July 23, 2014 by University of La Verne

It’s a boon for entrepreneurs and a boost for economic growth.

The University of La Verne is set to open a Small Business Development Center on Aug. 6, offering the East San Gabriel Valley free business consulting, as well as low-cost seminars and conferences. The U.S. Small Business Administration and Long Beach Community College District partnered with La Verne to make the project a reality.

“Supporting our local small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs is our main goal,” said University President Devorah Lieberman. “We are thrilled to host the SBDC program because it aligns perfectly with our core values.”

Dr. Abe Helou, Dean of the College of Business and Public Management, dreamed up the idea as a way to support the business community, said Sean Snider, center director.

“The SBDC program is built on the concept of combining the resources of institutions of higher learning and government to assist small businesses,” Snider said.

The site will be a part of the Los Angeles Regional SBDC Network, serving businesses in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. La Verne’s center will serve business owners living or working in cities such as Pomona, West Covina, Diamond Bar, Claremont, San Dimas, La Verne, Industry and Hacienda Heights. But it’s also open to small businesses and entrepreneurs in surrounding cities as well.

The University will host an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. to formally introduce the program and its services to the community. The center will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information on the University of La Verne SBDC or to RSVP for the open house, visit www.lavernesbdc.org, or call, (909) 448-1556.

July 23, 2014 by University of La Verne

A University of La Verne alumnus received an award in June from a national anti-hunger organization for feeding 10,000 students breakfast every morning.

Dr. Robert Lewis, who heads the nutrition services department for the El Monte City School District, was awarded the “No Kid Hungry Breakfast Champion Award” from Share Our Strength. It’s an organization founded in 1984 in response to Ethiopian famine.

From left, Dr. Robert Blake, Melissa d'Arabian and Lorena Quezada pose with Blake's "No Kid Hungry Breakfast Champion" award, which he received in June.

From left, Dr. Robert Lewis, Melissa d’Arabian and Lorena Quezada pose with Lewis’ “No Kid Hungry Breakfast Champion” award, which he received in June.

Lewis, who received his master’s degree in public administration in 2003 and his doctorate in public administration in 2008, launched the free breakfast program in 2013, and a free supper program in 2012. Both programs operate district wide.

Share Our Strength awarded Lewis, district Superintendent Dr. Maribel Garcia, project coordinator Lorena Quezada and all fourteen school principals within the school district for the program.

Students and community members attended the awards ceremony, which was co-hosted by Blake Michael, star of Disney Channel’s original hit series, Dog With a Blog! as well as television celebrity chef, Melissa d’Arabian. Both celebrities support anti-hunger programs for children.

Lewis obtained a grant for the breakfast program through Share Our Strength. It funded equipment such as food transport carts, and thermal packs, which are used for hot meals and cold milk. Students who receive meals are in preschool through the eighth grade.

“The kids run the program for us, which is awesome,” said Lewis. “We set up the carts, the kids take it to the classes, the teachers keep note of who eats, and we input that information into a computer which keeps track of the program.”

Lewis earned his master’s degree and doctorate through La Verne’s adult-learning CAPA program. He has more than 25 years’ experience as a food service director, the last six being in El Monte. Lewis says his advanced degrees are critical to what he’s doing now.

“I concentrated in collaborative public policy, and it’s really come into play, because in order to make this breakfast program happen, we’ve needed collaboration from administrators, teachers, parents, and custodial staff. That collaboration was essential; we couldn’t have done it without everyone involved,” Lewis said.

The district has seen a jump in student attendance since the program has been in place. It’s a sign of success that district officials are pleased to see, because that means more state funding and better student grades.

“Our meals are nutritionally balanced, blood sugars are more regulated, and teachers have noticed a difference in the classroom,” Lewis said.

The breakfast includes whole grains, low-fat proteins and low-fat or non-fat milk.

“We include our students in the decision making process, and ask them to do taste testing in our central kitchen. The kids enjoy being involved, love the tours, and are especially impressed when they see our 40,000 square foot freezer!” said Lewis.

Sandip Kaur, Director of Nutrition Services for the California Department of Education, came to see the program first hand. A video about the program, made by the California School Board Association, is being used as a model for the state and is used for training other school districts, who want to bring breakfast into the classroom.

Lewis also received an award from the mayor of El Monte in January for his work.

“It’s been a phenomenal year and such an honor,” said Lewis.

July 22, 2014 by University of La Verne

Ideas for collaborative teaching and expanded relations came expeditiously during a recent meeting between faculty and administrators of the University of La Verne and Taiwan’s National Chung Cheng University.

Professor of Organizational Leadership Emeritus Dr. Larry Machi, who recently completed a Fulbright Specialist project at National Chung Cheng University, collaborated with co-teacher and Taiwanese colleague, Professor Kent Cheng about the possibility of creating an exchange program between the two universities.


From left to right, Dr. Larry Machi, Dr. Barbara Poling, President Dr. Devorah Lieberman and Professor Kent Cheng.

Cheng, who worked alongside Machi in Taiwan, made the trek out to La Verne to meet with President Dr. Devorah Lieberman and Interim Dean of the College of Education & Organizational Leadership Dr. Barbara Poling to learn about one anothers’ institutions.

President Lieberman shared her enthusiasm and vision about setting up a mutually beneficial curriculum.

“We can learn so much from each other,” Lieberman said. “We can maximize educational opportunities for our students through video conferencing technology and minimal travel.”

Among some of the ideas shared was the thought of establishing a special leadership program, which President Lieberman could teach a course in during her annual visit to Asia in June.

“Let’s make this happen,” Lieberman said.

National Chung Cheng University, a highly respected national university with more than 12,000 students, is comparable to the University of California system.  Known for its beauty as well as its high academic standards, it is a competitive university that Machi came to know during his stay in April and May.

Machi is one of more than 400 U.S. faculty and professionals who travelled abroad this year through the Fulbright Specialist Program.  The program, which was created in 2000 to complement the traditional Fulbright Scholar Program, provides short-term academic opportunities, (two to six weeks) to prominent U.S. faculty and professionals to support curricular and faculty development and institutional planning at post secondary, academic institutions around the world.

Machi worked with the faculty of the Graduate Institute of Education during his time at Chung Cheng.  He taught and developed curriculum in the areas of educational research, leadership, and organizational change.  It is through this program that he met Cheng.

“I have to thank Kent; shortly after I arrived, he took me to lunch.  He was a wonderful host, and the friendship was instant,” Machi shared.   “I was a visiting professor, but they made me part of the team right away, and I was able to do a lot there very quickly, because the collaboration with students and faculty was amazing.”

“Dr. Lieberman has a real sense of where to go.  She had already read everything about our program, and came in ready to make it work,”  Cheng said. “I’ve never seen a university president say that they would volunteer to teach the first class next June.  That’s leadership!”

July 21, 2014 by University of La Verne

The vision to renovate and upgrade a Tijuana clinic for orphans suffering from HIV didn’t come from a large charity foundation or global outreach group.

It came from a 22-year-old University of La Verne student named Tahil Sharma.

It’s that vision, in part, that earned the Spanish major a spot in the Future50, a group formed by the Interreligious Council of Southern California and the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture. Members were announced in early July.

“I applied for this because I thought it was a really great opportunity to network with people with the same passion as mine in interfaith work,” Sharma said.

Senior Tahil Sharma is one of 50 interfaith leaders throughout Southern California selected for inclusion in the Future50 cohort, formed by the Interreligious Council of Southern California.

Senior Tahil Sharma is one of 50 interfaith leaders throughout Southern California selected for inclusion in the Future50 cohort, formed by the Interreligious Council of Southern California.

He comes from a family with Hindu and Sikh beliefs, and does volunteer work within both communities in the San Gabriel and Inland valleys. Sharma helped establish the university’s Interfaith Student Council in 2011, previously worked as coordinator for the Center for Sikh Studies at Claremont Lincoln College and serves as a youth representative for the Parliament of the World’s Religions for the United Nations.

But even with that resume, Sharma still didn’t expect to be picked for the Future50 Cohort. He found himself in the company of celebrities and other high-profile leaders. And he was too young.

The minimum age to be considered for the post was listed as 24-years-old.

He applied for the position anyway.

“I figured it was worth a shot,” Sharma said.

The attempt paid off. The committee selecting members made an exception to the age requirement and brought Sharma on board.

People selected for the group were chosen based on diversity, range of activities and the “overall quality of the cohort,” said Nick Street, USC spokesman.

“I was absolutely excited,” Sharma said. “I was actually getting a bowl of ramen that I almost dropped on myself.”

He says the group should be able to accomplish great things being based in Los Angeles, an area with abundant religious and secular diversity. Reports released by Future50 officials say 53 percent of the Los Angeles County population is affiliated with a religious institution and there are nearly 10,000 congregations.

Having leaders to bridge divides will be key.

“The Future50 project is an attempt to highlight the coming wave of faith-inspired leaders who will help to shape the Los Angeles religious landscape for the next half century, just as the Interreligious Council of Southern California has shaped this landscape over the previous one,” USC officials wrote in a Future50 overview.

And Sharma hopes to draw on the group to assist in his own projects in La Verne.

He’s working to establish a new campus organization called the La Verne Coalition of Compassion, which will involve faculty, administrators, staff, students and the community.

Assisting the Tijuana clinic is something he hopes will be a pilot project for the organization. Sharma plans to work with clubs and other organizations at the university, as well as the school’s Office of Advancement and President Devorah Lieberman’s office to make the clinic project become a reality.

“The goal is to renovate and rejuvenate their living conditions to a safe and productive environment that can help the kids of all ages live a good life and beyond the worries of the sickness they have,” Sharma said.

July 11, 2014 by University of La Verne

Joanna Mrsich found her penchant for the podium during the American Legion Auxiliary’s summer Girls State program, which introduces teens to the workings of state and local government.

When the Bonita High School graduate explored debate further at the University of La Verne’s High School Debate Camp last summer, that passion evolved into a career path.

“I want to be a lawyer,” she said.

The University of La Verne kicked off its 3rd annual debate camp July 7, drawing students from around Southern California for two weeks of debate and public speaking instruction.

The students came from campuses as far away as Vista Murrieta High School in Riverside County and Carter High School in Rialto, but also La Verne schools such as Lutheran, Damien and Bonita high schools.

It’s a chance for experienced debaters to get a jump on competition for the new school year, while also attracting newcomers to the discipline, said Rob Ruiz, university director of forensics.

“The students I love are the ones who have never done it and leave this camp just in love with debate,” he said.

Mrsich was one of those students, Ruiz said.

After completing the camp, her new skills helped her school’s debate team reach the state championship. She also earned the university’s coveted performance scholarship for speech and debate.

Mrsich, 17, plans to double major in political science and speech and communications.
Ruiz anticipates as many as 18 students will have signed up by the end of the camp July 18. Some will continue on to a second summer debate camp hosted by Stanford University.

At La Verne, coaches plan to drill students on speech and debate fundamentals and let advanced students break out into smaller groups for case writing. They’ll be paired with University of La Verne debate team members for a one day tournament. The camp culminates in debates between high school students.

University President Devorah Lieberman visited the camp during a class on July 10 to answer students’ questions and speak to them about higher education. All students in the class plan to go on to a college or university after high school. She encouraged them to pick a school that feeds their passion.

“You want a school that speaks to your heart and speaks to your head,” Lieberman said.

Ruiz extended this year’s camp by a week after past attendees said they wished the session was longer. He also received permission to use campus residence halls to house participants.

It’s a nice perk, Ruiz says, because on-campus living affords the teens a glimpse of college life.

“The kids feel like they’re in college,” Ruiz said.


July 10, 2014 by University of La Verne

College and university presidents and Campus Compact state coordinators from around the country will gather to discuss community partnerships as well as college access and readiness during a National Campus Compact conference July 13-15 hosted by the University of La Verne.

Campus Compact is a Boston-based national coalition of college and university presidents and state coordinators, dedicated to public and community service. It seeks to develop citizenship skills among students and integrate civic and community-based learning into curriculum.

“This is an excellent opportunity to meet with our peers in higher learning, and to collaborate in the area of community engagement,” said University President Devorah Lieberman. “Campus Compact’s mission is aligned with our core value of community engagement and we look forward to sharing best practices across all of our campuses and communities.”

Members of the Campus Compact board of directors attending the event include Presidents Lieberman; Richard Guarasci, Wagner College; Helen Giles-Gee, University of the Sciences; Shouan Pan, Mesa Community College; Bernard Milano, KPMG Foundation; Antonio Dieck-Assad, Universidad de Monterrrey (Mexico), Mary K. Grant, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts; and Paul Pribbenow, Augsburg College.

The group’s board of directors is set to meet in the Howell Board Room the opening day of the conference, followed by a dinner on the Hanawalt House patio. The entire group will gather July 14 and 15 in the Campus Center, University Advancement officials said.

The presidents and state coordinators will also address college access and retention, enhancing college readiness among K-12 students and establishing meaningful and reciprocal community partnerships.

June 24, 2014 by University of La Verne

StacyDarlingNovak005x6Dedicating her professional life to students, education and research, University of La Verne Professor of Biology Stacey Darling-Novak, Ph.D. is a critical part of the Biology Department, and the first recipient of the newly endowed Robert Warren Hultman Distinguished Professorship in the College of Arts & Sciences.

With a passion toward plant development, Professor Darling-Novak leads her students through research that is focused on the earliest stages of plant development, specializing in maize at the molecular level with the goal of increasing grain productivity. She also conducts molecular-based and tissue culture research on orchids to better understand seed development, germination and seedling establishment.

Being the first recipient of the Robert Warren Hultman Distinguished Professorship in the College of Arts & Sciences Award was a great honor and surprise for Darling-Novak. Teaching and researching at La Verne since 2000, Darling-Novak was promoted to full Professor of Biology in May 2013.

The award, which grants her $10,000 per year for three years, will allow her to take students to National Botanical Meetings, as well as pay them as research assistants in their summer and post baccalaureate work.  The funding will also be used to purchase supplies, chemicals and reagents that are costly, yet essential to conducting research. Honored to receive the award, Darling-Novak sees it as yet another way to help her students.

“I wasn’t expecting to win and was so surprised!  I look forward to funneling the money back to our students to help them grow academically and support our department,” she said.

In applying for the award, she composed three statements about her teaching philosophy, impact on students, her position on the teacher/mentor/scholar model, as well as how she would use the money to impact students.  Many of her students, some from as far back as 2007, also contributed by writing letters of support detailing how much of an impact Darling-Novak had on their academic endeavors.

Promoting research through education, Darling-Novak has been instrumental in acquiring educational grants for La Verne students, affording them unique research opportunities. She was the co-recipient on a Title V educational STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) grant in 2008, and also obtained a USDA educational grant worth $244,000 dollars in 2011.

StacyDarlingNovak119x6“Our department has grown a lot, and the grant money helps fund our students as they conduct their research.  Our senior research projects have become very important in making us competitive for bigger grants,” she said.

The grant money she has worked to obtain promotes education and research and directly benefits La Verne students.  She currently hosts a USDA Science Camp, which targets high school students who want to learn more about molecular biology and field techniques.  It also involves  La Verne students, who are paid via the grant money to help run the program.

“Grant money is tough to get, but is worth the effort, because it benefits our students so much,” she said.

Working with students from their introductory biology classes through their senior projects, is especially rewarding for Darling-Novak. One of her recently graduated students, Lila Luna just won second place for the Dean’s Award in Research, and is continuing her education to obtain her doctorate degree.

“Lila was pre-med, but when she took her first plant biology course, that’s when she knew it was her passion.  She loves plant development and loves solving the puzzles we face. She is really good at researching, discovering what we don’t know, and taking the steps to learn more,” Darling-Novak said.

The biology professor sees a lot of herself in Luna, and in many of her students.  In school she was heavily into math and science, and though she had always liked plants, it was not until college that she took her first plant biology class and found her calling. She continues to study, research, and pass this appreciation on to her students.

“I love molecular biology so much—it’s almost like magic because everything seems so invisible until you run a gel!” she said.

One of Darling-Novak’s earliest memories of botany and plant development is from when she was just 5-years-old.  She used to walk through her grandmother’s greenhouse which was filled with orchids.

“I remember the wonderful aroma and the feeling in the air of the greenhouse, I loved it—maybe my love for plants is a little genetic!” she laughed.

June 18, 2014 by University of La Verne

The Office of Information Technology (OIT) and the Center for Advancement of Faculty Excellence (CAFE) at the University of La Verne are working around the clock to install new state of the art technology in 50 classrooms on the main campus.


Some of the upgrades include new 20-inch wide format and articulating monitors, Blue Ray DVD players, projector screens, a menu driven touch pad and Apple TVs.  Faculty and students will have the option of using their own laptops or a provided PC to utilize Apple TV for educational resources.  The upgrades are expected to be completed in select classrooms by June 30.

“Teaching is a creative profession, and technology is here to support that.  These tools will assist in the process of bringing the two worlds together,” said Kristin Lewis, WebEx Technical Support Trainer.


An integral part of the new technology, the Extron Touchlink Graphical Controller, is a fingertip controller that allows faculty to face forward and interact with the class, rather than having to turn away from students to face a board.  The software within the touchlink keypad powers on displays in the classroom and routes the desired sources, which might be the desktop computer, a laptop, or even an iPhone as integrated into classroom instruction. With so much at the lecturer’s fingertips, instructions and presentations can be more interactive and engaging.

Senior Director of IT Hany Seyam and his team assessed the technology aspects of La Verne’s classrooms and worked to ensure that the pedagogic, academic and technological needs of the students and faculty were the focus of the classroom update plan.

Training for the new technology will take place during the months of June, July and August. Up-to-date information on the progress, as well as group and individual training options, can be accessed at: http://sites.laverne.edu/technology/classrooms-technology-upgrade-project.

June 13, 2014 by University of La Verne

How do you turn a lint brush into an iPad? University of La Verne students recently put theory to practice to demonstrate how this can be done while simultaneously giving back to the community, thanks to a bartering class assignment.

Graduate students in Assistant Professor of Management Dr. Loren Dyck’s Organizational Theory and Behavior class were charged to conduct an experiment that involved trading an item of lesser value for one of higher value using organizational behavior theory skills to make the negotiations.Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 4.09.17 PM

Keyan Guan, Haiyan Lu, Xue Rong, Xianlong Xu, Ruoxun Yang and Yuan Zhou were given a one-dollar item to start off. The intent was for them to trade items a minimum of four times over the course of four weeks.

One group of Chinese MBA students went above and beyond the call of duty.

“One team in particular took it [project] to the next level. From the beginning, they started off with the premise of doing something good for the community. This was their mission to conduct successive trades, and they indeed succeeded,” Dr. Dyck said.

After four trades, the students traded up from a lint brush to a used iPad, valued at around $300. While this was already impressive, the students had high ambitions to make their final trade much more substantial.

With the assistance of the Church of Our Saviour in the City of San Gabriel, they united their efforts to support children of the local Kids Campus/Youth Center, operated by Our Saviour Center in El Monte.

Their goal of “spreading love to the society, especially those in need” was articulated into a formal letter addressed to the L.A. Lakers Club with the hope of exchanging the iPad for valuable merchandise for the Kids Campus/Youth Center.

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 4.09.09 PMTheir proposal was well-received and after all was said and done, 11 basketballs, 2 water coolers for a total value of $1,750 was donated to the Center.

Mission accomplished.

“I am proud and inspired by their good work in taking this project up to the level they did,” Dr. Dyck said. “To orient the project and make such a substantial contribution to the lives of small children, is beyond what I could have ever hoped for as a result.”

June 13, 2014 by University of La Verne

The unique opportunity to work directly with professional staff from across the country is awaiting University of La Verne junior Matthew Hernandez, who has been selected as the only undergraduate student to serve as an intern at the annual Institute for Leadership Education and Development (I-LEAD) conference. The national leadership conference takes place at Southern Illinois University from July 27, 2014 through August 1.


Hernandez, an accounting major, is the student building manager in the Abraham Campus Center. He attended and graduated from the I-LEAD program in 2012, when the national event was hosted on the La Verne campus. Selected from a strong field of more than two dozen graduate and undergraduate students from across the country, the dedicated student worker will be one of two interns selected for this year’s program.

As an intern, Hernandez will work to design, facilitate and coordinate the leadership program for more than 150 student leaders. His work within the Campus Center, and his prior I-LEAD experience, have laid the foundation for his upcoming role where he will present multiple workshops and panels on leadership, coordinate event logistics, as well as work with a community service program and their operations registration. He will gain even more professional and hands-on experience in program planning and event management, and will be working with an exceptional group of professionals. His travel, food, and lodging are all fully paid for by the association.

The I-LEAD program is designed to emphasize the key concept areas of leadership, community development and change. It offers an opportunity for college students to focus on personal growth as well as issues facing our world, and is the premier student program of the Association of College Unions International (ACUI). La Verne has been actively involved with the program for more than 15 years and has been sending at least two students to the conference every year since 2005.

Associate Director for the Campus Center Jim Brooks and Assistant Vice President of Capital Planning, Facilities and Space Management Raymond “Chip” West lll, have both been involved with ACUI since 1998, and have served in a variety of leadership roles.


“Matt is an outstanding student leader within the Abraham Campus Center team, he works so hard and rarely gets recognized,” West said.

The I-LEAD internship will be an opportunity for him to showcase his skills, work alongside seasoned professionals, and as reflected in the conference name, lead.