TUESDAY, JUNE 12, 2007
Dr. John Nixon Named Mt. SAC Acting President
WALNUT, Calif.—The Mt. SAC Board of Trustees today reported action taken in closed session to appoint Dr. John Nixon as Acting President, effective immediately with the departure of Dr. Christopher C. O’Hearn.
A career educator and administrator, Dr. Nixon has served as Vice President of Instruction at Mt. SAC for the past three years. In this role, he oversaw all credit and noncredit instructional programs and services, including seven academic divisions and a workforce of more than 1,200 full- and part-time faculty and staff.
Before joining Mt. SAC in 2004, Dr. Nixon served as Vice President of Academic Affairs at Santa Ana College and previously served for a year as Interim President in 1998 and as Associate Dean of Humanities and Assistant Dean of Continuing Education.
He holds statewide leadership roles, including co-chair of the System Advisory Committee on Curriculum, the statewide Basic Skills Advisory Committee, and he previously served as President of the California Community College Chief Instructional Officers Association.
The Mt. SAC Board of Trustees will soon announce the selection of the interim Vice President of Instruction.
Mt. SAC President/CEO Christopher C. O’Hearn to Resign
# # #
WALNUT, Calif.—Dr. Christopher C. O’Hearn today announced his decision to leave later this month as President/CEO of Mt. San Antonio College, one of California’s largest community colleges with more than 40,000 students. Dr. O’Hearn has served as chief executive officer for five years.
In a prepared statement to the faculty, management and staff, Dr. O’Hearn noted that his decision to resign was made with mixed emotions and feels that this is the most appropriate time for a career change.
“Although I am at the peak of my career, I have decided to leave Mt. SAC to explore a number of exciting possibilities after assessing career opportunities and personal considerations,” he stated. “The college is fiscally sound, academically strong, and remains on course for an even brighter future. I want to thank all of you for what you do daily to transform the lives of our students. Together we have accomplished much, and rightfully Mt. SAC is the college of champions.”
Over the course of his five-year tenure, Dr. O’Hearn is credited with spearheading the state’s most aggressive and successful school construction program, having opened major classroom facilities serving the humanities, the sciences, athletics and the arts. Additionally, Mt. SAC’s faculty and students continue to win awards and distinction, including state and national championships in aviation, athletics, the performing arts, forensics and the Honors program, which is among the state’s largest.
Under Dr. O’Hearn’s leadership, Mt. SAC’s graduation and transfer rates have set new records, enrollment has steadily increased, and partnerships have been forged with local business and industry, K-12 school districts, as well as baccalaureate-level colleges and universities. In his campuswide statement, Dr. O’Hearn shared his successes with the campus community.
“Over the past five years, Mt. SAC has benefited from the collective efforts of the right team of people to meet the challenges of serving our students: a hard-working Board of Trustees, an outstanding executive administration, committed faculty and support staff, and a knowledgeable and dedicated administrative team,” he acknowledged.
Having served 37 years in education as a professor, academic administrator, and CEO, Dr. O’Hearn is a recognized leader in the field of high education and leaves a solid legacy of success as President/CEO at Mt. SAC. The Board of Trustees gratefully acknowledges his many contributions, commends him for his dedicated service, and wishes him well in his future endeavors.
The Board of Trustees will soon announce the selection of an interim President.
# # #17-year-old Twins Among Mt. SAC’s Youngest Graduates
WALNUT, Calif.—Don’t tell Sara and Teigist Mengesha that they are too young to do anything. While most 17 year olds are contemplating summer days at the beach and perhaps what it will be like to be high school seniors next fall, the 17-year-old Mengesha twins are wondering what it will be like to be juniors at UCLA in three months. Two of Mt. San Antonio College’s youngest graduates, Sara and Teigist have charted a course that has many of their classmates and professors seeing double.
“We’re not exactly the same, but most of our teachers or classmates can’t tell us apart,” said Teigist.
Not only are the twins difficult to tell apart and finish each other’s sentences, the two international students are both history/sociology majors at Mt. SAC, both are honor students with a 3.5 G.P.A. and a passion for community service, and both have the same aspiration to become a lawyer.
“We don’t always like the same things,” said Teigist. “ For example, I love tacos and she hates them.”
Sara and Teigist (pronounced tig-est) finished high school in their native Saudi Arabia at age 14, skipping third and fourth grades. Their high school in Saudi Arabi had a total of 350 students and a graduating class of eight.
“We never thought of it as if we were missing out on high school or proms and that sort of thing,” said Sara. “We just want to move on and not be bored. In school in Saudi Arabia, you take a placement test and are placed solely according to your ability. What grade you are in has nothing to do with age. We were just faster than most.”
It was Teigist who found Mt. SAC through the college’s web page.
“We looked at colleges in the area, I saw Mt. SAC on the web,” said Teigist. “It looked really good in terms of academics, program offerings and campus life.”
They came to Mt. SAC as 15 year olds in January 2006 and immediately set out on a pace to soak up as much of the college life as possible.
“If we have an opportunity to do something, we just try to experience as much as we can and go through it as fast as possible,” said Sara, “even though people tell us to slow down.”
This spring, for example, Sara carried a 20-unit load at Mt. SAC while Teigist took 25 units.
“I don’t think of it as going too fast—I think of it as progress,” said Teigist. “I don’t think you should be limited by age.”
The twins were not intimidated by having classmates sometimes more than twice their age, but the same can’t be said of their classmates.
“Most of the other students and professors didn’t think we were 15 at the time,” said Teigist. “I was helping another student in an English class, and once she found out how old I was, she said she couldn’t believe she was getting help from a 15 year old.”
The twins fully immersed themselves in college life at Mt. SAC, joining the Phi Theta Kappa (the honor program), the French Club, Alpha Gamma Sigma and the International Students Club.
“Mt. SAC offers a lot of different program, clubs and services that commuter students don’t experience because they take their classes and leave. But there’s a world of experience on campus,” said Sara.
Graduation itself will be a new experience for the twins, who never participated in a graduation ceremony in their native country before. They describe the feeling as excitement tinged with a little sadness.
“I think I’m going to cry when I have to say goodbye to all my friends here,” said Teigist.
However, the twins do plan to slow a bit down this summer and take a break from studies. Instead they will indulge their passion for community service and pound nails as volunteers for Habitat for Humanity. Once the summer is over, they will resume their studies as history majors at UCLA refreshed and ready to go.
Former Foster Child Beats the Odds to Earn a Full College Scholarship
WALNUT, Calif.—The first part of Donavon Vaughn’s life reads more like the profile of a Dickens’ character, bounced from foster home to foster home, facing insurmountable obstacles. But with a little luck and a little help from his friends, it looks like the second half will turn out more like a Horatio Alger story.
Having survived a trouble childhood of mental and physical abuse, Donavon beat the odds and will be transferring from Mt. San Antonio College to Clark Atlanta University, a historically black college, on a full scholarship.
But the road to success was filled with potholes along the way. Donavon was in the foster care system in Los Angeles from the time he was four months old.
“I never knew any of my family,” said Donavon. “My mother could have walked past me on the street, and I wouldn’t have known her.”
He lived with foster families that sometimes cared for six to eight other foster children, and his life was filled with instability. There was never a sense of belonging, always uncertainty.
“One day, I came home from school and my stuff was packed. All I could do was ask, ‘What happened?’” he said. And he would be shuffled along to yet another foster home.
Many times, the next home would be worse.
“I would be locked in the house if I was a little late getting ready, for say church on Sunday, and beaten for no reason.”
Then there were the alternative methods of controlling the children.
“They forced me to take medicine, claiming I was hyperactive,” he said. The medicine turned out to be Ritalin and the way it was administered involved tying him to a bed and forcing the drug into his mouth.
But perhaps the most difficult part of his childhood was the mental abuse he suffered.
“People constantly told me that I would never amount to anything and that I would end up in jail,” he said. “So I just grew up thinking that they were right and that’s how it would be.”
The group home in South Central that he lived at was worse still, and he often referred to it as jail.
Then when he was nearly 17, he met his mother for the first time. His social worker found her and introduced them.
“At the time, I had no idea what she looked like,” he said, “and when I met her, she said had given me up because of her drug addiction.”
Eventually, he went to live with his mother in Long Beach. He then attended Pasadena City College briefly and transferred to Mt. SAC, where he played wide receiver for the football team.
The football team also helped him find a home when he was homeless, and he stayed with teammates in an apartment in Pomona. The team and staff from the college also helped with food and care packages.
“When I came to Mt. SAC, it was like finding a family,” said Donavon.
From there on, things seemed to only get better.
He attended Mt. SAC’s Black College Fair in the fall, and the seed was planted. Student Services staff helped raise money to send Donavon on a weeklong tour of historically Black colleges in the South, where he visited Clark Atlanta, Morehouse College and Spelman College. Finally in the spring, he was selected as the recipient of a Historically Black Colleges and Universities Scholarship for $1,000 given by an anonymous donor.
“I didn’t even know that I was considered for the scholarship, but for someone to give up his hard-earned money for me to continue my education, I feel really honored,” he said.
A foster child university scholarship will pay for his attendance at Clark Atlanta University, where he will enroll this fall as a sociology major.
“I feel so privileged to have this opportunity to attend a college of my choice. It’s like a dream come true.”
Eventually, Donavon will like to become a foster care social worker and perhaps correct some the deficiencies that he sees.
“Nowadays, I think there are not a lot of social workers who have direct experience with the system, and since I was in the foster care system, I feel I can relate better to the children who are in foster care.”
“But mostly, I just want to give back,” he said.
Optometrist, Olympian, Fire Chief Selected as Mt. SAC’s Alumni of the Year
WALNUT, Calif.—Dr. Floyd Zastrow, Fire Chief John Nieto and two-time Olympic medalist Dr. Mark Crear will be honored as Mt. San Antonio College’s Alumni of the Year during its 61st commencement ceremony on Friday, June 15, at 6:30 p.m., at the campus stadium.
Zastrow (Class of 1946) was among the first class of students at Mt. SAC. During his time at the college, he paid $20 a month to live in the Navy barracks on campus. He transferred to Northern Illinois College of Optometry and has more than 50 years of experience as an optometrist. He joined a practice in California with a substantial Hollywood clientele and established his own practice in Lodi in 1963. He has been active in community service for many years, including 42 years with the Lodi Lions Club.
Nieto (Class of 1974) is an Assistant Fire Chief with the Los Angeles County Fire Department. He directs the day-to-day operations of three fire battalions, 20 fire stations, and over 300 employees that serve five cities and four unincorporated areas in the Pomona and San Gabriel valleys. He is also active in the community, serving on boards with the American Red Cross, the Industry Sheriff’s Youth Activities League, the Fire Warden Association, and the Pomona Optimist Club.
Crear (Class of 1990) was a track star at Mt. SAC who later became one of USC’s elite athletes and eventually won the 1996 Olympic Silver Medal in the 110-meter high hurdles with a broken arm and the 2000 Olympic Bronze Medal with a double hernia. He was also a two-time U.S. Outdoor national champion and ranked the world’s No.1 110-meter high hurdler for three years. After graduating from USC, Crear went on to receive a doctorate in theology from the International Theological University, established Mark Crear Enterprises, and founded In the Zone Performance Training, a consulting firm. He is a dynamic motivational speaker.
The selection of all three honorees as “Alumni of the Year” was based on professional accomplishments as well as philanthropic and community activities.
###MONDAY, JUNE 04, 2007
Sam Maloof to Address Mt. SAC Grads
WALNUT, Calif.—Legendary furniture maker Sam Maloof will address Mt. San Antonio College’s Class of 2007 during Mt. SAC’s 61st commencement ceremony on Friday, June 15, at 6:30 p.m., at Hilmer Lodge Stadium.
Maloof’s address, “Constructing Your Future,” is expected to be an inspirational and motivational speech to the class, which will total nearly 2,000 graduates.
Maloof began making furniture in 1948, and since then, his contemporary woodworking has won international acclaim and has been displayed in prestigious museums throughout the world, including the Smithsonian, the Vatican, the New York Metropolitan Museum, the Fine Arts Museum of Boston, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. One of his signature rocking chairs was presented to President Ronald Regan and was the first piece of contemporary furniture selected for the White House Collection in 1982.
Maloof was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1985, was the recipient of the first Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation grant, and was named a Trustee for the American Craft Council in 1975. His early work was featured in Better Homes and Gardens in the 1950s, and a book on life’s work, “The Furniture of Sam Maloof,” was published by W. W. Norton in 2001.
Mt. SAC’s 61st commencement marks the end of the college’s 60th anniversary celebration.
Mt. SAC Art Gallery Exhibits “Experience, Memory, Reflection”
WALNUT, Calif.—The Mt. San Antonio College Art Gallery will present a special mixed media exhibit by local artist William Catling, ”Experience, Memory, Reflection––2 Decades,” which will run June 11 to June 16.
Catling, who is the Art Department Chair and MFA Program Director at Azusa Pacific University, has had his artwork exhibited at galleries throughout the United States. Consisting of earthen material, his work is designed to be confronting and introspective, quietly impacting the space around it and the viewer. He is the winner of the 2005 Ceramic Biennial in Icheon, Korea.
The Mt. SAC Art Gallery is located on the college campus at 1100 N. Grand Ave., Walnut, Building 1B/C. Gallery hours for this exhibit are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
For more information, call the Art Gallery at (909) 594-5611, ext. 4328.