Category Archives: Campus News

Columbia College Presidential Finalists Selected

The Columbia College Presidential Search Committee has selected two finalists who will participate in community open forums scheduled for April 18 and 19, 2018 at Columbia College.

The finalists (with most recent position held) are listed below with forum times:



Dr. Santanu Bandyopadhyay – (Wednesday, April 18, 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. in the Dogwood Forum Building)

(Executive Vice President of Educational Programs and Student Services, Cypress College – Cypress CA)



Dr. James Todd – (Thursday, April 19, 2018 at 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. in the Dogwood Forum Building)

(Vice President of Student Services at Modesto Junior College – Modesto, CA)

The search committee was chaired by Dr. Melissa Raby, Vice President of Student Services, Columbia College. Initial interviews were completed April 6, 2018 and the names of the two finalists have been forwarded to Chancellor Yong and the YCCD Board of Trustees.

Open forums have been scheduled on April 18 and April 19 in the Dogwood Forum, Columbia College, 11600 Columbia College Drive, Sonora. The forum on April 18 will be from 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m., the forum on April 19 will be from 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

Each finalist will be given an opportunity to discuss their preparation for the position, their education and leadership philosophy, concluding with a time to respond to questions from the forum attendees. The forums are open to the public and community members are warmly invited to attend.


Dr. Santanu Bandyopadhyay

(Forum date/time: April 18, 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.)


  • Ph.D. in Higher Education, Ohio University
  • MBA, Ohio University
  • B.S. in Physics, Kolkata University

Professional Experience:

  • Executive Vice President of Educational Programs and Student Services, Cypress College
  • Director of Institutional Research and Planning, Cypress College
  • Budget and Policy Analyst, Ohio University


Dr. James Todd

(Forum date/time: April 19, 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.)


  • Ph.D. and M.A in Cultural Anthropology, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • M.A. in Anthropology, The George Washington University
  • B.A. in Anthropology, New College of the University of South Florida
  • A.A. in General Studies, Brevard Community College

Professional Experience:

  • Vice President of Student Services, Modesto Junior College
  • Professor of Anthropology and Academic Senate President, Modesto Junior College

Columbia College’s Symphony of the Sierra on April 17th

The Symphony of the Sierra 2018 Spring Concert will be held at Columbia College, Dogwood Forum, at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 17, 2018. The repertoire provides a wonderful introduction to orchestral music for children, while being complex enough to satisfy the seasoned classical ear.

The orchestra is excited to be performing the fourth movement of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, Gershwin’s American in Paris, Gounod’s Judex from Mors et Vita, and Williams’s English Folk Song Suite.

The symphony is delighted to introduce the Symphony of the Sierra Beginning Strings (a Community Education course) — performing in their first concert.  This is a free event open to the public and all are welcome.

Columbia College Foundation Honors Students

Columbia College Foundation HONORS STUDENTS – More than $120,000 in Scholarships AWARDED

The Columbia College Foundation and its community partners will present more than $120,000 in scholarships to qualified and deserving students at the annual Columbia College Scholarship and Awards Celebration on Thursday, April 12.  The event, 4:30-5:30 pm at the Dogwood Forum on campus, features student and community speakers, musical performances and presentation of the Student of the Year awards.

Speakers at Thursday’s event include Elsie Bruno, a retired Columbia College counselor who was the college’s first scholarship coordinator, nursing student Melissa Murray who was selected 2018 Student of the Year, and re-entry student Matthew Burbey who will share his story of starting a support program to help students like himself who were formerly incarcerated.

In the 2017-2018 academic year, the Foundation and community partners awarded more than 150 scholarships to more than 90 students, totaling more than $120,000 in support for their educational expenses. Many of these scholarships are contributed by community organizations and individuals, many are offered annually through the Foundation’s endowed funds, and more than 20 each year are funded through the Foundation’s Osher Scholarship Endowment, established in partnership with the Bernard Osher Foundation, the Foundation for California Community Colleges and community donors.

Columbia College students are encouraged to apply for scholarships each fall. Criteria for awards vary depending on donors’ preferences, which include area of study, academic excellence, volunteer involvement or financial need.

“I deeply appreciate the generosity of our donors who help support the success of our students through scholarships,” noted Dr. Angela Fairchilds, College President. “For many students, this kind of support is critical in helping them persevere.  Their personal stories are very compelling”

It is a point of pride for the college to have many internal campus donors – three student clubs sponsor annual scholarships, as well as all employee groups and dozens of individual faculty members and staff.

Colette Such, Columbia College Foundation President added, “Though it’s a great amount of work for all who read scholarship applications and choose scholarship recipients, it is truly a labor of love. Their stories often bring us to tears, their work inspires us, and their futures give us hope”


The Columbia College Foundation is a community nonprofit established in 1972 to promote quality higher education that enriches the academic, economic, and cultural life of our community. The Foundation’s mission is to promote student success by providing community resources that support and expand educational opportunities for Columbia College students. Donations to the Columbia College Foundation are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Questions about the Foundation should be directed to Amy Nilson, Director of Development, at (209) 588-5055 or

Columbia College Hosts Occupational Olympics

Columbia College will host several hundred high school students for the 18th annual Occupational Olympics to be held on Friday, March 16, 2018. The contests will run from 10:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with the award ceremony immediately following.

Students from Tuolumne County will compete in twelve separate events that challenge them to think critically in a contextual environment.  The events include automotive, child development, computer business applications, cosmetology, digital photography, law enforcement, entrepreneurship, hospitality management, health occupations, fire technology, forestry & natural resources, and welding.

Dr. Klaus Tenbergen, the Dean of Career Technical Education & Economic Development at Columbia College says, “The Occupational Olympics allows regional high school students to develop the abilities to think critically, communicate clearly, and perform effectively through CTE competitions. Over the years the number of participants has been increasing and so has the number of competitions.”

Students from Tuolumne and Calaveras County high schools are competing. The Superintendents from the participating high schools and the Columbia College President, Dr. Angela Fairchilds will be presenting the awards.


For more information, contact:

Dr. Klaus Tenbergen

Dean of Career Technical Education & Economic Development

Office: 209.588.5142

Cell: 559.994.6434

President Fairchilds Announces Her Retirement

Columbia, CA — With a series of significant goals met, solid leadership and a strong strategic plan in place, Columbia College’s president says she is ready to pass the torch.

Speaking with Clarke Broadcasting about her decision to retire this June, Dr. Angela Fairchilds, whose four-year Mother Lode tenure caps off a 38-year career in higher education, says that her head and heart both finally chimed in to tell her it is time to step back. Chuckling, she confides, “My husband has been retired now for 15 years — he retired when we came back to California from Arizona — and I think he was hoping then that I would have been ready!”

Describing Columbia College as a special place that she knows will be left in safe hands, Fairchilds confides, “The timing feels right. We have a talented leadership team in place now…some strong faculty working collegially to achieve the goals and priorities of the college and meeting the needs of the students and the community.” Adding to her rationale she notes, “We have our strategic plan in place, our foundation is really on solid ground and we just launched the Columbia Promise [a free tuition program, as reported here] for the high school students. So we have accomplished a lot in the last four years — and I think the college is moving forward on a strong path and we have the right leadership team in place to keep it moving along.”

A Healthy Time To Depart

When Fairchilds arrived in 2014, fresh from a similar post at Woodland Community College, she did not see a retirement horizon, though watching personal friends over the past couple of years lose their spouses, some very suddenly and unexpectedly, started her thinking about it. “I wanted to make sure Dave [my husband] and I had quality time together to travel and do some of the fun, leisurely things on our own schedule while we still had the time together — and good health to travel and do those kinds of things,” she explains. Those thoughts helped form her decision over this past Christmas break.

Looking back on her time at Columbia she recounts, “One of the things that I made a priority when I arrived was to make sure the college reconnected in a meaningful way to the community and I think we have done that.” Since word first began circling about her retirement a few weeks ago, she says she received welcome confirming feedback about that effort.

Too, she says, “Columbia becoming well-known in the state and nationally because, as I like to say, ‘we are small but mighty’. The team up here is not afraid to compete against the ‘big dogs’. We have been successful and the [college’s] apprenticeship grants [as reported here] are a fine example of that. For a small college for us to be able to qualify for that type of funding and those kinds of programs is significant. Getting that kinds of recognition… looking for different ways to serve our community and help our students be successful is front and center for us — and I think that we have done an excellent job with those two things.”

Recruitment Plans Now Rolling

As far as succession plans go, Fairchilds says the processes are in place. The district has contracted with a recruiting consultant; published the opening of her position; formed a review committee and set up a timeline that anticipates a new president to be on board by the beginning of July. In fact, final interviews and public forums are slated the week of April 16-20, while faculty and staff are still within the school year.

“I wanted to give the district the whole six-month time-frame to find somebody to fill my size six and a half shoes,” Fairchilds jokes, adding that when the time comes to go it will definitely be a tug for her. Future plans include retiring to Oro Valley just outside of Tucson, Arizona, where she and her husband have maintained a longtime home that will become a home base for travel and other activities. An Alaska cruise planned for June has been pushed to September, a time that she notes was previously impossible for her to travel at all. It will be followed sometime next year with a nice long break in the British Isles, her home country.

Looking to her soon-to-be new schedule ahead, Fairchilds is practically incredulous as she shares a parting comment, “In 38 years I have never been able to be gone for more than two weeks at a time, so I am really looking forward to…nice quiet time, traveling with my husband — and not having anyone else but me driving my schedule!”

42nd Annual Columbia Wine Tasting To Benefit Columbia College Hospitality Management Program

The Columbia College Foundation will host the 42nd Annual Columbia Wine Tasting – a benefit event from 1:00 to 4:00pm SUNDAY, April 15 to support the Columbia College Hospitality Management Program.

“The Columbia event provides wine enthusiasts a chance to sample local wineries and restaurants alongside a number of California’s favorite producers while visiting unique sites in the State Historic Park,” according to Tom Bender, a Hospitality instructor at Columbia College and longtime organizer of the tasting. “Many are small production wineries pouring new and limited release wines.”

Guests will be able to sample premium wines from more than 70 wineries, and enjoy hors d’oeuvres prepared by students enrolled in the Columbia College Hospitality Management Program, as well as a NEW culinary competition featuring Hospitality students and chefs from local restaurants.

Tickets can be purchased online for $55 per person in advance, or $60 per person at the event as available. Attendees receive a complimentary souvenir wine glass and wine tastings from participating wineries and food vendors. For more information or to make a reservation, visit or call (209) 588-5089. The Tuolumne County Visitors Bureau is a new sponsor for this year’s event.


Contact:  Columbia College Hospitality Management Program – Don Dickinson, Program Coordinator            (209) 588-5135

WHAT: 42nd Annual Columbia Wine Tasting

WHEN: Sunday, April 15, 2018, 1:00 to 4:00 p.m.

WHERE: Columbia State Historic Park


Columbia College has named 182 students to the fall 2017 semester President’s List.

We are pleased to officially recognize their exceptional scholastic achievement.  This acknowledgment is reserved for students completing twelve or more units of semester coursework at Columbia College and earning a cumulative grade point average between 3.5 and 4.0, with no grade lower than “C.”


Columbia College fall 2017 President’s List students are listed below by city.

Riley Jackson Acampo
Jesus Avila Altaville
Savannah Mattingly Angels Camp
Sarahi Terrones Angels Camp
Christian Wilson Angels Camp
Jeremiah Wilson Angels Camp
Ronald Hawkins Arnold
Jake Hylton Arnold
Jalen Enoch Bedford
Gwendolyn Craig Big Bear City
Marshall Williams Boulder Creek
Kai Bannister Columbia
Aaron David Columbia
Amy McQueary Columbia
Martin Mills Columbia
Fanjaharilanto Rasoavero Drake Columbia
Justin Barnes Copperopolis
Shaelyn Hamari Copperopolis
Kimberly Busby Coulterville
Alicia Encoyand Coulterville
Cody Henderson Coulterville
Mary McDermand Coulterville
Daniel Wegner Danville
Nolan Adam-Chinn Douglas Flat
Ashley Del Ponte Escalon
Audrey Orr Escalon
Anthony Felts Groveland
Ethan Yeadon Hathaway Pines
Munro Meyers Herald
Alaric Adams Jamestown
William Brown Jamestown
Dalton Butow Jamestown
Ian Cicero Jamestown
Andrew Derichsweiler Jamestown
Brett Dolan Jamestown
Sonja Gion Jamestown
Blanca Gonzalez Jamestown
Kristi Insilan Jamestown
Madison Joplin Jamestown
William Krein Jamestown
Levi Lowe Jamestown
Amandalyn Madlin Jamestown
Mona Mohr Jamestown
Nathan Orozco Jamestown
Juan Salmeron Jamestown
Peter Tidball Jamestown
Melvin Wignall Jamestown
Nicole Wilkins Jamestown
Trevell Wilson Jamestown
Kennedy Bruce La Grange
Jerry Cameron La Grange
Kirstin Leventhal La Grange
Anna Pellegrini La Grange
Joshua Sunday La Grange
Jay Mehta Lathrop
John Coose Linden
Kirsten Hall Livermore
David Ring Lodi
Cynthia Harmon Mariposa
Maria Makhina Mariposa
David Azevedo Merced
Annie Curtis Mountain Ranch
Max Golay Murphys
Emma Hampton Murphys
Savannah Luis Murphys
Eric Pellegrino Murphys
Bethanni Riedel Murphys
Elena Smith Murphys
Rebecca Smith Murphys
Daniel Alexander Oakdale
Samantha Esquivel Oakdale
Patrick Fabry Oakdale
Steven Gazdik Oakdale
Bastian Jimenez Oakdale
Dimitri Lolonis Oakdale
Magaly Marin Oakdale
Kaitlyn Mast Gruidl Oakdale
Juan Reyes Oakdale
Daniel Rodriguez Oakdale
Christina Scott Oakdale
Colin Maguire Petaluma
Rafael Soto Pittsburg
Stephanie Riley Rail Road Flat
Claudia Vargas Riverbank
Jared Cragun San Andreas
Shasta Garcia San Andreas
Keifer Minehart San Andreas
Carina Swann San Andreas
Michael Wilmshurst San Andreas
Alexander Adam Sonora
Alexander Arnold Sonora
Ian Austin Sonora
Emily Beluardo Sonora
Patricia Hazel Bibal Sonora
Anna Bruno Sonora
Lucas Burgess Sonora
Tamara Burgess Sonora
Theresa Campagna Sonora
Waylon Coats Sonora
Valeria Dapello Sonora
Bryce Dorflinger Sonora
Susan Elias Sonora
Shalom Fletcher Sonora
Aren Forster Sonora
Veniamin Gedarevich Sonora
Alfonso Gonzalez-Mora Sonora
Andrew Guptill Sonora
Dillon Hadden Sonora
Cory Hall Sonora
Natalie Hawks Sonora
Grace Hernandez Sonora
April Howard Sonora
Nicholas Konklin Sonora
Mark Kreuzer Sonora
Shaina Lane Sonora
Hillary Liljedahl Sonora
Stacy Lindsey Sonora
Todd Long Sonora
Nikaya Lundeen Sonora
Teyana Lundeen Sonora
Colby Mathe Sonora
Nathan Maurer Sonora
Jeremy McCall Sonora
Jessi McClenahan Sonora
Travis Moore Sonora
Melissa Murry Sonora
Madeline Odom Sonora
Savannah Oellrich Sonora
Molina Ofiana Sonora
Samuel Page Sonora
Chloe Plummer Sonora
Josephine Price Sonora
Katra Pritchard Sonora
Jade Pruett Sonora
Niki Roberts Sonora
Ian Schubert Sonora
Chonne Shatswell Sonora
Megan Snyder Sonora
Maddison Stevens Sonora
Jack Summers Sonora
Isabel Valadez Sonora
Morgan Vaughn Sonora
Stephanie Lyka Viceral Sonora
Megan Vistica Sonora
Dawn Warfield Sonora
Faith Weatheral-Block Sonora
Erin Wilson Sonora
Stephanie Wise Sonora
Bodhi Dannley-Johnston Soquel
Allie Eveleth Soulsbyville
Jennifer Milbourn Soulsbyville
Isaiah Porter Soulsbyville
Summer Williams Standard
Jonathen Villante-Keeton Stockton
Victoria Brick Tuolumne
Melody Brown Tuolumne
Glenn Cargain Tuolumne
Samantha Domser Tuolumne
Ryley Durling Tuolumne
Justin Eisler Tuolumne
Jonah Funk Tuolumne
Julia Grimes Tuolumne
Danika Lillie Tuolumne
Ashley Mikita Tuolumne
Alexandria Norvell Tuolumne
Daniel Pavlin Tuolumne
Ryan Whalen Tuolumne
Michael DeSilva Turlock
Andrew Preuss Turlock
Ayla Buck Twain Harte
Lynne Christopher Twain Harte
Patrick Cohen Twain Harte
Brenda Rager Twain Harte
Ariel Vaccarezza Twain Harte
Colin Prest Vallecito
Ana Bobrycki Valley Springs
Jayanna Cazares Valley Springs
Karli Gerlinger Valley Springs
Darlene Gibson Valley Springs
Kyra Miles Valley Springs
Jasmine Van Lehn Valley Springs
Kendall Kiely Waterford

Columbia College Receives State Grant for Fire Science Pre-Apprenticeship Initiative

Columbia College has received formal notification of the intent to award, pending Board of Governor’s approval and available funds commencing on January 18, 2018, a two-year grant to develop a new Fire Science Pre-Apprenticeship Initiative program.  The college will receive $496,804 over two years to implement the Initiative, recruit students, and launch the training with partner agencies. The award, just announced by the California Community College Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) Workforce and Development Division, is part of the new California Apprenticeship Initiative aimed at broadening the range of apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs available to California workers.

Columbia College is currently implementing two Apprenticeship Initiatives with similar grant funding in Hospitality Management and Child Development and is excited about expanding opportunities to other industries to provide a well-trained workforce. The Columbia College Apprenticeship Initiative Programs have registered 49 Hospitality Management apprentices since January 2017 and 18 Child Development apprentices starting their pathway in January 2018. There are 30 remaining slots for Child Development apprentices, for which the program is still accepting applications.

The new grant will fund the development of the Fire Science Pre-Apprenticeship, a pilot project that will allow high school students and adults interested in careers in firefighting to explore opportunities in Fire Service and prepare them for admission to the Columbia College Fire Academy. The program also creates a pipeline for individuals to apply to Cal-JAC, the state’s only apprenticeship in firefighting. Designed with input from partner agencies, the program is modeled on European apprenticeships, blending classroom instruction and hands-on training to prepare individuals for the intensity of a fire academy and apprenticeship.

Pre-apprenticeship programs are differentiated from Registered Apprenticeship programs in that they provide a broad-based training program in order to prepare participants for admittance to registered apprenticeship programs.

Dr. Klaus Tenbergen, Dean of Technical and Career Education & Economic Development, will oversee development and implementation of the Initiative starting in early 2018.

“This is a unique opportunity to work with local partners and agencies to develop a skilled and educated workforce for the Fire Science industry,” Tenbergen said.

Pre-apprentices will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of skills-building workshops and training through different professional agencies at partnering sites, receiving comprehensive training in a range of activities associated with firefighting. Training in other “soft skills” will be incorporated throughout. Once students complete the Initiative components as described, they will be prepared to enter the Columbia College Fire Academy, and eventually apply as apprentices with the California Firefighters Joint Apprenticeship Committee (Cal-JAC) or intern with local fire districts. If students desire, they may also pursue an Associate’s Degree in Fire Science with additional coursework.

Along with other fire agency partners in our community, the following agencies have expressed support: Tuolumne County Economic Development Authority, Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools, Mother Lode Job Training, Motherlode Workforce Investment Board, and California Firefighters Joint Apprenticeship Committee (Cal-JAC).

Other interested parties are encouraged to contact Dr. Tenbergen to be included in upcoming planning meetings to be scheduled for late February 2018.


For more information, contact:

Dr. Klaus Tenbergen

Dean of Career Technical Education & Economic Development

Office: 209.588.5142

Cell: 559.994.6434



Columbia College will present its winter concert “Symphony of the Sierra” at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, December 17th  in the Dogwood Theatre.

The wide-ranging repertoire promises to be a performance well worth hearing.  According to orchestra conductor, Mic Harper, “The repertoire provides an eclectic exploration of works from the late 1890’s to 2014.

Concert repertoire includes, The Children of Sanchez, South County Sketches, a medley of Duke Ellington’s works, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Procession of the Nobles, Gounod’s Marionetten—Trauermarsch, Christmas Festival by the ever-popular Leroy Anderson and more.

The concert is free and the public are invited to attend.

Columbia College’s Foster Youth Program Receives $20,000 Contribution

AT&T made a $20,000 contribution to the college’s innovative Foster Youth Success Initiative during a ceremony held at the college on September 20, 2017.


The funds will be used to support the Foster Youth college success program which provides transportation assistance, peer group and counseling support along with access to other social services that can assist foster youth persist through college graduation.

The contribution is part of AT&T Aspire, the company’s signature philanthropic initiative and financial commitment of $400 million since 2008 to drive innovation in education and promote student success in school and beyond.

“We are very grateful to AT&T for this significant contribution to our Foster Youth program,” said Angela Fairchilds, President of Columbia College. “AT&T understands the importance of education and support services to help youth stay in school and succeed academically.”

Columbia College recognizes that students who are in the foster care system often face significant challenges. In order to support foster youth to overcome these challenges and reach their educational goals, the College offers a variety of support services for current and former foster youth.

The Foster Youth Success Initiative also partners with a number of local and regional public, private and tribal agencies that serve those who have been in the foster care system.  Through this collaborative network, students are referred to appropriate sources of support to meet their individual needs.

“Foster youth face many unique challenges when trying to obtain a quality education,” said Julie Tone, Director of External Affairs, AT&T California. “AT&T is proud to support this college success program to improve the lives of foster youth in Tuolumne County.”