It’s Been a Rosy Life for Sociology Professor
Linda Rillorta has volunteered for the Tournament of Roses Parade for over 30 years.
Sociology Professor Linda Rillorta’s first memory of the Tournament of Roses Parade was when she was about 5 years old, mesmerized by girls in teacups atop a float. Little did she know at the time that the Pasadena parade and the Rose Bowl would be a lifelong channel of volunteerism for her—doing everything from staffing parade route barricades to picking the Rose Queen.
“There have been times when I’ve put in over 500 hours as a volunteer within just one parade season,” recounts Linda, who juggles such a demanding hobby with her day job as a Mt. SAC professor of 25 years. “It’s something that becomes ingrained in you.”
Over three decades, Linda has served the Tournament in various capacities. She’s been a member of the Parade Formation Committee, the Television and Radio Committee, the Rose Queen and Court Committee, the Executive Committee, the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame Committee, as well as a key committee that diversified the Tournament’s membership.
For the 2014 season, Linda served on the Parade Operations Committee, which basically “controls the crowd and makes sure the parade gets down the street.”
Linda’s most memorable highlights include picking the ’93 and ’94 Rose Queens and escorting Grand Marshal Kermit the Frog while riding a moped. Ranking equally as a “near-and-dear-to-the-heart” experience was the thrill of picking the bands for the parade as a member of the Music Committee. That evidently stemmed from her musical background as a clarinetist and saxophonist.
Becoming an official Tournament of Roses volunteer is not as easy as, say, picking flowers. “You just can’t walk in and volunteer,” she notes. Official volunteers, identified by their white jackets, are selected and have to be members of the Tournament. Today, there are nearly 1,000 volunteers who serve on more than 30 committees. Committee appointments are generally for two-year terms.
There was a time when membership was restricted to businessmen. Women were not part of the equation. Today the chance to become a member and volunteer is open to men and women from all walks of life. “It doesn’t matter what your profession is or who you know anymore,” she says.
Pretty much, the Tournament of Roses and Linda have been inseparable since birth. One might say it’s a family affair.
“I was probably there at the parade when I was an infant, because my family went to the parade every year,” recalls Linda, whose father also volunteered with the Rose Parade for more than 30 years.
Every year, her family would spend New Year’s Eve at her grandmother’s house in Pasadena and then walk down to Colorado Boulevard in the morning to see the parade.
Even before she became an official volunteer, she was volunteering for and participating in the Rose Parade. She pasted flowers on floats for the City of Sierra Madre and in 1971 rode on Sierra Madre’s entry called, “Animal Crackers,” as the city’s Rose Princess. Later on, Linda marched in the parade, playing the clarinet as a member of the Pasadena City College Honor Band.
Today, the Rose Parade continues to expand its horizons with more innovative floats and more musical performances. This year, there were more performances than ever before, according to Linda. But it takes a lot of work to make it all happen.
“But it’s worth it,” she says with a deep sense of personal satisfaction. “When you see that parade going down the street, that’s really something and you know it was all worth it all!”
--Mike Taylor & CB (Posted 02-04-14)
Liz Callahan Makes a Fashion Statement with AccessWear
Designer creates fashion for the physically challenged
You could say that Arts Division Administrative Secretary Liz Callahan is constantly making a fashion statement. She’s figured out a way to combine her love of drawing and fashion to launch a line of adaptive wear for the physically challenged that fulfills a need that has been long overlooked.
And it looks like the Versa brand is ready to take off!
“I’ve always loved drawing and art and clothing,” says Liz, who in 2008 launched her line of “adaptive apparel” called Versa AccessWear and next April will give a presentation on special needs apparel at a conference for YAI National Institute for People with Disabilities in New York City.
“Function meets fashion” is the motto for AccessWear, a clothing line for women with limited mobility. Her AccessWear designs have been highlighted on the Christopher & Dana Reeves Foundation website and were featured in Chloe magazine’s “Dare to Change the World” fashion show.
“It works well with people who are in wheelchairs and have physical challenges,” explains Liz, who started at Mt. SAC in the President’s Office in 2001 as served a term as Classified Senate president.
Her designs incorporate features such as Velcro tags instead of buttons and zippers and stretch fabrics that are more comfortable and breathable for someone who will be sitting all day. Yet, the designs have to be fashionable as well.
“I think about how the fabric, for example, would accent the face or the waist,” she says.
Since 2008, she has been featuring her AccessWear designs at expositions and fashion shows throughout the state, but the idea for Versa came to Liz right here at Mt. SAC.
“I was watching a student in a wheelchair by Founders Hall, and she was struggling with her clothing. Her clothes were riding up. Then I thought something should be done for her.”
Her designs also address an important gap in the fashion world, which Liz recognized from the start. “There aren’t a lot of fashion designers who pay attention to the special-needs woman,” she notes.
Yet the word on sensible fashion wear for the disabled still needs to get out—which is part of her strategy for the future.
“We’re trying to form a collective of designers, buyers, and others in the industry to look into getting the word out about adaptive apparel,” she said.
Straight out of high school, Liz wanted to be an illustrator. She went into merchandising, got her degree from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, and has been designing ever since.
“I like to design for a woman’s figure, and I tend to go more classic than trendy,” she said.
Of course, not all of her designs are AccessWear. One of her designs—a club dress she calls “Behind Bars”—was selected as one of the 25 national finalists by Elle magazine for a contest this fall. Readers then had a limited time frame to vote online for the winner.
“It was a really a thrill just to chosen because Elle is huge in the fashion publishing world,” Liz said.
Another of her designs—a cocktail dress with a ’60s vibe called “Belle in Bronze”—was the winner in the “Make the Cut” contest by ModCloth.com, an online vintage clothing retailer.
Over time, her designs have branched out from dresses and AccessWear to gloves and even scarves. For the holidays, her scarf designs will be on sale at boutiques in the Paseo Colorado in Pasadena and Christmas at Euclid in Ontario.
So move over, Vera Wang, and make room for Liz Callahan.
--Mike Taylor & CB (Posted 12-16-13)
Professor Martha Hall’s Bagpipe
Passion Blows Admirers Away
Imagine the look on the parents’ faces when their teenage daughter announces that she has decided to take up the drums. Learning Assistance Professor Martha Hall went one better when she announced that she decided on the bagpipes.
“It was a way for me to play in the marching band in high school,” explained Martha, who today, as a bagpipe soloist, is ranked third in the Western United States Pipe Band Association.
When she isn’t teaching math in the Learning Assistance Center, Martha travels all across California, the western United States, and Canada to compete and perform as part of the 30-member Kevin R. Blandford Memorial Pipe Band from Ranch Cucamonga.
“When people hear I play the bagpipes, they are shocked at first because it’s so unusual,” says Martha. “But then they want to hear me play and remember me because of it.”
But it was only on the advice of a junior high school friend that she picked up the bagpipes in the first place. Setting aside her original oboe instrument, Martha
decided to play the bagpipes so that she could play as a freshman in the marching band at Upland High School—where incidentally future Mt. SAC music professors Jason Chevalier and Bruce Rogers were both teaching at the time. She made the bagpipe group, which was part of the larger marching band, but it wasn’t easy.
“It takes years of practice before you sound good,” she said. “Bagpipes are rare, so it’s hard to find good instruction.”
Droning sounds of the pipes were in her blood, because Martha has stuck with it for the past 23 years. And during that time, she has become somewhat of an ambassador of goodwill for the bagpipes, dispelling preconceived notions about the instrument.
“Most people think the bagpipes sound awful, because they haven’t heard good bagpipe playing,” she said. “The catch-22 is that it takes a long time to master the bagpipes.”
The instrument has only nine notes. The mastery then comes with the use of embellishments, phrasing, and technique.
With some of that mastery under her belt, Martha joined the Blandford Memorial Pipe Band in 1994. She has since played with the group in their competitions and performances that include the Highland Games festivals in San Diego, Las Vegas, and Canada, the annual “Pipes of Christmas” performances in New York City and New Jersey, and regular performances on the Queen Mary.
One of the most successful pipe bands in the United States, her group has also competed in the World Championships in Glasgow, Scotland, four times—the last time being in 2007 when they finished in second place in 2000. The band is slated to compete again in the World Championships next summer. The band draws musicians from all over Southern California and even some long-distance members from as far away as Las Vegas, Nashville, and even Boston.
But Martha isn’t the only member of the Hall household lured by pipes. Her husband, Justin, is a Scottish snare drummer with the Blandford band as well.
Of course there is the issue of practicing, which as it turns out isn’t an issue at all. The Halls’ house is right next door to a fire station whose residents are also involved with bagpipe music. “The neighborhood is used to it,” she says.
Since bagpipes are acoustical instruments, you can’t control the volume.
“Only one volume” she says, “loud!”
--Mike Taylor & CB (Posted 10-02-13)
Dean Larry Redinger “Built” His Legacy in 14,000 Days
One could say that Natural Sciences Dean Larry Redinger literally “built” his legacy at Mt. SAC—in terms of facilities and academic programs. When he retires on Aug 9 after 38 years (exactly 14,000 work days), Larry leaves an impressive and visible imprint on the landscape of the campus.
The Natural Sciences Division, under his leadership, secured a large portion of Measure R funding to build new, state-of-the-art buildings and remodel existing facilities for nearly all of its programs, including the opening in recent years of the Science Laboratories Building & Astronomy Dome, the Mt. SAC-Randall Planetarium, the Math & Science Buildings, the Agricultural Sciences Complex, and the Exploratorium—which is in the process of being renamed the Redinger Science Exploration Center.
“With regard to facilities and educational technology, our students are receiving the highest level of instruction in facilities that foster traditional and innovative learning,” Larry proudly says.
His imprint is equally visible in the natural sciences curriculum, having built a division of science and math programs that’s become the envy of many community colleges throughout California.
“This is the best community college for science in California on all levels, because our program is so comprehensive,” says Larry. “We offer agricultural sciences, biological sciences, chemistry, earth sciences, astronomy, all levels of mathematics, computer science, physics, and engineering.”
In addition to these broad disciplines, one only needs to look a little deeper at the variety of cutting-edge programs to see why Mt. SAC programs stand out from the rest. A few stellar examples are the animal and veterinary science program with its state-of-the-art surgery center, the dynamic astronomy program with its renovated Planetarium and newly opened Observatory, and the anatomy courses, in which students receive training on actual human cadavers. Mt. SAC is also one of very few colleges anywhere that operates an instructional wildlife sanctuary that benefits both students and the public with guided tours. In addition, Larry secured and worked on over a dozen grants that enriched science/math/agricultural programs with needed funding and equipment.
During his nearly four decades at Mt. SAC, Larry has hired hundreds of faculty and staff, and taught more than 30 courses as a professor, including classes in geology, chemistry and photographics. He was named “Educator of the Year” twice, awarded “Manager of the Year” in 1994, and received the Mt. SAC Lifetime Achievement Award this year. And he did most that while concurrently serving as an elected member of the Walnut Valley Unified School District’s Board of Trustees for the past 22 years.
But Larry’s Mt. SAC legacy almost didn’t occur at all.
Originally he turned down a teaching position at Mt. SAC in 1974 to teach at Edison High School in Huntington Beach. However, things didn’t work out to his liking at Edison. So when a second Mt. SAC teaching offer was made, Larry jumped at the opportunity . . . and the rest—as they say—is history.
Larry quickly distinguished himself as an exceptional professor at the college; and in 1992, he was named dean of the Natural Sciences Division. His trickle-down administration philosophy seems to have served him well over the years: “If I make it good for faculty, they make it good for students.”
Soon after his new appointment and with critical input from his department chairs, Larry submitted a plan for new buildings to replace aging facilities. “The demands for core science and math classes were increasing each year, and all of my instructional areas were impacted,” he recalls. “We evaluated the idea of converting buildings versus new construction and pondered everything that would realistically address the division’s facility needs.”
Two years later, when Mt. SAC went out for a bond measure, the first buildings on the priority list were the science and mathematics complex. “Former President Bill Feddersen gets a lot of credit for running the bond measure three times until it was passed in 2001,” Larry says. “Bill really deserves a lot of credit for how the campus looks today.”
As he reflects on retirement, Larry says his tour of duty at Mt. SAC has “really been a lot of fun,” consistent with his mother’s advice: “If you can’t have fun doing what you
are doing, don’t do it at all!”
What will Larry miss most? “It’s the people! I’m going to miss the amazing people at Mt. SAC who make such a difference here.”
Larry won’t be leaving the campus at the stroke of midnight on retirement day. You may see him around on campus once a week, working on a grant project through the Foundation. But you won’t see a lot of him this fall, when he plans to visit Niagara Falls, or next spring when he plans to tour France. All we can bid him is “Adieu!” and a hearty “thank you” for Larry’s enduring legacy and many years of distinguished service to Mt. SAC.
--Mike Taylor & CB (Posted 7-24-13)
Ginny Burley Bids Adieu to Mt. SAC After 27 Years
She just officiated over her last commencement . . . followed by her final Instruction Team meeting. Everything she does now seems to be for “the last time.” After 27 years as a faculty member and administrator, Vice President of Instruction Dr. Virginia Burley is bidding adieu to her “home away from home” on June 30 . . . but admittedly there is plenty she will miss about Mt. SAC.
“People top that list,” she says. “But I’ll also miss the seasons of the academic year, which give a certain structure to your life. I’ll miss, when at the end of August, having to be ready for the start of a new academic year. Many parts of even our personal lives are organized around the academic clock.”
Ginny started at Mt. SAC in 1986 as an adjunct English professor, and being offered a full-time position in the English Department tops the list of most important moments for her at the college. “That was life changing for me,” she says.
Within a few years, she chaired the department, which was both an honor and a challenge. In those days, there was no such thing as “reassigned time” from the classroom to focus on administrative duties. She later served on the Academic Senate and headed the Faculty Association. She soon continued her climb up the ranks to being named the associate dean of humanities and social sciences, which proved to be an education in itself.
“I learned so much from Steve Runnebohm about being an effective administrator and learning how to deal with difficult situations,” Ginny says reflectively about her mentor and longtime former dean of humanities. “What Steve and others taught me about my work has made the biggest difference in my management abilities in the long run.”
Runnebohm’s approach, she explains, was not merely to solve a particular problem, but to investigate the causes and to find ways to prevent them from resurfacing.
In 2004, Ginny moved into the Instruction Office after being selected dean of instructional services. Four years later, she was promoted to her current position as vice president of instruction—the first person of Hispanic heritage to hold that position at Mt. SAC. As chief academic officer, Ginny heads the college’s largest division, overseeing seven academic divisions and some 1,600 part- and full-time faculty members, deans, program managers and classified employees. She also serves on the President’s Cabinet, which recommends polices to the Board of Trustees and establishes implementation processes and procedures in operating and managing the college.
During her tenure, Ginny has firmly put educational quality and student success at the top of her strategic priority list. Working across the institution, she has forged collaborative relationships to accomplish college goals, emphasizing the importance of collegewide planning, research, and evaluation, best practices, professional development, instructional technology, and effective resource allocation to facilitate innovative teaching and learning.
On her watch as VP of Instruction, the college’s academic program has soared to new heights despite an era of unprecedented budget challenges and unavoidable class reductions. Student success rates have increased, program offerings have been evaluated and restructured, and the honors earned by academic and athletic teams have exceeded previous records at regional, state, national and international levels.
All this notwithstanding, Ginny feels her role as an effective convener has brought her enormous professional satisfaction.
“I like to think that I’ve been able to bring people together to share a collective vision and bring it to life,” she says. “I want people not only to feel good about their work, but also to know that their contributions are valued and help accomplish our goals.”
Reflecting on her nearly three decades at Mt. SAC, Ginny has seen many changes. The first obvious change is the physical landscape of the college, which looks far different than it did when she started teaching here—the new and renovated buildings, athletic fields, and the changing instructional technology. In fact, Ginny remembers the time when only a very few employees on campus had computers. “People would fight for a DVD player that they could roll around to class.”
Despite all the changes and all the experiences, for Ginny, fulfillment boils down to one word: people.
“The relationships I’ve established here are the most rewarding part of anything that I’ve done at Mt. SAC,” she affirms.
Ginny admits that retirement will take some getting used to.
“For so many years, my life has been so devoted to the routine of working five long days a week,” she says. “This will be a big transition for me.”
Ginny hasn’t quite mapped out all that she plans to do in retirement, but she knows she will doing some traveling and will spend more time with her husband Todd (a practicing psychologist), her three grown children, her seven grandchildren, and her sister, who recently retired from secondary education.
“I’m sure I will reinvent myself in some way and remain active in ways that make the most sense to me during this phase of my life,” she says. “I still have a lot to offer to make a difference. But for now, it’s time to relax and do absolutely nothing!”
—Mike Taylor (Posted 6-20-13)
Clark Maloney: You Can Go Home Again
Men’s head basketball coach Clark Maloney has completely ignored the premise of Thomas Wolfe’s 1940 novel, “You Can’t Go Home Again.” Not only has he come home to Mt. SAC, but he’s done it in celebratory fashion.
“It has been more of a homecoming for me, because this was where I got my start in coaching,” said Clark, who after a 14-year hiatus has returned to coach the Mounties and has led the team to its first-ever state championship.
Last month, the Mountie men made their first appearance in the state championship game since 1955 and blew out Chaffey, 102-88, racking up the highest score at a state championship game in history.
“No one thought that these kids could do this,” said Clark. “But they had such a focus going into the playoffs that they were ready to be mentioned in the same sentence as the top teams in the state. We had a lot of guys who had something to prove.”
Clark knew that with his return to the college last summer, he had a lot of work to do with a team and players who were brand new to him. There were a lot of question marks at the beginning for the Mounties in 2012-13. But a few good outings against highly-ranked teams such as Yuba and Fresno helped solidify the Mounties’ confidence, and the turning point came at the end of preseason.
Urging them to think like champions,“I told them that today there’s no more shallow water,” recalls Clark. “From here on out, it’s either sink or swim.”
Fortunately, they decided to swim—and swim hard. The rest is history. The Mounties finished the season with a 29-3 record.
“I’m proud that they accepted the fact that there’s nothing wrong with hard work,” he says of his championship team. “They were good listeners and hard workers.”
Clark’s first tour of duty at Mt. SAC started with his first coaching assignment under head coach Ralph Osterkamp for the 1992-93 season. Two years later, he was named the Mounties’ head coach when Osterkamp retired.
Then after the 1998 season, Clark left Mt. SAC for a series of university coaching positions, including five years at St. Thomas University in Florida where he led a new program to two conference championships and two trips to the NAIA national championships. He also compiled winning records at Salem International University in West Virginia and West Texas A&M before returning to Mt. SAC.
“It was easy coming back, in a sense, because I knew the institution and I knew a lot of the people who were here before,” he says. “And at the same time, it was kind of eerie. It was the same carpet, the same desk, the same office. It was like I was in a dream.”
Of course while some things remain the same, it’s also true that a lot has changed in 14 years. With new buildings scattered across the landscape over the last decade and a half, he says he nearly needed a map to navigate the campus.
A native of Chickasha, Okla., Clark was a standout point guard during his playing days for Central Junior College and Mid America Nazarene University, both in Kansas. He helped lead Mid America to its first conference championship and received his bachelor’s there. Once he came to California and started at Mt. SAC, he went on to earn his master’s from Azusa Pacific University.
With his return to Walnut with his wife and daughter, who was born during his first stint at Mt. SAC, the cycle is now complete. Coming back to the college was a non-issue for the family. And no matter where his travels have taken him, Clark Maloney knows that he’s now home at Mt. SAC.
“It’s just feels like here is where I’m supposed to be,” he says, smiling.
—Mike Taylor (Posted 4-12-13)
Accounting Professor Saves Lives
as Search/Rescue Volunteer
Adjunct business professor Dave Little’s compassion for people extends far beyond the classroom. As a reserve deputy sheriff with the San Dimas Mountain Rescue Team, Dave played a heroic role in a tedious search-and-rescue mission recently for a hiker who was lost in the Angeles National Forest on one of the coldest nights in six years.
Temperatures were down in the teens on the night of Jan. 12, when the 28-year-old hiker got separated from his companions near the Bear Creek Trial area above Azusa. Somehow the man, clad in a light jacket with no food or water, survived the below-freezing conditions when the 50 search-and-rescue team members found him. He suffered from hypothermia, a broken shoulder, and a head wound, caused by a fall during the night. But otherwise, he was ok.
“For what this hiker went through, he was a pretty lucky guy,” Dave told KTLA-TV news as well as other media outlets, including ABC and CBS.
Now in his 11th year with the search-and-rescue team, Dave is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for emergencies such as missing persons, accidents, downed aircraft, and wildfire evacuations. He estimates that in the past year alone, he has participated in 60 to 70 operations and has volunteered more than 700 hours.
Dave got involved with the Sheriff’s Department Mountain Rescue Team right after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Being the only non-military member of a family steeped in military tradition, he views his Sheriff’s reserve role as the ideal alternative.
“This role gives me the opportunity to serve the community and save lives while still being close to home with my wife (Marissa, a Mt. SAC alum) and two kids (Hayden, 7, and Sadie, 5),” he says.
Currently, Dave is in charge of the search-and-rescue team’s volunteer training program, and it’s no exaggeration to call it rigorous. Recruits undergo nine months of mountain training, five months of training with the Sheriff’s Academy, and another 200 hours of training as an emergency medical technician.
“It’s a heavy commitment, requiring about two to three years to complete,” he notes.
Dave’s association with Mt. SAC began as a student. He graduated in 1992, and knew even then that “I wanted to give back to Mt. SAC.” He transferred to and graduated from Pepperdine University and enjoyed a successful career as an accountant and financial consultant, working with noted firms such as Ernst & Young. Currently he is director of strategic corporate finance for Pardee Homes. And three years ago, he returned to Mt. SAC to teach accounting classes part time.
“Mt. SAC was a stepping stone for me,” he says. “And this is a way for me to give back to the institution that helped me.”
As if juggling his responsibilities as a reserve deputy, finance director, and adjunct professor is not enough, Dave and Marissa have also founded a summer camp program for families like theirs who have a child (Sadie) with Down’s syndrome. The “Our Own Family Camp” brings families together to share their experiences. Last year, the project had grown to over 130 campers.
So whether it’s serving on the search-and-rescue team, helping students at Mt. SAC, or bringing families together, Dave is a tireless volunteer who is fortunate to have a family who understands his passion for helping others.
“Our search-and-rescue team saved the lives of five people on Christmas Eve who otherwise might not have made it,” says Dave. “So when I reflect on the important role we serve, I have no regrets.”
—Mike Taylor (Posted 2-5-13)
Link to 2012 Spotlights