Opening Day 2022

Oswald, Clark’s penguin mascot, lead a dancing executive cabinet into Opening Day while “Don’t Stop Belivin'” by Journey played.

On September 12, Clark College employees came together to celebrate the start of the 2022-23 academic year, with its first in-person Opening Day since 2019. President Edwards said that although she has been at Clark College for over 2 years, this was the first in-person opening day celebration, and she was loving it!

A video introducing executive cabinet members featured Chris Layfield driving each member around campus with Oswald (Clark College’s penguin mascot). They shared why they work at Clark College and even had a little fun sharing their favorite songs in a short sing-along with Chris and Oswald.

This was President Dr. Karin Edward’s first in-person Opening Day since her start in 2020.

President Edwards presented the progress of the equity-centered strategic plan. To learn more about the process and where we are, visit:

Based on the institutional priorities and the equity-centered strategic plan, the president’s work plan will guide her efforts into 2023. President Edwards also gave an update on Boschma Farms.

“We are very close to having the design of the building, which will house 5 general purpose classrooms, student support spaces, offices, conference rooms, and of course our advanced manufacturing, high bay area. The facility is smaller than we planned, but we’re still able to accommodate the courses and programs,” she shared.

A new initiative at the college, Clark Cares, was unveiled with a video ( It featured some of the things staff can and currently do to show our students we care about them and their Clark experience.

Brad Avakian, vice president of human resources, presented the years of service awards to employees with 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 years by reading their names. Employees with service over 25 years were invited to come to the front to receive their certificates. All years of service awards also come with monetary compensation based on the number of years served.

The 30 Year employees honored were: Tina Barsotti, George Cole, Tracy Nehnevaj, Kristeen Nichols, and at 35 Years: Mark Owsley.

Paul Wickline, vice president of instruction, left, honoring Mark Owsley, for 35 years of service.

Exceptional Faculty Awards

The award honorees were announced at Commencement in June and were honored at Opening Day.

Kathrine Anastasi, libraries, was honored for her work at Larch Corrections to research, develop, and supply the best materials for their library.  

Dr. Amy Castellano, phlebotomy, was honored for her work in the classroom supporting and respecting students, her attention to the wellbeing of her students, and her commitment to students understanding the subjects she was teaching.   

Steven Clark, biology, was honored for his work in the classroom, creating deep interest in biology, openness to learn from his students, and acknowledging their work in meaningful ways.

Erielle Lamb, surveying & geomatics, was honored for her work in the classroom, letting students make mistakes, making complicated calculations fun and interesting, and sharing stories so that students could relate the schoolwork to their planned career. 

Luanne Lundberg, career & academic prep, honored for her work making math understandable even for students with learning disabilities, instilling confidence in her students that would break them out of poverty. She also developed a pathway from CAP to MTH in 2016. She was a co-leader in the collaboration with the math department to develop outcomes and curriculum and kept us student-focused.

Gail Robinson, English, was honored for the extra help she offers her students in and out of the classroom, building their confidence in writing and offering specific, concrete feedback so that her student’s writing skills can grow.

Annual Exceptional Classified Staff Awards

Chris Layfield receiving his award.

Chris Layfield, Admin Services Manager in Security and Safety, was honored for his service to all those who pass through the doors of Gaiser Hall, often guiding them physically to where they need to go or contacting a department or person they need to talk to. Students often have come back to the desk to comment on how Chris’ help is what made them stay at Clark. He has served on hiring committees, the Security and Safety Committee, and the Social Equity Committee and is a WPEA steward,

Jessica Sanders, Program Support Supervisor in Transitional Studies was honored for her work in supporting students and faculty. Her extensive knowledge of Transitional Studies, and providing supplies to students, and finding new ways to do this during the pandemic has been instrumental to students and colleagues. Her exemplary service to students who often speak English as a second language is done with respect and care. She supplies faculty with valuable recruitment and inclusion data to help them better serve their students.

Exceptional Administrative-Exempt Award

Ayssa Voyles, center, being cheered on by her colleagues.

Alyssa Voyles, Associate Director of Employee Equity, Outreach, and Engagement in the Office of Diversity and Equity, was honored for her work in coordinating events, stepping in to help the ODEI team, adding new workshops, supporting others through co-facilitating of workshops, and her dedication to equity. She also has been instrumental in working beyond her team by stepping in as interim director of communications in Communications and Marketing, serving on the Boschma Farms team, and helping staff form Employee Resource Groups (ERG) to help build a stronger community and sense of belonging to Clark College

Lora Whitfield Social Equity Award

Left to right: Christina Smith, Dr. Karin Edwards, and Cydney Topping

Christina Smith and Cydney Topping worked together to create and co-lead the Anti-Racism Faculty Learning Community (FLC) in the English Department. This FLC is based on cutting-edge research on anti-racism and culturally responsive teaching. Their research, conducted in the Fall term and implemented in Winter and Spring, is at the highest levels of data-informed education. 

While faculty are the intended recipients of this service they provide, students will be the true beneficiaries. In following their leads, implementing the strategies they are sharing, and continuing our own growth as faculty, the field of English Studies, including rhetoric and composition, will overcome centuries of implicit bias and colonial mindset that faculty in English have felt duty bound to uphold in the service of other programs, despite our qualms about the inequities of “Standard Written English” as a marker of academic achievement. 

Opening Day at Clark

The new 2022 Student Ambassadors serve lunch to employees on Opening Day.

The event included refreshments provided by iQ Credit Union, Welcome Week shirts, Clark Cares buttons, and information from the “O Squad.” Additionally, there was an opportunity to have employee photos taken and visit with colleagues. The Clark College Foundation also provided lunch from Big Town Hero and Kona Ice at the Anderson Fountain.

Opening Day is part of a multi-day orientation and training for faculty organized by the Clark College Teaching and Learning Center (TLC). The Keynote address was given on Tuesday, September 13, by Melissa Williams, Policy Associate/ Interim Director for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and Clark College alumnus.

Photos: Jenny Shadley/Clark College
More photos from this event can be found on Flickr.