President Schilling’s Board Report for April 14, 2020

The following is a report to members of the North Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees.

Presented by Cypress College President JoAnna Schilling, Ph.D.

on April 14, 2020

Much has occurred in the past four weeks since our campus closed to students and the public. The most inspiring stories are of our students’ resilience, our faculty who have completely changed their mode of instruction in a short time, of the tenacity of our managers and support teams to serve our students and our employees, and the innovation demonstrated by all employees across the campus. I have been sharing daily, and now weekly, briefings to help our students and employees stay engaged, and the following report provides a recap of the many initiatives we have implemented the last few weeks.

Campus Communication

In addition to Dr. Marshall’s updates, Cypress College has sent six daily briefings, and two weekly briefings to employees; in addition, six student notifications have been shared, as well as social media postings, and two town hall meetings in which over 200 students and staff participated. Our managers conduct frequent update meetings with their staff and faculty, and our Communication, L/LRC, and Distance Education teams have answered countless emails, trying to ensure students have the resources and information needed to succeed. In addition, our constituent leaders have sent communications to their members, specifically Craig Goralski who has been tremendous in his communication with our faculty, in collaboration with our Response Team in addressing needs and challenges. During this stressful time, we need to do whatever possible to engage and share information with our employees and students.


A big challenge in moving to a remote learning, work, and meeting environment has been ensuring that students and employees have the appropriate technology. Almost 92% of all students stated they had a laptop. To date, we have provided almost 50 laptops to students and the same number to employees. Students have self-identified their needs through our student survey or faculty referrals and employees have let their managers know of their needs. The recent District employee survey is also identifying additional needs so we are working on making sure that all employees have the technology to do their job remotely. In addition, 12% of students stated they did not have reliable WiFi, so the college is instituting a Drive-up WiFi in Lot 1. Our IT department, led by Peter Maharaj, worked to install additional hotspots so students could come on campus and access this needed WiFi.

Financial Need

Our Cypress College Foundation has committed $10,000 to a student emergency relief fund and to date has disbursed almost $15,000 in aid to 31 students. We continue to raise funds through donations, and our Student Equity and Achievement committee has also committed $14,500 to assist even more students. The need is still great and the stories are heartbreaking. If you wish to donate, we welcome all donations at our Foundation website:


The college has decided not to cancel or postpone our annual graduation ceremony and, instead, will conduct a virtual commencement, while also offering students the opportunity to participate in our next live commencement. The virtual ceremony will take place on May 22 and all are welcome. Students will be announced individually and invited to submit a photo and profile statement along with their award during the ceremony. We will be sharing more information soon, as we finalize details, but please Save the Date!

Student Services Support

Our students service teams, including all our One-Stop Services, Library, and Distance Education teams, have been outstanding throughout this crisis, not missing a beat in providing high touch services to students.  We are incredibly proud that all these areas have quickly mobilized to continue the services and resources for our students in their usual high touch way. Here is a recap on the progress:

  • Counseling and One Stop: Our counselors were already serving students by March 20, a mere week after we shutdown campus services. Through Cranium Café, the college has set up virtual counters across all our student services, including Admissions and Records, the cashier services, and our Welcome Center. In counseling, students access a virtual environment and can “knock on the door” of any counselor who is available, while making appointments with those who are not. This includes our general and embedded counseling, Veterans, DSS, EOPS, and Career Counseling. Thank you to VPSS Paul de Dios and his amazing team.
  • In Distance Education, our team has been nothing short of amazing. They have posted countless how to videos to support students and faculty in migrating to this new world, shared tips and guides, responded to countless requests for help, and have continued to provide a level of support that is deeply appreciated by all. They have just integrated Proctorio, the secure testing software, and Labster, a virtual software for our lab sciences. Thank you to the entire team, especially Kathleen McAlister, our DE coordinator, and Treisa Cassens, Dean of the L/LRC.
  • And in our Library, our librarians, led by Monica Doman, have created easy-to-use resource guides, made free textbooks available to students, helped students with their research remotely, and responded to the many emails asking for assistance.
  • And our Charger Experience Team welcomed 300 high school students virtually for their first Charger Friday on Friday, April 3. They spent 4 hours in a virtual setting reviewing a campus tour prepared by our student ambassadors, meeting with counselors, and getting excited about coming to Cypress in the fall. Recruitment continues and we are so proud of the great event, led by Gisela Verduzco and her amazing team, as they prepare to welcome our incoming seniors.

Silver Linings

Although there have been many challenges this past month, there are always rays of light across the college and we are proud of the good work that continues. Below are a few of these shining lights.

Our scholar athletes were heartbroken to have their season cut short -, our Chargers were having a phenomenal season across our teams. Here is where our teams would have finished up if the season had ended on March 13. Go Chargers!

  • Men’s Golf- ranked #2 in the State
  • Baseball ranked #2 in the State
  • Softball – ranked #3 in the State
  • Women’s Beach Volleyball – ranked #9 in the State

Cypress College was also chosen as one of 18 colleges to participate in the Caring Campus Initiative sponsored by Institute of Evidence Based Change. This professional development grant will provide our classified employees the opportunity to participate in four sessions aimed at supporting our classified professionals in their transition to a Guided Pathways model. We look forward to beginning this training when we can return to campus.

I am also pleased to share that our Cyber Security program was awarded the 2020 National CyberWatch Innovations in Cyber Security Education award for their work with Jobs ChalleNGe this past semester. This is the second year in a row that the Cypress Cyber Security program, led by Dean Henry Hua, and instructors Ben Izadi and Russ Alizadeh, has received this national award. Jobs ChalleNGe, a collaboration with the National Guard, was implemented by our Dual Enrollment team, and over 60 students were successfully awarded a certificate in either Cyber Security or Auto Technology. Congratulations to all! Buen Cypress! We Take This Journey Together!

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