September 22, 2014 by University of La Verne

DVLVBill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times paid a visit to the University of La Verne on Saturday, September 20, 2014 to capture the essence of a football game not surrounded by shallow hype or judged by the score, but that is all about the journey of the student athlete. Chronicling the Leopards’ first football game of the season, Plaschke spent the afternoon meeting the players, their families and gaining an insight into the tight-knit, supportive community that is La Verne.

Read story here: Getting a taste of football at its purest

September 19, 2014 by University of La Verne

From left, University of La Verne students Tyler Harrison, Chantal Silva, Ebony Williams and Marilyn Mejia, first place winners in the Alliance for Community Media’s national Hometown Media Awards.

Several University of La Verne student filmmakers got a taste of the A-list during recent ceremonies honoring college and high school students in movie and documentary production.

Marilyn Mejia, and her crew of Ebony Williams, Tyler Harrison and Chantal Silva took home first place for best student documentary through the Alliance for Community Media’s national Hometown Media Awards in August. Their film profiled Jim Brown and his family, who own the business, J.Brown Violin Maker in Claremont.

More students earned awards at the 3rd annual San Bernardino Valley College Film Festival in May, said Don Pollock, communications professor.

Following are students who received awards:

From left, Chris Mitzel, Spencer Bruno and Alex Clague, took home awards at the San Bernardino Valley College Film Festival.

From left, Chris Mitzel, Spencer Bruno and Alex Clague, took home awards at the San Bernardino Valley College Film Festival.

- Alexander Clague for his dramedy short, “Sugar and Love”, shot at Hillcrest Homes in La Verne with Hillcrest residents in the starring roles (Best Crime/Drama)

- Chelsea Stark-Jones for her senior project, documentary short “Enjoying the Journey,” about the University of La Verne men’s baseball team (Best News/Reality)

- Delanie Pacheco for her documentary short “The Road to Recovery” on the rehabilitation of an injured athlete on the University of La Verne women’s volleyball team (Best Editing)

- Jetske Wauran’s “Mary Cotter: 100 Years,” about a 100-year-old volunteer at the Montclair Senior Center (Best Cinematography).

Students won prizes including a Sony video camera and AVID video-editing software.

September 12, 2014 by University of La Verne

The 15-year-old boy in Angela Haick’s juvenile hall class in San Jose had an S-shaped scar running down his cheek from a brutal attack by rival gang members. It was a mark that filled him with hate, and his violent history left him feeling little hope for the future.

A year later, the boy had graduated high school and completed one and a half years of community college classes. He dreams of one day being a probation officer or a teacher, so he can follow the same path of the role models who helped turn his life around.

“They made him see that there were more options in his life than the ones he was exposed to,” Haick said.AngelaHaick2

The success story is one of many that Haick, a University of La Verne graduate, has played a part in during her career in education. Her journey has taken her from the classroom to administrative positions throughout the state, a path she says has helped her gain the skill set necessary to become superintendent of the Penn Valley Union Elementary School District.

She began her new job in August.

But it was a move that almost didn’t happen.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1987 from San Diego State University and a master’s in educational leadership in 1992 from National University, she didn’t think she had the ability to take her education to the next level.

“I didn’t think I was smart enough to do it,” she said.

Raising two small children as a single mother,  and working a job as an assistant principal at the Murrieta Unified School District at the time, Haick did not think she had the time either. Family members, along with a lot of motivation from La Verne faculty and alumni, helped. She entered the Doctor of Education program, completing it in 2003.

Haick credits La Verne alumna and former La Verne faculty member, Lou Obermeyer, and Dr. Jonathan Greenberg, adjunct instructor in organizational leadership, to convincing her to pursue her doctorate.

“Both of them insisted that I could do this,” she said.

Since then, she has worked as an elementary school principal for the Jurupa Unified School District, Oakland Unified School District, and principal at Osborne Juvenile Hall in Santa Clara County.

During her career, she has survived cancer, divorce and the challenges of being an openly-gay single parent.

“She has overcome much adversity in her life. She is brave and courageous. I’m proud of her,” said University of La Verne professor Dr. Thomas Harvey, one of Haick’s instructors.

Haick’s varied experiences in urban and rural school districts, along with her forward thinking and compassion make her the perfect person to serve as a school superintendent, said Dr. Nancy Fischer, a retired human resources administrator who also received her doctorate from La Verne.

“Most importantly, she has a gift for understanding and nurturing the needs of all children,” Fischer said.

In her new position, Haick oversees a district that has 700 students in four schools. Penn Valley is a Northern California community northeast of Sacramento.

And even though she has taken the helm of a small school district, she has big plans.

She believes the self-doubt she overcame to return to school is a lesson she can instill in her students. Haick hopes she can teach them to discover their potential, and that their lives can be different one day.

Haick wants to eventually work on a college dissertation committee and teach in higher education.

La Verne’s emphasis on community engagement is another element she plans to bring to her new role as superintendent.

Haick wants to join Penn Valley’s Rotary Club. When she attended a meeting Sept. 9, she received a pleasant reminder of where she came from.

Longtime La Verne philanthropist, former Board of Trustees member and chancellor, Richard Landis, who lives in the Penn Valley area, heard about Haick’s new job and her alma mater. Landis, a member of the area’s Rotary Club, sought her out.

“When he learned that I was a ULV grad, he was just tickled pink,” she said.

September 12, 2014 by University of La Verne

The University of La Verne is celebrating National Hispanic Serving Institutions Week Sept. 14-20, which coincides with Hispanic Heritage Month. The week includes a variety of activities meant to promote discussion and expression about Hispanic culture and heritage. Hispanic Serving Institutions are accredited colleges and universities that have a Hispanic enrollment of at least 25 percent. Social media content can be accompanied by the hashtag phrase “#hsiweek.”

What: National Hispanic Serving Institutions Week

When: Students wanting to express their heritage and culture artistically may use the graffiti boards at Sneaky Park from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday Sept. 14-20. The campus “Question Board” will be available at Campus Center near the first floor information desk. From 4:30 to 6 p.m. Monday, there will be a general focus group to share views in the Presidents Dining Room.

Why: The designation allows the University to access funding and resources to serve the needs of all students. The program is part of an effort by the federal government to provide assistance to colleges and universities serving traditionally underrepresented groups.

Information: Beatriz Gonzalez,, 909-448-4512 or Marisol Morales,, 909-448-4651.

September 12, 2014 by University of La Verne

An international organization plans to award University of La Verne Campus Safety Director Stan Skipworth this month for initiatives that have improved safety at the institution, and sharing his knowledge with other colleges and universities.

Skipworth will receive the World Safety Organization Educational Award during a ceremony Sept. 29 in Denver, Colo. Skipworth has also been invited as a speaker during the symposium.

The award is given annually to institutions, companies, training entities and individuals for implementing programs that contribute to the protection of people, property, resources and the environment, according to the organization.

Skipworth said he received the award for programs he and the Campus Safety Department have created in the last 1 ½ years. These include extra training for officers, increased security cameras and programs that encourage the campus community to play a role in safety.

He said campus safety divisions from other Southern California institutions have come to La Verne to learn more about its programs.

September 12, 2014 by University of La Verne

Carrie Swidecki’s 76-hour dance gaming marathon in July generated national publicity and awareness for childhood obesity. The feat also earned her two Guinness World Records.

Now both records are featured in the 60th anniversary edition Guinness World Records book, released Thursday.

“I love being a world record holder, because I directly see the impact my actions have on my community,” Swidecki wrote on her website. “Every time I set a world record, it opens the door for more schools to include exergaming in their physical education programs as a way to fight childhood obesity.”

Swidecki, who obtained her teaching credential from University of La Verne’s Kern County campus, teaches second grade at Sandrini Elementary School in Bakersfield and has obtained grants to incorporate “exergaming” into after-school programs at Sandrini.

The records featured in the latest Guinness edition are for the “Longest Marathon on a Motion-Sensing Dance Game” and the “Longest Marathon on a Dance/Rhythm Game.”

University of La Verne President Devorah Lieberman applauded her latest world records.

“Carrie Swidecki’s accomplishments are nothing short of extraordinary,” Lieberman said. “Not only is she living proof that great things come to those who celebrate physical fitness, but she is a true role model for us all in her pursuit toward ending childhood obesity. She is a University of La Verne alumna who truly represents our core values and is making a worldwide impact. We are proud of her.”

La Verne’s Kern County Campus Director, Nora Dominguez, also expressed pride in Swidecki’s achievements.

“Carrie is not only academically influencing elementary school children. She is changing their course in life by modeling and teaching them to take control of their health while having fun,” Dominguez said.

Swidecki has set several other Guinness World Records for playing “Dance Dance Revolution,” “Dance Central 2” and “Just Dance.”

It was a journey that began in 2000 when she walked past her favorite donut shop and entered an arcade where she tried “Dance Dance Revolution.” She was 210 pounds then. Swidecki has dropped 75 pounds since she began exergaming.

“I dedicate every world record to bringing awareness to using exergaming in the schools to fight childhood obesity and inspire adults to get fit,” she wrote.

September 11, 2014 by University of La Verne

James Galindo is a single father who works with local and national businesses as an account executive for KGET in Bakersfield, a station that serves nearly half a million people. That keeps him busy enough.

But now he is taking on a new challenge: pursuing a Master of Business Administration at the University of La Verne.

The stakes are high, because he plans to be the first person in his family to receive a master’s degree. And that is saying a lot. His father has 10 sisters and brothers.

“I want to kind of set the bar for our family for education,” Galindo said.

He is receiving some tuition assistance after being awarded a scholarship from the Kern County Broadcasters Association.

Teresa Burgess, who is with the association and vice president of KBAK and KBFX, praised Galindo’s motivation to further his career.

“The Kern County Broadcasters are pleased to be able to encourage the goal of higher education in a broad variety of studies,” Burgess said.

Galindo traces his interest in the television business back to childhood memories of listening to his father play blues guitar. His love of music blossomed when he took up the drums, playing in bands in both high school and college.

Music soon pointed him toward working for radio stations, and eventually television, where he worked his way up at KGET. The station’s parent company also owns Bakersfield’s Telemundo station, which plays a large role in how he does his job because the city has one of the largest Latino populations in the nation.

That means he works closely with businesses so they can adapt their marketing efforts to target the Latino community.

Galindo received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from La Verne in 2010. He decided to take his education a step further, so he can eventually move to a station with a larger market share. KGET’s market share ranking is 126 – considered small to medium, he said. In comparison, stations in New York are ranked No. 1.

Galindo’s goal is to reach a top 50 market in the next five to 10 years. It will not be easy.

“It’s really competitive in our field to get to the top station,” he said.

Galindo has enrolled in the MBA program at La Verne’s Kern County regional campus and hopes to complete the program in two years while continuing his job.

He chose La Verne for his undergraduate and master’s degrees because the teachers have experience in the industry they are teaching.

So when is he planning to take a shot at the big time? He says it will happen soon after another family member goes off to college: his daughter.

“I love what I do and La Verne was definitely a tool to help me get to where I’m at, and when I graduate, it’s going to help me get to my next goal,” he said.

September 11, 2014 by University of La Verne

The Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences plans to publish in November a manuscript co-authored by University of La Verne Psychology Department Chair Dr. Glenn Gamst on acculturation and marginality among Latin Americans.

The study, called “Confirmatory Factor Analysis of the Acculturation Rating Scale – II Scale 2: The Case for Measurement of Marginality,” was also conducted by California State University, Sacramento psychology professor, Lawrence S. Meyers.

“The reviewers of your manuscript provided me with a unanimous recommendation to accept the manuscript as is with no suggested revisions,” wrote Journal Editor Amado M. Padilla in an e-mail to Gamst. “After my study of your paper I am in complete support of the readers’ recommendation. “

It is rare for the publication to take a manuscript without changes, Padilla added.

“We are pleased that the two reviewers and the journal editor accepted the manuscript without further revisions,” Gamst said.

The study examined two scales that measure Latino and Latina marginality, such as feelings of alienation from both mainstream white American and Latino and Latina American culture, Gamst said.

Part of the study included a questionnaire completed by 199 clients, along with parents or caregivers of clients, at Tri-City Mental Health Center in Pomona. The surveys, provided in both English and Spanish, included basic demographic and descriptive information about the participant, as well as information to assess their cultural background.

The Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences publishes scholarly articles on new developments in behavioral research, such as cultural assimilation, communication barriers and family dynamics, according to organization’s website.

September 8, 2014 by University of La Verne

Just as all journeys begin with a first step, the start of a new school year at the University of La Verne officially gets underway when the campus community gathers for Convocation.

Franz Athletic Court inside the Sports Science & Athletic Pavilion served as host site for the assemblage of students, faculty, staff, administrators, trustees and family members, all drawn together to mark the beginning of La Verne’s 124th academic year. The anticipation and excitement that accompanies the first week of a new semester flared with the tolling of the university’s spirit bell in Johnson Family Plaza, energizing the atmosphere within the pavilion as the new students processed into the gym, just ahead of the La Verne faculty and leadership dressed in full academic regalia.

Provost Jonathan Reed, who served as the program’s master of ceremonies, explained how convocation is a bookend to commencement, with both honoring students and featuring faculty.

“The focal point of convocation and the foundation of the La Verne Experience is the faculty/student relationship,” said Reed.
The keynote speakers used the opportunity to challenge the students to take an active role in their education. To look beyond and, in so doing, enhance their lives, their careers and their society.University of La Verne Convocation on August 28, 2014.

Dr. Megan Grandquist, associate professor of kinesiology and the 2014 recipient of La Verne’s Excellence in Teaching Award for undergraduate studies, began with the figure 1,440 – the number of minutes in each day – as a singular point of reference.

“Accounting for our much-needed sleep, that still leaves us with nearly 1,000 waking minutes. So I ask you, how are you going to spend your 1,000 minutes today? How are you going to spend your 1,000 minutes tomorrow? And the next day?” she queried. “I challenge you to move. Move your body as effectively as you are able. Move your mind in learning and thought. And move in service to others.”

As the first in her family to attend college, Dr. Deborah Olson explained how “in 1977 I was sitting in your seat. I remember I had a lot of questions. And even if you are not a first-generation student, you probably have many questions as well.”

Olson, professor of management & leadership and the university’s graduate studies Excellence in Teaching Award winner for 2014, used the phrase Remember to take care of your future self as she offered her counsel. She touched on time management, stress, and relationships as being important factors requiring attention. And she spoke of an occasion when, as an undergraduate, one of her professors recommended that she think about a career in organizational psychology.

“We didn’t have an organizational psychologist in our department, and I had never heard of that,” said Olson. “He gave me ideas and information I had never thought of.”

“If each one of us makes choices today to be happy by how we manage our time, our stress and our relationships, together we will be even better,” she added. “Make your future self happy.”

In her community message, University President Dr. Devorah Lieberman opened by welcoming all and recognizing the five Trustees present as well as the parents and family members of first-year students attending the ceremony.

She then relayed the words of the late comedian, Robin Williams, who said no matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.

“From convocation to commencement, words, values and ideas are interwoven throughout your La Verne experience,” said Lieberman. “As we begin this new academic year, I challenge each one of you to ask yourselves the following two questions: What do I personally want to receive from my community this academic year, and what do I want to contribute to my community – this campus, your university – this year?”

“This,” she added, “is the year for each of us to change the world and achieve more than we ever imagined.”
New La Verne students were then invited to stand and, led by ASULV President David Asbra, recited the new student honor pledge.
The singing of the alma mater and the ringing of the spirit bell served to close the official program, with all gathered invited to take the next step in this year’s academic journey: adjourn to nearby Sneaky Park to enjoy the annual All-Campus picnic.

September 8, 2014 by University of La Verne

Darkness and corruption run rampant as a coastal Argentine resort town awaits the annual tourist season.

It is the premise for the novel Gesell Dome, a book that former University of La Verne Spanish professor Andrea Labinger saw in the hands of many locals when she explored Buenos Aires in 2012.

“All the people were carrying it around and talking about it,” Labinger said.AndreaLabinger

That widespread interest caught her attention. And once she read the book, the longtime book translator knew it would be her next project.

Labinger, who retired from La Verne in 2008 after 27 years, received a PEN/Heim translation grant in mid August to bring the Guillermo Saccomanno novel to English readers.

It is the 17th Spanish-to-English translation project she has undertaken.

“For me it’s a huge honor,” Labinger said of being a fund recipient.

Labinger says the project presents numerous challenges, primarily because of its length at more than 500 pages and because it is filled with Argentine slang, known as “lunfardo.”

It prompted Labinger to call on a fellow author in Argentina for assistance to understand the nuances of certain expressions. She ran into similar difficulties while translating the Cuban novel The Island of Eternal Love by Daína Chaviano.

A word from that book – “chivichanas,” a palm-frond toboggan used by children to slide down sand dunes – had no exact translation because it is a regional term.

Gesell Dome also contains gritty, controversial content. The town is teeming with criminals, political corruption and sexual abuse of children. The racial tension against immigrating Bolivians results in a Bolivian baby being burned to death, Labinger said.

Saccomanno claims many of these events, though fictionalized, actually occurred in the town, and that elements of greed, corruption, racism and violence are also common in other Argentine communities. Labinger was intrigued with the content since Saccomanno resides in Villa Gesell, and to write in detail about moral turpitude in your own back yard takes bravery.

Because of Labinger’s respect for the work she translates, and her creativity, she has seen success with her projects.

She made the list of World Literature Today’s “75 Notable Translations of the Year” and is a three-time finalist for the PEN USA, according to

La Verne Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Al Clark described his former colleague as an excellent scholar, translator and teacher. Clark said he learned much from Labinger when they co-taught an honors course for two years.

“I have read numerous translations by Andrea, and they have all been captivating in both style and intelligence,” Clark said.