News and Views From Your Community CollegeJanuary 2013
Educating Our Youth
Triton students commit to finishing their education
New Mechatronics degree at Triton College in development phase
Triton puts the "community" back into community college with new institutional plan
Triton College and Oak Park-River Forest to green area businesses with new certification program
A Happy Wednesday night for the Triton College Foundation President's Reception
New Triton College Foundation Board President announced
Recognizing veterans' service with tribute wall, community race event
Connecting past, present and future with Fire Science/EMT alumni reception
Alumni Spotlight on Sam Pitassi
Triton College made a difference on Oct. 27!
New name brings about renovations for Café 64
Brookfield Zoo's Community Tree Trim


Jan. 4 - Jan. 27

Cernan Earth and Space Center Public Shows: Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. (except Jan. 19 for the Monthly Skywatch) and 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Sundays.

Admission ranges from $8 to $10 for adults and $4 to $5 for children and senior citizens.(708) 583-3100 or 

(708) 456-0300, ext. 3372, 


Jan. 7

Triton Trojans vs. Lake County Women's Basketball, 5:30 p.m., Gymnasium in Robert M. Collins Center


Jan. 9

Triton Trojans vs. Madison Women's Basketball, 5 p.m., Gymnasium in Robert M. Collins Center       


Jan. 9

Triton Trojans vs. Madison Men's Basketball, 7 p.m., Gymnasium in Robert M. Collins Center


Jan. 12

Super Saturday: One-Stop Registration, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Student Center



Jan. 12

Leave No Child Inside Conference 2013, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Student Center, Room B-204 


Jan. 23

Students return to campus for the start of the spring 2013 semester


All events are open free to the public, unless otherwise stated.




Capt. Eugene Cernan, the last man to step on the moon, visits Triton College



Capt. Eugene Cernan speaking at the invite-only breakfast.

When it comes to traveling into space, there's one thing every non-space traveler is curious about: "What's it like to have no gravity?"


"You can jump twice as high with no gravity," answered Capt. Eugene Cernan to an auditorium filled with inquisitive children and adults eager to hear about his stories of adventuring into space. "You've never felt anything like it."


Capt. Cernan, known as a legend for being the last man to walk on the moon 40 years ago, returned to his roots on Nov. 15, as a product of the Chicago west suburbs. The retired United States Navy Officer and former NASA astronaut answered questions and encouraged young children to pursue their dreams at a special speaking engagement on Triton's campus.


Capt. Eugene Cernan addressing the student crowd at his visit.


"At your age, I dreamed of flying aircraft carriers," he said to the elementary school students, but never did he imagine he'd be flying a rocket ship on three historic space missions: the Pilot of the Gemini IX, the Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo X, and the Commander of Apollo XVII. When he applied for the NASA program, he was up against hundreds of individuals from around the nation, many who were more qualified than he. But to his surprise, Cernan was chosen and now holds the distinction of being the second American to walk in space and the last man to have left his footprints on the lunar surface. Triton named its popular planetarium after Capt. Cernan for his celebrated space explorations and connection to the area.


"There's nothing you can't do if you want to do it badly," he said. 

"Just do your best and don't be afraid to try."


Capt. Eugene Cernan pictured with Vice Chairwoman Donna Peluso (left), and President Granados, (right).


Donna Peluso, Vice Chairwoman of the Triton College Board of Trustees, had the pleasure of meeting Capt. Cernan during his visit. Like everyone else who has crossed his path, she was captivated by his knack for storytelling and his recollection of his moon expeditions.


"It's absolutely amazing to have a hero in our community like Capt. Cernan and be able to honor this person who has a passion for education," she said. "He gives you goosebumps when he talks about his journey into space that children are inspired by."




Read all about it! 
While visiting the Triton College campus, Capt. Eugene Cernan was interviewed for WCIU-TV's "Uniquely Chicago."  

Educating Our Youth


Area youth explore college and career possibilities at inspiring events on Triton's campus


In an effort to get youth thinking about attending college and career choices now, Triton College hosted two on-campus events that gave youth the opportunity to learn about different careers of interest and gave them the inside track of what they need to know in order to prepare for college.


Students from the Early College Awareness Program learning about the various ways to take a temperature.


Triton's annual Early College Awareness Program inspired middle school students from the surrounding communities on career possibilities in horticulture, criminal justice, health, education and more by giving them a tour of the different areas of study available close to home at Triton. The students took part in various sessions that incorporated hands-on learning.


Twelve-year-old Brian Andrade of Rhodes Middle School particularly liked learning about a career in horticulture. "It gives me an idea of what college is going to be like, and it gets me excited," he said.


Two weeks later, the Community Youth Alliance hosted their annual PATHE (Providing Access to Higher Education) to Success event for area high school students on Triton's campus. Nearly 90 students from Proviso East and West high schools participated in the program that provided them with vital information for researching and applying for colleges, including the importance of financial aid and ACT/SAT exams.

Students who attended the annual PATHE to Success event at Triton found out what they needed to do now to prepare for college.


Bonnie Libka, college career counselor for Proviso East, observed her students taking in the information - some even taking notes. "They seem to appreciate the information and are gaining an understanding of what they need to do," she said.


A resource fair composed of area businesses and colleges, including West Cook YMCA, Governors State University, Youth Outreach Services, Benedictine University and Jackson State University, provided students the opportunity to network and collect information.


"This is very informative," said Proviso East student Alexa Kimble about PATHE. "There's so much I need to do now that I didn't know about."


Mark Jones, a senior at Proviso West, anticipates attending college to study electrical engineering. He was intrigued by Jackson State and Benedictine present at the resource fair. "They both seem like really good schools and they have my major," he said. "Coming to an event like this is really helpful to my college search."



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Triton students put to the test to ensure success


With student success as one of its most important elements of the mission as an educational institution, Triton College's initiative to implement mandatory placement testing has played a prime role in encouraging students to complete their education to graduate with a degree or certificate.


Placement testing that determines students' college readiness has increased in the amount of students who've either taken the test or were waived from taking the test since the mandatory test implementation in fall 2011 [Figure 1].


But the gap between those students who were referred to take developmental education classes to allow them the opportunity to develop the skills they need for college-level performance and the students who chose to enroll in the developmental education courses is an issue the college has begun to address.


Figure 1



Figure 2


Research shows that the number of students who tested and were referred for developmental math courses was up 18 percent from fall 2010, prior to the mandatory placement testing implementation. And the percentage of those students who actually took the initiative to enroll in those developmental education classes improved by 6 percent from fall 2011 to fall 2012, based on the developmental enrollment by subject chart [Figure 2].


Students who registered for the developmental reading courses increased by 9 percent from fall 2011 to fall 2012, the largest increase; however developmental writing courses dipped slightly, though still remained above 50 percent.


The placement tests has also allowed Triton to understand the student demographic it serves in order to better prepare them for college-level coursework. Because traditional students, which includes students ages 25 and younger, make up a large portion of the student body who has taken the placement test versus non-traditional students [Figure 3], Triton continues to focus on collaborating with area high schools to develop ways to prepare students early on for success, including its dual-credit programs and by conducting practice placement tests in the high schools to determine what needs to be addressed to ensure students are ready for college coursework.  


Figure 3


A new software program that will be available for prospective students in January 2013 will ideally put more students on the path of success by providing them with a refresher lesson prior to taking the placement test. The PassKey software will be rolled out as a pilot program and is composed of math, reading and writing questions similar to questions on the placement exam.


"Students are encouraged to utilize the free software that will serve as a pre-test for students who'd like to refresh prior to the test or improve their score following a disappointing test," said Deborah Baness-King, Dean of the Academic Success Center. "We also hope that it will make them more aware of the need to prepare prior to taking the placement test."     



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Triton students commit to finishing their education

Student Brandon Chatman addressing the crowd at the second annual Commit to Complete rally.


Brandon Chatman is making up for lost time while a student at Triton College and is putting his best foot forward with his education. The Triton College student spent time in prison for credit card fraud, and upon his release, was hit with a massive amount of debt with loans that were in default.


But he is gradually redeeming himself through his studies at Triton. Today, he boasts a 4.0 GPA after a year and is able to keep up with Triton's tuition because of its affordability and financial assistance. He shared his story of overcoming obstacles to get his education with students and Triton faculty and staff at the second Commit to Complete rally on Nov. 28 that encouraged students to complete their studies to receive their degree or certificate. 


"All of you here have no excuse to not get your education," he said. "You've already made the first step by enrolling in college; but it's up to you to continue your studies. Think about your future self."


Developed by the Triton College Student Association (TCSA), the Commit to Complete campaign is an answer to President Obama's Completion Agenda which calls for community colleges nationwide to double the number of graduates by the year 2020. TCSA kicked off the campaign in 2011 by having students pledge to complete their education and Triton faculty and staff to pledge to help students succeed. 


At the rally, several other student testimonials were shared, as students lined up to sign the Commit to Complete banner. The rally concluded with a resource fair that informed students of the available services and resources available to them on campus.


"There are a ton of resources available to you to help you succeed," said TCSA President Shakana Polk to the audience. "Help is all around you. Triton's staff, administration and faculty are here today because they support you and want to see you succeed."


New Mechatronics degree at Triton College in development phase



With the assistance of a more than $520,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, Triton College will be able to offer a new degree and certificate in a fascinating sector of advance manufacturing, called Mechatronics. 


Mechatronics is a coined term combining "mechanics" and "electronics" and is a part of many everyday items including computer hard drives, washing machines, coffee makers and medical devices. The term is used to describe electronics that control mechanical systems, such as an electronically programmed car key that when a button is pressed, a signal will automatically open a door.


The grant Triton College received is a portion of more than $12.9 million awarded by the Department of Labor through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program to expand William Rainey Harper College's Advanced Manufacturing Training Program to 20 other community colleges throughout Illinois, including Triton. The training program attempts to address the some-600,000 employee shortage nationwide in the advanced manufacturing sector by offering industry-endorsed skills certificates and paid internships with local manufacturing partners. It is also designed to encourage younger students to consider a career in manufacturing by giving high school students the opportunity to earn college credit through the program.


Led by Harper College and the Illinois Network for Advanced Manufacturing (INAM), the four-year grant is to develop curriculum to meet the training needs for advanced manufacturing Career Pathways that will be shared with other colleges in the consortium.


Lorette Dodt, Interim Dean of Business and Technology, said, "This grant will allow us to serve a new population of students, including students in our Bridge programs for GED and ESL, veterans and dislocated workers. Being able to offer this new degree and certificate to our students is just another example of how Triton is preparing its students for career success in a growing and highly technical industry."


Triton's plans toward developing the degree and certificate, Dodt said, include hiring faculty specialists and working with industry specialists for curriculum development, creating stackable certificates that bridge skills as needed and an associate's degree with transferrable credits, and establishing a timeline for the development of the degree and certificate. 


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Triton puts the "community" back into community college with new institutional plan



With Triton College well into its fourth year of its five-year Master Plan stating its commitment to student success, the college is currently developing a new comprehensive, strategic plan that will be more community-focused yet still enhance the college's mission to support student success.


Associate Vice President of Strategic Planning Mary-Rita Moore said the development of the new plan, which will take effect following the completion of the Master Plan in 2014, will include the knowledge and opinions of area community leaders in an effort to better serve the communities in the college's surrounding district.


"Anytime that we can understand our stakeholders' needs helps us to be more informed and prepared to advance," Moore said.


The plan, which will be developed through the assistance of consulting firm Maher and Maher that has worked extensively with community colleges around the country, will identify goals of the institution and its various departments and organizations by way of conducting an environmental scan and hosting an external stakeholder and senior staff planning retreat to develop the framework of the plan. 


The planning process has already begun with a November meeting between administrators on campus and representatives from Maher and Maher to present information on the expected timeline and organization of the plan.


"In addition to collaboration with stakeholders, there is a distinct focus on accountability - to the community, to students present and future, and to the institution itself," Moore said.



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Triton College and Oak Park-River Forest to green area businesses with new certification program



Triton College is teaming up with the Illinois Green Business Association (IGBA) and Oak Park Development Corporation (OPDC) to offer Oak Park and River Forest businesses the opportunity to receive certification as a green business through a new pilot program that will be available in January 2013 at the college.  


Triton College Sustainability Coordinator and Project Manager Adrian Fisher said the new program, made possible through a $15,000 CommunityWorks Partnership grant from the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation, will guide interested businesses toward gaining their green business certification in accordance with IGBA guidelines. The IGBA uses vetted national standards that help ensure truly sustainable business practices.


"As an Illinois Green Economy Network institution, we're committed to helping area businesses and residents move toward more sustainable practices," Fisher said. "We look forward to partnering with the Illinois Green Business Association and Oak Park Development Corporation in providing Oak Park and River Forest businesses with a link to this state-recognized certification."


Green business certification through IGBA includes a customized plan designed to help businesses save money and manage resources while helping make positive changes in their community. The standards are designed to be suitable for even the smallest local businesses. During the certification process, sustainability professionals at Triton will be available for consultation, and upon certification, businesses will receive customized marketing materials, including being interviewed for a You Tube video.


With Oak Park and River Forest's implementation of the PlanItGreen Sustainability Plan, many business owners are looking to green their business to comply with the plan, attract a "green" customer base and to cut back on energy costs.


Triton is accepting 20 businesses into the pilot program and will coordinate with OPDC to offer information sessions to recruit businesses who either wish to participate in OPDC's green business practices program, or go the whole route to certification. The first public information session will take place in early January.


For more information about the program or for Oak Park-River Forest businesses who'd like to participate in the program, contact Triton College Sustainability Coordinator Adrian Fisher at (708) 456-0300, ext. 3578 or e-mail


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A Happy Wednesday night for the Triton College Foundation President's Reception


(from left to right) President Granados, Board of Trustees Chairman Mark. R. Stephens, David King, Communications Relations Associate Tom Olson, and Foundation Board Vice President Richard Pellegrino.
The Triton community and members of area organizations and communities showed their support for higher education by attending the Triton College Foundation's 20th Annual President's Reception on Nov. 14, where Foundation Board President of 12 years David King was honored for his commitment and contributions to the college.


During the fundraising event that garnered about $40,000, King announced his retirement, giving a nod to the next Board President Tom Olson, who currently works at Triton as the Communications Relations Associate. King will, however, continue to serve on the Triton College Foundation Board.


"He's been one of the strongest supporters of the Foundation," King said to the audience of more than 500 individuals. "Tom is going to do a great job leading this organization that stands for student success."

Students of Triton's Hospitality program showcased their culinary talents at the President's Reception.


Many community officials who've had the pleasure of meeting and working with King were present for the event, including Village of Forest Park Mayor Anthony Calderone who shared a few personal sentiments at the reception. "If you know David King, you know that every day is a happy day," he said. "Without a doubt, the Triton College Foundation has been served to its utmost potential with Dave's leadership."


The Triton Faculty Jazz Trio provided the entertainment and various area restaurants, in addition to students and faculty of Triton's Hospitality program, contributed food to the evening: Clavio's Eatery, The Elmcrest Banquets by Biancalana, Maria's Mexican Restaurant, Pescatore Palace Restaurant and Banquet Hall and Royal Garden Banquets' Saranecki Bros. Catering, Inc.


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Read all about it! 
Former Triton College Foundation Board President David King was recognized in a newspaper article in the Forest Park Review, called "DK: A Self-Made King."   

New Triton College Foundation Board President announced



Former Foundation Board President, David King (left) with the new Foundation Board President, Tom Olson (right).

With David King stepping down as the Triton College Foundation Board President after 12 years of service, his successor, Tom Olson, shares many qualities with the former president: They are both Triton alums, have contributed selflessly to the success of Triton College and the Foundation, and serve as pillars in their communities by volunteering their time with various businesses and organizations. And on top of that, they both have inviting, charismatic personalities that are unforgettable.


Olson, who is a lifelong resident of Melrose Park, currently serves the college as the Communications Relations Associate, after retiring from his previous position as Executive Director of Marketing at Triton.


A 1977 graduate, Olson is a strong supporter of Triton's missions and values and has set up and pledged monies to develop student scholarships through the Foundation. 


Because of his dedication to Triton, Olson was honored at last year's President's Reception and was awarded with the Triton College Student Association's first-ever Prestige Award in 2012, recognizing his commitment to Triton's students.


"I am excited to be part of a dedicated team to launch new initiatives that provide additional student and community support and promote our Foundation as well as Triton College," Olson said. "As a firm believer in higher education and the benefits it provides, I would like to increase the partnerships of the Foundation and Triton, as well as kick off additional fundraising efforts to help provide added resources for Triton students."  



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Recognizing veterans' service with tribute wall, community race event

The Veteran Tribute Wall that was on display in the Triton College Student Center in honor of Veterans Day on Nov. 8.

A traveling memorial wall was displayed on Triton College's campus to recognize Veterans Day and pay homage to the men and women of Illinois who were lost in battle. The wall, which was on loan from the Department of Illinois, Military Order of the Purple Heart, served as the centerpiece of a Veterans Day program held on Nov. 8.


Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs Cheryl Antonich, who is also a veteran, opened the program with gratitude. "Your service has great meaning, though you may not know it," she said. "Your service is truly honorable and commendable and I want to thank you for that."


Daniel T. Finn, commander of the Illinois Department of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, invited Triton students and faculty to observe the wall of individuals who made "the ultimate sacrifice." "If you look at our wall, we have soldiers who lost their lives in World War II, the Korean and Vietnam wars, as well as those we've currently lost in today's war on Afghanistan," he said. "Our mission is to make sure people never forget."



Triton participants from the Prodigy 5k Run/Walk.

Triton College also sponsored a community race that raised funds to benefit veterans in the community. The Prodigy 5K Run/Walk, hosted by the Prodigy 2020 Foundation, which provides veterans access to educational and economical resources, brought out about 200 people to race around the Village of Melrose Park for a good cause.


The race, which concluded with festivities at the Village Hall of Melrose Park, raised $2,000 to develop scholarships and build up their foundation to help more veterans in the community.


Triton Dean of Student Services Corey Williams said, "Economics should never be a barrier for any student to complete their education. Offering scholarships is a great vehicle to support the educational and professional goals of Triton College student veterans who have sacrificed so much to serve our great nation."



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Connecting past, present and future with Fire Science/EMT alumni reception



In a room of teachers and their students, workplace pals, and even a father-and-son legacy, the feeling of camaraderie and family was palpable among the crowd of fire fighters and emergency management specialists at a recent Triton College Alumni reception.



More than 40 alumni of the college's Fire Science Technology and EMT programs returned to Triton's campus on Oct. 25 to reconnect with one another and the school. Graduates representing the classes of 1976 through 2011 from various area fire departments, including Melrose Park, Franklin Park, Hillside, Northlake, Berkeley, River Grove and La Grange Park, as well as current students, attended the reception.


"It's so satisfying to see our graduates providing such a tremendous service to our neighboring communities, and we're glad that Triton remains an important part in their lives," said Triton College President Patricia Granados. "Six of our alumni currently teach in these two programs and are able to provide real-world experience to our students in the classroom. These expert faculty members are giving back by choosing to pass on their knowledge to the next generation, which is a true testament to the great programs we have."


A.J. Aiardo, class of 2011, and Frank Palermo, class of 2004, both work together at the Melrose Park Fire Department and appreciate being able to serve the community they grew up in. "I have an older brother who also graduated from Triton's Fire Science program. And once I saw how much he enjoyed [his line of work], I knew it was something I wanted to do and enrolled at Triton," Palermo said.



Joseph "Joey" Casale (class of 1976) and his son Robert Casale (class of 2011), also both of the Melrose Park Fire Department, are grateful for the education they received at Triton and for the connections they made. "Triton always had a sense of community," said Joseph, who is currently retired from the fire department and now teaches at Triton. "I remember going to Triton for night school and everyone in my class afterwards would go eat at the cafeteria. Everyone got along well."


Many Fire Science students can attribute their success to program coordinator Mike Kuryla, who has taught at Triton for 27 years. A Triton alum, Kuryla also works as Fire Chief at the Hillside Fire Department, where he's been for 35 years. "I've known so many students. And some are now instructors of the Fire Science and EMT programs at Triton," he said. "I appreciate seeing so many of my students going on to become successful in their careers."


Megan Hansen was one of the youngest alums in attendance, graduating from Triton's EMT program in 2011. She currently works for Superior Ambulance Service and plans to pursue her bachelor's degree. "I appreciated the faculty at Triton," she said. "They will do everything in their power to not see you fail and they have the confidence in you to know you will succeed."


Alumni toured the Fire Science and EMT departments, amazed at the changes that have been made over the years.  



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Alumni sought to join Triton College Alumni Association

The Triton College Alumni Association is looking for alumni to serve as leaders on the Alumni Association Council. Council members will have an opportunity to give back to their alma mater and help direct the future of Triton College's Alumni Association. 
For Triton alumni interested in becoming a Council member or know of an alumnus who'd like to join, for more information or to nominate Triton College alumni for the Council, visit our website.



Alumni Spotlight on Sam Pitassi



The best education is taught by faculty with career experience  

Melrose Park Police Chief Sam Pitassi is grateful for the "textbook education" he received at Triton College. And coupled with real-life accounts from experienced faculty members and classmates who've worked in law enforcement, Pitassi said, "I got the best of both worlds." Pitassi earned an associate's degree and certificate in police science in 1972 and 1974, respectively, at Triton College, before earning his bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Lewis University and going on to work for the Melrose Park police department where he steadily climbed the ranks. 



Read more >> 


Triton College made a difference on Oct. 27!


More than 140 volunteers, many students and staff of Triton College, participated in the nation's largest day of service with Make A Difference Day on Oct. 27, 2012.


Volunteers could be found in their black-and-green T-shirts around the west suburbs giving of their time through service projects at Aspire on Broadway Resale Shop (Melrose Park), Belmont Village and Accolade Adult Day Services (both in Oak Park), Burton Park (Maywood), West Cook YMCA (Oak Park), Concord Place (Northlake) and in Thatcher Woods (River Forest) of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County.

President Granados with Triton College employees who participates in Make a Difference Day.


Director of Marketing Services Sam Tolia was joined by his 14-year-old son as they cleaned up Thatcher Woods with 40 other individuals. "It felt good to give back to the surrounding community," Tolia said. "And it was especially wonderful to do it alongside with my son to show him that it doesn't take much to make a difference."


"I felt so proud of myself and my friends for participating in Make A Difference Day because of the opportunity to help others," said Triton student Mayra Anguiano. "I also got the chance to meet new people." 



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New name brings about renovations for Café 64


After recently introducing its new name, Café 64 has undergone some renovations compliment its new moniker and Triton's HIA (Hospitality Industry Administration) program. 

Associate Vice President of Facilities John Lambrecht said, "The intention was to create a more welcoming, restaurant-like environment by providing more of a professional look to the entrance and lobby area."


Encased by glass doors that read the new name, the restaurant continues to provide Triton's students the opportunity to showcase and practice their culinary talents for diners, gaining invaluable real-world experience toward their education and career aspirations. Community members are invited to dine at the location overlooking the campus for a one-of-a-kind dining experience prepared and served by Triton's students. Café 64 is currently closed for the season, but will reopen in the spring!  



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Brookfield Zoo's Community Tree Trim


President Granados with Triton College employees and children from the Child Development Center who helped decorate the holiday tree at Brookfield Zoo.


Families of the Triton College community decorated a holiday tree during Brookfield Zoo's Annual Community Tree Trim on Nov. 17. 


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From the Triton College President's Office