Palomar College News

Eclipse Watch: Chasing the shadow

Scott Kardel, shown wearing eclipse glasses, looks upward outside the Palomar College Planetarium.

Story and photo by Tom Pfingsten

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Palomar College Planetarium will be closed on the day of the eclipse, Monday, Aug. 21. On Friday, Aug. 25, the regular Friday evening program, “The Sky Tonight,” will feature Astronomy Professor Scott Kardel discussing his trip to Idaho to view the eclipse. General admission tickets cost $6 and the doors open at 6:30 p.m.


SAN MARCOS (August 18, 2017) — By mid-morning on Monday, 950 miles away from Palomar College and the first day of school, Mark Lane and Scott Kardel will be standing in the shadow of their first total solar eclipse.

If all goes according to plan, the two Palomar College astronomy professors will spend the opening day of the fall semester in Menan, Idaho, where they plan to crowd into the so-called “centerline path” of the eclipse as it sweeps across the U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina.

They will join millions of other Americans jostling for a glimpse of what many eclipse chasers describe as a spiritual event. When the full diameter of the sun is blotted out, they say, nocturnal insects start chirping and a few of the brightest stars become visible in midday.

“We’re fairly certain the public doesn’t understand how incredibly rare this is—to be able to see a total solar eclipse,” said Lane, who has taught astronomy at Palomar for 20 years and has served as Director of the Planetarium since 2003.

The climax of the eclipse only lasts for two minutes and 20 seconds, but, Kardel said, “In my mind, this has been coming for a long time.”

Dreaming of a particular shadow

The day of the eclipse should go about like any other momentous occasion: a slow build-up followed by a few moments of nirvana as the dark circle of the moon completely covers the flaming circle of the sun.

And it is those 140 seconds that Kardel has been anticipating since childhood.

Kardel was in high school in February 1979, when the last solar eclipse in the continental U.S. swooped across the Northwest—including Portland, Ore., where it was hidden behind clouds.

“I was desperately sad that I couldn’t travel to the Pacific Northwest from my home in Arizona to see the eclipse,” he recalled. “I remember I stayed home from school that day, with permission from my parents, and used my telescope to look at the partial eclipse that you could see from Tucson. It seemed close, but really far.”

Twelve years later, another total eclipse cut across Hawaii and then Mexico, “but that was a month and a half after the birth of my daughter. I just couldn’t get away. So that one sort of came and went. But there’s always been 2017, which seemed like this futuristic time for years—this coming eclipse that would be going all the way across the United States.”

At Palomar, Kardel met a fellow eclipse enthusiast in Mark Lane, who had also been looking forward to the spectacle for years: “After landing here at the college, I realized, of course, I’m not alone—this is an interest of Mark’s as well, and we needed to find a way to do this.”

Logistics and photographs

“Momentous” is almost too mild of a word to describe this eclipse in the minds of astronomers—professional and otherwise—across the continental U.S.

Lane, for example, is taking an academic sabbatical for the fall semester in large part to be able to travel to Idaho and capture images of the event. And he has spent months preparing his equipment and himself for the occasion.

“It’ll be about three hours’ worth of video and photography, start to finish,” he said. “The sun, during an eclipse, is a very complicated thing to photograph because it changes its brightness dramatically. And you only get one shot at it.”

As part of his sabbatical, Lane is driving all the way to Idaho and back. But Kardel has classes to teach.

“We’re flying in and out of Salt Lake City, driving up to Idaho,” said Kardel. “After the eclipse, I’ll hop in the car, deal with traffic, and then fly out that night to teach at 8 a.m. the next morning.”

For both men, there are personal and professional motivations behind the trip.

“I hope to be able to give my students a much more personal experience of what it’s really like,” Kardel said. “It’s one thing to say, ‘Well, the moon blocks the sun and it gets dark out.’ It’s another to be able to describe, literally, how does that feel? The senses you have.”

For his part, Lane has seen a 90 percent eclipse, “but there’s a big difference between covering most of the sun and the few minutes of covering it completely,” he said. “Those who see one say you’ll never forget it. And they say you’ll spend the rest of your life trying to see another one.”

Eclipse viewing from North County

During Monday’s eclipse, the darkness of “totality” will only occur along a 100-mile-wide path. For those who are not leaving North County on Monday, a little less than two-thirds of the sun will be eclipsed by the moon.

“It’s a nice partial, by all means,” Lane said of what the event will look like from San Marcos. “But if you don’t have some sort of protection to look through, it’ll look like any other day. You won’t even know it’s happening. The sun is that bright—you can cover half of it, and it will still feel like any other day.”

The eclipse will begin around 9 a.m. and reach its peak at 10:23 a.m. In San Diego, the Fleet Science Center is holding a free viewing event, and there are a couple of cheap ways to watch the celestial drama unfold.

“If you have eclipse glasses or an eclipse viewer, that’s great,” Kardel said. “But the easiest and safest method is to try to project an image of the sun. That’s done very, very simply by poking a hole in a piece of cardboard or poster board and projecting an image of the sun underneath.”

Despite the limitations, Kardel said, “If you can get outside and see some of it yourself, I really suggest doing it.”




Tom Pfingsten, PAO Contractor, Public Affairs Office,
Laura Gropen, Director, Public Affairs Office, 760_744-1150, ext. 2152,
Melinda Finn, Public Affairs Office, 760-744-1150, ext. 2365,

Dr. Jack S. Kahn Takes On Vice President Role at Palomar College

SAN MARCOS (July 26, 2017) –Jack S. Kahn, Ph.D. officially began this month as Palomar College’s Assistant Superintendent/Vice President, Instructional Services.

Dr. Kahn was hired at Palomar in July, 2013 as Dean, Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences (SBS). He served in that position until April of this year, when he was named as Acting Assistant Superintendent/Vice President, Instructional Services. Kahn succeeded Interim Assistant Superintendent/Vice President Dan Sourbeer, who retired after 25 years at Palomar, where he served as professor and Dean, Division of Mathematics and the Natural and Health Sciences.

“I am very excited to be working with Jack in his new role at Palomar,” said Palomar Superintendent/President Dr. Joi Lin Blake. “His enthusiasm, experience and background are a great mix to help us serve our 21st century students during these transformational times.”

In Kahn’s role as Dean, he  worked with faculty and staff on several institutional leadership initiatives including enrollment management, advanced instructional technology solutions (the development of the “My Class Finder” tool and  the Academic Spotlight online site, and a revamp of the College website, to name a few).  He also helped develop the Ramona High School Partnership, and took on a key roles of support and leadership for the biannual Tarde de Familia event, and the undocumented student support committee and the Association for Latinos & Allies for Student Success (ALASS).

Kahn said he said he is excited to be working with others toward having Palomar College “become the hub for intellectual discourse in North County. It is critically important on the personal as well as institutional levels, that Palomar is responsive and collaborative — with industry, our transfer institutions, and our diverse populace — to ensure we are meeting the needs of our surrounding communities. Palomar already has a great reputation,” Kahn said. “I want to work with my colleagues to help build programs that are even more responsive to the community’s needs and to build in the ability to change as the community changes.”

Dr. Blake described Kahn as someone who “has a reputation for action and bringing people to consensus . . . he worked diligently with his division to strengthen and form relationships across the college and partnerships with our communities – from San Diego to China.  He has committed his academic and professional career to supporting social justice, equity and mitigating social marginalization.”

Prior to working at Palomar, Kahn served as the Program Director and Professor of Clinical Psychology for two years at the California School of Professional Psychology, Alliant University. As program director he led a successful American Psychological Association accreditation visit, and was able to establish several community partnerships.  He was also chair and professor for 13 years at Curry College, a liberal arts institution in Milton, Massachusetts. While there, he established internship and honors programs, and was very active in publishing and presenting at national and international conferences.

Kahn remains active in his primary research interest, which is an investigation of the psychosocial impact of masculinities and gender; he has published a textbook and several articles in this area. He was recently an editor for the text, Studies in Meaning V: Perturbing the Status Quo in Constructivist Psychology (Pace University Press).

He holds a doctorate in Counseling Psychology from State University of New York, Buffalo; a Master of Science in Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling from CSU San Jose; and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Arizona State University, Tempe.


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Melinda Finn, Public Affairs Office, 760-744-1150, ext. 2365
Laura Gropen, Public Affairs Office, 760-744-1150 x2152

Palomar College Foundation Gains a New Leader

SAN MARCOS (July 24, 2017) – The Palomar Community College Governing Board approved the appointment of Stacy Rungaitis as the new Palomar College Director of Development/Executive Director of the Foundation at the July 11 Board meeting.

“We’re pleased to have Stacy Rungaitis join us as the Palomar College Foundation team leader,” said Dr. Joi Lin Blake, Palomar College Superintendent/President. “She brings a level of commitment, compassion and energy that I know the community will find inspiring.”

Rungaitis brings a wide-ranging skill set and more than 25 years of experience to the job. She previously served as Director of Development and Marketing for Feeding America San Diego, and prior to that was a senior director of fund development for North County Health Services, where she led the capital campaign that built the North County Health Services Mission Mesa Pediatrics Health Center.

“It’s a privilege to assume leadership of an organization dedicated to affording more students access to higher education,” said Rungaitis. “Through its partnership with the community, the Palomar College Foundation helps remove the financial barriers to college and educate the people who become tomorrow’s contributors to the success of our local communities.”

As a San Marcos resident, Rungaitis is familiar with the priorities of North San Diego County communities served by Palomar College. “Community colleges are an expression of local educational needs and goals,” said Rungaitis. “The Foundation offers many opportunities for people to invest in the future—their future and that of their children and their community.”

Rungaitis will lead the Foundation’s current initiative to raise money in support of the Palomar Promise, which offers a tuition-free first year of Palomar College education to graduates from 21 local high schools.


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Laura Gropen, Public Affairs Office, 760-744-1150 x2152

Melinda Finn, Public Affairs Office, 760-744-1150, ext. 2365


Shayla Sivert Accepted to ACCCA Admin 201: Transformational Leadership Program, Class Of 2017

SAN MARCOS (July 21, 2017) – Shayla Sivert, Palomar College Dean, Languages and Literature has been selected to participate in the Admin 201: Transformational Leadership Program, a new summer academy of the Association of California Community College Administrators (ACCCA).

Sivert is one of 37 participants in the inaugural class of this newly developed program that was designed specifically to identify and nurture administrative talent in the California community college system. According to Patti Marcotte of ACCCA, the organization “has declared these individuals the Future Leaders of the system who will ultimately be called upon to implement the innovative changes necessary to improve student success. “

Marcotte described Admin 201 as the latest in a line-up of successful training programs originated by ACCCA to bridge the gap in skills and leadership development in the California community colleges. “The program’s compelling curriculum pairs a comprehensive exploration of leadership theory and self-assessment with strategies for implementing institutional change,” Marcotte said.

The program is funded by a grant from the California Community College’s Chancellor’s Office Institutional Effectiveness Division.

Palomar Superintendent/President Dr. Joi Lin Blake said, “This is great news for Shayla, and for Palomar College. We already benefit from Shayla’s strong leadership skills, and she is a perfect fit for this program.”

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Melinda Finn, Public Affairs Office, 760-744-1150, ext. 2365
Laura Gropen, Public Affairs Office, 760-744-1150  ext. 2152


Fall Enrollment is Happening Now at Palomar College

Enroll Early for Best Selection

SAN MARCOS (July 6, 2017) – Palomar College is full of opportunities for students this fall, to take classes that are transferable to universities, sharpen skills, explore new subject areas, or move them closer to their career goals.

Fall semester classes begin Monday, Aug. 21. Enrollment is open through the beginning of the semester. Many classes can be transferred to UC, CSU and private universities.

A number of sections are offered during the day and evening, especially in core classes, to accommodate students’ work schedules and family needs. Other class formats include Online, Fast Track and Late Start classes. Flexible scheduling options provide alternate start and end dates from the full 16-week semester. Eight-week Fast Track classes begin in August and October, and the 12-week session classes start two to four weeks after the beginning of the semester. Late Start, self-paced, open-entry/open-exit and weekend classes provide additional options throughout the semester.

In addition to the San Marcos campus, Palomar College offers classes at the Escondido Center, and has education sites at Camp Pendleton, Fallbrook High School and Mt. Carmel High School.

Along with core subjects, students can pursue degrees in cutting-edge technologies. For example, Palomar has a unique series of courses focused on geographic information systems (GIS) and drone technology. These courses  teach students a variety of skills from using equipment, to analyzing data and running a business. This knowledge can lead to careers in crime analysis, construction inspection, urban planning, and marketing, to name a few.

Courses in computer science and information technology can lead to careers in programming (including video game programming), information technology, networking, web technology and more.

The World Languages department offers classes in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish.

Just a few of the other programs available at Palomar include — accounting, administration of justice, alcohol and other drug studies, American Indian studies,  American Sign Language, astronomy, automotive technology, cinema, counseling, health, real estate, religious studies, speech, and welding. Other subject areas include biology, broadcasting (digital broadcast arts), business, cabinet and furniture technology, chemistry, Chicano studies, child development, counseling, economics, drafting, engineering, entertainment technology, health, interior design, kinesiology, multicultural studies, nutrition, oceanography, photography, physics, political science, and zoology.

From art and architecture to performing arts, water technology and welding, Palomar has classes to meet a wide range of interests and career goals. For the most up-to-date listing of open classes, view the class schedule online at

California community college fees remain an affordable higher education option at only $46 per unit for California residents, the lowest cost in the nation. Palomar College offers more than 250 associate degree and certificate programs.

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Melinda Finn, Public Affairs Office, 760-744-1150, x2365

Laura Gropen, Public Affairs Office, 760-744-1150 x2152


Palomar Hosts Drone Conference on July 7

SAN MARCOS (July 3, 2017) –  Palomar College will host a Drone Conference, PALOMAR DRONE-CON ’17, on Friday, July 7 at the San Marcos campus.

Designed for industry professionals and educators, the event is currently sold out. The group of 140 people who registered is made up of those interested in introducing drones in their classes or line of work; and individuals who want to connect with other industry professionals who are already using drones in their work.

The keynote speaker will be Todd Jacobs from the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (

Guest speakers will include representatives from the fields of insurance (aerial metrics), agriculture (slantrange), utility inspection (SDG&E), construction (Balfour Beatty Construction), aviation (Academy of Model Aeronautics), and environmental assessment fields (UC Irvine). In addition to workshops and guest speakers, the event will feature industry panels, vendor exhibits, and demonstrations throughout the day. The schedule of events can be found here: .

Coordinating the conference are  Wing Cheung, professor of geography, and coordinator for the Geographic Information Systems  (GIS) program at Palomar; and  Mark Bealo, professor of graphic communications, including drone courses at Palomar. For information please contact Wing Cheung at

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Melinda Finn, Public Affairs Office, 760-744-1150, ext. 2365,
Laura Gropen, Director, Public Affairs Office, 760-744-1150, ext. 2152,
Wing Cheung, Professor, Geography/GIS Coordinator, 760-744-1150, ext. 3652,



  Drone Programs Receive Grant from the National Science Foundation

Shown are two models representing the Palomar College Dome and Planetarium. These models were created with a 3D printer and were generated from images gathered with small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS), commonly referred to as “drones”. (photo by Melinda Finn)


Drone-related curriculum and programs at Palomar College received a big boost recently with news of the College receiving nearly $800,000 in grant money from the National Science Foundation. The three-year grant will fund the Unmanned Aircraft System operations Technician Education Program (UASTEP).

Awarded by the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program, the project came about as a collaborative effort under the direction of four professors: Wing Cheung (Principal Investigator or PI), Professor of Geography and Coordinator of the Geographic Information Systems  (GIS) program at Palomar;  Mark Bealo (Co-PI), Professor of Graphic Communications, including drone courses at Palomar; Sean Figg, Assistant Professor of Geology at Palomar; and Ken Yanow, Professor of Geographical Sciences at Southwestern College, and Adjunct Professor of Geography at Palomar.

The four objectives of UASTEP are (1) Program and Curriculum Development (2) Professional Development for Educators (3) Strengthening Business and Workplace Competencies and (4) Student Outreach and Summer Academies. More information about UASTEP and the grant can be found here.

Cheung said, “This grant allows for developing both new classes and partnerships with industry, each of which will help students transition into careers in the sUAS field.” He said that the Palomar program stands out from similar drone-related programs in that “it appeals not only to those wanting to become drone technicians, but also to those interested in becoming entrepreneurs” in this up and coming industry.



Melinda Finn, Public Affairs Office, 760-744-1150, ext. 2365
Laura Gropen, Public Affairs Office, 760-744-1150 x2152


Palomar College Seeks Volunteers for the Proposition M Bond Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee (ICOC)

Palomar is seeking to immediately fill five vacancies on the ICOC

SAN MARCOS (May 31, 2017) — Palomar College is seeking to fill five vacancies on the Proposition M Bond Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee (ICOC).  These are appointed positions which require an application, and approval by the Palomar College Governing Board.  The following positions are available:  a member active in a business organization representing the business community located in the District; a member representing the community at-large; a member active in a senior citizens’ organization; a member active in a bona-fide taxpayers association; and a member active in a support organization for Palomar College, such as foundation or advisory council.

The ICOC oversees how the college expends Proposition M, the facilities bond measure voters approved in November 2006.  The committee is responsible for ensuring that bond proceeds are expended only for the purposes described in the Proposition M ballot measure.

Individuals interested in this appointed position can obtain an application on Palomar’s website at or by calling Shawna Cohen in Employment Services at; her phone number is 760-744-1150, extension 2608.  Applications must be submitted by 4:30 p.m. on June 30, 2017.

Candidates must be at least 18 years old and must reside within the Palomar Community College District, which stretches from Camp Pendleton and part of Oceanside in the west, to Borrego Springs in the east, and from the Riverside County line to Poway and Rancho Penasquitos.

State law requires that the ICOC membership include at least one (enrolled) student who is active in a community college support group, such as student government; one member active in a business organization representing the business community; one member active in a senior citizens’ organization; one member active in a taxpayers’ association; one member active in a support organization for Palomar College, such as the Palomar College Foundation and President’s Associates; and two members of the community.

A majority of the members must possess expertise in one or more of the following areas: large-scale construction operations, municipal/public finance, expertise with agency/entity budgeting, and project management. The committee may not include any employee or official of the district, or any vendor, contractor or consultant of the district.

Under the ICOC bylaws approved by the Governing Board in September 2008, terms of service are generally two years, with a maximum of two terms. ICOC members are not compensated. The college anticipates that the ICOC will meet quarterly.

The ICOC bylaws stipulate the group will receive and review the district’s annual independent performance audit and annual independent financial audit; inspect college facilities and grounds for which bond proceeds have been or will be expended; review district efforts to maximize bond proceeds; inform the public and Governing Board about the district’s bond expenditures; present an annual written report to the Board; and provide other input.

The Proposition M measure allows Palomar to carry out its Facilities Master Plan. A 15-year building and re-building program it approximately three-quarters complete for Palomar’s San Marcos campus; in addition, land has been purchased for a center in the Fallbrook and in the southern part of the District (both sites are scheduled to open in summer 2018).


Laura Gropen, Public Affairs Office
760-744-1150, ext. 2152

Enrollment is Open for Summer Classes at Palomar College

SAN MARCOS (May 30, 2017) – Summer is off and running at Palomar College. Four-week intersession classes have started and a busy summer session will follow, offering many opportunities for students to sharpen skills, explore new subject areas, and/or get that much closer to their educational goals.

Enrollment is now open for summer session — six and eight-week classes begin on June 26 and end on Aug. 8 or Aug. 18. Many classes can be transferred to UC, CSU and private universities. Classes will meet either on the San Marcos campus, one of the campus sites in Escondido, Camp Pendleton, Mt. Carmel High School, or Fallbrook High School, or at the Public Safety Training Center in San Marcos.

Core classes, such as English, history, math, psychology and sociology are available. Other classes include accounting, administration of justice, alcohol and other drug studies, American Indian studies,  American Sign Language, art, automotive technology, broadcasting (digital broadcast arts), biology, business, cabinet and furniture technology, chemistry, Chicano studies, child development, Chinese, computer science, counseling, dance, digital broadcast arts, and economics.

More classes offered are drafting, engineering, entertainment technology, geography, graphic communications, health, interior design, Italian, Japanese, kinesiology, multicultural studies, music, nutrition, oceanography, photography, philosophy, photography physics, political science, real estate, religious studies, Spanish, speech, welding technology, zoology and more.

For the most up-to-date listing of open classes, view the class schedule online at

California community college fees remain an affordable higher education option at $46 per unit for California residents. Palomar College offers more than 250 associate degree and certificate programs, and has classes in a variety of formats, including traditional, online, video and flexible schedule.

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Melinda Finn, Public Affairs Office, 760-744-1150, ext. 2365
Laura Gropen, Public Affairs Office, 760-744-1150 x2152

Commencement Ceremony at Palomar College to take Place Friday, May 26


The Ceremony Marks the 70th Anniversary Commencement Celebration and features a member from the 1947 class!


SAN MARCOS, CA (May 19, 2017) — Palomar College presents annual commencement exercises Friday, May 26, at 5 p.m. on the football practice field at the College’s San Marcos campus. Joi Lin Blake, Ed.D., Superintendent/President of the Palomar Community College District, will conduct the ceremonies. The event is open to the public.

“This is a very special commencement ceremony as we celebrate our 70th commencement celebration!  We are so proud of the achievements of each and every one of our graduates,” said Blake.  While all of our graduates are special, during this year’s ceremony we will honor an alumna from our first class in 1947.  Additionally, we have a 13-year-old graduate (with a 4.0 GPA!) participating in the ceremony, demonstrating the life-changing transformative power of education on individuals and the community-at-large.”

This year the college received 3,522 applications for associate degrees or certificates of achievement: 1,678 associate of arts (A.A.) degrees; 1,437 certificates; and 407 associate degrees for transfer are planned to be awarded.  More than 500 students are expected to participate in the ceremony.  Individuals receiving degrees and certificates in the ceremony will meet in the Dome on the college campus at 3:30 p.m. on Commencement Day.

The keynote speaker is Candace Rose, winner of the 2015 – 2016 Distinguished Faculty Award for full-time faculty.  Rose is Assistant Professor of Cinema in the Media Studies department. She also received Palomar’s 2016 “Best of the Best” Teaching with Technology award.

Palomar’s 2017 Alumna of the Year Anita (Ronay) Maag unknowingly became a trendsetter in her family when she enrolled at Palomar College in 1947, shortly after the college opened at its first location at Vista High School. She and her husband Stan, who she met as a fellow student on campus, became the first of three generations of the Maag family to graduate from Palomar.

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Media Contacts:

Laura Gropen, Director, Public Affairs Office, 760-744-1150 x2152
Melinda Finn, Public Affairs Office, 760-744-1150 ext. 2365
Commencement Information for Students: Marilyn Lunde, Student Affairs, 760-744-1150, ext. 2595