June 2013


Mt. SAC Names Irene Malmgren Vice President of Instruction

WALNUT, Calif.—Dr. Irene Malmgren, vice president of academic affairs at Citrus College, has been named Mt. San Antonio College’s new vice president of instruction, effective July 1.

“Dr. Malmgren is an excellent choice for Mt. SAC,” said President & CEO Dr. Bill Scroggins. “She brings a wealth of senior leadership experience in both academics and administration, which will benefit our students and the college overall going forward.”

As chief instructional officer, Malmgren will oversee the largest division of the college and all of its instructional programs and services, including seven academic divisions and a workforce of 1,600 full- and part-time faculty, deans, managers, and staff. She will also serve as a member of the President’s Cabinet and as the college’s accreditation liaison officer, and will oversee strategic academic planning, research, and evaluation.

A resident of Orange, Malmgren has managed academic affairs at Citrus for the past eight years, serving as the college’s accreditation liaison officer, a member of its collective bargaining team, and as a member of the Citrus College Foundation Board.

Previously, she served Santa Ana College as dean of counseling and as a professor and department chair of psychology. In addition, she presided over the Academic Senate and counseled disadvantaged students from local high schools through Santa Ana’s Higher Ground Program.

Outside of education, she was a marriage and family counselor, a training and career development consultant, and a land use analyst for the City of Garden Grove.

Malmgren holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in experimental psychology from Cal State Fullerton, a master’s in counseling psychology from Chapman University, and a doctorate in organizational leadership from the University of La Verne.

Mt. SAC is among the largest of California’s 112 community colleges, offering more than 200 degree and certificate programs in a variety of academic disciplines for nearly 60,000 credit and noncredit students annually.


Monk Stands Out Among Mt. SAC Grads

WALNUT, Calif.––– He may not mean to, but Bowala Rakkitha stands out among his fellow students at Mt. San Antonio College. He dresses differently, his values are unusual, and he speaks with a distinctive accent. And when the Venerable Rakkitha, a Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka, walks at graduation next Friday during Mt. SAC’s 67th commencement, it will be yet another leg of a most improbable journey.

“I never thought I would come to the United States, and I never thought I would attend a university here,” said the 37-year-old monk, who is receiving associate degrees in psychology and liberal arts next week and will transfer to UCLA next fall.

During his time as a student at Mt. SAC, Rakkitha has generated a certain amount of curiosity, if not celebrity. The first question is usually related to the most obvious distinction.

“Everyone wants to know why I dress like this,” he said, patting down his red robe, his day-to-day attire and more importantly a symbol of the vow he made to live a simple life as monk.

Then there are the more curious peers.

“I have also frequently had groups of student who wish to interview me about Buddhism and about pursuing secular learning,” he said. “Although I feel that my English may not be very good, I share my experiences with others and I let them know that I am learning alongside them.”

Rakkitha’s journey began in Sri Lanka where he was raised while the country was in the midst of a civil war. He decided to become a monk at 14 to help the people in his community. And because the war closed down most schools, the temple was the one place to get an education. He went on to earn two college degrees in Sri Lanka and later came to the U.S. in 2005 to help a fellow monk with work at the Landarama Siri Lankarama Meditation Center in La Puente, his current home.

“When I was growing up in Sri Lanka, I really couldn’t imagine coming to the United States,” he said. “It was just unthinkable.”

Once here, Rakkitha worked at the La Puente temple and later began at Mt. SAC in 2009 to learn English after people at his temple encouraged him to enroll.

“The devotees at our temple always talked about Mt. SAC, and after a few years here, I thought I better learn English.”

But the vow to live a religious life and renounce the materialism of society hasn’t always fit neatly into his new world.

“It’s not easy to be a Buddhist monk. You have to make a lot of sacrifices and give up a lot,” he said.

For example, the monastic rule that allows breakfast and lunch, but no food between noon and dusk could be problematic for a student who takes classes from morning to noon. Then there are the conflicts with the gadgets of the modern age that can make being a monk in a material world difficult. Learning to drive was a major hurdle.

“I have no attachments to conveniences like air conditioning or computers or cell phones. I could give them up at any time,” he said. “Rather, they enable me in my work. Having a computer is helpful for temple work as well as school work.”

Buddhism, he said, realizes that change is inevitable and is flexible in some regards.

“I feel as though I have to regularly justify my educational goals to myself and to others,” he said.

While many students naturally may think of their education and earning a diploma in terms of future financial gain, Rakkitha thinks of it much differently. He justifies his pursuit of education in terms of how it will help others.

“I will use the knowledge I’ve gained here to help with my work in the community as a Buddhist monk.”

When he transfers to UCLA in the fall, Rakkitha plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in religious studies and to teach. But he already has a leg up. He already has a bachelor’s in Buddhist culture from Sri Lanka’s University of Peradeniya and a national diploma in teaching from the Sariputtha National College of Education. He currently teaches the equivalent of “Sunday school” at his temple and is involved in helping out in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program through his temple.

“I feel the necessity to develop a wider range of religion education, especially living in such a diverse country.”

So when the Ven. Bowala Rakkitha graduates with Mt. SAC’s Class of 2013 on June 14, he’ll have one more leg of his journey completed and be one step closer to his goal.

“Education is important in order to continue my plan,” he said.

TUESDAY, JUNE 04, 2013

Mt. SAC Names James Czaja Human Resources Vice President

WALNUT, Calif.–––James Czaja, a seasoned human resources, labor relations and employee development professional, has been named vice president of human resources at Mt. San Antonio College. He will assume his duties on the senior management team at Mt. SAC on June 18.

A Long Beach resident, Czaja comes to Mt. SAC with more than 20 years of experience in human resources, including the last five years as labor relations-campus relations and dispute resolution senior manager for the California State University’s Chancellor’s Office.

“James brings the full scope of human resources skills and experience that we were searching for, including direct experience with labor negotiations, grievance and complaint resolution, investigations, compliance monitoring, and professional training,” said Mt. SAC President Bill Scroggins. “He brings added value by combining the technical knowledge of the field of personnel relations with the compassionate touch reflected in his counseling training. We look forward to Jim joining our executive team.”

In addition to his tenure at the Chancellor’s Office, Czaja has another eight years of human resources management experience at San Francisco State University, Cal State Fullerton, and Cal State Dominguez Hills. He also has human resources experience with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Long Beach.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of California-Irvine and a master’s in counseling from Cal State Fullerton.

Mt. SAC is among the largest of California’s 112 community colleges with an employee base of about 2,100 part- and full-time instructional, management, and classified employees, serving nearly 60,000 credit and noncredit students annually.