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November 12, 2003 

$1 Million Pledged Toward Construction of Permanent University Center

Three donors have given a significant boost to the capital campaign to build a permanent University Center, pledging a combined $1 million to the project and pushing the fundraising effort well beyond the halfway point.

The donations by The Newhall Land & Farming Co., the Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation ­operated by the Newhall family ­and an anonymous benefactor bring the total amount collected or pledged so far to a potential $6 million. About $10 million is needed to build the center, which will rise on the southwest corner of the campus.

Newhall Land will donate $250,000 to the construction of the permanent University Center, said Gary Cusumano, CEO and president of the company.

“An educational environment with access to advanced degrees and optimum technological resources is vital to individuals who want to stay competitive in today’s marketplace ­ this makes for better employees, better employment opportunities and ultimately better business,” Cusumano said. “Clearly, the University Center marks a major step in providing higher education to residents of our valley.”

The Newhall foundation, run by the family members descended from local pioneer Henry Mayo Newhall, pledged $50,000 per year over the next five years ­ provided the College of the Canyons Foundation raises an equal annual amount. The foundation, the college’s independent fundraising arm, is handling the center’s capital fundraising campaign.

“The Henry Mayo Newhall Foundation is proud to make one of the initial founding grants to the University Center,” said Tony Newhall, secretary of the foundation’s Board of Directors. “Normally our grants range from $5,000 to $10,000, but in this case we raised it significantly because of the University Center’s incredible value and potential contributions to higher education in the Santa Clarita Valley.”

The anonymous donation arrived with a check for $50,000 and a pledge for $200,000 more ­ provided the college’s foundation raises at least $250,000 by Dec. 31. If the college can raise that latter figure by the year-end deadline, the three pledges announced today will be worth $1 million.

“Completion of University Center is key to the Santa Clarita Valley’s future success and vitality, and I’m proud that Newhall Land and the Newhall Foundation recognized its importance and stepped up to the plate with their generosity,” said Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook, superintendent-president of College of the Canyons. “The anonymous donation, while generous, presents us with a challenge to step up our fundraising efforts to meet the Dec. 31 deadline. We will meet that challenge.”

University Center is an innovative concept in which students earn bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, as well as specialized certificates, right on the College of the Canyons campus. The idea is to eliminate long commutes to distant college campuses and provide convenient access to higher education by bringing the colleges and universities to the Santa Clarita Valley.

It is, in fact, much more than a concept. Although the permanent building hasn’t been built, University Center is already up and running in an interim facility. Two-hundred-eighty-seven people have earned degrees ­ most of them at the graduate level ­ in the interim facility’s first 18 months of operation.

“Nearly 300 people have earned their degrees right here­ without having to leave this valley or fight their way through congested freeway traffic,” said Kathleen Maloney, executive director of the COC Foundation. “That’s a strong indication of the critical demand and need for accessible higher education in this valley.

“It also indicates that many residents have been prohibited from pursuing their educational dreams because of the time constraints of commuting elsewhere,” Maloney said. “I believe that University Center is a concept whose time has come.”

Current partner institutions include Chapman University, University of La Verne, Woodbury University, California Lutheran University, English Language Schools, California State University Bakersfield, Cal State University Northridge and Cal State University Fresno. Discussions are under way with other institutions, as well.

The Interim University Center offers a wide assortment of degree programs, such as business administration, child development, communications, computer science, criminal justice, educational counseling, health administration, nursing, psychology and social sciences. More degree programs, especially those that have been in demand locally, will be launched as more universities join the consortium.

Heading the capital campaign are Tom Lee, retired CEO of Newhall Land, and Lou Garasi, chairman and CEO of Gruber Systems. Honorary chairman is U.S. Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, and chairman of the campaign’s Lead Gifts Committee is Dick Luechtefeld, senior vice president of investments for Morgan Stanley.

November 11, 2003

‘Universal Paths’ Converge at Fall Dance Concert

The Dance Department merges a variety of genres in the season’s fall dance concert entitled Universal Paths. The concert, scheduled to run December 5 and 6, examines through dance the common threads of experience that run through people’s lives.

In addition to pieces developed by College of the Canyons faculty, Universal Paths will also feature work by College of the Canyons students. Melia Foote's piece “Scene in Passing Cars, Mirrored in Windows, Remembered” is set to the haunting melodies of independent rock and explores the day-to-day bustle of the 9-to-5 world that is shared by many. Monique Guy’s presentation “Darkness (it is Sunday)” depicts an attempt to enjoy a Saturday night as much as possible, and the price that is paid the next morning. Michelle Ferris’ “Vengeance” is a brutally honest look at the cycle of love and despair between a man and a woman.

Universal Paths will run at 8 pm on Friday, Dec. 5 and Saturday, Dec. 6 in room 110 of the Physical Education building at College of the Canyons. Admission is free, although donations are accepted. Seating is limited, so reservations are necessary.

For more information, call the College of the Canyons Dance Department at (661) 362-3883.

November 9, 2003

Interim University Center Graduates Nearly 300 in First 18 Months

The Interim University Center’s educational institutions have granted degrees — most of them at the graduate level — to nearly 300 people during the center’s first year-and-a-half of operation, illustrating the critical need for access to higher education in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Two-hundred-eighty-seven people completed their studies during the period beginning in January 2002, when the interim center opened, and ending in June 2003, according to reports submitted by the center’s educational institutions.

In the first year, 140 students earned credentials, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, while 14 others completed language training at English Language Schools (ELS). In the last six months of the reporting period, 133 more students were awarded similar credentials and degrees.

The Interim University Center is a temporary facility housing dozens of educational programs offered by eight partner institutions until a permanent facility can be built. The idea is to eliminate long commutes to distant universities by bringing the universities here.

Partner institutions include ELS, Chapman University, University of La Verne, Woodbury University, California State University Bakersfield, California State University Northridge, California State University Fresno and California Lutheran University.

The data suggest that the number of graduates for the second year could easily surpass 200 students. Increasing enrollments, coupled with participating universities graduating their first students after the reporting period, indicate graduation numbers will continue to increase.

“But only to a point,” said Tom Orr, a staff member at the interim center. “The interim center has obviously met some immediate educational needs within the valley. But there’s little — if any — room in the current facility to grow.

“Construction of the permanent University Center is critical if we are to add new programs to meet those additional needs,” Orr said.

The majority of enrollments and graduations are at the graduate level through California State University Bakersfield and University of La Verne. Chapman University will report its first graduates in the next reporting period, and Cal State Northridge’s first cohort will complete its program during the July-December 2004 period.

Meanwhile, other public and private universities are being recruited to join the University Center partnership, particularly in anticipation of completion of the permanent center. Dr. Diana Watkins, the center’s interim director, continues to meet with potential partners to explore additional programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

November 7, 2003

Celebrate the Season with ‘Holiday Voices’

The Theatre Department once again celebrates the holiday season with its wholly original production, “Holiday Voices.” Written and produced entirely by College of the Canyons faculty, staff and students, “Holiday Voices” takes a journey through a variety of holiday stories, both joyous and sorrowful, as seen through the eyes and lives of a diverse cast.

“This year’s cast is very mature in terms of acting experience,” said Susan Hinshaw, the College of the Canyons Theatre Department chair. “They’ve simply been a pleasure to work with.”

“Home and Hearth” is the theme of this year’s production, and the search for belonging and understanding of one’s self resonates throughout the performance. Ever Fecske, who played Mary Magdalene in College of the Canyons’ recent production of “Jesus Christ, Superstar” and acted on FOX-TVs “Boston Public,” shares her experiences and understating of the meaning of Hanukah. Ashe Stevens, a CalArts graduate and College of the Canyons student, tells the story of his abandonment by and eventual reconnection with his father during Christmas, while two students, one half-Mexican, one half-black, portray their individual journeys toward a greater understanding cultures they hardly knew.

While many of the stories are tinged with sorrow, lively, upbeat songs and dance that “Holiday Voices” fans have grown to love are still present throughout the performance, as are children’s songs and stories.

“Holiday Voices” begins with an evening show at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 12. There are two showtimes on both Saturday, Dec. 13 and Sunday, Dec. 14: a matinee at 2 p.m. and an evening show at 7. All shows take place in room PE-110 at College of the Canyons. Ticket prices are $8 for general admission and $5 for students, seniors and children. Seating is limited, so reservations are suggested.

November 5, 2003

Get the Inside Scoop on Fundraising During Grant-Writing Seminar

Representatives of non-profits who would like to boost their organizations’ fundraising ability should plan to attend a unique grant-writing seminar at College of the Canyons on Monday, Nov. 17.

“Meet the Grant Makers” will do more than demonstrate the ins and outs of successful grant-writing­ it will allow participants to meet face-to-face with the people who authorize such financial awards. The free seminar is designed specifically for local non-profit organizations and higher-education institutions.

Discussion will focus on the criteria used by charitable foundations when deciding which organizations will receive their financial support.

The panel of grant-making experts will include Elisa Callow, program officer for the Ahmanson Foundation; Mark Eiduson, program director for the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation, and Adrienne Wittenberg, program officer for the S. Mark Taper Foundation. They will share their foundations’ funding priorities and grant-making guidelines, as well as participate in a question-and-answer session.

The seminar is scheduled 10 a.m. to noon in Room R-206 of the college’s library, 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road, Santa Clarita. A pre-seminar reception will be held at 9 a.m. Parking will be available in the college’s South Parking Lot.