Friday, May 14, 2021

Denise Whisenhunt selected as new Grossmont College president

Denise Whisenhunt
An educator with more than two decades of experience in higher education has been selected as the next president of Grossmont College.

Denise Whisenhunt, who now works as Vice President of Student Services at San Diego City College, was selected for the position by Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Chancellor Lynn Neault. She will start her new position July 1, pending contract approval by the Governing Board.

“With the many challenges facing our district as we emerge from the pandemic and build back enrollment, Ms. Whisenhunt will bring a fresh perspective toward building a strong future,” Neault said. “She has an engaging style of leadership and will work collaboratively with all groups to promote the best interests of the college.”

Whisenhunt has been in her current position since 2013. As Vice President for Student Services, she provides leadership for a wide range of programs, including Admissions and Records, Financial Aid, programs for disabled students, and veteran services. She also served for 14 months beginning in May 2106 as Interim President of San Diego City College until a permanent president was selected.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Ground broken for second phase of Grossmont College Science, Math and Career Complex

With the turning of shovels at a groundbreaking ceremony this morning, construction has officially begun at Grossmont College on the second phase of a science, math and career technology complex, which will also house a new Veterans Resource Center.

The much-anticipated $36.2 million project will greatly expand classroom, lab and office spaces for programs including Physical Geography and Oceanography, Human Geography and Social Sciences, Math and Geology.

Governing Board President Brad Monroe thanked East County taxpayers for supporting Proposition V, the 2012 bond measure that is financing the new building and other construction and renovation projects at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges.


“This building will demonstrate to the community that their investment in our college district through the passage of Proposition V was well spent,” Monroe said. “This building will serve tens of thousands of students in the years to come.”

Interim Grossmont College President Marsha Gable said she is excited about the new space for veterans, which will be a one-stop center providing counseling, tutoring and a social space for the college’s student veteran population.

“With a prime location on Griffin Drive, the new Veterans Resource Center will be an easily accessible space for Grossmont College to help hundreds of former and active military, reservists and their dependents reach their educational goals,” Gable said. The event was livestreamed on the college’s YouTube channel.

Lynn Neault, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, said the new center is a milestone project updating a cluster of aging buildings badly in need of renovation and reconstruction to accommodate new technology and other pressing student needs. It is targeted for completion by spring 2023.

Friday, May 7, 2021

Grossmont, Cuyamaca colleges mark AAPI Heritage Month

May marks national Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges are hosting a series of virtual events starting with a May 4 AAPI Read-in and continuing through May 25 with workshops and presentations.

All events are free and open to the public, with links to Cuyamaca’s workshops posted on its Culture & Community Circle Workshops page and Grossmont College’s on its Asian Pacific Islander page.

“This year’s slate of events, along with a host of earlier workshops focusing on AAPI issues, are especially timely after the Senate’s passage this month of a landmark anti-Asian hate crimes bill,” said Daniela Sow, coordinator of Grossmont College’s event.

The Atlanta shootings in March of six Asian women and the rise of anti-Asian violence over the past year provided the momentum for the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, sponsored by New York Democratic Rep. Grace Meng and Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

East County college district wins statewide marketing awards


The Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District’s marketing efforts have garnered statewide recognition.

Anne Krueger, district Communications and Public Information Director, has been presented with the All Pro Award by the Community College Public Relations Organization, an organization that promotes marketing excellence among California’s 116 community colleges.

The All Pro award is a lifetime achievement award honoring the best in the business. Krueger, an 11-year district administrator, has been an active member of CCPRO, including two years as president and two years as past president.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Citizens' Bond Oversight Committee issues annual report


Cuyamaca Ornamental Horticulture Bldg
The bond-funded construction projects modernizing the Grossmont and Cuyamaca College campuses are highlighted in a citizens’ oversight committee annual report released this week.

The 2020 Annual Report by the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee highlights progress in the past year on the construction work funded by Prop. V, the $398 million bond measure approved by East County voters in 2012.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Registration now open for summer classes


Registration is now open for the June 14-Aug. 5 summer session and both Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges are adding resources to help students earn units to get a jump start on the fall semester.

Classes will continue to be offered mostly online for the summer with an eye toward an anticipated partial return to campus for the fall. In addition to the eight-week class sessions, two six-week sessions running June 14-July 22 and June 28-Aug. 5 are also being offered.

A limited number of summer classes will meet on campus, particularly career technical education and laboratory classes that are difficult to deliver remotely. Those classes include chemistry labs, cardiovascular technology, culinary arts, English as a Second Language, exercise science and wellness, orthopedic technology and theatre arts at Grossmont College. At Cuyamaca College, in-person classes include those in exercise science and ornamental horticulture.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

College and school district board reaffirm commitment to Alliance

 

The governing boards of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District and two East County school districts held a joint meeting this week to reaffirm their commitment toward working together to provide students a clear path from high school to college and a career.

This was the second joint meeting of the boards for the college district, the Grossmont Union High School District and the Mountain Empire Unified School District. The first was held in 2019, and the 2020 meeting was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The three districts have joined together in the East County Education Alliance, and board members from the three districts in their joint meeting, reaffirmed their  promise to fulfill the Alliance’s mission to help students have a seamless transition from high school to college and to prepare students for the workforce.

Grossmont Union High School District operates 13 high schools in East County, while the Mountain Empire district runs Mountain Empire High School in Pine Valley. Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges serve about 20,000 students.

“The collaborative work of the Alliance is vital to provide our students a clear pathway to their futures,” said Lynn Neault, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District. “As educators, we recognize our obligation to prepare students for  careers with sustainable wages and a promising future.”

Friday, April 16, 2021

Three finalists chosen for Grossmont College presidency

Three educators with extensive experience working at community colleges have been chosen as finalists to be the next Grossmont College president.

Grossmont College in El Cajon, with more than 15,000 students, is known for its high transfer rates to four-year universities and renowned career education programs such as Nursing and Allied Health, Administration of Justice and Culinary Arts.

The position of Grossmont College president opened when Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh, who led the college since 2015, announced his retirement last fall.  

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Grossmont College Literary Arts Festival to celebrate 25th year


The Grossmont College Literary Arts Festival has special reasons to celebrate its April 26-29 run: its 25th anniversary and its return after a one-year COVID hiatus.

Although its comeback will be virtual in keeping with health protocols, the spirit and intent of the weeklong festival put on by the English Department’s Creative Writing program remain the same: to highlight poetry, memoirs, literature, and student writings, and to provide an opportunity to hear writers across the country talk about their inspirations and challenges filling blank pages.

The festival is free and open to the public. Writer bios, workshop descriptions and registration links are available at https://tinyurl.com/3akfaxnb 

Friday, April 9, 2021

Grossmont, Cuyamaca colleges celebrate a month of diversity


In keeping with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Awareness Month at California Community Colleges, Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges are hosting a number of events highlighting the many forms of diversity at the East County campuses.

“Our district has had a longstanding commitment to recognizing the rich tapestry of its campus communities, but we are redoubling our efforts following the events of the last year,” said Chancellor Lynn Neault. “We are dedicated to promoting equity to help ensure all students have the opportunity to achieve their educational goals.”

Diversity of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation are celebrated through numerous events held throughout the academic year, including Cuyamaca College’s Powwow and its Middle Eastern Heritage Month; Grossmont College’s Dia de Familia; LGBTQIA events hosted by both colleges’ sexual orientation/gender identity student organizations and both colleges’ Women’s History Month and Black History Month events. Both colleges also offer specialized programs designed to help students from underserved communities.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Tribe's support benefits Grossmont College students

Interim Grossmont College President Marsha 
Gable and Foundation CEO Sally Cox

        Grossmont College students who are awarded a scholarship from an East County tribe get much more than the $500 to help them pay for books and supplies. They also get a connection with the tribe’s casino that can help them land a job.

Since 2018, the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation has provided annual scholarships for 12 Grossmont College students who are majoring in Culinary Arts, the Administration of Justice, or Hospitality and Tourism Management. Those fields directly tie into the kinds of jobs held at the Sycuan Casino, with more than 1,700 employees, including chefs, security guards, or hotel and casino managers.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Cole Atencio: Getting acting experience at Grossmont College

Cole Atencio

Cole Atencio said he’s known since he started high school that he wanted to be an actor. His experience at Grossmont College’s Theatre Arts department is giving him the on-stage experience to help him hone his skills.

Cole is one of four students who will be appearing in “The Mad Ones,” the latest production of the Theatre Arts department that will be streaming online April 8-17. The play is directed by Geno Carr, a renowned actor and director who is a faculty member at Grossmont College.

Cole, a 20-year-old La Mesa resident, said he was bit by the acting bug when he saw a play at Helix High School that was performed for new students and parents during a school fair as he was about to start ninth grade. He still remembers the play: “Zombie Prom.”

“Watching those people on the stage who were my age really got me interested in theater,” Cole said.

His parents had encouraged him to attend a university, but the death of his father at the start of his senior year of high school caused Cole to consider other options for his education.

“I started thinking, ‘What do I want to do?’ I still wanted to pursue an education, but I didn’t want to make the commitment to a four-year school,” he said.

Thursday, March 18, 2021

College district's fiscal prudence rewarded

Grossmont College's new performing arts center
 The Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Governing Board recently received good news reflecting the district’s wise handling of taxpayer dollars.

  • The district received the best marks possible in audit reports for the 17th year in a row.
  • A series of Proposition V bonds are being refinanced-for an expected $8 million in savings to taxpayers over the life of the bonds.
  •  The district’s insurance company gave a rebate of almost $500,000 to the district, reflecting lower costs for worker’s compensation claims.
“We take our responsibility as stewards of public funds very seriously,” said Lynn Neault, district chancellor. “Our district is continuing to provide an excellent education to Grossmont and Cuyamaca College students while carefully managing our district’s finances.”

Friday, March 12, 2021

Community college leaders support vaccinations so campuses can reopen

 


The leaders of the 10 community colleges in San Diego and Imperial counties issued a statement today urging their employees and students to get a vaccination protecting them against COVID-19 as soon as they are eligible.

The colleges, which serve more than 200,000 students in the two-county area, have been offering mostly online learning for the 2020-21 academic year because of the pandemic. Only a limited number of classes and labs that train essential workers have been offered at the college campuses.

“Widespread vaccinations will allow our colleges to start reopening our campuses this fall and to continue to offer the top-quality education that our students want and deserve,” says the statement, which was endorsed by leaders for the Grossmont-Cuyamaca, Imperial, MiraCosta, Palomar, San Diego and Southwestern college districts.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Grossmont College hosting Labor Council's first East County food distribution

Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges are continuing to do their part to address food insecurities arising from the pandemic with more food distributions for students and the public, including  East County’s first Labor Council Community Drive-Thru Food Distribution from 9 -10 a.m. Saturday, March 13.

The San Diego & Imperial Counties Labor Council’s first-come, first-served event is open to the public and is expected to serve 500 families. The distribution at Grossmont College, being held in partnership with Feeding San Diego, is the first that the council has held in East County.

The contactless food distribution will take place in Lot 7 at Grossmont College. Recipients must be in a vehicle to receive food, with one family per vehicle.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

April Holman honored with President's Outstanding Leadership and Service Award

 April Holman started working at Cuyamaca College a mere three weeks before the COVID shutdown last March, but she has proven herself to be so integral to the campus that she has been honored with the President’s Outstanding Leadership and Service Award for Classified Professionals.

The Grossmont College alum and administrative assistant to Vice President of Student Services Jessica Robinson was lauded at convocation. Previously an administrative assistant to Grossmont College’s dean of Admissions & Records and Financial Aid for 3 ½ years, Holman is credited for helping the streamline the process to get $1.4 million in emergency aid to Cuyamaca students hard hit financially by the pandemic.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Grossmont, Cuyamaca colleges laud top employees

Four employees at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges have been awarded top honors for their commitment to the East County campuses. 

Cuyamaca College English instructor Karen Marrujo, who brings to the classroom equity and social justice issues, received the 2021 Outstanding Faculty Member Award. Spanish instructor
Anaid Stere-Lugo, recognized for finding ways to save students hundreds of dollars in textbook costs, is the part-time faculty recipient of the same award. The two were among hundreds nominated by students for their teaching excellence and judged by the college Academic Senate Faculty Awards Committee.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

A life-changing experience at Grossmont College

Danna Yunis

Danna Yunis was a broken person when her father – her best friend – passed away in 2018. Her comeback began when she resolved to heed his urgings in pursuing an education and earning a degree from his alma mater.

“I drove to Grossmont College, completely in tears, because that’s where he went to school,” Yunis said. “I had suffered a tremendous loss, I was very depressed and I needed to do something, to move forward, to have something to look forward to.”

Two years after enrolling at the El Cajon campus, Yunis has something else to look forward to: she transfers in fall 2021 to San Diego State University – another school her father attended – for a bachelor’s degree in rhetoric. She plans to earn a master’s degree in creative writing and hopes for a career as a community college professor.

She credits Grossmont College for supporting her in the first steps on her journey.

“The instructors at Grossmont have a passion for teaching,” said Yunis, who received a 4.0 point average in fall 2020. “It’s not just a job for them. They inspire you. They have people there helping you every step of the way, whatever it takes, whatever you need.”

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Finding a future at Cuyamaca College

Caitlyn Bullert

Caitlyn Bullert had hit bottom. Unemployed, formerly homeless and a recovering alcoholic, the 53-year-old Spring Valley resident found hope at Cuyamaca College.

“Invaluable,” Bullert said of the Rancho San Diego campus. “Just totally changed my life.”

Indeed, the one-time college dropout is on track to graduate in Fall 2021 with an associate degree in social work and is aiming to transfer to San Diego State University the following spring en route to a master’s degree and a career working with those who are struggling with the same demons she conquered.

“I want to help people because I know what it feels like to be there,” said the vice president of the Cuyamaca College Phi Theta Kappa honors society, who is holding down a 3.7 grade point average. Her academic achievements were recently recognized by the Foundation for Grossmont & Cuyamaca Colleges with a California Coast Credit Union Scholarship of $500.

The turnaround, Bullert said, often brings her to tears. And it has left admirers in its wake.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Construction begins on Cuyamaca College Student Services Building

Construction, which is expected to continue till summer 2022, will be funded by Proposition V, a $398 million bond approved by East County voters in 2012. Bond funds have enabled the district to continue the work on the college campuses that began after the 2002 passage of Prop. R, which resulted in the construction or renovation of 13 major facilities.

Recently completed Prop. V projects include a $ 44 million Performing and Visual Arts Center and $13.2 million Phase 1 of the Science Math and Career Technology complex at Grossmont College, and at Cuyamaca College, a $4.2 million Student Center and Veterans Services renovation, and $17 million renovation currently underway of the Ornamental Horticulture Complex and Building M.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

2021 Black History Month events on tap at Grossmont, Cuyamaca colleges

Speaker panels, a poetry reading, and presentations, including one on the nation’s first Black vice president, are among February’s Black History Month events presented by Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges.  

A diverse selection of events is being offered at both colleges to honor the traditions, legacies and contributions of Black Americans. All events are free and presented virtually.      

Grossmont College’s events will be available for live-stream viewing on the Grossmont College YouTube channel and Cuyamaca College’s are posted as Culture & Community Circle events on the Student Affairs website. For direct links to the events, go to www.gcccd.edu/news

 .

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

College District adds $1.1 billion to local economy

A new economic impact report finds that the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District added $1.1 billion to the San Diego County economy, providing a dependable stream of skilled employees to the region’s workforce and dramatically boosting lifetime earnings of graduates.

The study was conducted by Emsi, an Idaho-based labor market analytics firm which produces similar reports for colleges and universities nationwide. Researchers analyzed data for fiscal year 2018-19 to determine the economic impact and the return on investment for dollars invested by students in their education, by alumni who remain in San Diego County, and the impact of the District’s operational spending. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Nedra Brown's COVID-19 experience

Nedra Brown
With the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, a GCCCD employee agreed to share her experience with the illness. 

As she slowly recovers from her bout with COVID-19, Nedra Brown has a message for anyone who doubts the seriousness of the virus.

“Even if you do not know someone who has been affected, the virus is real,” said Brown, Associate Dean of Athletics at Grossmont College. “The symptoms are real. It’s not something I would want anyone to go through.” 

Brown says she was careful. She has been working from home and only had limited contacts except for trips to the grocery store. When she woke up one morning in November with flu-like symptoms, she was relieved when they went away after she took some pain medication.

About a week later, on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, Brown was still feeling a little achy when she noticed she had lost her sense of smell. Even a body spray and a strong household disinfectant had no scent for her. Brown was tested for COVID-19 the next day, and learned she was positive.

“I just broke down. I cried and cried,” she said. “I just could not believe it. I felt sad and embarrassed and angry and scared.”

She immediately isolated herself from the others in her household – her sister and her elderly mother, who is at-risk with cancer. None of the people she had been in contact with tested positive for COVID-19, and Brown still isn’t sure how she got the virus.