Campus News

Pierce College 18-Acre Farm Center Business to Close; Pierce Farm Remains

College President Kathleen F. Burke says that there are no plans to sell any of the college’s 226-acre farm, including the 18 acres occupied by the Pierce College Farm Center. She clarifies the difference between the Farm and the Farm Center in the following statement:

"There may be some confusion in the community about what Pierce College refers to as the “farm” and the entity that calls itself the “Pierce College Farm Center.” The Farm Center is operated by a for-profit business called Asylum Productions, Inc. on 18 acres of land on the northwest side of the College running parallel to Victory on the north and De Soto on the west.

"What the College refers to as the “farm” is the remaining land comprising over 208 acres. This is the land on which our cattle, sheep, goats, and horses graze. It is a living laboratory for students in our various animal sciences programs. The recent articles regarding the closing of the “Farm Center” refer only to the business on the 18 acres of College-owned land that is currently leased to Asylum Productions, Inc. Once Asylum Productions vacates the leased land, it will revert to direct College control for use in our instructional programs, including the horticulture, animal science, agriculture and environmental sciences programs. The faculty are still discussing how to incorporate these resources into their academic programs.  

"The College remains committed to serving the students and the community with close attention to appropriate use of taxpayer-supported property. There are no plans for or discussions about selling any of the 226-acre farm portion of the College’s land."


Drama “For This Moment Alone” to be First Play of Season at Pierce


Los Angeles Pierce College Theatre’s 2014-2015 Season premieres on October 24 with the moving drama about a family coping with the aftermath of the holocaust, “For This Moment Alone,” written by Marcia Kash. Performances begin Friday, October 24 and continue through Sunday, November 2 in the Temporary Performing Arts Complex. 

Set in Toronto in 1948, a Jewish family, struggling to recover from the horrors of the holocaust in Europe, finally has cause to rejoice. Ruth is about to be reunited with the only surviving member of her immediate family—her brother Freddie. But when she goes to meet him she is faced with the most devastating shock of her life. This engaging drama about life, love, guilt and redemption follows the paths of Ruth and the rest of the family as they come to terms with what it means to accept, to forgive and to survive.

LAPC Theatre’s production of For This Moment Alone is directed by Robert Cucuzza. The cast features Steven Alpert, Hessel Evelaar, Laura Goldstein, Brian Robert Harris, Marilyn Lazik, Ryan Lisman and Jessica Lynn Verdi. Scenic and lighting design is by Curtis Le, costume design by Gabriella Villalobos and sound design by Edward Salas. Lyndsay Lucas is the stage manager. For This Moment Alone is produced for LAPC Theatre by Michael Sande.

For This Moment Alone opens on Friday, October 24 at 8pm, and continues on Saturday, Oct. 25 at 8pm, Sunday, Oct. 26 at 2pm, Friday, Oct. 31 at 8pm, Saturday, Nov. 1 at 8pm and Sunday, Nov. 2 at 2pm. Tickets are priced at $12 for students and seniors and $15 for general admission. Free parking is conveniently located in parking lots #7 and #8. 

Subscriptions are still available for LAPC Theatre’s 2014-2015 Season, which also includes the Tony Award-winning musical Cabaret (December), the hilarious new comedy Cheese (March, 2015) and the classic American story To Kill A Mockingbird (May). Subscriptions range in price from $37-$60. For more information, or to purchase tickets, call 818-719-6488, or online at


Being Alive Speakers Visit Pierce for HIV/AIDS Awareness Week

October brings AIDS Awareness Month and time for Pierce College’s annual Fall AIDS/HIV Awareness Weeks. As in previous semesters, we have two weeks, Oct. 20-30, 2014, that Being Alive, our fabulous HIV positive speakers bureau, will be available to speak in classrooms, to clubs or committees.


Note that the four days of free HIV testing previously announced has been cancelled.  Low cost HIV testing is still available at the Student Health Center, located on the second floor of the Student Services Building.  They can also refer you to free testing clinics. For more information contact the Student Health Center at 818-710-4270.


Open Letter From Dr. Shapiro in Support of Walking Shield Indian Reservation Children

“Since 1976 my students have been helping those less fortunate in providing food, clothing and school supplies.  Since 1987 we have been helping the poorest of Americans located on several impoverished American Indian Reservations.  I want to thank all of you who have helped in the past and hope you will continue to find solace in knowing that you made a difference in the lives of so many who have so little.  


“This year we will be helping the Spirit Lake Tribe reservation and the Siseton Wahpeton Sioux Bands located in East Central North Dakota. There are approximately 4435 residents on the reservation and the unemployment rate is just under 50%.  The children we assist are those who stay in school. We try and motivate them to learn, to make a better life for themselves.  Those children who stay in school from August thru December are presented with a stuffed backpack. We include warm clothing, school supplies, toiletry items and a toy. 


“If you would like to assist this year we have “adopted” 300 children.  Ashley Gomes is this year’s pre-veterinary club’s Walking Shield coordinator.  She can be reached at and can provide you with a name, gender, clothing sizes of a child(ren) you would like to assist. Our deadline for collection of all stuffed backpacks is November 4, 2014. We are transporting the backpacks to Walking Shield headquarters on Saturday, November 8th and shipping to the reservation on that same day. I am thanking all of you in advance for your continued support of this worthy program.”

Dr. Leland S. Shapiro, Chair,  Agriculture Department
Director, Pre-Veterinary Science Program


Pierce One of Three LACCD Colleges Awarded National Achieving The Dream Leader College Status

Pierce is one of three Los Angeles Community College District colleges selected from across the country to be designated the 2014 Achieving the Dream Leader Colleges. East Los Angeles College and Los Angeles Harbor College are also among the 16 community colleges earning this prestigious award.

“This is a very proud day at LACCD,” said Board of Trustees President Scott Svonkin at a Wednesday press conference to celebrate the three honored colleges. “Achieving the dream is not just something we talk about. It is something we do every single day in every single classroom.”

“Student success is our district’s highest priority,” said Dr. Francisco Rodriguez, LACCD chancellor, “and this national recognition of our colleges reaffirms the transformational work that our colleges are engaged in to improve student outcomes.”

This national honor is bestowed on community colleges that commit to improving student success and closing achievement gaps. These colleges have shown how data can inform policy and practice to help community college students achieve their goals, resulting in improved skills and better opportunities for employment. The LACCD colleges are the only California schools awarded this ATD status. They were singled out because:

n  Los Angeles Pierce College increased the ratio of all credit hours successfully completed from 66.3% in 2009-10 to 69.5% in 2012-13.

Said Los Angeles Pierce College President Dr. Kathleen Burke: “This recognition is a testament to the hard work and commitment of our faculty, staff, and administrators to achieve our collective goals of engaging the completion agenda, demonstrating accountability, cultivating partnerships, and ensuring student success.  Our teams have worked hard and we have integrated our plans to focus on the college vision of seeing more CAPS  (Completion, Accountability, Partnerships, Student Success)  at commencement.  To be recognized as a Leader College validates our student-centered approach and affirms our commitment to providing quality educational programs.  Most importantly, this recognition highlights the hard work of our students. It is their commitment to learning and progressing that allows Los Angeles Pierce College to be a Leader College.”

n  East Los Angeles College increased developmental-education English success rates for all first-time-in-college students from 21.8% in 2007 to 34.1% in 2010. The developmental-education English success rates for African American students increased by 20 percentage points and for Pell recipients by nine percentage points.

Said ELAC Pesident Marvin Martinez: “It is indeed an honor for East Los Angeles College to be selected as a Leader College by ATD. This type of recognition certainly makes ELAC a national leader in its ability to serve students of color in our region. Our faculty and staff also deserve this honor for their hard work in developing programs that help students of color succeed in the classroom on a pathway to college and career success.”

n  Los Angeles Harbor College increased fall-to-spring persistence rates for all students in the ATD cohort from 64.6% in 2009-10 to 69.6% in 2012-13. The fall-to-spring persistence rates for Hispanic students increased by eight percentage points.

Said Harbor College Pesident Dr. Otto Lee: “Los Angeles Harbor College is extremely proud of our successful partnership with Achieving the Dream, resulting in more students attempting and completing more units, staying enrolled from one semester to the next, and completing English and math at a higher rate through innovative interventions such as our First Year Experience program.  Building on that success, we’ve expanded that program to include all new incoming students through the creation of the Harbor Advantage.  As an Achieving the Dream Leader College, we look forward to sharing our successful and sustainable interventions with community colleges throughout the state and nationally.”

This year’s honored community colleges come from 10 different states.

“These 16 institutions have demonstrated that better student outcomes are possible when institutions focus on policies and practices that help students learn at high levels and overcome challenges life throws at them,” said  Carol Lincoln, Achieving the Dream Senior Vice President. “These colleges are working hard to move the needle for whole cohorts of students, and deserve recognition for their relentless efforts and promising achievements.”

Pierce College is recognized as one of the most respected community colleges and transfer institutions in California. Located on 426 acres in the western San Fernando Valley, Pierce College combines state-of-the-art technology and learning with the picturesque beauty of its rolling hills.  Each semester about 21,000 students are served in a diverse and dynamic mix of career, technical, transfer, workforce education and general interest programs that help fuel the economic and intellectual development of the community.

About the Los Angeles Community College District
The Los Angeles Community College District, the nation's largest community college district, serves one-quarter million students a year in more than 36 cities in Los Angeles County at its nine colleges.  The District covers nearly 900 square miles and has educated and trained the region's diverse workforce since 1969.


Pierce Media Arts Students Garner 22 Awards at Fall Journalism Conference

Pierce College Media Arts students win 22 awards at the Fall 2014 Journalism Association of Community Colleges SoCal conference, held Oct. 17-18, 2014, at CSU, Fullerton. (Photo: Nicolas Heredia)


Triple crown honors went the Pierce College Media Arts Department at this year’s Journalism Association of Community Colleges SoCal conference, held at CSU Fullerton Oct. 17-18, 2014. The Roundup weekly print newspaper, the semi-annual BULL magazine and the college’s Online Journalism operations earned General Excellence recognition—the conference’s highest honor.


The two-day event brought hundreds of community college students to compete and attend workshops. In addition to General Excellence honors, Pierce students won 22 individual awards.

They represented work done during the 2013-14 academic year as well as material produced during on-the-spot competition at the conference.


The top Pierce winner was Nicolas Heredia with five awards: second place, News Photo, on-the-spot Sports Photo and on-the-spot Feature Photo, along with fourth places in both Feature Photo and on-the-spot Sports Photo categories. Jasson Bautista grabbed first place for Magazine Photo and Maria Salvador took the top spot for Magazine Illustration, while Ethan Hanson’s Sports Game Story earned second place. Third place winners: Calvin Alagot, Student Designed Advertisement; Jason Bautista, Magazine Cover Design; Nelger Carrera, Sports Action Photo; Eli Diaz, Video Journalism; Matt Gottesman, on-the-spot Broadcast News Writing; Megan Moureaux, Profile Feature Story; and Kashish Nizami, Magazine Profile Article.


Fourth place winners: Ray Garcia, Front Page Layout; and Tim Toton, Enterprise News Story/Series. Honorable Mentions: Diego Barajas, on-the-spot Sports Photo; Megan Moreaux, Profile Feature Story; Tavian Quinn, on-the-spot Broadcast News Writing; and Seth Perlstein, on-the-spot News Story. Additionally, an honorable mention certificate was given for a first-person Magazine Opinion column written by a woman who had had an abortion and requested that her name not be used. Jill Connelly, Media Arts Dept. chair, said she was particularly gratified with recognition given to the newspaper, magazine and online journalism staffs. “These awards are a reminder that we are all part of a team, we are competitive and we are winners,” she said.


Suspect in Custody after Pierce College Evacuation Thursday

Los Angeles Pierce College was evacuated Thursday morning, Oct. 16, 2014, after the Sheriff's Department notified college president Kathleen F. Burke that a threat to the campus had been issued through social media. After a suspect, 26-year-old Sergio Castanon, Jr. of Northridge, had been arrested, President Burke reopened the school for night classes.

"Our top priority is always the safety of our students, faculty and staff," President Burke said. "The evacuation was conducted orderly and professionally, and was only lifted after we were assured the threat no longer existed."

It is believed that the suspect, a former Pierce College student, was never actually on campus Thursday. Detectives obtained a search warrant for Castanon’s residence where an assault rifle, handgun, several rounds of ammunition and illegal high capacity magazines were recovered. Castanon was booked at Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station, charged with criminal threats, possession of high capacity magazines and illegal ammunition.  He is being held on $50,000 bail.

Castanon had last attended Pierce in 2011. When he posted a threat on his facebook page, two facebook friends became alarmed and reported it to authorities. For more details, view a video of the press conference given at Pierce by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Captain Cheryl Newman-Tarwater and President Burke by The Roundup News, click their Multimedia site here:


UPDATE: The Campus is Now Open, Thursday Oct 16, Night Classes are On

Pierce College is now open and evening classes have resumed as of 3:30 p.m. today, Thursday, October 16, 2014, with limited student and business services open on the campus.

Pierce College was evacuated Thursday morning around 8:00 a.m. after the Sheriff's Department notified college president Kathleen F. Burke that a threat to the campus had been issued through social media. After a suspect, a 26-year-old former Pierce student, had been arrested, Dr. Burke, backed by the Sheriff's Department, reopened the school for night classes. It is believed that the suspect was never actually on campus Thursday.

"Our top priority is always the safety of our students, faculty and staff," Dr. Burke said. "The evacuation was conducted orderly and professionally, and was only lifted after we were assured the threat no longer existed."


Pierce College 18-acre Farm Center to Close Dec. 26, 2014

The lease of the 18-acre Pierce College Farm Center on the corner of Victory and Desoto will end Dec. 26, 2014, and the operator will vacate the premises by April 15, 2015. According to Rolf Schleicher, Pierce College Vice President of Administrative Services, “I don't think we are going to entertain discussions about the future of our property at this particular time. Nothing on our end has changed with regards to the Farm Center and the settlement with the district. The inevitable closure of the Farm Center is an issue independent of what the college does with the 18 Farm Center acres that are captured in 226 acres of Pierce farmland. We are taking our time to appropriately map our plans and, therefore, are not in a position to share such planning out with the community until mid-2015 at the earliest.”


Rapid Job Growth Projected For Veterinary Technicians in LA



CBS News Online interviewed Pierce College’s Veterinary Technology Program Director Elizabeth White about the uptick in jobs for trained veterinary technicians. The Oct. 6, 2014 article, by CBS reporter Sharon Raiford Bush, appears below.


Spurred by a growing demand for veterinary technicians in such areas as public health and animal safety, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the number of job opportunities for these specialists is projected to skyrocket by 30 percent in coming years. Experts say higher-skilled technicians are already replacing assistants at private clinics, laboratories and animal hospitals throughout Los Angeles, where employment prospects are richly supplied.



“In a large metropolitan area such as Los Angeles, a veterinary technician can secure a dynamic career in a wide array of veterinary practices, from general practice clinics, to high-tech specialties and holistic medicine,” said Elizabeth White, a professor and director of the veterinary technology program at Pierce College. “Veterinary technicians can also find rewarding work at an animal shelter, a zoo, sanctuary, research facility, or in sales.”


The veteran educator said her institution is preparing prospective registered veterinary technicians (RVT) for a worthwhile vocation in the field of veterinary medicine.


“Pierce College offers both lecture classes and hands-on laboratories to provide our students with the skills and knowledge they need to become a successful RVT,” White said. “We also have a 400-acre farm with a variety of livestock and horses to give our students a unique experience with animals.”


How has the field grown in recent years?

“Several large, multi-specialty, 24-hour emergency and critical care practices have opened in the L.A. area since 2010. These facilities have a high demand for skilled RVTs.”


How will this marketplace change by 2022?

“Veterinary medicine will see an emphasis on preventative and palliative medicine, including hospice care.”


What defines an accomplished RVT?

“In addition to demonstrating academic vigor and discipline, an effective veterinary technician must be motivated by a love for animals and a desire to provide compassionate health care to them.”


What is your advice to aspiring RVTs?

“I encourage them to shadow a veterinary technician for a week and find out what it is really like to work in a veterinary practice, and take a general biology class with a lab to make sure they love the medicine as much as they love the animals.”


Sharon Raiford Bush is an award-winning journalist who covers topics of social interest in greater Los Angeles. Some news articles she has authored have been archived by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Sharon also contributes to For more news and information about employment and education, visit Let's Get To Work Los Angeles.