UCR Earns Top-10 Ranking in New Social Mobility Index Survey

(This article includes excerpts from the article written by Ross French, published in UCR Today on October 17,2014.)

UC Riverside was ranked eighth in the new Social Mobility Index survey, which rates schools based upon their ability to help students improve their social and economic standing. Photo credit: Ross French

UC Riverside was ranked eighth in the new Social Mobility Index survey, which rates schools based upon their ability to help students improve their social and economic standing. Photo credit: UCR Today.

The University of California, Riverside has been included among the top-10 schools on the new Social Mobility Index (SMI) survey, co-sponsored by CollegeNet and PayScale. The SMI ranking emphasizes economic mobility and the extent that a college or university helps its students with family incomes below the national median improve their social and economic standing.

UCR placed eighth overall among the 539 schools with a SMI ranking of 43.79. UC Davis placed sixth overall with 49.58 points and UC Berkeley was ninth with 43.36 points. The top school in the survey was Montana Tech of the University of Montana. The full rankings can be found on their website.

The survey’s methodology incorporated five weighted variables: published tuition, percent of student body whose families are below the US median income, graduation rate, reported median salary 0-5 years after graduation, and endowment. The survey specifically did not incorporate reputations based upon the opinions of faculty or administrators regarding social or economic mobility, as it would “perpetuate the biases and stereotypes collected in such surveys.”

According to the survey 42.98% of UCR students are considered “low income.” The salary for UCR grads considered “early career employees,” defined as “full-time employees with five years of experience or less in their career or field working in the U.S. who hold a bachelor’s degree and no higher degrees,” is $45,600.

This is the second significant survey in which UCR has received high marks for social mobility, proving once again that Riverside is indeed a Location of Choice. For the last four years, the university has been ranked in the top-10 among national universities in Washington Monthly’s Annual College Ranking Survey, placing second overall in 2013 and 2014.  The Washington Monthly Survey considers civic engagement, research, and social mobility.

The article accompanying the Washington Monthly ranking read, in part:  “The UC campus in Riverside…. stands out as a model for other public universities to follow….. Riverside is unusually focused on social mobility. Since 2006, its enrollment has grown by 25 percent. Half of all freshmen are first-generation college students, and the campus is the most racially and ethnically diverse within the UC system. Riverside’s focus on public service exceeds that of almost every other national university.”

For the complete article, click here.

Lab Equipment to Benefit Bourns College of Engineering

(This article includes excerpts from the article written in Quality Magazine and published on October 17, 2014.)

B&K Precision, which manufactures and sells precision test and measurement instruments worldwide, has outfitted the test benches in an electrical and computer engineering lab at Bourns College of Engineering at UC Riverside with all new, state-of-the art equipment.


Victor Tolan, President and CEO of B&K Precision, has a penchant for equipping the engineers of tomorrow with the tools they need today. His company’s generosity will benefit more than 500 students each year at BCOE through the technical hands-on training they will receive as future engineers using the equipment. The precision test and measurement instruments include oscilloscopes, function generators, power supplies and digital multimeters. The work stations accommodate two students each, and are designated for circuits and electronics lab exercises as well as activities related to independent student projects.

The Bourns College of Engineering celebrates its 25th year in 2014, and is ranked among the best public engineering colleges of its size in the nation. BCOE engineers provide a source of new ideas, products and technologies to the world while leading interdisciplinary and collaborative efforts in education, research and industrial partnerships. BCOE offers B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees through bioengineering, chemical and environmental engineering, computer science and engineering, electrical and computer engineering and mechanical engineering departments, and computer engineering and college-wide materials science and engineering programs. The college has more than 2,400 undergraduate students, 620 graduate students, more than $32 million in annual research expenditures and is home to eight interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research centers.

Donations like this increase the visibility of the great work done at UC Riverside to equip our future engineers.  UC Riverside is known for catalyzing innovation in many fields of study and thus promotes the aspirations of Seizing Our Destiny.

For more information on B&K Precision, visit www.bkprecision.com

For the complete article, click here.

Regional Intelligence Report Highlights Positive News for Riverside

(Excerpts from this article were taken from the Beacon Economic Intelligence Report prepared by Beacon Economics and released on September 22, 2014.)

The seventh edition of the Beacon Economics Regional Intelligence Report continues to show positive growth in Riverside’s economy.  Unemployment is declining in the Inland Empire (8.5% as of July 2014) and the city has recovered nearly 9,700 jobs since a low point in March 2010.  There’s been growth in the Leisure and Hospitality sector increasing 7.5% from July 2013 to July 2014.  The new Riverside Convention Center, with 65,000 square feet of meeting space, should increase convention traffic into the City of Riverside, which should bring higher demand for hotel accommodations in and outside of the city.

Photo Credit: Beacon Economic Intelligent Report

Photo Credit: Beacon Economic Intelligent Report

Another area of growth was employment in the Education and Health sector which saw a 25% increase over the last year.  This sector is vital to the City of Riverside’s economy, constituting approximately 18% of total employment in the City.

The report highlights several areas of Seizing Our Destiny’s pillars including intelligent growth and location of choice.  Continuous positive economic numbers are important to gauge our economic recovery.  Reporting this data is also important so Riversiders know the hard work is paying off.

A few other highlights:

  • Taxable sales in the City have risen 11.5% over the past year.
  • Home sales increased 4.9% to 908 homes from the first quarter of 2014 to the second quarter of 2014.
  • Apartment vacancy rates in the City have fallen to 2.4%, a 25% decrease from a year ago.

For a complete copy of the report, click here.

Manufacturing Coach Transforms ‘Vulnerable Yet Viable’ Companies

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Kurt Miller, published in the Press-Enterprise on September 23, 2014.)

Dennis Sonney, of Jurupa Valley, works for a private nonprofit corporation funded largely by the U.S. Department of Commerce to help strengthen manufacturing in the Inland Empire.

Dennis Sonney, manufacturing coach for the Inland Empire.  Photo credit: Kurt Miller

Dennis Sonney, manufacturing coach for the Inland Empire. Photo credit: Kurt Miller

With the title of a manufacturing coach, Sonney works his magic transforming “vulnerable yet viable” companies, he said. “We want them to grow, hire people, pay taxes and stay here.”  Since he arrived nine years ago, Sonney has worked with hundreds of companies that make everything from aerospace and aviation components to cosmetics, paint coating, robots, bats, skateboards and tiny circuit boards. In 2013, Sonney helped create 2,580 jobs at Inland manufacturing businesses, and he takes on 12 new clients a month, from startups to multimillion-dollar giants, he said. Last quarter alone, he worked with 19 manufacturers.

For the past five years, Sonney has worked closely with a Riverside company, Western Hydrostatic, which sells and repairs hydraulic components on large construction machinery.

Dennis Sonney, who works for California Manufacturing Technology Consulting as the Inland Empire coach, at Western Hydrostatic in Riverside, one of the many clients for whom he has helped solve problems, provide training programs and grow their companies.  Photo credit: Kurt Miller

Dennis Sonney, who works for California Manufacturing Technology Consulting as the Inland Empire coach, at Western Hydrostatic in Riverside, one of the many clients for whom he has helped solve problems, provide training programs and grow their companies. Photo credit: Kurt Miller

Founder and CEO Starke Scott praises the customer service training program that Sonney helped set up with state subsidies as invaluable and affordable. In addition, Scott said his company benefited from Sonney’s plans to help them diversify, reduce waste on the shop floor and avail themselves of stronger digital marketing tools. This year, annual sales are expected to exceed $8 million, almost double those in 2009.

Dennis Sonney is a model of intelligent growth in our community.  Manufacturing plays a vital role in the state of our local economy.  Sonney’s efforts not only have a direct effect on local manufacturing companies, his work impacts Riversiders throughout the city.   Riverside embraces economic growth and works everyday to improve our already outstanding quality of life.

“I’m passionate about what I do,” said Sonney. “It’s rewarding to know how I’ve impacted businesses.”

To read more, click here.

Inland Teachers Hold Conference To Encourage STEM Education

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Dana Straehley, published in the Press-Enterprise on August 27, 2014.)

Attendees will learn hands-on activities showing connections of science, technology, engineering and mathematics from UC Riverside educator Pamela Clute.

Pamela Clute, UC Riverside mathematics professor and special assistant to the chancellor, demonstrates ways to make mathematics more engaging and relevant. She will lead a conference for teachers about science, technology, engineering and math during the annual Science and Technology Education Partnership Conference.  Photo credit: Press-Enterprise

Pamela Clute, UC Riverside mathematics professor and special assistant to the chancellor, demonstrates ways to make mathematics more engaging and relevant. She will lead a conference for teachers about science, technology, engineering and math during the annual Science and Technology Education Partnership Conference. Photo credit: Press-Enterprise

Registration is open for Inland teachers to attend a conference to inspire their teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The teachers’ conference from 3:15 to 6 p.m. will be part of the annual Science and Technology Education Partnership Conference, which will be Oct. 15 at Bourns Inc., 1200 Columbia Ave., Riverside. The conference was founded by Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, who is honorary chairman, and designed to motivate students with hands-on exhibits to pursue education for STEM careers.

Riverside’s initiative to promote and encourage STEM education is a model of Seizing Our Destiny’s intelligent growth pillar.  STEM education plays a vital role in strengthening our community’s workforce and job growth.  Riverside works around the clock everyday to improve the quality of life for all through intelligent growth.

Pamela Clute, a UCR mathematics professor and assistant vice chancellor, will lead the teachers’ conference, where those attending will do hands-on activities that demonstrate interconnectedness of STEM. Teachers will receive instructional materials, a light dinner and certificates. Reservations are required for the free conference, which is open to teachers who have not attended before.

To read the full article, click here.

Students Score Paid Summer Internships

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Kyle Glaser, published in the Press-Enterprise on July 14, 2014)

From teaching kids’ art classes to working with nonprofit groups, recent high school graduates are earning money and experience.

Some Inland teens have landed cool summer jobs – paid internships that also give them the chance to help their communities.  Riverside residents Saul Gonzalez and Roberto Gutierrez are working with Habitat for Humanity of Riverside, building homes, collecting donations and managing inventory. Riverside residents Margarita Oreta and Christina Chu are interning at the Riverside Art Museum, teaching art classes and helping create exhibitions.

Roberto Gutierrez, left, and Saul Gonzalez are interning Habitat for Humanity through a Bank of America program.  Photo credit: Kurt Miller

Roberto Gutierrez, left, and Saul Gonzalez are interning Habitat for Humanity through a Bank of America program. Photo credit: Kurt Miller

All four earned their internships as part of Bank of America’s Student Leaders Program, which puts recent high school graduates in eight-week paid internships at nonprofit organizations.  The internships go beyond the stereotypical teen summer internship of answering phones or getting coffee. Interns are assigned similar tasks as full-time professionals with the hope their experiences will help them through their college days and into their working years.

This a great representation of Seizing Our Destiny’s intelligent growth pillar.  In the past, high school students and graduates looked forward to the summer to sleep in and spend time with friends.  With the current job market becoming more and more competitive, students are starting to make more efforts toward developing their work experience and not just settling for a summer job at a fast food restaurant.  Riverside promotes an outstanding quality of life for all through intelligent growth.

While the students are getting pay and invaluable experience, they aren’t the only ones benefiting.

“The kids get a lot out of it and then, of course, we get a little bit of extra labor, which always helps,” Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Kathy Michalak said. “These kids bring a different twist. Both of us get something really great out of it, which is what makes this work.”

To read more, click here.


CBU Aviation Science Program Enters Agreement With ExpressJet Airlines

(This article contains excerpts from an article posted on Calbaptist.edu on March 24, 2014.)


California Baptist University’s aviation science program has entered into a Pilot Pathway Interview Agreement with ExpressJet Airlines.  The agreement, which is the first to be initiated by CBU, guarantees qualified students an interview and preferential consideration for pilot hiring with ExpressJet, which operates contractually as United Express, Delta Connection and American Eagle.

Photo Credit: expressjet.com

Photo Credit: expressjet.com

“In addition to benefiting current students, this agreement is a significant student recruiting tool,” said Dr. Daniel Prather, chair of the department of aviation science. “Students can now see real benefit in attending CBU and majoring in aviation flight.”

The agreement is designed to provide opportunities for future employment at the airline for pilots completing training at CBU and meeting airline qualifications, including the FAA Commercial Pilot Certificate with Airplane Multiengine Land and Instrument Airplane ratings, a CFI certificate, First Class Medical Certificate, background checks and letters of recommendation from CBU’s department of aviation science.

CBU’s efforts and commitment to education certainly illustrate the seizing our destiny pillar of intelligent growth.  For students, one of the greatest challenges they meet is finding a career path after graduation.  Providing students with the opportunity of future employment while they are completing their training at Cal Baptist holds great value to aviation science students.   This is just one example of how Cal Baptist University promotes intelligent growth by collaborating to build a stronger community for future Riversiders.

To read the full article, click here.

Riverside Maker of Aerospace Component Soars in New Directions

(This article contains excerpts from an article by Laurie Lucas published in the Press Enterprise on March 07, 2014)

STAN LIM/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER  Henri Rahmon, left, and Iggy Araujo are owners of Accuturn Corporation, a Riverside-based company that makes parts as small as a grain of sand for the aerospace, military, medical, dental and other industries.

Henri Rahmon, left, and Iggy Araujo are owners of Accuturn Corporation, a Riverside-based company that makes parts as small as a grain of sand for the aerospace, military, medical, dental and other industries.

Accuturn Corporation is a manufacturer of precision components, such as screws and washers, for aerospace, medical, dental, computer and other industries. At the controls since 2006, Iggy Araujo, 59, Henri Rahmon, 47 and a silent partner, have doubled annual sales, branched into the medical, automotive, computer, defense and dental industries and added state-of-the-art machinery that can make screws as small as a grain of sand or as fine as a strand of hair. These miniscule components, manufactured from stainless steel, titanium, gold and other materials, wind up in everything from cameras, tooth implants, orthopedic devices, drone antennas and Boeing cockpit panels to Caterpillar joysticks.

STAN LIM/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER   Parts much smaller than a penny manufactured at Accuturn.

Parts much smaller than a penny manufactured at Accuturn.

Business has taken off since the two immigrants bought a Riverside manufacturer of aerospace parts. In fact, like other successful innovation focused businesses in the city of Riverside; Accuturn has outgrown its location at 6510 Box Springs Road and is poised to expand its markets in Europe, South America and Canada. Rahmon said they’re pacing themselves, but expect to keep growing in strong, overseas markets. “We have a good name, low production costs and a quick turnaround,” he said. “And we have Iggy. He IS Accuturn.”

Riverside is a location of choice for people and organizations from all over the world; attracting a dynamic and diverse people as its residents and business owners. To read the full article click here.

How Completion Counts Changed Education in Riverside

(This article was written by Steven Frasher, Communications Consultant for the Completion Counts partnership on January 9, 2014.)

Completion Counts enters 2014 entirely on its own, now supported by the local commitment of its partners. Far from fading or faltering, Completion Counts is on firm footing and making a real difference in the lives of thousands of Riverside students.

“We want our students to complete two-year degrees, four-year degrees, certificate programs,” said Mayor Rusty Bailey, speaking for the Completion Counts partnership in a recent video update just posted to the City’s GTV and YouTube. “We’ve made a real concerted effort setting them up for success.”

City of Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey speaking on Completion Counts.

City of Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey speaking at a student-centered Press Conference on Completion Counts help in December, 2013 in City Hall.

The Completion Counts initiative was launched with a great deal of fanfare in 2010 when the national League of Cities announced that Riverside was one of four cities nationwide to receive a three-year $3 million Communities Learning in Partnership (CLIP) grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Together with New York City, San Francisco and Mesa, Arizona, Riverside was challenged to treat postsecondary education as a workforce development imperative. Cities and their public education institutions worked to raise their college completion rates.

Then-mayor Ron Loveridge gladly accepted the charge and brought executive focus to the challenges at hand. The initiative, several partners have claimed, forged “the new way we do business” in Riverside.

The partners are the City of Riverside, Alvord Unified School District, Riverside Unified School District, Riverside City College, Riverside County of Office of Education, University of California, Riverside and the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce.

“The name, ‘Completion Counts,’ is intentional,” said Dr. Wendel Tucker, a former superintendent at Alvord Unified School District, who did consulting for the partnership. “Our expectation is that you will complete college. We will help you to succeed – to have a vibrant economy, here, in Riverside.”

Three years later, not only the mayor but the school superintendents, chancellors and community college president, are all new faces but the commitment remains.

“We’ve been at the table since Day One,” said Cindy Roth, President of the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce, to a group of student reporters, in December. “It’s for your benefit and our benefit. We can’t attract jobs without the workforce. Employers look at education.”

Roth pulled no punches reminding listeners why Riverside benefitted. Any entity assessing strengths and challenges of the Inland region found local advantages offset by a low rate of college completion and university degrees among regional residents. Up to 93% of current jobs require some sort of postsecondary education, she said.

Postsecondary education can include college and university, as well as career certificate programs.

Industries attracted to Riverside – including technology, medical, advanced manufacturing and logistics – all require mastery of core classes, called the A-G sequence, demanded of the University of California and California State University systems, for entrance.

“You need a college degree to get in to today’s job market. Things have changed. Times have changed,” Roth said. “The jobs will go elsewhere if we’ don’t have the labor market.”

Dr. Imran Farooq, a member of the California Workforce Development Board, told students that the Riverside – Inland region is poised for tremendous period of growth.

“There are a growing number of consumers demanding products and services,” Farooq said. The region needs a qualified workforce and innovative entrepreneurs, and students need to know they have the support and commitment of their community.

“We’re here to help you,” Mayor Bailey told the students.

Educational attainment is so important that Completion Counts is embedded in Seizing Our Destiny, the City’s strategic action plan.

“It takes a team. We’ve set students up for success, but we need students to take advantage of the opportunities in front of you,” said Bailey, who was himself a high school teacher prior to becoming mayor in 2012.

Many of Riverside’s families have never sent anyone to college. The partnership especially targeted low income and first generation college-goers. Completion Counts created the College311.org website as a comprehensive source of free and authoritative information about financial aid, college and university applications, and other helpful information.

Counselors received additional training and met with their college counterparts. Math and English teachers and instructors met to compare curricula and now those same lessons and partnerships are being applied to teaching Career Technical Education (CTE) courses in city high schools and at RCC.

“Completion Counts has been an investment in alignment,” said Dr. Rick Miller, the former superintendent of Riverside USD.

Grant funds paid to bring together high school teachers from both school districts with college professors. Both sides realized they didn’t really know what to expect from the other. High school math and English courses were adjusted to align with college-level expectations.

Foundation-granted funds also paid for assessments of each school district, their course offerings and college-going rates, in processes guided by consultants from Oakland-based The Education Trust-West.

School districts have placed greater emphasis on the core A-G curriculum demanded by universities, which is more rigorous than classes required simply for high school graduation or for entrance to a community college. Still, even the college finds that too many students step into postsecondary classes unprepared for what’s expected of them.

School districts have changed how they schedule and deliver classes to better serve students.

“It’s been a change in culture,” said interim RUSD Superintendent Mike Fine. The goal isn’t just getting to high school graduation. “The focus goes beyond that – to the next two years, the next four years.”

The success of alignment means fewer students have to spend valuable time and money taking remedial courses at RCC; it also increases the chances of student success in college, said Dr. Wolde-Ab Isaac, the interim President of Riverside City College.

As Mayor Bailey put it, “You have to make your senior year valuable” in terms of continuing to take care classes and keeping math and English skills fresh, going into college. “It’s money in your pockets.”

Community colleges are shifting emphasis from just ‘access’ to ‘success,” Isaac said.

In a Riverside-San Bernardino region with one of the lowest college-going rates in the state, post-secondary education is no longer optional, added Dr. Edward Bush, Vice President of Student Affairs at Riverside City College. Area students can’t think that college is not for them, he said. Some sort of postsecondary training is necessary for everyone.

“When students are told they’re not college material, they stop aspiring toward college,” Bush said. The result, then, is students unprepared for college when they realize they really have to go. Students are then stuck repeating courses they could have completed in high school.

One of the paths Completion Counts put into motion is the RCC 2-Year Completion Contract, announced in May 2012. The offer is made available to any Alvord or Riverside unified school district graduating senior who is prepared for full-time college-level work.

“If you meet the [math and English] requirements, we will guarantee that you will have access to classes with the support you need to be able to graduate in two years,” Bush said. At present, fewer than 4% of California community college students are able to earn enough credits to graduate in just two years.

There are currently more than 500 students enrolled in Riverside’s 2-Year Completion Contract, with more than 200 of the first cohort poised to graduate this spring.

Higher education is necessary, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all proposition. There are multiple pathways to postsecondary success. Students and their families must actively seek out their options, the Mayor said, but the opportunities are there.

Educational and professional pathways are so important that educators look hard to find the best fit for students, said Dr. LaRae Lundgren, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment at the University of California, Riverside. “We’ve tried to make those pathways shine a little brighter.”

Completing the official FAFSA federal financial aid application is an important first step for preparation, regardless of a student’s plans for their family’s financial means. There are often more financial resources available to students than they expect, Lundgren said.

Cash for College workshops, which are open to any student of any high school, are being presented at several Riverside schools between January and March. Complete schedules will be posted to the College311.org website.

The Welcome Center, on the RCC campus, is another option available for all students to learn about their college and university, regardless of where the student wants to attend.

Completion Counts “is a game changer,” said Alvord Unified Superintendent Dr. Sid Salazar. Meaningful education means positions, jobs for our students, once they graduate from high school and college.”

Local Woman Helps Underserved Communities Cook Up The Education They Need

Starting a nonprofit is no easy endeavor, but local college professor and consultant with a doctorate in industrial and organizational psychology, didn’t shy away.

smooth transitions

With a strong desire to make a difference in her community and a strong understanding of what the community needs, Robin Goins founded Smooth Transition Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit that provides at-risk students a gateway toward empowerment as well as educational and employment opportunities.  With a goal of preventing students from re-entering the foster and judicial systems, and repeating at-risk, poverty and homelessness cycles, Goins was ready to brave the challenge, but had no idea how quickly the program would grow.

“My heart lies in education and teaching diverse groups across all levels,” says Goins.  “What made Smooth Transition Inc. work was focusing on the real need, not what we think it is. People need education. They are hungry. They are desperate.”

While Smooth Transition was already offering life skills, computer skills, small-business strategies, Goin discovered that twenty-four percent of new jobs are forecast to be in the hospitality industry.  Upon that realization, Goins began to develop a Culinary Institute that offered certificate-level skills at an accelerated pace; completing accreditation in as little as six months while including 72 hours of internship in a working restaurant.

While other culinary programming would be too expensive for the community she longed to serve, Goins created a Culinary Arts Vocation Certification Training Program geared toward low-income and at-risk students.

“I knew it was going to be a good program, but I had no idea there would be such a high demand. All of a sudden, I’m in the restaurant business!”

A 2013 Community Impact Grant from The Community Foundation funded scholarships for attendance in the Culinary Arts Vocation Certification Training Program and the first class graduated in May; with 60 percent of those students already working.

While the institute will require donated manpower, kitchen equipment and scholarship funding as it grows, Robin Goins’ vision and goal for Smooth Transitions and the Culinary Arts Vocation Certification Training Program is a reflection of Riverside’s commitment to unite a diverse community to promote the common good for all. 

To learn more about Smooth Transition Inc., to volunteer or donate, visit www.smoothtransitioninc.com or call 951-263-9392.

Read the complete article as published in the Press Enterprise, here.