2009 NEWS ARCHIVE​​​​​​​

Outdated releases stored for archival purposes only
JAN | FEB | MAR | APR | MAY | JUN | JUL | AUG | SEP | OCT​ | NOV | DEC​​​​​​​​​

November 22, 2009

Former Head Coach Lee Smelser Honored with Retirement Ceremony

This month the College of the Canyons men’s basketball team will retire jersey No. 1 in recognition of former longtime head coach Lee Smelser and his more than 30 years of service to the college.

The College of the Canyons Lee Smelser Jersey Retirement Ceremony will take place Saturday, December 27, prior to the team’s 7 p.m. tipoff with visiting Fullerton College in the Cougar’s first round game of the 20th Annual Cougar Holiday Classic basketball tournament.

As part of the celebration the COC Athletics Department invites all of Coach Smelser’s former players, staff members, friends and coaching colleagues to attend the ceremony.

“Coach Smelser is a man of integrity and someone that I have always admired as both a basketball coach and person.  I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work for and with him and am honored to participate in this ceremony,” said COC men’s basketball head coach Howard Fisher.
Simply put, the name Lee Smelser is synonymous with College of the Canyons basketball.

A member of the COC Athletic Hall of Fame’s 2005 inaugural class, Smelser built the college’s basketball program from the ground up—beginning with the college’s opening in 1969.

In the 31 consecutive years of coaching that followed, Smelser established a thriving, vibrant program that continues to be successful today.
During his tenure at COC, Smelser guided his teams to five conference championships (1977-78, 84-85, 90-91, 91-92 and 93-94) -- producing 73 All-Conference players along the way and earning Conference Coach of the Year honors four times.

Between the 1990-91 and 1993-94 seasons, Coach Smelser’s teams amassed an amazing 80-42 record en route to three consecutive Western State Conference championships.

After the 2000-01 campaign, Smelser retired as head coach of the men’s basketball team, having compiled a career record of 455-512. However, he continued to serve as an assistant on current head coach Howard Fisher’s team for two more seasons.

“His handprint is recognizable in our basketball program even today,” Fisher said. “The number of former players and coaches who remain in contact with Coach Smelser and still support the program speaks volumes about what he has meant to COC basketball and our community, as well as the influence he has had on me as a coach and a person.”

Smelser also worked in a number of other capacities during his 33 years at COC, serving as the college’s athletic director for five years and head golf coach for two seasons. In addition, Smelser launched the college’s softball team in 1984 and served as head coach through the 1985 season.
In 2002, Smelser was inducted into the California Community College Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

Admission to the 20th Annual Cougar Holiday Classic basketball tournament and Lee Smelser retirement ceremony is $5. Tickets can be purchased at the door on the night of the event. For more information please contact Howard Fisher at (661) 362-3201.​

November 20, 2009

College of the Canyons Orchestra Member Gives Back, Goes for Gold

In keeping with the Santa Clarita Valley Youth Orchestra (SCVYO) Foundation’s mission to help keep music education available to all students, one long-time student orchestra member has taken those efforts a step further by organizing a fundraising concert and instrument drive to benefit the

Newhall School District (NSD) music program.

As part of a Girl Scouts of the USA Gold Award project, COC Symphony of the Canyons violinist Shaira Bhanji, 18, has set up a musical instrument and equipment donation drive that will culminate with a benefit concert featuring the Symphony of the Canyons student orchestra.

“I knew that I wanted to base my Gold Award project on music in Santa Clarita because music has had such a profound impact on my life,” said Bhanji, a product of the NSD music program who originally began playing the violin as a fourth-grader at Peachland Elementary School. “I wanted to be able to share that impact with other children in our community.”

The concert will take place at 3 p.m., Saturday, December 5, at the Santa Clarita United Methodist Church located at 26640 Bouquet Canyon Road, in Santa Clarita.

Admission is $7 and tickets can be purchased at the door. All proceeds raised will be used to buy instruments and music equipment for students in the NSD music department.

In addition, community members interested in donating used instruments and/or musical equipment to the NSD music program -- including violins, clarinets, recorders, cellos and flutes, instrument cases, bows, shoulder rests, reeds, music books, rosin and music stands, etc. -- may drop off their donations on the day of the concert or contact Ms. Bhanji to make other arrangements.

“The Newhall School District music program is what made me fall in love with music,” said Bhanji. “If not for that program I may have never started to play the violin, and the many opportunities I’ve received since then would not have existed for me.”

Donations that are collected during the drive will be added to the NSD music program’s dwindling supply of instruments and circulated to students throughout the district as part of the program’s instrument loan system.

“We are thrilled to be a part of the Gold Award service project that Shaira has envisioned. In these times, more and more families are finding the cost of an instrument to be prohibitive,” said Tara Speiser, NSD instrumental music instructor. “This is a very benevolent gesture on Shaira’s part, and one that will have a lasting impression on the lives of many students.”

The Girl Scout Gold Award is the highest award that a Girl Scout aged 14 to 18 may attain. According to Girl Scouts USA, last year approximately 5,500 girls -- or about 5.4 percent of the eligible registered Girl Scouts in grades 10 through 12 -- received the Gold Award.

Described as being ‘what you really want to be remembered for’ in Girl Scouting, the leadership, organizational skills, sense of community and commitment that come from ‘going for the Gold’ often set the foundation for a lifetime of active citizenship.

“Being a Girl Scout has been an amazing experience,” said Bhanji, who has been a scout since kindergarten and has already received her Girl Scout Silver Award. “But I felt like my career in girl scouting would be incomplete if I didn’t receive a Gold Award. That’s why I wanted to tackle this project.

“Music opens an incredible amount of doors for a child. It opens their mind and their future,” added Bhanji. “A lack of instruments shouldn’t be the reason a child is deprived an opportunity that could change their life.”

The SCVYO Foundation is a non-profit organization that supports the three, student instrumental performing groups at College of the Canyons: the Prelude Strings, Intermediate Orchestra and the Symphony of the Canyons.

As one of the few orchestral music programs available to youth in the Los Angeles area, the SCVYO Foundation seeks to provide an instrumental music education program for students eight years old and above, regardless of ability to pay.

“We are proud of Shaira for the accomplished violinist she has become, the active role she plays in her community and the fine example she has set for other young musicians,” said Paul Sherman, director of the COC orchestras.

For community members unable to attend the Gold Award benefit concert the afternoon of December 5, the COC Symphony of the Canyons will also perform alongside the Canyons Prelude Strings and Intermediate Orchestra during the College of the Canyons music department’s Winter Spectacular concert at 7 p.m., Saturday, December 5, on the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center (PAC) main stage.

November 17, 2009

Ribbon-Cutting for Emerging Technologies Lab and Cleanroom

Subject: Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Time: 4 p.m., Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Place: College of the Canyons, Valencia Campus
Aliso Laboratory, Room 113
26455 Rockwell Canyon Road
Santa Clarita, CA 91355

Event: A ribbon cutting ceremony for the Emerging Technologies Instrumentation Laboratory and Cleanroom facilities at College of the Canyons.
The facilities contain state-of-the-art microscopes and measurement devices that have been provided by federal and state grants (the Department of Commerce and the California Community College Industry Driven Regional Collaborative.

The primary focus of these two grants is to provide instruction, workshops and hands-on training to prepare our students to seek career positions in industries and businesses that use nanoscience and nanotechnology products and processes. The college offered three new courses in the current semester and hopes to train approximately 300 students over the next eight years.

Students will be able to get hands-on experience with the tools of the trade, including a scanning electron microscope, atomic force microscope, inverted fluorescent microscope, an ellipsometer and profilometer, as well as clean room practices.

Programs are modified frequently and new courses are continually being developed to keep the program at the cutting-edge status.

Speaking at the ceremony will be Mr. Bruce Fortine, College of the Canyons Board of Trustees; Dr. Ram Manvi, Division Dean, Mathematics, Sciences and Engineering Technologies; and Dr. Barry Gribbons, Assistant Superintendent/Vice President, Institutional Development, Technology & Online Services.

A guest speaker, Ms. Nathalie Gossett, head of marketing and business development at USC’s Alfred Mann Institute will discuss “Nanotechnology for Biomedical as well as Biotechnology Inventions and Commercialization.

November 16, 2009

SBDC Named ‘Overall Highest Performer’

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) hosted by College of the Canyons was recently honored with three ‘highest achievement’ awards at the annual Los Angeles Regional SBDC Award and Recognition Dinner --including the organization’s prestigious ‘Overall Highest Performer’ award.
The awards ceremony, which was sponsored by the SBDC Lead Center at Long Beach City College and attended by members of the Los Angeles District Small Business Administration, recognized four categories of performance among the network of seven Southern California area SBDC locations.

The Overall Highest Performer award is given to the SBDC with the most significant results in helping clients achieve their economic milestones including: job creation, sales increases, capital infusion, new business startups and long term consulting engagements.

“I am honored to receive these awards on behalf of the 15 expert business advisors who accomplish so much for our small business clients. It’s gratifying to see their hard work and success recognized with these awards,” said Steve Tannehill, Director of the SBDC hosted by College of the Canyons.

In addition to being named the network’s ‘Overall Highest Performer,’ the SBDC at College of the Canyons was presented with both the ‘Highest Capital Infusion’ and ‘Highest Extended Engagement Clients’ awards.

“I also want to acknowledge the support we receive from College of the Canyons and the SBDC’s more than 18 local business and municipal sponsors,” added Tannehill. “This year with their support we were able to access increased amounts of matched federal funding, enabling us to deliver roughly 400 hours of additional consulting support to more than 60 additional businesses.”

The ‘Highest Capital Infusion’ award is given to the SBDC that helped clients obtain the largest amount of capital. In 2009, clients of the SBDC at College of the Canyons were able to secure roughly $5.7 million in debt and equity capital.

The ‘Highest Extended Engagement Clients’ award is given to the SBDC with the largest number of clients continuously engaged in long-term intensive consulting agreements with the center. In all, the SBDC at College of the Canyons served nearly 250 such clients in 2009.

“These awards validate our efforts to influence the economic development of our region by boosting job creation and business retention. Our ability to form partnerships, generate cash and in-kind support for our economic development initiatives continues to be a model throughout the state,” said COC Chancellor Dr. Dianne Van Hook. “Congratulations to director Steve Tannehill, SBDC assistant director Catherine Grooms and all the business advisors at the SBDC for their hard work on behalf of small businesses throughout northern Los Angeles County.”

The SBDC hosted by College of the Canyons was launched in January 2006 and serves the Santa Clarita, Antelope Valley, and San Fernando Valleys. SBDC business advisors assist prospective and existing small business owners start, retain or expand their businesses by providing workshops, free one-on-one consulting, and many other resources to the business community. 

The SBDC hosted by College of the Canyons is part of a network of seven Small Business Development Centers serving businesses from Santa Barbara County, Ventura County and Los Angeles County.

Earlier this year the SBDC moved its offices into the new state-of-the-art Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center, located on the college’s Valencia campus, in order to provide clients with a broader range of training and counseling facilities.

“The combination of consulting expertise, housed at a college committed to economic development and funded by the federal, state and local sponsors found at our SBDC is proving a powerful resource for small businesses in Northern Los Angeles County,” added Tannehill. “We look forward to growing our program and providing even higher levels of support in 2010.”

November 4, 2009

Art Gallery Exhibition Takes Visitors 'Beyond the Image'

In late November, the College of the Canyons Art Gallery will present the exhibition ‘Beyond The Image,’ featuring a diverse sampling of work from some of the best young artists and illustrators working in California today.

“This is work that engages you, causes you to stop and investigate,” said Larry Hurst, COC Art Gallery director. “You will no doubt see work that you like, as well as work that disturbs you, styles you relate to and others that you don’t, but all the work will be provocative.”

Scheduled to run Monday November 23, through December 11, the exhibition -- which is being presented in partnership with Black Maria Gallery in Glendale, California -- will include a variety of different illustrative media and styles representing each artist’s diverse artistic vision.

Dedicated to non-mainstream art, Black Maria Gallery focuses on works that reverberate with the shock of the new in a way that initiates wonderment and self-reflection. Owners Sam Saghatelyan and Zara Zeitountsian operate the gallery with the belief that thought-provoking art has a hugely important place in civic and social discourse, especially in these times.

“This exhibition represents some of the freshest work emerging from the Southern California art world. The styles and mediums of the work on display will vary widely, creating a wonderful visual excitement,” said Mercedes McDonald, COC art instructor, professional illustrator and curator of the exhibition. “‘Beyond The Image’ will provide a glimpse into a genre of art that is both thought-provoking and approachable.”

A special ‘Beyond The Image’ artists’ reception will take place at the COC art gallery from noon to 3 p.m., Saturday, December 5, 2009.

All gallery exhibitions and related events are free and open to the public.

“This is an exciting time at the gallery and everyone is invited to join the dialog,” said Hurst.

The COC Art Gallery is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visitors unable to visit the gallery during these hours are welcome to call (661) 362-3612 to make a viewing appointment.

For more information regarding the COC Art Gallery, please visit the college website.

November 4, 2009

Deadline Nears for New Works Festival Submissions

College of the Canyons is looking for new and original play scripts for the 10th annual New Works Festival (NWF). Sponsored by the college’s theatre and English departments, the festival will accept all forms of work for consideration -- including monologues, scenes, 10-minute plays, single acts and full-length two-act plays.

The deadline for writers to submit their work for consideration is 7 p.m., Wednesday, November 11, 2009. Works that are selected will be produced and put on stage during the spring 2010 semester.

All submissions must be previously unproduced, unpublished, and solely the original work of the playwright. Adaptations will not be accepted. All musical pieces must be accompanied by waivers from all associated creators. There are no content restrictions, however, consideration is given to pieces that are reasonably producible.

Organizers are hoping that local playwrights will roll up their sleeves, dust off their manuscripts and give their ideas and inspirations a chance to be seen.

“It is an exciting process to watch a script transform over the course of the semester,” said David Stears, NWF director. “Everything is new. It’s the first time reading it, the first time actors have it, and the first time an audience sees it. It’s a very enlightening process for a writer to participate in.”
The NWF is growing in reputation and esteem with submissions last year coming from as far away as New York. Currently, “Waccademia,” written by Joe Camhi and work-shopped with the festival over the last three years, is receiving its world premier in Los Angeles. Dean Stewart, an NWF alumnus has received accolades from Writer’s Digest for his plays “Bookish” (NWF ‘08) and “Raincheck” (NWF ‘09).

The NWF is unique in that it is a workshop experience focusing on the writer’s work. Many festivals take work as finished and present them. The NWF helps bring the writers and their work to the next level.

November 4, 2009

Presentation to Focus on New Hope in Fight Against Cancer

In 2010, it is estimated that cancer will take over as the leading cause of death in the United States, surpassing heart disease for the first time in 40 years.

This year alone, the American Cancer Society predicts 1.4 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed nationwide -- while close to 565,000 Americans will lose their battle with cancer.

Overall, the lifetime risk of developing cancer is estimated at 1:2 for American men and 1:3 for American women.

With a goal to inform audiences about cancer and cancer treatments, while providing a sense of hope for the future of such treatments, the College of the Canyons scholarly presentation “New Hope in the 40 Year Fight Against Cancer” will take place 7 p.m., Wednesday November 11, on the main stage of the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center (PAC) at College of the Canyons.

Based on findings and experiences gained from completing a cancer research fellowship at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), as well as academic research performed while enrolled in the Molecular and Cellular Biology doctoral program at the University of Washington, the scholarly presentation by College of the Canyons Biology instructor Dr. Kelly Cude is also aimed at alleviating fears associated with the disease.

“A lot of people panic when they first receive a cancer diagnosis because they don’t have a biological understanding of the disease and thus aren’t familiar with the many treatment options available to them,” Cude said. “While I will address the biological basis of cancer and its treatments in my presentation, my main goal is to instill a sense of hope and empowerment in the audience.

“Hopefully, they’ll leave with enough knowledge about the disease that panic will no longer be their first response,” added Cude.

In her presentation, Cude will guide the audience through the process of one renegade cell transforming into an unregulated growth (tumor), while explaining the biological differences between healthy and cancerous cells and covering the wide range of past and current cancer treatments and their shortcomings.

The presentation will conclude with an overview of new cancer treatments, therapies, and medications on the horizon that may present beneficial alternatives to traditional treatment approaches by limiting the damaging side effects of standard chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

“Because this disease is so prevalent people really need to understand what they’re up against. There’s nothing worse for a person than feeling like they’re not in control of their own body,” said Cude. “Being knowledgeable gives people the ability to ask their doctors the right questions and stay informed about their health. It helps them feel more in control.”

Dr. Cude joined the College of the Canyons Biology department in 2007 and has taught a multitude of courses ranging from general biology to molecular genetics and cancer biology.

She holds a Bachelor of Science in Genetics from University of California at Davis, and was awarded a fellowship in cancer research at the NCI in Washington D.C.

While at NCI, Cude researched underlying molecular and genetic causes of cancer and evaluated patients undergoing clinical trials for newly developed cancer therapies.

Following her stint at NCI, Cude enrolled in the Molecular and Cellular Biology doctoral program at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she spent the next five years researching the molecular mechanisms of cell division and evasion of cell death in cancer cells, receiving a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology in 2004.

The scholarly presentation “New Hope in the 40 Year Fight Against Cancer” is being presented by the College of the Canyons Foundation.

Admission to the scholarly presentation is free, however seating may be limited and guests are encouraged to RSVP. A pre-presentation reception including refreshments will be held in the PAC lobby beginning at 6 p.m. The reception is sponsored by the Santa Clarita Community College District Board of Trustees.

For more information about the College of the Canyons Scholarly Presentation “New Hope in the 40 Year Fight Against Cancer” or to RSVP please contact the College of the Canyons Foundation at (661) 362-3737.