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Distinguished 1963 Merritt Alumnus and Attorney to Speak and Sign Copies of his Memoir on April 9

21 March 2018

Robert L. Harris, who grew up in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, picking cotton and being educated in a one-room schoolhouse, is proud to have gotten his start to higher education at Merritt College, where he graduated in 1963. Mr. Harris will come back to visit his alma mater on Monday, April 9, at 11:30 a.m., in the Student Lounge where he will read from his new memoir, Goodbye, Arkadelphia, answer questions, and sign books for those who would like to purchase them.
From Merritt, Mr. Harris’s educational journey took him to SF State and then to UC Berkeley Law School, and he ended up landing his first job as an attorney at PG&E where he would spend the next 34 years until his retirement. His many accomplishments during his illustrious career were highlighted by an unprecedented invitation in 1985 to argue a case before the U.S. Supreme Court–and win!
Mr. Harris will read some of the fascinating details of his life from his new memoir, including his childhood in segregated Arkadelphia and his move to California, including his senior year at Oakland Tech (a 1961 graduate) and Merritt College (then located on Grove Street). He’ll also talk about  his years at PG&E and some of the important cases he handled, including the famous U.S. Supreme Court case.  Books will  be available to purchase and to be signed.
Don’t miss hearing from one of Merritt’s most distinguished alumni. The event is sponsored by the Office of Student Activities and Campus Life.

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See March 22 Flex Day Schedule, Including Classified BINGO

21 March 2018

Be sure to attend the Mid-Term Flex Day on Thursday, March 22,  which has a great line-up of activities planned by the Professional Development Committee, led by Thomas Renbarger. Please find the program details below. The one-day event begins with a Continental Breakfast starting at 8:15 a.m. and Classified BINGO–with prizes!– at 9 a.m. (to see if you know how much our Classified Staff does for the college!), followed by a welcome by President Burns and a variety of enlightening topics throughout the day.


Morning Schedule (Location R-110)

8:15 – 9:00 Continental Breakfast (Fresh and Natural Catering)


9:00 – 9:20 Classified Bingo (PDC)

Description: We’ll have a short activity in which attendees will play “classified bingo.”  We’ll call out names of classified staff with a brief description of what they do on campus.  The first person to complete a row of five names will win a prize, and the game may continue after this.  Classified staff present when their name is called will receive a Starbucks gift card, while supplies last.


9:20 – 9:35 President’s Welcome (Dr. Burns)



9:35 – 9:50 Janus vs. AFSCME Update (Sheila Metcalf-Tobin/PFT)

Description: PFT rep Sheila Metcalf-Tobin will give us an update on where the Janus vs. AFSCME case stands, how it impacts us at Merritt College, and what we can do to help strengthen the unions that represent so many of us.


9:50 – 10:20 The ILO Assessment Cycle: What Have We Learned? (Laura Forlin/SLOAC)

Description: We have completed three-year Institutional Learning Outcomes (ILO) assessment cycle, and now it is time to take stock of what we have learned and whether it would be worthwhile to reassess and refine our ILOs.


10:20 – 10:30 Break/Announcements


10:30 – 11:30 Introduction to ONEPeralta and Starfish (VC Siri Brown/VC Jason Cole)

Description:  During the Spring Convocation, Chancellor Laguerre shared two new technology projects that Peralta is now in the midst of implementing. The two projects are OnePeralta, an upgrade to our current PeopleSoft system designed to streamline and modernize the many administrative processes vital to proper function of our campuses, and Starfish, a student support software platform that includes education planning, degree audit, retention, and early alert toolsets.  Vice Chancellor Siri Brown and Vice Chancellor Jason Cole will provide an update on both projects.


11:30 – Noon  Are You Ready for a Health Emergency on Campus? (Health and Safety Committee)

Description: We hope the audience will walk away with five learning Objectives:

  1.    Recognize a Medical Emergency and Call 911
  2.   Assess the Scene for Safety and ask Bystanders “is Anybody Trained in First Aid or CPR?”

III.  Ask the Victim (if Conscious) “Can I help you?”—If unconscious then Consent is implied

  1.   Ascertain Help is on the way and reassure the victim help is on the way
  2.   Now you may help the victim as we talked about today in the presentation–Relevant to the accident or Injury and to your level of First Aid or CPR Training–until Paramedics Arrive


Afternoon Schedule

Noon – 1:00 Lunch (Marco Polo Catering, R-110)


1:00 – 2:00 Curriculum Review: Are We Teaching What Matters? (Facilitator: Nghiem Thai, R-110)

Description: Merritt College is implementing regular and systematic curriculum review in conjunction with the program review/annual program update cycle.  Join members of the Curriculum and Instructional Council to launch this vital process to ensure the quality and integrity of all active courses and programs at Merritt.  We will share a timeline, step-by-step instructions, evaluative tools, and training resources to assist department chairs, program directors, and faculty in this effort.


1:00 – 2:00 Crossing the OER Threshold (Facilitator Steve Pantell, Location L137)

Description: Attendees will hear about and learn from their peers’ experience in adopting OER materials for their class(es), including starting the adoption process, hurdles with solutions, tips to effective adoptions, and initial reactions from students using OER materials.   This is a practical, interactive workshop; attendees will leave with tools and suggestions to immediately implement OER materials in their class(es).   The workshop will also address the future of the OER movement at Merritt and in PCCD.


2:00 – 3:00 Risk management 101: Presentation and Ergonomic Tips for a safe workplace (Facilitator Royl Roberts, S213)

Description: The Risk Management Department will provide updates on contact information, and what to do if you or someone else is injured at work or on campus.  Helpful tips regarding navigating the Risk Management Website will be followed by an ergonomic presentation to help you feel better on the job.


2:00 – 3:00 Guided Pathways Book Discussion Workshop (Facilitator: Samantha Kessler, Welcome Center common area, R Building)

Description: The emerging Guided Pathways Group will be hosting a book review of Redesigning America’s Community Colleges: A Clearer Path to Student Success by Bailey, Jaggars, and Jenkins, and guided pathways discussion in an afternoon workshop on Flex Day Thursday March 22We will use the book as a guide to facilitate discussion not only about guided pathways, but about student success and ways to improve our programs and services. Please join us… even if you have only read one chapter of this book! After having attended a few Guided Pathways workshops, I can tell you that this book is beneficial for anyone – faculty, staff and administrator – working at Merritt College, as it will take the collaboration of all to improve student success and implement any kind of redesign or change.


3:00 – 4:00 Guided Pathways Proposal Workshop (Facilitator: VPI Lamb, L132)

Description: Merritt College needs your input for the upcoming Guided Pathways grant proposal!  The motivation behind developing the Guided Pathways framework is to facilitate student success by helping our students achieve their educational goals more efficiently.  The Guided Pathways task force is working on a proposal submission due on March 30th to help fund these efforts, but we’ll require input from all constituencies to make the proposal as strong as possible.




Filed under: news

Faculty: Learn How to Enhance Your Teaching Using Multimedia! Late-Start Class Starts March 26

21 March 2018

Are you curious about using multimedia to enhance your teaching? To learn more about creating dynamic podcasts, video lectures, or eye-catching text-based lectures, enroll in “EDT 5 Creating Multimedia for Online Classes.” In this course, you will explore best practices for transforming your content into media that will free up your time for more student-centered, active learning experiences. This course applies to online, hybrid, and face-to-face teaching.

Enroll now in the late-start Spring class, “Creating Multimedia for Online Class,” taught by Instructor Xavier Gomez, and learn all of that and more! March 26-May 6, EDT 5, Course #22154. 

For questions, contact the instructor at



About Xavier Gomez

I have been designing learning experiences since 2003, transitioning from the film industry as a camera assistant, to a “sensible” career in instructional design.

Throughout my career, I have designed instruction for both corporate and academic clients. In the corporate sphere, I designed training for companies such as Genentech, American Automobile Association (AAA), Cisco, Visa, and Symantec. In higher education, I’ve had the role of instructional designer at U.C. Berkeley and the University of San Francisco.

My current professional interests include instructional design and assessment practices, the convergence of learning and user experience design, and of course edutainment.

I received my Master of Arts in Education in Instructional Technologies from San Francisco State University in 2007, and I am currently enrolled in a doctoral program in Organization and Leadership at the University of San Francisco.



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17 Minutes of Silence at Merritt College

15 March 2018

Along with schools throughout the nation, more than 150 students, faculty, and staff at Merritt College were led by Art Instructor Sheila Metcalf-Tobin on March 14 in 17 minutes of silence in memory of the students who were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida and to show their support for new gun control laws.


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Get to Know Angela Khoo, Merritt’s New Transfer Center Counselor

11 March 2018

Angela Khoo likes to tell the story of the time when a nurse from Home Health Services, who was taking care of her 83-year-old mother, asked her to come over and help with translating. When Angela got to the house, the young male nurse instantly recognized her. He reminded her that in 2004 he was a 17-year-old international student from the Philippines with no direction and Angela had guided him through the process of getting into the nursing program. “I finally graduated in 2009,” he told her excitedly. “You’re the reason I’m a nurse today!”


It’s that kind of affirmation from students that has kept Angela in her role as a successful and popular counselor in the Peralta system for 16 years, from being an International Student Support Specialist at the District to serving as the athletics counselor at Merritt, and now in her new role as Transfer Center Counselor.


But what many people may not know is that this is Angela’s second successful career. Born and raised in Malaysia, she had just graduated from high when she was offered a marketing job with a big merchandising firm out of New York City.


“I was primarily chosen for my language skills,” says Angela, who speaks four languages, “but I soon became a successful fashion merchandiser and traveled around the world for my job visiting factories.  I was young and it was an exciting time and I learned a lot. But it was a ruthless business and I knew that without a college degree there would always be a ceiling that would prevent me from going further. I started getting the yearning to go back to school.”

She discovered that the College of Alameda offered a program in fashion merchandising and quickly enrolled in the Fall of 1989. She ended up doing so well because of her experience that she was encouraged to take business classes and ended up with a full scholarship to Golden Gate University to study international business. As part of her program, she took psychology classes which she enjoyed so much that she ended up staying at the University to get a master’s degree in counseling psychology. While in school, she needed to find a part-time job—and that began the start to her second career.


Angela applied for and landed a job at the Peralta Community College District as an International Student Support Specialist and was assigned to Vista College (now BCC) where she was instrumental in taking the international student population to a new level. Then, after seven years, she got another opportunity.


“Marty Zielke from Merritt called and asked me if I was interested in a counselor/coordinator position on Saturdays as part of a grant program, and I accepted,” she says. “During that period I really began to love Merritt and think of it as home—the culture, the people, how family-oriented it was—much different than the other colleges or the District. So when I was offered a full-time tenure track position as an athletics counselor, I jumped at the chance.” (See photo with Merritt track star Kemarley Brown, who went on to the 2016 Olympics, and with fellow counselor Marty Zielke).


Now, in her new position in the Transfer Center, she will focus on helping students succeed in continuing their education by bringing her years of counseling and her own experience to the table (including advising her own daughters, Amanda, 23, and Amelia, 21, who both go to Brown University in Rhode Island where she visits often).


“I want to provide students with the tools they need to transfer, while also making the best of their time at Merritt,” says Angela. “I plan to simplify the transfer process and prepare students both academically and mentally for their future by bringing schools to Merritt and offering year-round services and workshops. But I also want to share my own academic journey and encourage them and give them the confidence that they need to succeed. Because when students feel that you are genuine and they can trust you, they can start to see it for themselves.”

—Susan May

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Environmental Program Draws Students of All Ages to Make a Difference

11 March 2018

Fresh out of Skyline High School where he was active in the school’s Volunteer Club, Marquis Parker’s experience working with Friends of Sausal Creek on the restoration of the watershed changed his mind about his planned future as a computer scientist. “My volunteer work made me more aware and interested in environmental issues, so I decided to change my career path,” says Marquis, 18. “I enrolled at Merritt because I knew it had the best environmental program around, and I hope to transfer to UC Davis to major in ecology.

At age 54, Eugene Casey had done all he could in his 25+-year career in the equipment supply business and wanted to find a new career he would enjoy. With a love of nature from spending time on his family’s farm in Tuolumne, he began taking classes in Merritt’s Landscape Horticulture Program and subsequently in the Environmental Management and Technology Program. “I’ve been watching the changes to our environment through the years, and I wanted to get into a hands-on profession where I can make a difference,” says Eugene. “The classes have been great. There is just amazing energy among the students and faculty. “


Despite the age difference, Marquis and Eugene are both working toward the same goal in this spring’s “Sustainable Environmental Systems” class taught by instructor and community environmental planner David Ralston, who was excited—but not surprised—to have a record number of students of all ages in his class.


“These days we are all bombarded with news about sustainability issues and climate change, and it can be overwhelming and leave people cynical about the state of affairs,” says David, who co-teaches the course with Beth Teper. “This class puts a unique focus on positive action they can take to help retain the sense of hope. It’s not just about a book or a lab, but they learn the core concepts of sustainability and find out about hands-on, experiential projects in their own city that they can work on to make a difference. So it’s pretty powerful.”


Branwyn Bigglestone, 44, agrees and says the class has opened her eyes to opportunities she had never thought of. Originally enrolled in the class to fulfill the science requirement she needed to complete the SF State degree she started in the ‘90s, Branwyn enjoys the flow of the class, the location in the Oakland hills, and the field trips to see what can be done to help her hometown.  I learn much better when there is interaction and activity and I can be engaged,” she says. “The Merritt campus is beautiful—we meet up the hill at the program’s Self-Reliant House and spend a lot of time learning outdoors and going on field trips to learn about projects like the restoration of the San Leandro Creek through Oakland.”


Growing up in a traditional Mexican family, Jessica Padilla, 20, was never made aware of environmental issues and is happy to be learning all she can in this class. “In my culture we don’t often talk about those kinds of things,” says Jessica, who is president of Merritt’s Puente Club, which is geared toward the successful transfer of Latino students. “But as the first generation to go to college, I really value learning about these important issues from such a knowledgeable instructor. I’m hoping to incorporate some of what I’ve learned into Puente activities to educate others.”


The Environmental Management & Technology Program offers three certificate programsFundamentals of Environmental Management, Greening the Urban Environment, and Urban Agroecology. For more detailed information go to  or contact Chair Laura Forlin at (510) 436-2418,

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Now They Are “Student Accessibility Services”: Different Name, Same Great Services!

11 March 2018

About a year ago, when the Disability Services Program staff were beginning to realize that students were hesitating to seek their services because of the stigma of the word “disability” in the title, they decided to do something about it.


“We surveyed our students and asked them what name they would prefer and gave them the option of coming up with their own,” says Frances Moy, SAS Coordinator.  “Then after taking into consideration their choices and our choices, we came up with Student Accessibility Services.  It was focused on ‘students’ and indicated that anything they needed was ‘accessible’ to them.”


Frances and her staff were amazed at the result. “The response was overwhelming by both the Merritt community and the students,” she says. “One student said she was excited to hear about the change because she had been hesitant to say she received disability services in front of the class or even to her instructor.”  Also, says Frances, the new name is the same as at Cal State East Bay and other colleges so it will be easy to find when students transfer.

Watch for the SAS pens and post-it note pads with the new name on it and also for the colorful new brochure available soon!

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Women’s Basketball Ends 2017-18 Season with 14-2 Conference Record!

11 March 2018

A big congratulations to the Lady T-Birds Basketball Team and Coach Armond Gray for their successful 2017-2018 season! The Lady T-Birds lost to Fresno City College in the play-offs last Saturday night ending an amazing 13-game winning streak. The team finished the season with a conference record of 14 wins and 2 losses and an overall record of 20 wins and 8 losses. Five sophomores will leave this spring and four of the five are being heavily recruited by universities. In spite of losing the five sophomores, the future looks bright as the Lady T- Birds return eight players from this year’s Bay Valley Conference Championship team.

“I would like to thank Merritt College President Dr. Burns, the administration, faculty, and staff for all of your support throughout the season,” says Coach Gray. “Our success was a group effort. Until next season, One Vision, One Mind, One Grind!”

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Read All the News in March Merritt Connection!

10 March 2018

Click HERE or on the newsletter below to find out what news is coming from the President’s Office, what class is attracting students to help keep Oakland green, what winning basketball team made Merritt proud, what popular counselor is in a new position to help students transfer, what new statewide effort is guiding students’ pathways, and what program changed its name for good reasons!

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Apply for ASMC Scholarships by 4/16

5 March 2018

Once again ASMC is generously offering scholarships for students to recognize their achievements and lead them to success. The forms for the scholarships are here or in the link below. They are for Financial Assistance,  Leadership, Single Parent, Athletics, Hardship/Challenge, Significant Improvement, scholarship in memory of former student leader Jeremiah Walker, and ASPIRA Project/Student Club Scholarhips (two scholarships). The scholarship amount for each is between $200 and $250. Apply now by filling in the application(s) and submitting the packet to Dr. Herbert Kitchen in R-124 by 4:30 p.m. on April 16, 2018.

Click HERE for all scholarship forms, details, and instructions. 



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