President Schilling’s Board Report for March 23, 2021

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 March 23, 2021

Cypress College hosted a COVID Town Hall on Wednesday, March 3, to provide updates on testing, vaccinations, and safe return to campus scenarios, as well as provide answers to questions and concerns. Marla Mc Bride, our Director of Health Services, and Dr. Chinsio-Kwong from OCHCA were present to answer questions submitted in advance and live during the convening.  For those who were unable to attend the event, the town hall is now available for viewing on the Cypress College website.

Congratulations to Dr. Jose Antonio (Tony) Sanchez-Duran, Cypress College’s Orange County Teacher of the Year for 2021. Tony is a full-time biology instructor and was named and nominated by our students, and then approved by the Associated Students. Dr. Sanchez-Duran is a committed and caring instructor, and we are proud to have him represent us in this year’s 2021 Orange County Department of Education Teacher of the Year Awards in October. Congratulations, Dr. Sanchez-Duran!

We hope you were able to join us for A Conversation About Racial Equity with Dr. Frank Harris on Monday, March 22, from 12:30 to 2 p.m.  The townhall featured a presentation by Dr. Harris on the importance of this work, a student panel discussion on their own experiences at Cypress College, and attendees had the opportunity to share thoughts in small breakout discussions. We thank all who attended!

The Cypress Speech and Debate Team is proud to announce this semester’s campus-wide speech competition – Honoring Student Voices: My Diversity Story. The first speech will be on March 23 from 5 – 6 p.m.  All Cypress College students are welcome to participate and compete for a $50 prize.  We hope to see you there, and if you are interested in being a judge, please let us know!

Ester Plavdjian has been invited to be a panelist for a conference hosted by the Society of College and University Planning on April 16 with Moore Ruble Yudell (MRY), the architects and planners from the EFMP committee. She will be representing the student voice alongside architects Carissa Oyedele, Mario Violich, and Dr. Cherry Li-Bugg. The session is titled “Innovative Tools for Engaging Contemporary Challenges in Equity and Inclusion.” Congratulations, Ester!

We are pleased to share our tribute to the Women of Cypress in a moving video created by our Communications Department. Women’s History Month is a time when we remember all of the women who have made an impact in the world, in our lives, and of course, at Cypress College. We salute all the women in our District, each of whom make an impact every day.

The Cypress College Foundation 46th Annual Americana Awards – The Reunion Year was a huge success.  Net proceeds totaled more than $120,000.  The event was held live in studio with a special watch party for former Americana Honorees, and pre-recorded stories featuring Cypress College students.  Funds were also raised to directly support students through the Fund-A-Need direct donations, and the new Americana Honoree Scholarship which will provide $1,000 awards to students exemplifying the ideals of service to the community.  A replay of the livestream, list of sponsors, Americana program, and all of the videos are available to view here.

The Cypress College Foundation submitted and successfully received $25,000 in COVID relief funds from the State of California Small Business COVID Relief Grant – designed for small businesses including non-profits. This funding will be used to support scholarships and support for students. Congratulations to Howard Kummerman for actively seeking this additional aid.

Cypress College is now reading the DEI Committee’s spring book selection, Caste: The Origins of our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson. To preview our discussion, please take a moment to view this 6-minute interview with the author. This fascinating book details the history of social hierarchy and racism in the United States, and will be discussed on March 23 and April 27 from 11:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m. and repeated on March 24 and April 28 at 4:30-5:30 p.m. Please join us!

Upcoming Events:

Please Save the Date for the Cypress College Scholarship Awards Ceremony which will be held virtually on Tuesday, May 18, at 5:30 p.m. The Cypress College Foundation awards nearly $400,000 in scholarships each year, and students are currently applying for this year’s awards.  Thank you to the many faculty and staff who are volunteering to serve on this year’s scholarship committee.

The LIFE Program has two exciting upcoming events. The first event is a presentation by Cathy Trinh a Vietnam-born mother, cancer survivor, and advocate for mental health awareness, holistic healing, and addiction recovery expert. She will be sharing her story and inspiration with us on Thursday, March 25: 1 – 2 p.m.  On Friday, April 9 from 1-3 p.m. we will host  Liberating Scholars Educational Training: Brittany Morton & the Breaking Bars Community Network. This training will assist faculty and staff provide equity-minded and culturally competent services to our formerly incarcerated student population on our college campus.

Please join us for the Cypress College Yom HaShoah Holocaust Remembrance event, to be held virtually on Thursday, April 15, at 7 p.m. This year we will hear powerful stories from several Holocaust survivors, as well as Irene Perbal, whose family risked their lives to hide Jews in Amsterdam.  Her story depicts the power of the human spirit, the unimaginable courage of human beings, and our amazing ability to bring light from darkness – a trait we all have within us. Registration is free but donations are accepted at  We hope to see you there!

Buen Cypress, We Take This Journey Together!

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