivered the keynote address during the event on April 12. Hunt told students, “Thank you all for doing good work that your instructors thought was good enough to present at this conference.”
CCA student Ashley Wolff talked about her work on the RockSat-X project during Confluence. As part of RockSat-X, CCA students launched a science experiment into suborbit in August.
Former CCA student Shelby Mathis displayed her miniatures photo project from fall 2018 in the Rotunda. As part of Art Faculty Stacey Stormes’ Digital Photography class, Mathis created a work about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by combining a miniature wall set with images she took on a trip to the region. At Confluence she presented the work and artist statement and answered questions about the project.
Drag Queen Bingo
Tequila Mockingbird served as emcee and called out numbers during Drag Queen Bingo on April 4 in the Rotunda. The LGBTQA+ Task Force and Office of Student Life hosted the event.
Student Employee Appreciation
Paulette Dalpes, Student Affairs Vice President, hugs student employee Denise Lewis on April 15 in the Rotunda during the Student Employee Appreciation event. Student Affairs held the event to honor student employees at CCA. The event was held in conjunction with National Student Employee Appreciation Week.
Raise the Roof Celebration
Chris Tombari, Dean of the School of Liberal Arts, (left) and Victor Vialpando, Dean of the School of Professional Studies and Sciences, try to pull apart a frozen T-shirt as part of a game during the Raise the Roof celebration at the Center for Simulation on April 18. Raise the Roof celebrated the completion of a new roof for the Center for Simulation.
“Sorry to Bother You” Screening
Rapper, filmmaker, and activist Boots Riley visited CCA to show his film “Sorry to Bother You” and host a discussion after the screening on April 17. A packed house of CCA students watched the film in the Forum in the Fine Arts Building.
Dolores Andrade-Mejias, Outreach and Recruitment Coordinator - Strengthening Working Families Initiative
Lauren Counterman, Human Resources
Genene Duran, Assistant Director of Allied Health
Jamariah Johnson, Custodian
Amalie Lester, Administrative Assistant, Admissions, Registration, and Records
Brenda Moreno, Administrative Assistant, Student Affairs
Jada Morris-Mabry, Achievement Coach - Strengthening Working Families Initiative
Erma Sampson, Administrative Assistant, Office of Student Life
Alex Schultz, Director of Communications and Marketing