Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Public reception September 28 for new Cuyamaca College president

Mark J. Zacovic, Cuyamaca College's new president
As a first-generation college graduate, Mark Zacovic, Cuyamaca College’s new president, understands well the challenges facing students. As a finisher of several marathons, he also knows the value of tenacity and goal-setting.
            “Community college is still a great value for students looking to learn a new career and improve their lives,” said Zacovic, who began at Cuyamaca in July following a one-year post as executive vice president of instruction and student services at Victor Valley Community College in Victorville.
            The community is invited to meet Cuyamaca’s new top executive at a reception to be held at 5:30-8 p.m. Sept. 28 at the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College. To RSVP, call (619) 644-7569 or email

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Free screenings at senior resource center to test arterial blood flow

Students from Grossmont College’s cardiovascular technology (CVT) program will provide free screenings for Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 20, at the Sharp Grossmont Hospital Senior Resource Center, Brier Patch campus, 9000 Wakarusa St., La Mesa.

The screenings will test the arterial blood flow to the legs and blood pressure at the ankles and arms. Symptoms of PAD can include aching, cramping or pain in your legs after walking or exercising. An appointment is required for the free screening. To register, call 1-800-827-4277, or visit

Grossmont College’s CVT program, founded in 1972, was the first to be accredited in the nation and is currently the only CVT program in California to offer all three cardiovascular technology tracks, including vascular, echocardiography and invasive cardiology. Grossmont’s CVT grads are currently working in more than 90 percent of the available cardiovascular-related jobs in San Diego.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Grossmont College students studying the story of Henrietta Lacks this fall

Grossmont College is involving students this fall in a campuswide learning experience called “A Multi-Disciplinary Celebration of ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” With the start of classes on Aug. 22, faculty members in departments ranging from history to nursing, science to English, and culinary arts to the dramatic arts, are participating in an interdisciplinary campus collaboration based on Rebecca Skloot's “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.”

The bestselling book chronicles how the cells of Lacks, a poor, Southern, African-American woman who died of cancer in 1951, were used to grow human cells in the lab for the first time. The cells taken from Lacks were used without consent from her and her family, raising numerous ethical questions about medical research. Used in over 60,000 published studies, these cells have played a part in research on cancer, AIDS, and gene mapping, and led to many discoveries including the polio vaccine.

Today, as a lucrative industry has arisen around the culturing and sale of “HeLa” cells, the Lacks family still lives in poverty, still cannot afford adequate health care, and had only limited knowledge of “Hela” cells and their contributions to science and humanity, according to Tate Hurvitz, Grossmont College English professor overseeing the project.

Hurvitz said, “The book offers insight into questions of science, research ethics, social justice, race, class and gender in the 1950s and the present, and even the essence of human nature. In short, it is fertile ground for intellectual and cultural investigation across different areas of study, making our students’ educational experience more meaningful and engaging.”

Hurvitz said 17 different departments at Grossmont are planning a variety of classroom assignments this fall ranging from essays and films for English students to culinary students preparing a Southern-style Henrietta Lacks menu. A Theatre Arts Dept. class has scheduled a book reading, and the college’s Speech and Debate team will hold a student debate on ethical issues. Art students are creating original artwork and chemistry students are learning about HeLa cells. Also, a campuswide essay contest is underway. Assisting Hurvitz in the project are Sue Jensen and Joan Ahrens from the Grossmont College English Dept. Details about the collaboration appears on the Grossmont College website homepage,

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

College district selected for national diversity and internationalization project

The Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District is one of eight colleges and universities across the nation  --  and the only community college district -- selected for an American Council on Education project to promote internationalization, diversity and multicultural education.
The three-year project, “At Home in the World: Educating for Global Connections and Local Commitments,” is funded by the Henry Luce Foundation. The eight campuses were selected from among 54 applicants to explore ways to better prepare students for the impacts of globalization and to improve cultural communication skills among students, faculty and staff.
“We are honored to have been chosen for this exciting opportunity to expand the cultural competency of our students in this age of globalization,” said Cindy L. Miles, district chancellor. “The At Home in the World project will be a wonderful opportunity to interact with similar campus programs across the country serving our increasingly multicultural and multinational communities.”

Happy Trails! A message from Chancellor Cindy L. Miles

Dear Colleagues:
It’s hard to believe that we’re already starting another academic year! I hope you had some time to relax this summer and see some new places, whether you took a “staycation” in beautiful San Diego County or got a chance to travel someplace new or special to you.
I love to hike, and I took a trip to Northern California in July to explore the incredible Sierras. As I was enjoying the breathtaking scenery, it occurred to me that there are many similarities between a successful hiking trip and a successful community college district.
Be prepared. Any experienced hiker knows that you can avoid much pain and discomfort by planning ahead – wearing good hiking shoes, putting on plenty of sunscreen, packing for weather changes, and bringing along lots of water.
Good preparation is also vital for a college district, and our Governing Board and budget teams have ensured that we are ready no matter how rocky the path ahead may be. Our 2011-12 budget reflects the worst case projected by the state finance department if the remaining $4 billion state budget deficit is not filled by December 15. For us, this would mean $6.3 million in cuts over last year -- on top of $15 million in cuts we’ve had in the past two years.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Grossmont OPT instructor named Teacher of the Year

Bob Captain
         For the second time, an insurance instructor at Grossmont College’s Office Professional Training (OPT) program has been selected as Teacher of the Year by an insurance industry trade group.

     Bob Captain, an instructor at the El Cajon community college, was honored by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America. The trade group supports a classroom-to-career educational program called InVEST (Insurance Vocational Education Student Training), that also provides scholarships to Grossmont OPT students. Captain also was selected for the award in 2001.

        In 1990, Captain and other insurance professionals approached Grossmont College about adding an insurance component to the OPT program, which began in 1985. Captain worked with faculty members to design an insurance curriculum, which was added to OPT in 1991.         

Friday, August 19, 2011

Fall semester starts at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges

As the result of statewide budget cuts for higher education  that have sharply reduced course offerings, students at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges have been madly scrambling for available seats as East County’s two colleges begin the fall semester on Monday.
Preliminary figures for the college district show that about 24,000 students registered for this semester. Almost 200 classes have been cut this fall, on top of 1,000 classes that have been eliminated in the past two years because of slashed budgets.
Nearly 94 percent of the available courses are full. The waitlist for class seats has grown to more than 23,000, even after adjustments were made that opened up 5,000 seats. Enrolling in classes poses a particular challenge for new students who are among the last to register because of the priority given to returning students and others such as military veterans.
 “We’ve had to cut classes, even as the demand for them is growing,” said Cindy L. Miles, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District. “High unemployment and more students who are coming to community colleges for job training has increased demand. The travesty of the budget crisis is that community colleges are finding it more and more difficult to serve our mission of providing open access to higher education.”

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cuyamaca College's child development center celebrating 10th year

Children enjoy playing at Cuyamaca College's Child Development Center

Tucked away in a secluded corner of the campus, shielded from view by groves of trees, the Cuyamaca College Child Development Center is like the toy prize found at the bottom of a cereal box. It takes a little searching around to find it, but its discovery always draws a smile.
To the youngest of the college’s population, the 10,500-square-foot center with its touches of whimsy and color must seem like a giant playhouse. But its role as a childcare facility for the community and campus and as a fieldwork site for college students in the child development program makes the center more than just child’s play.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Grossmont College's tie-dyed convocation

To celebrate Grossmont College's 50th anniversary, faculty and staff wore tie-dyed T-shirts to convocation, bringing back memories of the 1960s. Grossmont College opened in 1961.

English-language classes offered for Iraqi immigrants

A pilot program offering English-language classes to recent Iraqi immigrants began this week, the result of a partnership between the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District and St. Peter Chaldean Catholic Cathedral.
Two 3 ½  –week classes of 30 students each will be offered free of charge at facilities at the Rancho San Diego church, which primarily serves East County’s Chaldean community. One class will focus on preparing for community college, while students in the other class will learn basic language skills to help them enter the workforce.
The classes will meet from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Thursday in the church’s education center, except for the final week, when classes conclude Aug. 30.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Regional award for Cuyamaca College automotive instructor

Automotive instructor Chris Branton works with Cuyamaca College students

EL CAJON – Proton exchange membrane. Equinox fuel cells. Hydrogen gas molecules. Lecture topics from college chemistry? Take another guess.
Those are terms that students of Cuyamaca College’s GM Automotive Service Education Program (ASEP) can expect to become intimately familiar with as General Motors’ fleet of hydrogen-powered vehicles move from research labs and limited test markets into people’s garages.
Chris Branton, a Cuyamaca College instructor for 28 years, 10 of them in the college’s well-regarded GM ASEP program, said the ever-changing technology of today’s cars requires even veteran teachers to constantly acquire new training to ensure the knowledge and skills they impart to students meet market demand.
In addition to being fully GM trained, Branton also has an ASE (National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence) master certification, which requires passing a battery of eight tests and recertification every five years.
 Branton’s commitment to training and teaching excellence was recognized recently by the western region International Association of GM ASEP, which oversees the program at nearly 20 schools across eight states and two Canadian provinces.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Community colleges step in to fill skills gap

Check out this story from CNN Money about how community colleges are partnering with businesses to train students for jobs. GCCCD works with numerous businesses in job training, notably Cuyamaca College's auto tech programs partnering with Ford and GM.