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Earlier this year, we shared updates related to our accreditation site visit — including the glowing report the visiting team presented just prior to leaving campus in March.

The Accrediting Commission informed us yesterday that, despite our great work on campus, there is still work to be done. As a result, the college is receiving a warning.

Rather than get into the nuances, it's probably best to share links to information and direct quotes. I would especially highlight Dr. Kasler's letter to college employees.

"Warning is being issued at this time for deficiencies identified in the team report and associated with District Recommendations 1, 2, and 3," wrote Dr. Barbara Beno, President of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

The recommendations Dr. Beno cited are related to planning, budget allocation, and evaluation of those processes. None of the recommendations impact the quality of instruction at Cypress College.

In a memo being distributed to college staff, Dr. Kasler shared the following thoughts:

"The news is disappointing and, on its face, incongruent with the effusive praise shared by the site-visit team. Clearly, there is work to be done — and, consistent with the Cypress College can-do spirit, we will see it through," he said.

"[Dr. Beno] assured me that the Commission's decision was a difficult one, and that the recommendations directed at the college did not warrant Warning status."

Dr. Kasler also shared the praise that Dr. Lori Gaskin, chair of site-visit team, offered following their work on campus:

"I would like to conclude with perhaps the most powerful commendation. One that was pervasive, shared by nearly everyone with whom we had the pleasure of interacting. We describe it as your espirit de corps -- your strong belief in a common purpose to serve the educational needs of your students; and the fact that you carry out this common goal with a strong sense of camaraderie and joy. You live and breathe your core values of collegiality, integrity, excellence and inclusiveness."

Here are additional links to provide both context and transparency:

Posted by Marc S. Posner

a photograph of Wes Etheridge playing baseball at Cypress College

Wes Etheridge's success on the mound in 2005 and 2006 earned him an induction into the Cypress College Athletics Hall of Fame. He's now pitching in the Toronto Blue Jays' organization.

Wes Etheridge — who holds Cypress College's single-season record for appearances with 30 trips to the mound during the 2006 season — was the subject of a very nice feature by Bob Elliott in the Toronto Sun last week.

Under the headline Etheridge saving games and souls, Elliot recounts how Etheridge quit baseball after two seasons in the Milwaukee Brewers organization to become a pastor, and how he has returned to find success playing in the Toronto Blue Jays system.

"I was running my youth group, but it was not going where I wanted, so I began praying real hard," Etheridge said Wednesday from Dunedin.

Then, he received a phone call from out of the blue from his friend, Dan Millwee.

"We had a long conversation and then Dan said, 'I was washing my car and God told me he doesn't need you any more,'" Etheridge recalled.

Etheridge spoke to his mom Wendy, who used to say she wanted to write a book entitled Baseball Ruined My Life.

The missed dinners. The travel. The time away from family.

"I told mom about Dan's call, asked her what she thought and she said, 'I've been praying you would go back to baseball,'" Etheridge said.

Etheridge came to Cypress College from Marina High School (Huntington Beach) and, two years later, continued his academics and baseball career as a scholarship player at UC Irvine.

As one of the Chargers' baseball MVPs in 2006, Etheridge was inducted into Cypress College's Athletics Hall of Fame. In addition to his single-season appearances record, his name is in the college's record book a number of times, including holding the second-best save totals in a season (8 in 2006) and for a career (10 in 2005, 2006).

Pitching for the Dunedin, Florida Blue Jays, the Class A Advanced Affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays, Etheridge currently leads the team in saves (27), appearances (36 games), and earned run average (1.43 ERA, excluding those with 3 or fewer games/6 or fewer innings pitched).

Posted by Marc S. Posner

Westmont College Sports Information Director Ron Smith has posted a feature article about John Moore, who was recently honored at Cypress College's 44th Commencement as the 2011 Outstanding Alumnus.

Moore played basketball at Cypress College during the 1974-75 and 1975-76 seasons. He transferred to Westmont, where his education and athletic pursuits continued.

For the Westmont article, Moore told Smith:

"It is a huge honor because of what Cypress College has grown to mean to me," said Moore. "It meant a great deal to me while I was there, but it has greatly surpassed the impressions I initially had coming out of Cypress. It is one of the finest community colleges in the state. They have a great deal of history with teachers who have stayed for a long period of time - which is like our community college here in Santa Barbara."

You can view the full article on the Westmont College blog and find a reprint at Presidio Sports.

Posted by Marc S. Posner

Today is the start of summer school. For the most part, it has been a pretty smooth start. I can't think of summer, however, without thinking of those students who aren't here — ones who wanted to take classes, but simply couldn't get in.

That's not something we take lightly. But, it's something that the state's economic situation forces us to do.

The number of courses at Cypress College — and all California Community Colleges, for that matter — is limited by the funding provided from the state. The enrollment fees students pay go into the state's budget. Those fees don't cover the colleges' actual costs and they don't all get returned to the colleges either. As a result, the state is restricting enrollment in response to its budget crisis.

Without turning myself into a policy wonk (at least not intentionally), here are some number that help put the enrollment picture into perspective:

  • The college has been essentially "full" for two to three weeks.
  • "Full" is somewhat of a relative term in that it's more complicated than just a physical number of seats or a physical number of classrooms. Those components are included in "full" — which also takes into account the specific subject matter and state budget, among other factors.
  • Last August, the college was 107% "full," or 7% above the planned capacity. The number was similar in January, when the spring semester began.
  • This is the third consecutive summer in which we have scheduled meaningful decline in the number of classes we offer — dropping from a recent high of 343 courses in summer 2007 to 132 planned for this summer.
  • Last year, with the college already reducing offerings to meet budget constraints, we offered 223 courses.
  • We project a drop in the number of students we are able to serve this summer from 5,308 in 2010 to approximately 3,300.
  • As of June 1, there were 1,795 waitlist requests (students can be on more than one waitlist).
  • Another indicator of demand for classes comes from "failed registration attempts" — that is the number of times an attempt is made to add a course once it is full. For Biology 231 there were 1,513 failed attempts as of June 1. For the 132 courses we are offering this summer, again as of June 1, there were 19,489 total failed registration attempts.

I realize it's likely that none of this provides significant comfort to the student who simply needs a particular class to move on to the next phase in their education. But, I hope it at least provides some context for how the state budget situation has a direct impact on Cypress College students.

Posted by Marc S. Posner

This year's Major League Baseball draft featured two Chargers: an outfielder named Fields and a pitcher named Pitcher.

Sophomore Travis Pitcher, a 6-foot-4 right-handed pitcher, was selected by the Oakland A's with their final pick in last week's Major League Baseball draft. He joins fellow Charger Arby Fields, who was selected by the San Diego Padres (see story below).

Pitcher started in Cypress College's home opener on February 8, striking out six and allowing no earned runs while garnering a no decision in his only start of the season. He had nine appearances for the Chargers, finishing with an 0-1 record, seven strikeouts and a 4.82 ERA in 9.1 innings of work.

At Placentia's El Dorado High School, Pitcher earned the Golden Hawks' Cy Young award as a senior, finishing the season with a 7-2 record and a 2.86 ERA.

Columnist John McGrath of The New Tribune (Tacoma, WA) mentioned Pitcher in his draft recap:

And, finally, in this, the year of the pitcher, the A's used their last-round pick - the 1,516th selection of the draft - on a Cypress College pitcher whose last name is Pitcher.

Travis Pitcher.

Sophomore Travis Pitcher delivers a pitch in Cypress College's home opener on February 8, 2011. Pitcher was selected in the 2011 Major League Baseball draft by the Oakland A's. Also visible in this photo is Arby Fields, who was selected by the San Diego Padres in last week's draft.

Posted by Marc S. Posner

Congratulations to sophomore Arby Fields, who was selected by the San Diego Padres yesterday in Major League Baseball's entry draft.

The switch-hitting outfielder started all 39 games for the Chargers this season, producing a .344 average in 154 at bats. He led the team in runs (35), triples (4) and walks (24), and tied for a team-best 53 hits. He was also third on the team with 24 RBI.

His high school career at Alta Loma included being named a Los Angeles Times "Player to Watch" and resulted in his selection by the Atlanta Braves in the 32nd round of the 2009 MLB draft. After graduating from Alta Loma, where he also excelled in football and was an honor-roll student, Fields spent his freshman season at Northwestern University.

At Northwestern, he was a Big Ten All-Freshman Team selection and led the Wildcats in walks (34) and doubles (15), while starting 55 of 56 games. He was also a standout running back, leading the football team in rushing.

Fox Sports Net had this to say about Fields' selection by the Padres:

...the Padres also selected Cypress College outfielder Arby Fields in the 27th round. Fields was a former teammate of current UCLA quarterback Richard Brehaut at Los Osos. Fields began his collegiate career in the Big Ten Conference at Northwestern playing both football and baseball. Fields went to Northwestern on a football scholarship and was the starting tailback as a freshman. After seeing limited action in 2010, he decided to transfer to Cypress. Next year he'll attend LSU, where he may decide to focus solely on baseball.

Posted by Marc S. Posner

an image showing The Great Picture in a Gizmodo article

Gizmodo late last month reported on the work of Cypress College Photography Department faculty in a piece titled: "Five Years On, the World's Largest Photo Is Still the World's Largest Photo."

The Gizmodo piece doesn't specifically mention Cypress College Photography Department coordinator Rob Johnson, Clayton Spada, Mark Chamberlain, Jacques Garnier, Douglas McCulloh, or the late Jerry Burchfield — the co-creators of "The Great Picture" as part of the Legacy Project. All but Garnier have been on the faculty here at Cypress College.

In April 2002, the group started the Legacy Project to produce comprehensive documentation of the shuttered El Toro Marine Corps Air Station and its transformation into the Orange County Great Park. As part of that work, the group earned (and still hold) a Guinness World Record for the largest photograph ever created and the largest pinhole camera.

It's that photograph which Gizmodo details in the May 23, 2011 piece.

"In an age where TV makers and the like are constantly outdoing one another with new "world's largest" claims, it's refreshing to discover that something so analog--a pinhole camera's photo--is still the world's largest, five years on," writes Kat Hannaford, in the piece.

Johnson and Spada traveled to China in March for the international premiere of "The Great Picture" near the Great Wall of China. The photograph was exhibited at the Art Museum of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, one of the prestigious art venues in China.

In the summer of 2006, the six well-known photographers and 400 volunteers first converted a hangar at El Toro into the largest pinhole camera ever created. The group hand-applied 80 liters of gelatin silver halide emulsion to a seamless canvas substrate — measuring 107 feet, 5 inches by 31 feet, 5 inches — custom-made in Germany. Development was done in a custom Olympic pool-sized developing tray using ten high-volume submersible pumps and 1,800 gallons of black and white chemistry.

A 35-minute exposure began at 11:30 a.m. on July 8, 2006 when a quarter-inch (6mm) pinhole was opened fifteen feet off the ground in the base's Building #115 — a former F-18 fighter-plane hangar. The resulting 3,375-square-foot photograph shows the control tower, structures and runways at the heart of the closed 4,700-acre Marine base, as well as the surrounding foothills.

You can hear Johnson and Burchfield discuss the photograph in the October 23, 2006 edition of the Cypress College Podcast (beginning at the 3-minute, 40-second mark). In addition to technical and philosophical aspects of creating the photograph, the pair also describe the scene inside the world's largest camera during that 35-minute picture-taking process.

an image showing The Great Picture

Posted by Marc S. Posner

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