Cypress College Recognizes 2016-2017 Retirees at Annual Employee Luau

Photo of 2016-2017 Cypress College retirees
Cypress College’s 2016-2017 retirees include: (front, l to r) Rob Johnson, Raul Alvarez, Steve Donley, John Sciacca, Dr. Simpson; and (back, l to r) Mike Kavanaugh, Cathy San Roman, Gail Smead, Nina DeMarkey, and Carol Harvey.

As the 2016-2017 academic year moves into its final weeks, Cypress College gathered to give thanks to employees for their service to the campus and, most importantly, to our students. Among the gratitude expressed at the annual End of the Year Luau was recognition of employees who have or are retiring during the 2016-2017 year. We thank them and offer them our best wishes in retirement.

Raul Alvarez
Raul Alvarez has served as Executive Director of the Cypress College Foundation for the past 16 years. During his tenure Foundation assets grew from $500,000 to over $3 million, and student scholarship awards increased from $125,000 per year to nearly $400,000 annually. Prior to coming to Cypress, Raul worked for the YMCA and was the founding Executive Director of the East Los Angeles Y, developing a $3 million facility in a community that previously was without YMCA services. Raul and his wife, Nan, have five children.

Karen Cant
Karen Cant has served as Cypress College’s Vice President of Administrative Services for 10 years, and was the Director of Budget and Finance for almost eight years prior to that. She is known for her guardianship of the campus budget, a critical component of keeping the College operating during lean budget years. Likewise, as the person responsible for the physical infrastructure of the campus, she provided leadership for capital projects which have resulted in significant cost savings from a reduction of energy and water usage. In addition to Maintenance and Operations, other areas in her line of reporting include Academic Computing, Bookstore, Business and Auxiliary Services, Campus Accounting, Campus Safety, Facilities Use and Rentals, Financial and Business Support Services, Grant Support Services, Personnel, Physical Plant and Facilities, and the Faculty and Staff Service Center. Prior to coming to Cypress College, Cant worked in the Coast district, including in finance positions at Golden West College and KOCE TV. Outside of campus, she has served on the board of directors for the SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union. In retirement, she plans to travel.

Nina DeMarkey
Prior to her employment with NOCCCD, Nina DeMarkey spent almost 20 years working for corporate America as a Human Resources Director. She has a Masters Degree in Counseling with an emphasis in Higher Education & Career Counseling from Chapman University, and received her B.A. degree in Psychology from Northeastern Illinois University. Nina has worked in the District for almost 22 years — working at all three instructional entities. She began at Fullerton College where she taught classes in resume writing, interviewing and job search techniques, and advised students in these areas. She then worked for the School of Continuing Education in Digital Media Programs and Grants, and she also did adjunct counseling for SCE and Cypress College. Nina began her current position as the Dean of Social Sciences at Cypress College in July 2004. She also manages the Teacher Preparation and Honors Programs. In retirement, Nina hopes to spend more time with her husband, cats, friends, and with her family in North Carolina. You might even see Nina and Bernie traveling around the U.S. in their red Corvette convertible. She also plans to do volunteer work with her church and provide career counseling to women in domestic abuse shelters.

Steven Donley
Completing his 41st year with the NOCCCD, Steve Donley has been at Cypress College since 1995. Prior to that, while also working in the private sector, he was an adjunct instructor at Fullerton College since 1976. At Cypress, he has held the positions of full-time Professor, Dean of Career Technical Education & Economic Development, Interim Dean of Business & CIS, and Interim Vice President, Educational Programs and Student Services. His current responsibilities include oversight of the CTE Division, consisting of five academic departments; coordination the College’s Economic and Workforce Development initiatives, administration the College’s state and federal grants, and facilitation of the California Community College System Office’s degree and certificate program approvals. He previously also had responsibility for Distance Education. He has taught courses in business, law, a variety of other management classes.

Bonnie Fast
Bonnie Fast began working at the Cypress College Library on January 26, 1987. She worked as the Circulation night supervisor for many years before becoming a Library Assistant III. As the Library Assistant III, Bonnie was responsible for managing the entire technical services department of the library, which included the acquisition and cataloging of all library materials. Any book, magazine, journal, newspaper, DVD, or compact disc you find in the library, Bonnie played a part in adding it to the collection. During her 30-year career at Cypress College, Bonnie was involved in many campus committees including planning for the new library. Bonnie’s scrapbooking skills are top notch and many retirees have enjoyed receiving one of her prized scrapbooks as a farewell gift. Bonnie retired on April 10, 2017, and her future plans include relocating to Las Vegas, hitting the open road on her beloved Route 66, and visiting with friends and family.

Pat Ganer
It is a challenge to cover Pat Ganer’s 46 year career at Cypress College. Actually two years should be added as she was a member of the first graduating class (and the first student to bring home a trophy, in Forensics of course). Along with contributing to the success of the Communication Studies Department, she served for two decades as Director of Forensics. Her other accomplishments include service as Curriculum Committee Chair, as Accreditation Chair, and three times as Academic Senate President. She was also president of the Western States Communication Association, American Forensic Association, Western Forensic Association, and California Community College Forensic Association, and she has been active in the National Communication Association. Locally she often speaks at League of Women Voters events and serves as a trustee for the Buena Park Library. Her extracurricular work was recognized by the College when she received the Charger Award. Dr. Ganer has indeed had quite an illustrious career. Her colleagues will miss her for her political insights, keen wit, and candor.

David Gibson
David Gibson started his career here at Cypress College in 1985. He began as a custodian then worked as part of the floor crew and then moved on to larger equipment such as the Campus parking lot sweepers. David and his wife Donna, both retirees, from Cypress College are enjoying their retirement time together.

Carol Harvey
Carol has served as team leader for several nursing courses in the program and has especially enjoyed working with the first-year students. She led the skills lab team for many years and integrated clinical simulation into the nursing curriculum. As Assistant Director, she collaborated with Dr. Fishman to help the department develop an outcome-tracking system and a mentor program, as well as with several successful accreditation visits from the Board of Registered Nursing and the National League for Nursing. Carol’s passion is orthopaedic nursing and she developed a comprehensive course to help students and RN’s from the community gain knowledge and skills in this specialty. She will continue to support orthopaedic nursing education in retirement as well as the health ministry program at her church in Santa Ana. She sings in her church choir and helps to lead the youth choir. She is a past recipient of both the Outstanding Faculty award and the Charger Award, presented in 2016 for her work here in the USA after hurricane Katrina, and for mission work in Kenya and Nicaragua. She continues to lead these efforts in collaboration with AMOS Health and Hope in Nicaragua and looks forward to returning there next year. Carol enjoys travel with her husband Stew and her son Nick, and she says that after her 22 years at Cypress, she will really miss the students and the amazing faculty and staff.

Robert Johnson
Rob has been a mainstay of the Photography Department for over 30 years. Cypress College has definitely benefitted from his leadership, particularly in his tenure as Academic Senate President and his 15 years as Department Coordinator. Rob’s creativity has brought him national celebrity as a professional artist, which should not be too surprising since he began his career as a darkroom assistant to Ansel Adams. There is one unusual rumor about Rob — that he can catch trout with his bare hands. That should be a very handy skill in retirement. We will miss you Rob! The Photography Department will be out of focus without you.

Michael Kavanaugh
Mike has a 35-year tenure with NOCCCD. He began February 2, 1982 as an hourly employee and became a permanent hire on June 30, 1983 as a Jr. Computer Operator. In 1986 he was promoted to a Lead Computer Operator position. In 1987 he became the Communications Specialist at District IS. In 1990 he was a Project Leader. In 2003 he became an IT Services Coordinator II. His last assignment was with Cypress College as the Manager, Systems Technology Services. In this position he led the “small but mighty” crew of computing support staff in developing the College’s Technology Plan which includes an annual computer replacement component. He also led the two-year effort of converting the campus to a License Plate Recognition system for parking permitting. Mike will be retiring June 2, 2017.

Kevin Luckey
Kevin Luckey started with the NOCCCD at Fullerton College as a Groundskeeper in October 1996 and then transferred to Cypress College in December 2004. Since Kevin joined our Campus he has always dedicated himself to the grounds areas he manicured. Retirement for Kevin and his wife permit them continued, unlimited enjoyment of outdoor activities and nature.

Barbara Marshall
Barbara Marshall has been a member and an active contributor to the English Department since 1985. In addition to the consistently excellent teaching she has provided for students over the years, she embraced new methodologies: she was one of the first to engage in online instruction, and her willingness to find new ways to contribute to student success has been evident most recently in her volunteering to teach “Fast-Track” courses, giving students an opportunity to complete English 60 and 100 in just one semester. Dr. Marshall assumed other important roles as well: for many years she was United Faculty’s chief negotiator, and she was also active in the Community College and California Teachers associations. Her colleagues will miss her for friendliness and sense of humor and will wish her the best as she now has more time to engage in her equestrian hobbies.

Agnes Martinez
Agnes “Aggie” Martinez worked in the Counseling Division for over two decades. She was the Counseling Administrative Assistant in the Business/CIS Division for several years before the Student Center was built in 2008. She was responsible for point-of-service in the Counseling Center and entered counselors’ schedule in SARS (scheduling software program). She was known as the SARS Administrator and was instrumental in working with the vendor when upgrades or technical assistant was required. Aggie was the calming staff member which students naturally gravitated towards due to her engaging smile and upbeat attitude. She has been deeply missed, but her colleagues are happy she is enjoying retirement.

Debra McPherson
Debra McPherson became a full-time ESL instructor in 1999. Aside from being an excellent instructor, she played an important role in the success of her department, as it has been consistently recognized as being one of the most successful in California. She revised and created new curriculum, developed directed learning activities in the ESC, helped select recipients of the annual scholarship award, and served as department coordinator. Her broader campus contributions include membership on the Academic Senate as well as a number of committees. Her colleagues will miss her contributions, her great sense of humor, and her uncanny memory. In her retirement she will have more time for horse-riding, one of her favorite activities.

Barbara Meyer
Barbara has been the Theatre Department’s greatest cheerleader. Her love for her craft and her passion for her students is clearly present. Typically covered in paint from her work on the latest production’s scenic elements, Barbara’s impish smile would work its way into the heart of the students. Barbara has probably single handedly created more theatre arts majors than any other faculty member in the department. Barbara helped support the creation of the Lively Arts Club which won the coveted Cypress College Associated Students Club of the Year award for two consecutive years. There will be a huge absence center stage without Barbara.

Jeanne Miller
Before Joining the staff at Cypress College, Jeanne taught at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, the University of LaVerne, and Mt. San Antonio College. She gained accounting experience with KPMG for her Certified Public Accountant license and had her own accounting practice. She started at Cypress College in 1996 and has served on numerous committees. She was the Cypress College Distance Education Coordinator for seven years and has served as the Accounting Department Coordinator. Jeanne loves any activity that involves being outdoors. Her favorite outdoor place to be is anywhere near a large body of water, especially where her dogs can swim. She and her husband, as well as her daughter and family, will be re-locating to the Front Range of Colorado at the end of May.

Tien Nguyen
Tien Nguyen started with Cypress College in 1997 as a custodian and spent his years diligently cleaning all areas of the Campus during the third shift when most of us are away. He spends his time enjoying retirement with his friends and family.

Mary Rothera
Mary (Marianne) Rothera began working as the College’s Physical Science Laboratory Technician on September 1, 1977. For 40 years, she served SEM students wholeheartedly, with an amazing talent for creating innovated solution to problems she identified in our laboratory program. She also taught classes in the department, specifically a circuits class for which she developed laboratory experiments that helped expand our curriculum.  In fact, Mary was the last person without a math or science degree to teach a course within the SEM division. Because of her background in the classroom, she always approached her duties with an instructor’s mindset. She continuously modified experimental setups to simplify them and help students obtain more-accurate results. She was constantly searching for classroom demonstrations to make physics more approachable from a conceptual level. Mary also assumed the role of shepherding adjunct instructors unfamiliar with campus experiments and repaired much of the department’s broken equipment. The Physical Science Department will miss her technical expertise, and the SEM Division will not be the same without her.

Cathy San Roman
Cathy San Roman started as the Switchboard Operator/Receptionist at Cypress College and was known as “The Voice of Cypress College.” In or around 1988, Cathy came to the M & O Department where she stayed until retiring last year. The crew considered her the “Oracle” of M & O. She lives by her quote “Shoot from the hip, play it by ear and live the dream.” Cathy and her husband John, both recent retires from the NOCCCD, are definitely living the retirement dream.

John Sciacca
John came to Cypress College after 32 years in university positions. At Northern Arizona University he traveled a lot, serving on federal grant review panels and national committees, and working on American Indian health projects; for years he had a Marriott Platinum member card, which is for those who spend at least 75 nights a year at a Marriott. At Cypress College a major goal was to be available to faculty members and others when needed and to respond promptly to all requests for assistance. As he finishes his ninth year here, he wants to recognize faculty, staff and managers for their sincere commitment to our students and their success. He is proud to have worked with such competent, devoted and hardworking colleagues and for such a fine College. In retirement he plans to volunteer at a non-profit agency and return to writing, collecting books and records, singing in a barbershop quartet, and reciting Cowboy poetry. A key goal is to get back into good physical shape and to spend more time riding both his mountain bike and motorcycle, and with yoga, kayaking, running and cooking.

Robert Simpson
Dr. Bob Simpson became Cypress College’s 11th president in July 2012. He is a proud product of California’s public education systems, something that has fostered his deep devotion to our students. He has been involved with community college education for 30 years, starting as a classroom teacher at Fullerton College for 12 years. He also served that college as an instructional dean for and additional 9 years before coming to Cypress College in 2007, as the Executive Vice President. He has focused upon issues of access, equity, student support, inclusiveness, and community outreach. He has also overseen the initial implementation of the Measure J bond projects — notably guiding the development of a new science, engineering, and mathematics building and a new veterans resource center. In his free time, Dr. Simpson enjoys outdoor sports, reading, playing the guitar, and fly fishing his favorite trout streams in south-central Idaho.

Gail Smead
Gail retired on December 31, after almost 20 years with Cypress College as an Administrative Assistant II. In addition to the many tasks that Gail saw to as administrative assistant, she also played a part in establishing the Workforce Prep Center, as well as the CalWORKs and TRAC programs. She then continued to support those programs, as well as the CARE program, by providing budget support among other duties. Gail also served as the CSEA Treasurer for five years, was a member of several CSEA negotiating teams, served on PAC for four years, chaired the CSEA Hospitality and Entertainment Committee, served on the Foundation Golf Committee, and the Guardian Scholars Advisory Board. With so many accomplishments and achievements under her belt, it is easy to see why her colleagues have stated that Gail could never be replaced, and will be missed dearly. Now retired, Gail is spending more time with her husband and sisters, and traveling to her river vacation home as well as visiting Disneyland more often. Most importantly, Gail will be getting a new puppy in June and has already given him the name Huckleberry.

Shirley Smith
Shirley Smith began working at Cypress College in May 2001. She was the first Director of Campus Safety when the Cypress College began 24 hour and 7 day a week Campus Safety staffing. During her tenure she hired most of the staff who are supporting the operation today. Shirley retired after 16 years with Cypress on January 17, 2017.

Judith Swytak
Judy is a caring and energetic nursing instructor. She has served as team leader for nursing courses and taught elective courses in addition to her regular load. She has tirelessly worked with nursing students to improve their confidence and communication skills and is beloved by our students for her caring, positive, but no nonsense approach to learning and providing person-centered nursing care. Each year the Health Science Division supports Interval House, a shelter for battered women and their children and each year Judy makes colorful pillowcases from her collection of fabric so that each child has a personal holiday possession. Judy also volunteers at Mary’s Kitchen and is active in her church and community.  In retirement she plans to travel with her partner in life, Steve Swytak, spend time with family, including her son and two daughters, and continue her hobby as an expert quilter.

View: 2016-2017 Retiree Biographies