Share your story. Email or call Gina at Ext. 8243.

COM Employee Newsletter

June 2012

Message from the President

Over the past few weeks there has been so much discussion of COM issues related to the budget and contracts that there is the risk that these issues, although greatly important, have overshadowed temporarily the mission of community colleges. The initiative of the American Association of Community Colleges is to refocus everyone’s attention on the critical role that this mission plays in the future of our nation.
Faced with ever-increasing state cuts in community college funding across the nation and with the increasingly bitter battles over funding for financial aid and community college programs in Congress, the AACC formed the 21st Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges. Budget-cutters attempt to rationalize the cuts to our colleges using the data on our low graduation rate: only 22 percent of the first-time, full-time students earn an associate degree in three years (for Hispanics it is 17 percent and for African-Americans it is 14 percent). The graduation rate for part-time students, even over a longer period of time is much lower. The defective reasoning of congressmen and legislators is: you do a poor job; therefore, we are not going to fund you as much as in the past. What they ignore is that we are the only gateway to higher education and a better future for millions of students. We are the incubators who keep the democratic ideals of our society alive and revitalized. A strong argument can be made that without community colleges, there would be an extreme shortage of educated, skilled workforce, the poverty rolls would explode, and the gap between rich and poor, which is already at one of the highest levels in the past century, would be even greater.
I encourage you to read the report: Reclaiming the American Dream: A Report from the 21st Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges. The report can be found at It makes seven major recommendations which can be summarized as follows and suggests strategies to achieve them:
1.  By 2020 increase graduation/completion rates by 50 percent.
2. Increase college readiness by 2020. Reduce by half the number of entering students who are not college-ready. Also work to double the number of students who successfully complete the development education sequences to progress to college credit courses.
3.  Focus more on career and technical education to produce the workforce that will enable the regional and national economies to compete in the global arena.
4.  Refocus and redefine the community college mission and role to meet the educational and workforce needs of this century.
5.  Structure support from government, foundations and the private sector to incentivize more collaboration and joint action by groups of colleges.
6.  Target public and private investments to support the efforts to reclaim the American dream by creating new incentives for colleges and students to pursue education.
7.  Make certain college policies and practices promote high educational standards, have transparency and have accountability.
This summary does not do full justice to this important document. We ignore its recommendations at our peril.
Larry Durrence

COM creates Distinguished Alumni Award

College of the Mainland created the Distinguished Alumni Award to honor its remarkable alumni and their achievements. At spring commencement, Dr. Larry Durrence announced the first recipients of the award: Julie Dues Masters, mayor of Dickinson; Mark E. Ciavaglia, Texas City attorney; and Troy E. Sybert, M.D. All three alumni have been actively involved, professionally and personally, in the community. Masters, mayor of Dickinson, is the executive director for Keep Dickinson Beautiful and vice president of the Optimist Club of Dickinson. She is also a board member and past president of Galveston County Children’s Services Board.

Ciavaglia; managing partner of the Galveston County office of Linebarger, Goggan, Blair and Sampson, LLP; also serves as president of the Mainland Community Crime Stoppers. He is chairman of the board of the Texas City–La Marque Chamber of Commerce and charter board member of Advocacy Center for Children of Galveston County. 
Sybert, M.D., currently serves as vice president/chief medical information officer of Wellmont Health System, which operates eight hospitals in Tennessee and Virginia. A former professor at UTMB, he is an adjunct professor at the College of Public Health at East Tennessee State University. 
These alumni’s accomplishments “demonstrate to our current students that their education at COM gives them the educational foundation to become leaders as well,” said Durrence. “This inaugural group of three distinguished alumni are highly deserving of recognition and are worthy examples of the type of success we desire to see our graduates achieve in life.” 

Larsen wins second in National SoftChalk Competition 

Designated by SoftChalk as a power user for uploading more lessons than any other user, Marilyn Larsen, associate professor of developmental math at COM, won second place in the 2012 SoftChalk Lesson Challenge. The national contest is sponsored by SoftChalk, an educational software company, and judged by educators from across the U.S. 
Larsen’s winning lesson, “The Real Numbers,” combined photos, interactive quizzes and even a video of a space shuttle launch countdown to demonstrate how positive and negative numbers are used in the real world. Through SoftChalk, Larsen’s lessons are shared around the world. Through questions about an uploaded lesson, Larsen recently connected with an educator in the Middle East. Larsen’s students enjoy the lessons as well. “I use it to enhance lectures and as a tutorial,” Larsen said.
PHOTO: Larsen holds the trophy proclaiming her the second place winner in the 2012 SoftChalk Lesson Challenge, a national, educator-judged contest.

COM students named 2012 Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Bronze Scholars

Students at College of the Mainland, Christine LaFoy and Merretta Vasquez, both of Texas City, have been named 2012 Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Bronze Scholars. Bronze Scholars each receive a $1,000 scholarship and a special medallion. 
An independent panel of judges considers outstanding academic rigor, grade point average, academic and leadership awards and engagement in community service in selecting students for this award. Community colleges may submit no more than two nominations per campus.
“We thank the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation for their vote of confidence in community college students by investing in their futures,” said Dr. Rod Risley, Executive Director of Phi Theta Kappa, which partners with the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation in administering this award. “Their support is especially welcome during this challenging economic climate, as more and more community college students need additional resources to help them complete their degrees.” 

COM Students inspired to mentor others 

Inspired by a statewide Latino-affairs conference, members of the College of the Mainland student club AMIGOS decided to encourage high school students to pursue further education. At the Hispanic Student Leadership Conference at College of the Mainland, they shared with Texas City and Dickinson High School students via a panel what they learned. 
AMIGOS historian Luis Santos said they wanted to share with high school students, “pointers for success, a little bit about our experience as students, what to expect.” They encouraged them to “continue their education, to not give up, let anything stop them,” he said.
Students learned that “they have a responsibility to achieve and pursue their goals and to help others reach their goals,” said assistant professor Julie Garcia. Garcia, along with six COM students from AMIGOS, a student club focused on Latino issues, attended the 24th Annual Student Conference on Latino Affairs at Texas A&M University. “We learned how we still lag behind significantly in higher education,” said Garcia. After hearing the speakers, “students were asking, ‘What do we do with this information? We want to do something now!’” After discussing options, they thought, “Why don’t we become the mentors?” 
They are considering other ways to share more with high school students this fall.
PHOTO: COM student Jerry Solomon stands under the Aggie Ring Sculpture at Texas A&M.

Outstanding nursing graduates awarded

On May 10, four nursing graduates were honored at the College of the Mainland pinning ceremony. Janis Cappadona and Suzanne Batista received Outstanding Clinical Performance. Trayton Buhler and Adrianne Campbell received Student of the Year based on their excellent work in both clinicals and in the classroom. At the ceremony eighty-one students graduated with an associate of applied science in nursing.

PHOTO: Nursing graduates with their awards. From left to right, Wayne Miles, board member; Dr. Gay Reeves, director of nursing; Trayton Buhler; Adrianne Campbell; Janis Cappadona; Suzanne Batista; Dr. Larry Durrence, interim president; Rosalie Kettler, board member; and Roney McCrary, vice chair.

COM police academy graduates

On May 25 fifteen students from the COM Police Academy graduated after completing 769 hours of training both in and outside the classroom. Training prepared them for the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement on Standards and Education test. “We had a 100 percent pass rate,” said B. J. Whitburn, COM law enforcement program coordinator. 
One new graduate was Santiago Guerrero, a former U.S. Marine. He decided to enroll in the police academy because “I already fought for my country. Why should I not fight for my community?” Guerrero said. “I want to do anything that I can to make it more secure at home.”

PHOTO: COM Police Academy 2012 graduates

Citizenship journey began with English class

When Elena Sass swore the oath of allegiance to America, she completed her four-year journey toward becoming a citizen. Originally from Russia, Elena moved to the U.S. in 2008 to marry her husband, David. In Russia she earned two master’s degrees, in chemistry and in patent engineering, from St. Petersburg State University. 
Four years ago after arriving in the U.S., Elena took her first English class, a continuing education class through COM. She said the class “gave me exposure to American culture and diversity” of accents. “It was a very good learning experience.” Elida Matthews, COM Adult Learning Coordinator, remembers her enthusiasm for learning. “She was the only one who ever asked me for a reference book” so she could study more on her own.
Since July 2010, Sass has worked as a tester at College of the Mainland. She assesses students’ English before and after the class so instructors can determine their progress. As an English leaner herself, she understands their challenges. “She has a lot of compassion for them. She makes it a point to speak very clearly so they can understand her” as she tests them, Matthews said. “I love to work with people,” Sass said. “People really care about each other in this program.”
Of becoming a citizen, she said, “It’s a complex process.” She was nervous about her citizenship interview because she could be asked any 10 civics questions from a list of 100. “I had no idea what I could be asked—history of the country, names, dates, people, events,” she said. 
Of the day of her citizenship ceremony, she said, “I was so looking forward to that day.” After obtaining her citizenship, Sass said, “I have mixed emotions of happiness and sadness. I have a sense of belonging to the great American nation. I am very proud to be American.” She said she also feels, “a light sadness. I know… my Russian blood stills runs in my veins. It’s part of my identity.” 
Sass thanked her husband. “He supported me all the way through this process.” Sass now looks ahead to her future as a U.S. citizen. “I have a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction and now I can look forward to working toward other goals,” she said. One of the things she anticipates is involvement in the democratic process. “I can participate fully in U.S. life. I am allowed to vote in this year’s presidential elections, and I am looking forward to doing that.”

PHOTO: Elena Sass with her husband at her naturalization ceremony.

Can you canoe or bake a pie?

Get your canoeing skills ready for the great Golden Paddle Outdoor Run Race 2012 on Monday, July 2. This is a fun, interdepartmental competition with a two-member team from your department. You will win the Golden Paddle and bragging rights for the year! First come-first serve. Only six entries will be accepted.

If your canoeing skills are lacking, maybe baking is your game. Sign up for the Apple Pie Baking Contest. 

To sign up, call Michelle Gerami at Ext. 8351. Details coming soon.

June Birthdays

 Danny McLerran Faculty, Public Service Careers 6/5
Tiffany Mader Academic Advisor, Advising and Testing Services 6/6
Cheryl Bordwine Faculty, Public Service Careers 6/7
Susan Napoli Faculty, Child Development and Education 6/7
Mark Greenwalt Faculty, Performing and Visual Arts 6/8
Patricia McIntosh Emergency Management Coordinator, Instructional Admin 6/8
Marilyn Larsen Faculty, Academic Success 6/9
Thomas Johnson Faculty, Math/Science 6/10
Pamela Keys Faculty, Nursing 6/10
Ciro Reyes Director, Upward Bound, Student Support Services 6/10
Donna Allen Laboratory Assistant, Advising and Testing Services 6/11
Michelle Foster GL Accountant A/R Supervisor, Financial Services 6/14
Micheal Settler Maintenance Technician 6/14
Theresa Jones Director, Advising and Testing Services 6/15
Denese Angelle Generalist, Human Resources 6/16
Leroy August Counselor, Academic Success 6/17
Victor Woods Professional Trainer, Continuing Education 6/17
Rebecca Sauer Communications Coordinator, Marketing and Communications 6/18
Minnie Shelton Custodian 6/18
Wendi Barger Administrative Assistant, Student Financial Services 6/20
Susan Morawski Faculty, Academic Success 6/22
Casey Schlageter Network Engineer, Information Technology Services 6/22
Linda Moreno Administrative Assistant, Marketing and Communications 6/24
Kimley Lewis Facutly, Nursing 6/25
Nakia Welch Faculty, Humanities 6/25
Kim Ybarra Administrative Assistant, Information Technology Services 6/25
Paul Boyd Faculty, Performing and Visual Arts 6/26
Jennifer Higgs Faculty, Nursing 6/27
BJ Whitburn Program Coordinator, Public Service Careers 6/30

On the Job – Part 5

Searching college policies for guidelines about a question you may have about being on the job can sometimes be a challenge. The following On the Job Guide and the index of Internal Auditing’s articles in the Employee Newsletter cover areas that may be of assistance. Note that some areas may not apply to faculty.
College Hour College hour is from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. When attending an event the college hour period substitutes for an employee’s lunch break that day.  Also, a supervisor’s approval is required should morning and/or afternoon work hours be interrupted as a result of attending. No policy.
College-sponsored Events
College-sponsored events occur either on campus or off campus. When attending a college-sponsored event during work hours, an employee is not required to report leave. The President will identify when an event is a college-sponsored event on the event invitation. If an event is not identified as such by the President, reporting leave is required. No policy.
Compensatory Time Off Compensatory time off (comp time) is a form of compensation for overtime. The selection of comp time, instead of a cash payment through the payroll system, requires approval from both the employee’s supervisor and the appropriate Vice President, except in emergency situations, before performance of the work. COM strongly encourages you to take comp time in the same work week that it is earned.  DEA (LOCAL)
Course Enrollment Course enrollment by an employee should not be scheduled during an employee’s regular work hours.  Prior supervisory approval is required for any adjustments in an employee’s work hours due to a course schedule.  DEB (LOCAL)
Emergency Closings Emergency closings are unscheduled and for a certain time period. Employees can be made aware of closings by an alert sent by the college’s Emergency Notification System. No leave is reported, except when employees at their option elect to be absent prior to the official closing and/or remain absent beyond the official reopening. DEA (LOCAL)
Emergency Operations Plan
Flex Time Schedule Flex time schedule is when a professional employee is required to work more than 40 hours in a week. Prior supervisory approval is required and the excess hours worked are not eligible for any type of compensation.  The job site requirement applies. 
Work Hour Procedures for Classified and Professional Employees
Jury Duty Jury duty is any amount of actual hours spent in a courthouse or impaneled on a jury in a day, will result in eight hours of paid leave for that day. Regular work hours apply when on-call for jury duty. DEC (LOCAL)
Job Site Job site is the employee’s approved work location to work their eight-hour work day. The job site is part of the Work Hour Report. (see Working from Home) DJ (REGULATION)
Work Hour Procedures for Classified and Professional Employees
Overtime Overtime is hours worked in excess of 40 hours per week that are pre-approved by the employee’s supervisor.  Only classified employees qualify to be compensated for overtime, either by compensatory time off or a cash payment through the payroll system. Although COM intends not to use overtime to accomplish work, it may be required for emergency and other reasons. 
Rest Breaks Rest breaks are not required by The Fair Labor Standards Act. Although college policy includes a rest period of up to 20 minutes, there are no guidelines as to when or how many breaks can be taken in a work day.  Since rest breaks are at the college’s discretion, supervisors are required to submit their daily rest break schedule to the President for approval. The President’s approval should be retained on file in the department. Rest breaks cannot be used or combined to arrive to work late or leave early and are separate from lunch breaks.  DEA (LEGAL)
Teaching a Course Teaching a course by an employee is allowed only before or after the employee’s regular work hours. An exception is when asked by the College as part of their daily work load and no compensation is received.
No policy.
Wellness Activity Wellness activity allows a total of 1.5 hours per week of regular work hours in the Gym. An additional total of 1.5 hours per week of personal time is required, which accounts for half the time for each visit to the Gym.  Supervisory approval is required prior to scheduling time at the Gym. 
Employee Wellness Handbook
Work Hours Work hours consist of an employee’s individual work hour schedule for working their eight-hour work day. The schedule is stated in the employee’s approved Work Hour Report.
Work Hour Procedures for Classified and Professional Employees
Work Hour Report Work hour report states an employee’s regular work hours and job site. The report is kept in the employee’s personnel file in HR.
Working from Home Working from home is not permitted. Work hours are performed by the employee at the job site designated on their Work Hour Report. No policy.
Work Hour Procedures for Classified and Professional Employees
Articles listed in the following INDEX can be found on the Marketing and Communications Office webpage under Newsletters.
May 2012 On the Job – Part 4  Overtime compensation for classified employees
April 2012 On the Job – Part 3  College hour; college-sponsored events; rest breaks
March 2012 On the Job – Part 2  Overtime and rest breaks and the 40-hour work week 
February 2012 On the Job – Part 1  State standards for being “on the job”
January 2012 Enterprise Risk Management
December 2011 Employee Fundraising
November 2011 The Hotline
October 2011 Classified Employee Time Sheet Fraud
September 2011 Federal Sentencing Guidelines
August 2011 Personal Use of Information Resources – Part 3  Complying with policy
July 2011 Personal Use of Information Resources – Part 2  Expectation of Privacy
June 2011 Personal Use of Information Resources – Part 1  IT policies
May 2011 Honesty and the Work Environment
April 2011 The Value of Departmental Procedures
March 2011 Internal Auditing Services
February 2011 Managing Risk and How do the P-Cards and their accounting work?
January 2011 The Texas Penal Code and the COM Employee
December 2010 What are best practices from an auditing perspective?
November 2010 How can internal controls assist your department’s performance?
October 2010 Why would you want to use the COM Fraud, Waste and Abuse Hotline?
September 2010 Do you have a potential conflict of interest with COM?
August 2010 What are audit services?
July 2010 Why does an employee commit fraud?
Please contact me by email, phone or stop by Appomattox Square for more information.
It Matters! The COM Hotline at is easy and confidential to report tips.

Frank Scheidler, CPA, CFE
Internal Auditor
Appomattox Square, Suite 11
Ext. 8695

Open the Fraud, Waste and Abuse Hotline page

Mark Your Calendar

Thursday, June 7
Presidential Search Committee Meetings
10 a.m. - noon
6-8 p.m.

Through June 17
"Bill W. and Dr. Bob"
8 p.m.
Thursdays through Saturdays
2:30 p.m.
COM Community Theatre

Tuesday, June 26
Multiculture Team presents
"Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender in Texas: What's it really like?"
12:30 - 1:30 p.m.

Copyright © 2012 College of the Mainland, All rights reserved.

Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp