CI recognized for web site accessibility for the blind

In a review of 183 university Web sites published in The Chronicle of Higher Education, CI placed sixth overall in Web site accessibility for the blind and placed first for accessibility of online applications, with 98.2% of applications usable by the blind. Four of the top ten Web sites were from the CSU system.

Public colleges and universities are required to demonstrate that their technologies are accessible based on Section 508 of the federal Rehabilitation Act or related standards. This is an overwhelming task for a college or university as not only Web site material but use of technology in the classroom has increased in volume and complexity. The project requires constant review and upgrading as these technologies continue their rapid evolution.

Carnegie Community Engagement award

CI was selected as one of 115 institutions nationwide chosen by the Carnegie Foundation to receive their 2010 Community Engagement Classification. This is an elective classification which recognizes exemplary practices among all populations in a university-wide commitment to community engagement and service learning. Service learning is a teaching and learning method linking course content to “real-life” experiences that center around a community need or issue.

The Carnegie Foundation requested broad information which required a thorough and comprehensive examination of the University’s programs and relationships. The Community Engagement Classification recognizes that CI lives up to its mission and commitment to serve the region. This classification will not be awarded again for another five years.

CI team helps National Park Service focus on underserved students as future park users

Students assist with National Park Service research

Dr. Donald Rodriguez, Associate Professor of Environmental Science & Resource Management, was invited to Washington, D.C. to speak to the National Parks Foundation regarding the issue of engaging college-age youth with the National Park Service (NPS). In particular, the group wanted to know how to make the parks relevant to 18 to 25-year-old minority students who had very little history of using the parks for recreation and other outdoor activities.

Rodriguez returned to campus and, with a grant from the Santa Monica Mountains Fund, put together an interdisciplinary research team consisting of himself, Dr. Jose Alamillo, Associate Professor Chicana/o Studies and Dr. Tracylee Clarke, Assistant Professor of Communication. They hired one student from each of their respective academic areas (Iliana Espinoza, Jose Tlaxcuapan, and Paul Paredes) to work with the research team throughout the project and to explore minority participation among their peer groups. This work was part of the students’ Capstone projects. The three research assistants organized a student outing to the Santa Monica Mountains to introduce their classmates to the National Park. Park Service staff accompanied the students, guiding their hike and helping them understand the role protected areas play in improving the quality of life in Ventura County.

Student research assistants then conducted three separate focus groups to gain student perspectives on the relevance of the National Park in the lives of our students. 

During the summer student researchers will work with faculty to transcribe tapes and compile culturally responsive outreach activities based on best practices found in the research literature and focus group responses. Not only are the parks interested in this kind of data, but so are manufacturers of sporting goods and recreational equipment like R.E.I., the Nature Conservancy and the Wilderness Society.

Biology graduate receives prestigious award

Recent biology graduate Ashley Bonneau received an award from the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at their annual meeting held in Washington DC.

Ashley Bonneau

Bonneau won the Thematic Best Poster Award from a field of more than 1,000 poster presentations. In excess of 10,000 participants, both scientists and students from around the globe, attended the meeting and shared Bonneau’s triumph at winning the top prize in her category, entitled “RNA Theme.” Her particular poster was titled, “Double knockdown of the Rheb gene in mammalian cells using RNA interference.” The award included a cash prize.

Bonneau, named a 2010 Goldwater Scholar for her academic excellence, spent the past thirty months working with Dr. Nitika Parmar, Assistant Professor of Biology, investigating the effects of gene silencing on the growth of human cells. Bonneau has been accepted at Yale University to pursue a Ph.D. in molecular biology.

CI receives Keck Foundation grant

Two faculty members, Dr. Kathryn Leonard, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, and Dr. Brad Monsma, Professor of English, have received a $250,000 grant from the Keck Foundation for CI’s Center for Integrative Studies. The grant will be used to develop an innovative program for CI students to begin developing research and presentation skills from their freshman through senior years.

The program offers an increasingly demanding stepladder of interdisciplinary research courses, allowing students to begin original research projects from their first moment on campus. By the time they reach the upper levels, CI students will have the problem-solving skills and experience to participate in research opportunities that will lead to presentations at national conferences or to publishing in research journals prior to graduation. A student who has accomplished this type of scholarship will have an advantage when applying to graduate school or interviewing with a future employer.

CI named to President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for second year

For the second year in a row, CI has been named to the 2010 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. The Honor Roll’s Presidential Award is the highest federal recognition an institution can receive for its commitment to service learning and civic engagement. It recognizes institutions of higher education that support exemplary community service programs and raises the visibility of best practices in university-community partnerships.

This year a total of 851 institutions applied for the 2010 Honor Roll, a 9% increase over last year, an indication of growing commitment by colleges and universities to engage students in making a difference in their communities. Of that total number, 511 institutions of higher learning were named to the Honor Roll.

The Corporation for National and Community Service oversees the Honor Roll in collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact and the American Council on Education. Honorees are chosen based on a series of selection factors including the scope and innovation of service projects, the extent to which service learning is embedded in the curriculum, the school’s commitment to long-term campus/community partnerships and measurable community outcomes as a result of the service.

CI tallied service hours from Academic Affairs and Student Affairs, giving a total number of 16,258 community service hours completed by CI’s students. CI’s commitment to service learning has been, since its inception, one of the primary focal points of its educational philosophy, enriching students, faculty and the community they serve.

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