The Community College of Aurora is on the move.
This summer, CCA's Facilities Department moved equipment, computers, and furniture on both the CentreTech and Lowry campuses as part of the first phase of a series of office moves to address space needs identified in the CCA Master Plan.
Working with the Information Technology Department, Facilities moved nearly 40 people to different office spaces on the two campuses.
The office moves began because of space requirements identified in the campus Master Plan. The Master Plan, completed in October 2017, identified several areas where CCA lacked space, especially for students.
"One thing we learned in our planning was that we have some disconnects in our space utilization," said John Bottelberghe, Facilities Director. "The purpose of this first phase of moves was to do the zero-dollar changes – get people near the areas that they work closest with so they are not commuting across two campuses or even across a couple of buildings." For example, Career Services was moved closer to Advising because the two departments work closely together as part of Guided Pathways.
With phase one of the office moves complete, CCA has started work on the second phase, which will take longer to complete, so that departments can meet with architects and plan the design for office space. Although preliminary design work has started, there is no timeline for the second phase moves.
Phase two will also focus on creating more student space in the Student Centre Building, Bottelberghe said.
"The goal is getting the Student Centre Building to be the student and academic support center that it's supposed to be," Bottelberghe said.
Adding more student space is something that the master plan identified as a critical need for CCA, said Sam Thomas, Information Technology Director.
"One of the things the master plan identified was a lack of student congregation space - just spaces where students could hang out on campus, do homework, do whatever, or meet with friends. Part of phase two is trying to right size that," Thomas said.
While there is currently no phase three planned, the construction of the proposed Diesel and Support Services Building would likely spur a third phase of office moves. The Facilities Department and loading dock area would likely move to the new building and that would open up a new set of offices for departments to move into in the Administration Building.
As the Department of Instructional Intervention and Support enters its second year, it is boosting its efforts to provide faculty and adjunct instructors with the tools and training needed to help students succeed.
Through research-based strategies, Instructional Intervention and Support is creating initiatives to improve student outcomes and eliminate equity gaps at CCA. The department hired staff in August to fulfill some of these initiatives including James Gray as Inclusive Pedagogy Instructional Coach; Andrew Goff as Advanced Academic Achievement Faculty; and Mandy Geddes as Instructional Specialist.
“We are excited about the opportunity to contribute to faculty and instructor support, equity-minded initiatives and instruction, and student success,” said H. Ray Keith, Director of Instructional Intervention and Support.
The key initiatives for the department are the instructional support initiative; a Association of College and University Educators effective teaching program as well as developing a Center for Teaching and Learning. These initiatives will allow the department to invest in faculty and adjunct instructors and provide professional development and support to help students succeed.
The instructional support initiative builds on CCA’s efforts the past five years to close the equity gaps for underrepresented student populations. Instructional Intervention and Support has taken a two-phase approach to launch this initiative. Phase one will review studies, data, interviews, and collaboration with other metro community colleges to develop and design best practices for faculty and adjunct instructors. In phase two, the instructional team will develop a series of professional development workshops geared towards high-impact practices, implementing student-centered instruction, creating inclusive learning communities, and using teaching strategies for differentiated learning.
The newest initiative offered by the department is the Association of College and University Educators’ course in Effective Teaching Practices which prepares faculty and adjunct instructors to implement essential practices to improve student outcomes. Educators that finish this program receive a Certificate in Effective College Instruction endorsed by the American Council on Education. Nearly 50 CCA faculty and instructors have participated in these courses.
Finally, Instructional Intervention and Support would like to build a Center for Teaching and Learning to support the professional development of faculty and adjunct instructors. Since space is in short supply at CCA, the department would like to create a virtual Center for Teaching and Learning. The Center will provide opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, the establishment of an instructional resource repository, and aims to retain faculty and adjunct instructors.
Dear CCA colleagues, I have lived my entire life on an academic schedule so while I am always a little sad as the days start to grow shorter and summer gives way to fall, I am also excited about the beginning of a new academic year. It's wonderful to see everyone back and know that the year ahead of us holds great promise, and likely, some surprises.
I always appreciate your willingness – both individually and collectively – to try new things. As I mentioned at the fall kick-off meeting, we are embarking on a new five-year strategic plan and at the end of those five years, CCA will be celebrating our 40th year. For the past five years we have been laying a strong foundation for the work that lies ahead and I am confident that from now until 2023 we will continue to see improvement in our student outcomes.
Since we developed our last strategic plan, we have committed to implementing inclusive excellence, diversified our workforce, adopted a guided pathways approach, and redesigned our developmental education. We are strengthening our advising and transfer pathways, offering new and revised certificate and degree programs, and providing more out-of-class opportunities for our students. We are experimenting and innovating. We are trying new instructional strategies in our classrooms, have revamped our orientation and registration processes, and have made some changes to align our facilities and our functions.
We have a strong and positive relationship with our college Foundation, are strengthening our relationships with our local employers, and are working collaboratively across departments and divisions on a variety of initiatives. We have the good fortune to live in Colorado, we enjoy strong ties with our service area, we have a workforce that is passionate about our mission and our students, and we have a wonderfully diverse student body.
We also have challenges. Attracting the full range of students we are equipped to serve and retaining the students we already have is critical to our future. Our mission requires us to improve our retention, graduation, and transfer rates, and close the gap between our students of color and our white students on all of these measures. We aspire to be the college where every student succeeds – and I don't anticipate that changing with a new strategic plan. How we get there continues to be a matter not just of good intentions, but of informed, thoughtful and focused activity.
Despite limited resources, our belief that we can make a difference for our students by creating a college experience (both inside and outside the classroom) that maximizes their opportunities for success – and our belief that they are fully capable of that success - is fundamental to who we are. I am excited about our work together and honored to be a part of this journey with all of you. I hope it's a great year.
Two longtime members of CCA's faculty retired during the summer – Geoff Hunt, History Faculty, and LaVelle Knight, Mathematics Faculty. We asked them to reflect on their time at CCA and ask them what they plan to do next.
What drew you to CCA or how did you come to work here?
I had been teaching as an adjunct at Red Rocks Community College and CCA had an opening in fall 1995. I started as an adjunct teaching history in fall 1995 and in fall 1997 I started full time.
What are you most proud of or what did you feel like you accomplished at CCA?
I have consistently tried to make sure that we honor and support our adjunct instructors in our common task of helping our students. We have a very high percentage of adjuncts - we have a few very good regular faculty and they are sort of the backbone around which we build our instruction but it's the adjuncts that flesh it out.
I tried to encourage innovation. In my area, I used the department budget to buy cutting-edge technology - little televisions that hung from the ceiling and had machines under them that would play either a VHS tape or a DVD. That was the first classroom technology besides overhead projectors.
It was a privilege to have been part of the Community College of Aurora and I am going to end with a standard phrase I use: we are stewards of our students' dreams.
What will you miss most about working at CCA?
I am really going to miss the teaching. I am going to miss interacting with my colleagues. And I am not going to miss the grading at all.
What are your plans now?
I am already doing some research and writing. I am probably going to be taking on a museum project coming up - we will find out if I am on the team that gets selected.
I also plan on doing some traveling. For sure, Mexico at the turn of the year. Next summer, we are going to go to Amsterdam, go up the Rhine, and down the Danube as far as Budapest.
LaVelle Knight joined CCA's full-time staff in 2014 after 10 years as an adjunct instructor with CCA.
What drew you to CCA or how did you come to work here?
I was divinely lead to CCA. I was teaching math at Pueblo Community College (PCC), and knew about CCA by way of the math chair at PCC. She spoke highly of James Gray, the math chair at CCA. I had plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Mathematics at the University of Denver, those plans got put on hold, so basically, I left PCC for CCA.
What are you most proud of or what did you feel like you accomplished at CCA?
I am most proud of helping hundreds of students to pass their beginning and intermediate math courses and enabling them to move forward with their career or educational goals. Especially those students who had a poor high school math experience or had been out of school for a while and needed to strengthen their math skills again. Also, I am extremely proud of the many students who participate in the annual commencement exercises and the abundance of hugs and handshaking I can give them for their accomplishments.
What will you miss most about working at CCA?
I will miss the culture of success that we created in the classrooms. I believed in each student individually and knew that he or she would succeed. Students believed in themselves and knew that if they put in the work, dedicated their thought to learning the skills needed to advance, they would achieve their goal.
What are your plans now?
I have made a career change that allows me to continue to make a difference in the lives of many people as an independent financial advisor and wealth manager.
Tanya Avakian, Administrative Assistant in Advising, and later, to the Associate Vice President of Student Affairs, passed away on August 5 at Swedish Medical Center. Tanya had begun her career with CCA in June 2016.
A Celebration of Life Ceremony will be held for her on October 7 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Millhouse at Philip S. Miller Park, 1375 W. Plum Creek Parkway in Castle Rock. Participants are encouraged to share a poem, do a reading, play music, or speak from the heart.
A memorial website for Tanya was set up by her sister, Monique, who wanted CCA staff to know how much Tanya valued her work and her coworkers. Monique also asked that if CCA staff would like to honor Tanya’s life, they could make a memorial donation in Tanya’s name to an animal rights or animal protection organization of your choice. Tanya loved animals, especially her companion cat, Lucy.
Treat Yourself Tuesday
The Office of Student Life hosted Treat Yourself Tuesday on August 21 at the Colorado Film School lounge. Students could snack on treats or make themselves bath and body products.
(left photo) Student Robby Simpson talks with student Makaylaki Olson over snacks at Treat Yourself Tuesday.
(right photo) Zachary Smith with the Aurora Library (left) speaks with student Kaream Reid during Treat Yourself Tuesday.
Welcome Back BBQ
The Office of Student Life hosted a Welcome Back BBQ for staff, faculty, and students on August 22 to celebrate the start of the Fall semester. Students could play games, run through an inflatable obstacle course, and grab some free food.
(left photo) Chana Chism, Administrative Support Specialist for the Student Success Center, (right) rolls a ball during a carnival game while Andrea Rascon, Academic Coach for TRIO, (middle) watches. Student Andrea Marin is in the background.
(right photo) Alexa McElroy, Graduate Assistant for Transfer Success Initiatives, (left) and Katie Nittmann, Project Director for Transfer Success Initiatives, (right) play an oversized game of Connect Four.
(left photo) Nnena West, Project Director, TRIO, (left) and Sherita Caraway, Academic Advisor for TRIO, (right) take aim at targets with Nerf guns.
(right photo) Student Mario Johnson laughs while student Davonte Anders tumbles out of the inflatable obstacle course.
Pathways Advisor Melkamu "Mel" Alemu knocks over orange cones while Campus Safety Officer Justin Pfluger picks up the cones during the Under the Influence event on September 11.
Five Community College of Aurora students collaborated with students at Arapahoe and Red Rocks community colleges to launch their payload containing experiments into suborbit on August 14 as part of the RockSat-X project. The students both conceived and built the experiments.
The rocket was launched from the NASA Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia and reached an altitude of approximately 90 miles.
The student experiment, named the Orbital Scrap Capture and Reclamation project, was developed to create a cost-effective method to alter the trajectory of space debris in suborbital flight. The team hopes to use their experimental results to better validate a potential method for deorbiting space debris in the future – a problem that is currently being investigated by a number of different institutions.
The five CCA students – Erchis Erdenebat, William Pfouts, Juvinni Pineda Bu-Assaf, Ashley Wolff, and Yilin Wu – have transferred to the Colorado School of Mines or the University of Colorado, Boulder engineering program.
Some other facts about RockSat-X and the work the students completed:
Human Resources Specialist Staci Shulman welcomed her daughter, Isabella Rose, on June 27.
English Faculty Rachel Blue welcomed her daughter, Paloma Ellene, on August 20. Paloma weighed 8 pounds.
English Faculty Cynthia Villegas welcomed her daughter, Lucía Georgiana Guenther Villegas, on August 21. Lucía weighed 7 pounds and measured 21 inches.
John Wolfkill, Executive Director for the Community College of Aurora Foundation (CCAF), took his son, Jonas, to climb three 14ers in August.
From left to right: Josh Ryines, Development Associate for CCAF; Jonas Wolfkill, and John Wolfkill, on top of Mount Democrat.
Flowers Named Director
Will Flowers was named Director of the Office of Disability and Equity in July. Flowers previously served as Disability and Equity Coordinator. He has been with CCA since August 2017.
Lee Named Director
HyeKyung Lee was named Director of Institutional Research and Assessment in July. For the past two years, she has served as the department’s assistant director and, since March, as its interim director. During that time, she led CCA's Higher Learning Commission Testing Student Success Project, initiated the publication of the annual CCA Graduate Report, and conducted a variety of internal studies and program evaluations. Lee has been with CCA since June 2016.
Pacheco and Petti Selected for Leadership Aurora Class
Michelle Pacheco, Concurrent Enrollment Director, and Anne Petti, Center for Workforce Development Director, were selected for the Leadership Aurora 2018-19 class.
Leadership Aurora is a 10-month community engagement program designed to develop an awareness of the Aurora community, create a network of informed leaders, and encourage greater involvement in the community. The program begins in September and culminates with a graduation program in June.
Pace Appointed to Concurrent Enrollment Advisory Board
Bobby Pace, Dean of Academic Affairs for Concurrent Enrollment, was appointed to the Concurrent Enrollment Advisory Board on August 3 by Gov. John Hickenlooper. Pace will serve one term on the Board that will expire on July 1, 2021.
The Concurrent Enrollment Advisory Board duties include: establishing guidelines for the administration of the ASCENT (Accelerating Students through Concurrent EnrollmenT) program; advising and assisting local education providers and institutions of higher education in preparing cooperative agreements; and making recommendations to state officials concerning the improvement or updating of state policies relating to concurrent enrollment programs.
Martin-Mejia Named Associate Dean
Ana Martin-Mejia was named Associate Dean for the School of Liberal Arts in August. Martin-Mejia has been with CCA since 2008, serving in significant leadership roles such as World Languages Program Coordinator and most recently serving as the World Languages Department chair.
Prior to joining CCA, Martin-Mejia was part of the faculty at the University of Texas-Arlington, served as an adjunct at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and was an instructor at Tarrant County College in Fort Worth, Texas.
Monteiro Accepted to 2018-19 Governor’s Coaching Corps
Tracey Monteiro, Career Coach for the Strengthening Working Families Initiative, was accepted to the 2018-19 Governor’s Coaching Corps cohort.
The Corps gives coaches tools and training to help them better serve job seekers. This intensive, eight-month leadership and skills development program brings together exceptional coaches from workforce centers, colleges, high schools, and nonprofit organizations to hone their leadership skills, leverage new practices and technologies, and build a supportive cohort to serve job seekers. At the end of the program in June, the coaches will recommend new policies and practices to state policymakers for potential adoption.
Recruiter Adriana Cordova, Pathways Advisor Guillermo Ramirez, and Welcome Center Coordinator Kenya Trejo represented CCA at Fiestas Patricias in Denver on September 9.
STEAM For All Festival
Student Henry Reyes displays some of the 3D printers that CCA students can use as part of the STEAM for All Festival at the Wings Over the Rockies Museum on September 15.
Colorado Race for the Cure
Amanda "Jo" Erven, Business Adjunct Instructor, is a supporter and volunteer for Susan G. Komen Colorado. She was one of the top Colorado fundraisers in 2017 and expects to be one of the top fundraisers in 2018.
She will be participating as a team captain in the 2018 Komen Colorado Race for the Cure on September 30. She welcomes anyone who wants to join her team. She can be reached at email@example.com
The National Science Foundation has awarded CCA a three-year, $1.5 million Louis Stokes B2B Alliances for Minority Participation grant. The project will be led by CCA and will establish the Metro Denver STEM Alliance, a partnership among CCA and the four other community colleges serving the metro Denver area: Arapahoe Community College, the Community College of Denver, Front Range Community College, and Red Rocks Community College.
The Metro Denver STEM Alliance will increase the number of underrepresented minority students enrolling in STEM programs at two-year institutions, transferring to four-year STEM baccalaureate programs, and ultimately embarking on successful STEM careers. The grant will also support collaborative projects to foster STEM student success, address systemic barriers, and promote a unified agenda with four-year university partners to strengthen and streamline transfer pathways; elevate awareness of the value and potential of underrepresented students among STEM employers; and serve as a model for best practices and replication in other areas of the state and nationally.
CCA will also be one of three community colleges in Colorado that will partner with CU Boulder to boost the number of community college students who transfer to a four-year college to study engineering.
CU Boulder recently received a $10 million NSF grant that will help community college students study math more intensively in an effort to increase the number of students who study engineering. Working with CCA, and Pikes Peak and Red Rocks community colleges, CU Boulder will provide resources, such as tutoring to help community college students, and help to remove barriers to education such as access to appropriate transportation and childcare.
During the 2017-18 academic year, a record number of students received nearly $500,000 in scholarships from the Community College of Aurora Foundation. The 49 percent increase over last year is a direct result of the efforts by the Foundation, department chairs, and deans to align scholarships with CCA's recruitment, retention, and completion goals. Of the 361 students who received scholarships, more than 70 percent were students of color and more than 77 percent were first-generation college students. More importantly, these scholarship recipients earned an average of 90.5 percent of the credits attempted and maintained an average 3.19 cumulative grade point average.
Last year, CCA staff, faculty, and instructors generously gave more than $23,000 that will be used for student scholarships during the 2018 CCA Gives Hope campaign.
The Foundation launched the 2019 CCA Gives Hope Campaign at the all-college meeting on September 12.
Community College of Aurora Foundation encourages staff to consider becoming a Red Fox Friend at $5 per month, a Trailblazer at $25 per month, or joining the President’s Society at $42 per month. CCA staff can decide which scholarship to support with a gift or payroll pledge. Some of the scholarships that staff can donate to are:
Becoming a Red Fox Friend is easy. Contact Lynn Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Saša Jovic, Math Faculty and WorkWell committee member
Another fall is ahead of us, and all the nice weather is perfect for stepping outside and going for a ride. Riding a bicycle has many benefits, too numerous to be properly addressed in just one article. If you are looking for a good reason to either embark on a new activity or dust off some old wheels that have been sitting around in the back of your garage for many years, here is what some of the cycling enthusiasts have to say about their motivation and interests. And if there is a need for just a little bit more convincing, here is what the City of Aurora has to offer. In case you are not sure where to go, here are some suggestions: Aurora Reservoir and the trail around it is a gorgeous, serene spot; Cherry Creek is another fun destination that can be easily, and safely, reached riding the bike paths; and, Highline Canal seemingly goes on forever.
Asma Alayeb, Math Faculty
Melkamu Alemu, Pathways Advisor
Nikolai Alvarado, Social Sciences Faculty
Reyna Anaya, Dean of Students
Racheal Aragon, English Faculty
Awon Martin Atuire, English Faculty
Chuda Baral, Math Faculty
Katie Black, Administrative Assistant, Student Affairs
Katherine Brandao, Biology Faculty
Jugbeh Charles, Accountant
Dan Clarke, Business Faculty
Kay Fahlberg, Director of Budget and Analysis
Jessica Harrington, Campus Safety Officer
Kangze He, Data Analyst
Michelle Jaramillo, Pathways Advisor
Christopher Jones, Career Services Director
Rob Mansheim, Marketing Manager
Guillermo Ramirez, Pathways Advisor
Michael Rupp, Information Technology Systems Administrator
Jennifer Schansberg, Assistant Director, Center for Recruitment and Orientation
Jessica Solis, Pathways Advisor
Stacey Stormes, Art Faculty
Isela Villa Vazquez, Administrative Assistant, Financial Aid
Rachael Vermiglio, Science Faculty
What do you like best about the fall?
Kristen Cusack, Registrar/Director of Admissions: “Last year, just as fall was ending and the trees were starting to look bare, my grandmother died and I had to go to Oklahoma. About the time I hit the middle of nowhere Kansas, I realized the trees were just starting to turn and so for the remainder of the drive and during the week in Oklahoma, I got to have fall again. I got to have fall twice last year and it was lovely!”
Michael Levell, Adjunct Instructor, English: “I love the fall. I have been teaching English here as an adjunct for 12 years now, and I love how new it seems the fall is for the incoming students as the year is coming to an end. It's a great time to reflect on cyclic existence.”
Jane Ono, Adjunct Instructor, English: “I like the cooler weather. As a teacher, fall always feels like a new start for me while January feels like the middle of the year. In the fall, I have the chance to make new resolutions for the school year and try new ideas in my classes!”
Chris Tombari, Dean of Academic Affairs, School of Liberal Arts: “One word: HALLOWEEN. I owe my twisted love of and fascination with Halloween to my dad, who used to scare the heck out of us kids every year until we hit middle school.”
Rachael Vermiglio, Science Faculty: “I love that school usually starts near when fall starts. There is a balance between a sense of a beginning from the new school year with all of its possibilities and a sense of ending from all the leaves beginning to change color and crispness in the air. The balance can bring an invigorating energy to the season.”