President Schilling’s Board Report for December 15, 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 December 15, 2020

This year, instead of an in-person gathering for the holidays, Cypress College is presenting the Festival of Holidays, which commemorates the many ways cultures across the globe celebrate this time of the year.

For 14 work days, from December 1–18, faculty and staff have been receiving a different holiday greeting. When recipients click on the envelope to open the message, they discover a new holiday tradition and have the chance to enter a daily holiday raffle.  Follow us as we visit holidays around the globe.

On Wednesday, December 9, the EOPS/CARE/CalWORKs and Guardian Scholars team hosted a drive-thru distribution of holiday cheer and gifts for approximately 50 of our students and their children. Every year the Cypress College community steps up to provide the generous donations and donated gifts from staff, faculty, and administrators that make this event and the “wish lists” of these children possible. Thank you to all who contributed this year. You have made these children and their parents feel loved and appreciated this holiday season!

The Cypress College Debate Event against Irvine Valley College was held on November 18.  The topic was “Resolved: When casting actors, preference should be given to actors within the identities of the characters being portrayed.”  Thank you to Co-Director Bill Neesen and the students from Irvine Valley College for a great debate.  Thirty-two (32) students participated and IVC won the debate by only 1 vote. Another event was held on November 19, with the theme of “My Diversity Story.”  Congratulations to Fatima Gonzalez Gomez for winning the $50 prize!  Thank you to judges Eldon Young, Billy Pashaie, and Jolena Grande for taking time out of their busy schedules to participate as judges for these events.

The 4th Annual Transfer/Pre-Graduation Fair was held on November 20.  More than 350 students participated in the virtual event and interacted with recruiters from over 65 four-year colleges and universities. Additionally, students received important information about graduation deadlines, academic regalia, and were able to strategize with Cypress College student support offices about how to receive similar support services at four-year institutions. And a special thank you to Howard Kummerman and the Cypress College Foundation for contributing scholarships to Transfer/Pre-Graduation Fair student participants.

The week of November 16-20 was 2020 International Education Week.  Normally, the ISP & International Club would coordinate and hold an event to promote the importance and benefits of international education.  Instead, Vivian Kim and Director Yongmi Han designed a special edition of International Focus, ISP Newsletter, highlighting our international students and their academic accomplishments for the past two years.

The Theater Arts Department’s fall production of Chrysalis streamed for free on November 19-20.  Chrysalis was a poetic and emotional response to the struggles of 2020, written and performed by our students and directed by Professor Jennifer McMillin-Brick.  Thank you to the Theater Arts Department for a wonderful production and for providing an original and beautiful opportunity for our students to express themselves.

The Health Center continues its Let’s Talk flyer series serving students during this time of isolation. Let’s Talk provides a space for students to connect with others, while providing them with tools and skills to manage stress and anxiety. In addition, the Cypress College Nursing Department held a joint workshop with the ARISE team on November 25.  The workshop covered how to create Healthy Habits Over the Holidays. These are just a few ways our faculty and staff are serving students during this pandemic.

Students in the Mortuary Science Program held the Mortuary Science Department Annual Memorial Service on December 3. Over the years this event, memorializing those from the county morgue who died without a proper burial, is organized by our students and faculty and has been held in various locations on our beautiful campus, including the Duck Pond, the Campanile, and the Theater Lobby. The event was held virtually this year. Thank you to faculty member Lori Collins for assisting our students plan this event.

The virtual #RealCollegeCA Basic Needs Summit was held on December 4, co-chaired by Cypress College and Imperial Valley College.  The theme of this year’s summit was Fostering Resiliency During a Pandemic. The summit, which welcomed over 500 participants, included workshops and panel presentations covering topics such as food security, housing, remote learning technology, fundraising efforts, and community partnerships. Soledad O’Brien served as the keynote speaker and agreed to waive her $2000 honorarium to provide four $500 scholarships offered as a drawing for all students who attended. A Cypress student, Gabriel Lauro, was one of the lucky winners! Thank you Trustees Dunsheath and Rodarte for attending; special thanks to Marc Posner and his entire team, as well as Kristi Valdez, who spent countless hours helping plan the event and offered amazing technical support throughout the day. Click here to view the keynote with Soledad O’Brien.

The Legacy Program held their Annual Kwanza Celebration on December 8. Dr. Douglas served as the keynote speaker.  Our students worked in teams to present the seven principles of Kwanzaa and created amazing video expressing these principles. Thank you to Regina Rhymes and our faculty leaders and mentors for their support of our Legacy scholars and for organizing this meaningful event.

It was an honor to celebrate Cypress’ Culinary Arts professor, Amanda Gargano, on December 7 with a presentation sponsored by the OC Department of Education. Amanda was named Orange County Teacher of the Year, and the acknowledgement ceremony was attended by Dean Kathleen Reiland, David Okawa, Marc Posner, and JoAnna Schilling. Normally we would have the opportunity to celebrate Amanda’s honor at the Disneyland Hotel, but we were happy to be able to let her know how proud we are of this accomplishment and hope to celebrate together next year! See photos at the end of this report!

On December 3, the Cypress College Psychology Department, led by faculty members Dr. Brandy Young and Dr. Randy Martinez, hosted the Fall 2020 Psi Beta Induction Ceremony. This induction is for the Honors Psychology students who have maintained a 3.2 GPA or higher in their major. Dr. Schilling and Dr. Gaetje had the pleasure of attending and supporting these young scholars.

Cypress In The News:  Cypress was featured twice this week – in NPR’s piece by Adolfo Guzman-Lopez highlighting enrollment across our region and student challenges during the pandemic. Counselor Anne Marie Beck and dance student Briana Sanchez were featured in this story sharing the difficult decisions students are facing to stay in school or support their families. Here is the link to this important story. Cypress was also mentioned in Superintendent Mike Matsuda’s article in Working Nation, highlighting dual enrollment student Anthony Gomez who attended Cypress College and interned at Hulu. Read this great article on creating equitable work and learning environments during the pandemic and the relationship between AUHSD, Cypress College, and our industry partners.

Upcoming Events

The Guided Pathways Workgroup is happy to announce an Adjunct Learning Day on Wednesday, January 20, 2021 from 9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. This event is designed to familiarize attendees with current initiatives being implemented under Guided Pathways. It will also provide an opportunity to connect with other adjunct faculty, learn more about the leadership of the college, find ways to have the adjunct voice included, and enhance their knowledge of how to connect students with support services at Cypress College.

Dr. Frank Harris will be a guest speaker at two events this spring. He will be attending our Dean’s Retreat on January 11 and again at the Student Services Kickoff in February. Thank you to VPs Dr. Douglas and Dr. de Dios for planning these events and leading your respective teams!

Dr. Schilling, Dr. Reiland, and Teacher of the Year Amanda Gargano

Celebrating Amanda Gargano, Cypress College Orange County Teacher of The Year!


Buen Cypress and Happy Holidays! We Take This Journey Together!



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