What did you do before you came to CCA?
I was Aurora’s city manager. I was appointed to that role in December 2010 and my last day there was November 2nd.
Before that, I was a city manager in Texas for many years. I worked in the cities of Corpus Christi, College Station, and Kingsville. I was also Fort Collins’ deputy city manager from 1987 to 1989. In all, I have 40-plus years of city government experience.
What did you enjoy most about being Aurora’s city manager?
Several things. First, Aurora is home to people from all over the world. That makes it a very rich and exciting place to be. Providing services to such a diverse population was certainly challenging, but it was a challenge that I found to be interesting and exciting.
Second, we were fortunate to have access to an array of assets, from available property to a great labor force to good infrastructure to a diverse population. With all those things working together, we were able to start and complete a number of significant investments for the community. The Gaylord Rockies project, the various light-rail projects, Stanley Marketplace, the Nine Mile Station redevelopment, the two Amazon facilities, and the Bioscience buildings are just a few of those investments. There is a lot going on in Aurora, which made my job as city manager very enjoyable.
What will you do as CCA’s vice president of Administrative Services and chief financial officer?
I will be providing executive leadership for our Facilities, Finance, Information Technology, and Security departments. In short, I will be supporting CCA’s main mission, which is to provide great education to our students.
What is it about CCA that made you want to work here after you finished at the City of Aurora?
I have been involved with CCA ever since I moved to Aurora. When I got here, Dr. [Linda] Bowman, CCA’s previous president, invited me to be part of the College Advisory Council, so I have been on that for the last six-plus years.
I have also always thought education would be part of my “next act.” When I lived in Corpus Christi, I spent a lot of time working with those who were involved with the K-12 system and Del Mar College on trying to improve education, educational attainment, and educational opportunities. I am passionate about education because of the value it represents for our communities in terms of the quality of life, the benefits to the individual citizens, and the long-term economic benefit of having an educated workforce. So I always thought I would do education as my next act because I think there are some things I have learned as a person and as a professional in my career that I can share in education.
How will all of your experience in city government translate to what you will be doing here?
Virtually everything that I am supervising here – Facilities, Finance, IT, and Security – I have supervised in the local government sector. I have done budgets of all kinds and sizes. The last one was pushing $800 million a year with 3,000 employees, so it was a little bigger. While there are some differences in the environment and some of the rules, a lot of what you do to accomplish an organization’s mission is the same from sector to sector. A lot of it really just revolves around leadership, leadership development, and building a good team of people who are willing to work together to accomplish the organization’s mission.
What do you hope to accomplish for CCA as the college’s vice president of Administrative Services and CFO?
At the end of the day, everything that I would like to see happen here requires resources, so we have to ensure that we are managing our resources wisely. There has been discussion in the past about adding a building on the CentreTech campus. There is also a desire to get more funding for improvements to our existing buildings. Those are two important initiatives for CCA.
I find technology to be a very powerful force for improving how we all live and work and educate, so I am excited about looking at ways we can improve the environment here in terms of technology.
There is a lot of interest from local businesses and groups in gaining access to the programs we offer here. As an example, Amazon is committed to investing in their employees as people, not just as employees. They are committed to helping their employees develop the skills they want to develop, even if those skills cannot necessarily be used at Amazon. Amazon knows they cannot be everything to everybody, and that is OK by them. That is a great opportunity for CCA because we have a lot of fantastic programs here that those employees could take advantage of. The folks at Buckley Air Force Base also want to provide access to additional education for the servicemen and women and their families who are based there. That is one of their priorities. I do not know what could happen there, but the college is essentially right across the street, so maybe there are some opportunities there.
Those are some of the things I will be working on. The great thing is, we are starting from a growing and diverse community that is home to an excellent college with excellent people.
Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I went to St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. My degree is in English. I have minors in education and political science, and if you looked at my transcript, I also had enough hours for a minor in theology.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I like to play a little golf. My wife and I are foodies. We are also art folks. I was involved in drama in high school and college, so we enjoy the theater and graphic arts. I paint a little bit. I am getting ready to take pottery classes in the spring. We collect art, so if there is an art show in town, odds are we will be there. We get season tickets to the Fox and we go to performances at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. When we get to New York, we love going to the theater, the symphony, and dance performances. I also like to read. If you were to look at my bookshelf, you would see everything from Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book “No Ordinary Time” about the Roosevelt White House to several John Grisham novels to some murder mysteries. Currently I am trying to finish Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy. Each book is about 1,000 pages, so I am about two-thirds of the way through the last one.
Dear CCA Colleagues:
Don’t worry – it’s not winter yet. I am writing this on a beautiful Monday in October and by the time you read this it will be November. Right after I sat down to write this column I was invited to go for a walk – and I did - which gives me at least fleeting credibility as I address the importance of taking care of ourselves and giving each other permission to do the same.
Don’t worry – we have a Wellness Committee! CCA has a Wellness Committee and the group's theme for the year is mindfulness. One way we can be mindful in professions that are largely other-directed is to pay attention to our own mental, emotional and physical health. To be mindful, we have to disconnect (at least temporarily) from our technology to check in with each other and with ourselves. How is our energy, our focus, our attitude, our communication, our mood? How are we feeling as the day progresses – the weeks, the months, the years? How are we doing? Do we feel happy and productive? Are we satisfied with our life balance? Do we remember that taking care of our physical and mental health is necessary and important?
Don’t worry – sometimes it can be about you. As we head into the holidays and the end of the semester, self-care is even more important. While we do different jobs and contribute to the college in different ways, for the most part we serve others. We work hard and while that work often provides rewards, it is not without its stressors. And then there are the inevitable ups and downs with our families, friends, pets, finances, health, politics, sports teams, etc. As the days get darker and colder how do we keep ourselves healthy and happy?
Don’t worry – you can do this! Here’s a hint. It doesn’t depend on external factors. According to a posting on the Psychology Today website (discovered through a cheerful Google search on happiness), “Researchers estimate that much of happiness is under personal control. Regularly indulging in small pleasures (such as warm baths!), getting absorbed in challenging activities, setting and meeting goals, maintaining close social ties, and finding purpose beyond oneself are all actions that increase life satisfaction.”
Don’t worry – there’s research! I went to a conference recently on behavioral health, and one of the last sessions of the conference was on positive psychology, optimism, and happiness. Not surprisingly, it was packed. The presenter of the session referenced Harvard psychologist Shawn Achor’s book, “The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles that Fuel Success and Performance at Work.” The premise of the book is that common wisdom says that if you work hard, you will be more successful, and if you are more successful, you will be happier. However, this premise may be backward, and it may actually be the case that happiness fuels success and not the other way around. In a very entertaining TED Talk based on the book, Achor suggests that some of the things we can do to create positive change in our lives include being grateful, journaling, exercising, meditating, and committing random acts of kindness.
Don’t worry – you’ve got this. What are those things that bring you happiness? How do you develop optimism, resilience, and a positive attitude? How do you deal with stress? Life is hard. Bad things happen. The world is a mess. Can we be happy? To do our work we need to believe that all of our students can succeed. However, they don’t all succeed. We know that. But does it stop us from believing in the potential of every student to succeed? No, it doesn’t. We all have bad days and no one is immune from negative thoughts or emotions. But do we believe that happiness is not possible, just because we are not happy all of the time? We deserve to feel good about our lives – and, even better, research indicates that we can make it happen.
Don’t worry – be happy. It’s not always this easy, but it is a good reminder – and a little reggae along the way never hurts.
CCA’s campuses are starting to look a little brighter even as the days get darker.
CCA’s Facilities Department has started a campus “renewal” project intended to freshen up both the CentreTech and Lowry campuses. The renewal project will provide new carpet and paint in some buildings, give both Lowry and CentreTech campuses a brighter look, and incorporate more sustainable materials in the process.
Some of that renewal work has already started at CCA – the railing in front of the Classroom Building and leading to the Fine Arts building has been painted a brighter white and the bridge on campus is a brighter, CCA-looking red.
This campus renewal is separate from the facilities master plan but is a way to make the campus more visually appealing, says John Bottelberghe, Facilities director.
Since he is new to CCA, Bottelberghe said that he is able to look at the campus with fresh eyes. Some veteran staff members might look at the rusted railing as just part of the scenery, but repainting can give the campuses a fresher, brighter look, he notes.
“When you get that fresh coat of paint on there, when you get that new feeling, it doesn’t look depressing. It gives you a positive feeling,” Bottelberghe says.
CCA’s Facilities Master Plan – currently underway – focuses on the big picture and helps CCA with decisions related to current and future locations and campus space for the next decade. In the interim, this campus renewal is intended to give the CCA campuses a fresh look while the Master Plan is created. But this renewal is more than just adding paint to existing buildings and structures; it also means that Bottelberghe is looking at the materials used within the classrooms and looking to new technologies to ensure materials do not wear out.
For instance, flooring in some areas of the campus was installed with a limited lifespan of maybe 10 years. Now there is new technology that extends the life of carpet so CCA can install carpet with a 20- to 25-year lifespan. If CCA installs carpet with a long lifespan, it delays the next time CCA has to do a renewal like this.
“The carpet I am going to put into the Classroom Building and in the various classrooms at Lowry will actually last longer than what we’ve been seeing because of the different quality of materials,” Bottelberghe says.
Bottelberghe’s plan is to try to renovate most of the academic space on CentreTech and Lowry campuses within the next five years, with renovations for other parts of the campuses, such as the Administration Building, to come later.
“At a bare minimum, I want the classrooms topnotch,” Bottelberghe adds.
Bottelberghe has also created a document to keep track of improvements to campus spaces to provide a short-term strategic plan so no areas are missed.
Much of the renewal that CCA has seen this fall were quick fixes at CentreTech – things that could easily be repainted – like the railings, the bridge, garbage bins, and light posts. Facilities at Lowry will receive similar attention in the summer of 2018.
During the upcoming winter, the Facilities Department will focus on interior projects – such as signage and the entryways of buildings – as well as tree maintenance.
Bottelberghe adds that although the exterior of the campuses may be improving, he is not ignoring rooftops or the temperature in the buildings.
“The overall goal is seamless operations. I want teachers and staff and faculty to do their job and not think about how often the garbage is being emptied; how often their offices are getting cleaned; how often the windows are getting washed. It just happens. They don’t even have to put in a work order because it’s already done. That’s the overall goal.”
Caption: John Bottelberghe stands in front of the sections of CCA that have already gone through "renewal."
NK Chang Foundation Merit Scholarship
Dr. Nai-Kwang Chang, CCA’s first president, passed away in January but his legacy lives on. His three adult children have created the NK Chang Foundation Merit Scholarship which will provide two $1,000 scholarships a year for students studying education or a STEM field. Find out more about the scholarship.
The CCA Gives Hope campaign was a huge success. Collectively, 127 staff and faculty gave a total of $23,375 to help CCA students achieve success.
For those who have not had a chance to give the Foundation is embarking on a campaign for Colorado Gives Day on Tuesday, December 5. The Foundation is supporting staff efforts to create their own crowdfunding pages. Many CCA staff have already given, but this is a chance to encourage CCA staff and faculty’s personal networks (friends, family, community members) to support the college; setting up a page takes less than five minutes. The CCA Foundation will award two participating CCA staff/faculty/adjuncts with a $50 gift card, one to the person who raises the most money through their crowdfunding page, and the other to the one who recruits the highest number of donors through their page.
For more information on how to set up a Colorado Gives Day crowdfunding page, contact Lynn Adams at email@example.com or 303-361-7416.
National Coming Out Day
The LGBTQA Student Alliance at CCA and the Office of Student Life celebrated National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11 in the Student Centre Rotunda. Students and staff took part in games, food, and more to celebrate the college's LGBTQA community.
Caption: The committee that arranged National Coming Out Day for CCA. From left to right, Tatyana Mosley, CCA student and member of the LGBTQA Student Alliance; Juan Carlos Hernandez Barraza, graduate assistant in the Office of Student Life; Wendy Silva, English adjunct instructor; Kate Noon-Ulvila, CCA ESL faculty; Vanessa Vazquez, achievement coach with the Strengthening Working Families Initiative; Quill Phillips, special assistant to the President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Excellence; David Murphy, assistant to the vice president of Student Affairs; and student Shay Kelly.
CCA Students Paint in “Plein Air”
Students from David Chatfield’s Art 151 painting class went outside to mimic the work of Impressionists who painted outdoors from life. Chatfield’s class painted in “plein air” on the CentreTech campus on October 4.
Caption (left): Shirley Gilliand works on her painting.
Caption (center): Casey Rogers paints during the class.
Caption (right): Eugene Meyer stops to pose for a picture during his work.
The Concurrent Enrollment Department got into the spirit of Halloween with their Minion-themed doors. From left, Nicole Banks' door, Michelle Pacheco's door, and Catrina Semakula's door.
Student Robert Vincent asks a question of Audrey Jones, a transfer admissions counselor from Metropolitan State University of Denver, during the Fall Transfer Fair held on the Lowry campus on November 2.
A search committee from the State Board for Community Colleges and Occupational Education met and took questions and input from CCA staff and faculty on Oct. 18 in the Forum in the Fine Arts Building. The search for the new president for the Colorado Community College System was the focus of the forum. Dr. Nancy McCallin, who has served as System President since 2004, will retire effective July 31, 2018.
Caption: Dr. Nancy McCallin (left) listens to questions and comments during the meeting; on her left are search committee members Russ Meyer and Jean White.
Tatiana Esmeral, evening administrator for the Lowry campus, welcomed her second son, Sebastian, on October 20. Sebastian weighed 8 pounds, 1 ounces.
Dia de los Muertos Celebration Contest
CCA participated in the Altar Competition for the Dia de los Muertos Celebration on Nov. 2 at the Village Exchange Center. CCA’s altar won first place and bested altars developed by the City of Aurora, the Mexican consulate, and more.
The altar was built by Noel Chavez-Guizar, college recruiter; and Martha Hernandez de la Garza and Lourdes Huici Clever, adjunct instructors in the World Languages Department. The altar was cosponsored by the Latin X Student Alliance and the Latin X Faculty and Staff Affinity Group.
Caption: From left, Lourdes Huici Clever and Martha Hernandez de la Garza show off the altar at the Village Exchange Center.
CCCOnline Instructional Excellence Awards
Mandy Geddes, an adjunct instructor in the English Department, won two Instructional Excellence awards for her work with CCCOnline.
Ann Snell, an adjunct instructor with the Business Department, won an Instructional Excellence award for her work with CCCOnline as well.
Geddes received the Instructional Excellence awards in the field of Composition and for Liberal Studies and College Prep. Snell received the Instructional Excellence award in the field of Business. Both Geddes and Snell received the awards for demonstrating such characteristics as: following CCCOnline procedures to communicate promptly and professionally with CCCOnline staff and students and actively supporting student learning and promoting student success in the classroom.
CCA’s Testing Center Named One of the Top 100 in the Country
College Level Examination Program (CLEP) has named CCA’s Testing Center one of the top 100 CLEP centers in the country. The award is given to colleges based on the number of exams administered in the 2016/2017 year. CCA was the only college in Colorado in the top 100.
Communications and Marketing Department Receives Two Medallion Awards
CCA’s Communications and Marketing Department received two 2017 Medallion Awards from the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations District Four.
The department received a gold award for Specialty Publication for its collaboration with ThankYouAmerica! on the “I Am An Immigrant: Nu Tran Grinsteiner” book developed last spring.
The department received a silver award in the area of Communication Success Story for the “Work. Life. Balance.” campaign for the Wellness Committee at the Community College of Aurora.
Mary Graham left CCA in October to move to Ohio to be closer to her children and grandchildren. Mary started at CCA in December 2008 as a temp and moved into the position of director of Academic Affairs Support Services. CCA staff celebrated Mary’s farewell from CCA on Oct. 20.
Caption: From left, Mary Graham poses with Denise Oakeley, coordinator of Academic Affairs Support Services.
STEM Day for Girls
Columbia Middle School students Duha Memon (left) and Kamila Amaya Artiga (right) build prosthetics during STEM Day for Girls held at the Lowry campus on Oct. 27. The program, part of CCA’s outreach to high schools, recruits girls into the male-dominated fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.
Diversity and Inclusion Summit
Quill Phillips, special assistant to the president for Inclusive Excellence, speaks to more than 200 people at the Aurora Chamber of Commerce’s 2nd Annual Diversity and Inclusion Summit on Oct. 12. Quill's presentation focused on understanding how implicit bias can impact the hiring process and how to diversify hiring pools for local Aurora business owners.
Shaun Boulier, director, Advising
Christine Gray, Strengthening Working Families Initiative career advisor and coach
Travis Hogan, director of Security
Lily Ryan, accounting technician
Brannon Saffron, program director, Community ESL
What food are you craving the most this upcoming holiday season and why?
Jennifer Bird, academic program support specialist, Behavioral Sciences and English: “I love the spice profiles that come with the holidays —cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, nutmeg, ginger, cloves — but I would break my no-sugar, no-grains food restriction right now for a really good panettone! The texture of this hearty bread, with just enough sweetness to hint at a cake—it's the best of both worlds.”
Erik Clark, project director, TRIO Student Support Services — ESL: “I am craving yams, greens, and cabbage. My family cooks this during the holiday season when it's cold out, and I miss them.”
Darius Smith, adjunct instructor, Political Science: “Homemade macaroni and cheese, because it makes me smile.”