In this column, employees of Glendale College with different roles engage in dialogue about their departments/divisions, as well as thoughts about a more student-centered campus. Partners are given the same three questions to ask one another, and the option of additional questions and/or taking a selfie together. If you are interested in participating in this dialogue, please feel free to email Sandy Somo or Julie Gamberg (firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com)
Looking at the adorable selfie that Daphne and Andrew took when they did this interview in January almost feels like looking through a wormhole into another dimension now.
Did we ever stand that close together? Did we really go about our daily lives without second-guessing whether everything we touched was adequately sanitized, and whether we washed our hands thoroughly enough? We all miss the privileges of being able to physically be on campus, go about our lives, and interact with students, and one another, in the way that we used to. This is a moment of collective grief and uncertainty, globally.
We started this column because we felt like it was important to build bridges across silos--to understand other parts of the college and what their concerns and triumphs are, in hopes that we can learn from each other, do our own work better, and remind ourselves that we are all on the same team.
Now that we are physically siloed in our own homes, getting together with colleagues seems like a luxury from another era. But we will eventually come face-to-face again, hopefully with a renewed appreciation for the way that our different areas of expertise, and different perspectives, make us stronger as a whole. We look forward to the day when we get to see another GCC selfie as adorable as this one. Until then, we will continue building bridges with colleagues via text, email, Zoom, or the delightfully old fashioned phone call.
Sandy and Julie
In 1997 I was hired as an adjunct to teach Restaurant Management. Having worked nearly fifteen years in various foodservice operations around the country as an executive chef, manager and owner, training was something I did as a matter of course and so teaching in a more formal setting was not a big stretch. A few years later I was brought on as a full-time instructor, and focused on teaching Culinary. In 2006 my predecessor retired and I have spent the last fourteen years as Chair of the Culinary Arts, Nutrition and Hospitality Management Department. In this role I teach and act as an advocate for the department. Because of the lack of food service options on campus, I also coordinate catering events on campus for both on and off campus groups. Last semester we did over sixty events with most of the production done by students as a means of learning and gaining work experience. I have also participated in three Study Abroad programs which I found to be an excellent way to forge deeper student (and faculty) connections as well as dive deeply into diverse food cultures.
Managing a busy vocational program has demands far beyond teaching a full load with a few committee responsibilities sprinkled in. Program recruitment at the high school level and in the community is important to getting the word out about our programs, as no one is required to take vocational programs like they would general education classes. Developing and maintaining relationships with transfer institutions is critical to the degree pathway for students who aspire to go beyond a certificate or AS degree. Internship sites have to be continually found and vetted. Culinary classes demand perishable products which require near daily purchasing. Equipment and labs need equipment and supplies, and have maintenance and service requirements. The sanitation and safety of the labs must be maintained at all times. Adjunct instructors need guidance and mentoring. Classes have to be scheduled and staffed at times conducive to students’ availability. Advisory boards must be established and maintained. Curriculum must be developed, amended, and supported. Students need guidance. Because my Division had so many disparate programs (12+) under one roof, vocational Department chairs have far greater responsibilities than others. So, let me mention that this is an unbelievably rewarding position because we help students develop the skills that get them employment (or promotions) in their chosen field and that our students are well represented among the best of our region’s restaurants, hotels, caterers, care facilities and hospitals. Skills pay bills!
There is a greater role for the Culinary Arts, Nutrition and Hospitality Management Department on campus. Our function is to develop students’ skills and provide valuable work experiences so that students can find employment, promotion or transfer. What better way to accomplish that than by taking a broader campus responsibility in what has become the blueprint for the future of food service? Our college can be a leader in developing local, sustainable, seasonal food service operations that advance students’ experience and at the same time benefit the campus. Anyone up for changing the plantings on campus to a more bee and butterfly supporting (on-campus apiaries?), food producing alternative (vertical, planter and rooftop gardens?) with a commitment towards waste reduction and lower cost, healthful, delicious dining alternatives for students and staff? Support this alternative to the current (failed) option and you will support students and “my” department.
Anyone up for changing the plantings on campus to a more bee and butterfly supporting (on-campus apiaries?), food producing alternative (vertical, planter and rooftop gardens?) with a commitment towards waste reduction and lower cost, healthful, delicious dining alternatives for students and staff? Support this alternative to the current (failed) option and you will support students and “my” department.
I have enjoyed being a part of the GCC family for 13 years. For almost ten of those years, I was a professor of physiological psychology. Through the support of my division chair and the college’s Title V office, I was able to build and run the college’s psychophysiology lab where students used electrophysiological methods do to things like track wherever someone’s eyes are looking or they’d perform (and then debunk) the polygraph for lie detection. It was hands-on learning using a scientific research approach.
For over three years, I’ve been a manager in the Office of Research & Planning, focused on “institutional effectiveness”. That’s just a fancy term used in higher education which refers to the data-driven processes of strategic planning, program review, accreditation, and institutional research. Essentially, my job is to help college leaders and all departments use those processes to engage in evidence-based planning, decision-making, and actions for continuous improvement.
There is now a grant under our department’s purview. I wrote a grant that was awarded to GCC and this Innovation Grant implements some of Guided Pathways’ best practices like embedding counselors in meta majors, using technology to ensure students make informed decisions about their major and career, and creating equity-minded and student-centered professional development that staff, faculty, and administrators can access and complete online. Directing the work on this grant project has been the highlight of my career because it has allowed me to closely collaborate with folks from each employee group: classified staff, faculty, and administration. And, I am especially excited about the project’s strong support of, and partnership with, the Counseling department. This supportive connection between instruction and student services is a partnership for student success.
The Office of Research & Planning assists the college and all of its departments in ultimately helping students reach their educational and career goals. We help departments evaluate their own operations, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and make and implement their plans for improvement. Although this is often done using processes determined at the federal or state level, we want the college community to be assured that even when requirements come from outside agencies, department members are the experts in their area and therefore they will decide what to improve and how to do it.
Directing the work on this grant project has been the highlight of my career because it has allowed me to closely collaborate with folks from each employee group: classified staff, faculty, and administration.