November 21, 2016


Group/Class Activities

Socially Engaged Art Project


In this socially engaged art project, students in the colloquium course: Thinking for a Change and Imagination for a Change, taught by Lynn Sondag (Art) and Julia van der Ryn (philosophy), created an “action statement” — a thoughtful visual/verbal statements to bring awareness to democracy and equity issues in education. Using a simple and effective silkscreening process students transferred their design statements onto t-shirts. Completed t-shirts were hung on a clothesline in front of Caleruega. Shirts were free to the public; however, to claim a t-shirt people were asked to write a pledge on a large piece of paper on something they will do to promote educational equity and success. They then replaced the t-shirt on the clothesline with this piece of paper.

Click here to see a video.

“Mount Tamalpais” Colloquium Field Trip

Students in the “Mount Tamalpais” colloquium enjoyed yet another excellent field trip experience to the Marin Museum of Bicycling and  the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in Fairfax on Nov. 8.  The students had a special private tour with Joe Breeze, founder of the museum and one of the foremost pioneers of Mountain Biking — now an Olympic sport — which began on Mount Tam!  Joe’s son Tommy (recent graduate in Art History/Visual Culture Studies) helped lead the tour.  Another excellent field trip/experience for these classes (Dr. Leslie Ross and Dr. Josh Horowitz CLQ co-teachers.)

2016 Penguin Invitational Debate Tournament

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The 2016 Penguin Invitational Debate Tournament was a resounding success! Given the overwhelmingly positive feedback from the visiting programs, I am confident that the tournament will attract even more teams and schools next year. Congratulations are in order for the 14 Dominican debaters who competed in this tournament. Over 6 preliminary rounds of debate, 5 of our teams won their rounds at least once, 4 won twice, and all of our teams came in 2nd at least once.

There were 28 teams form 6 schools: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (3 teams); Claremont Colleges (4 teams); Dominican University (7 teams); Humboldt State University (4 teams); Los Medanos CC (4 teams); and UC Berkeley (6 teams)

Dominican Team Rankings (after 6 preliminary rounds, 28 teams):
Talia Gonzalez & Tegist Worku (9th)
Oliver Demmert-Shelo & Julian-Spencer Kraynik (12th)
Austin Sacker & Christopher Suen (16th)
Amanda Garren & Autymn Garvisch (18th)
David Enriquez & Sayra Trejo (20th)
Luz Torres-Altamirano & Jennessica Holliday (24th)
Sophia Root & Sophia Stetson (25th)

Dominican Speaker Rankings (after 6 preliminary rounds, 56 speakers):
Talia Gonzales (10th)  (4-way tie)
Amanda Garren (14th) (6-way tie)
Tegist Worku (23rd) (5-way tie)
Autymn Garvisch (23rd) (5-way tie)
Oliver Demmert-Shelfo (28th) (4-way tie)
David Enriquez (28th) (4-way tie)
Sayra Trejo (32nd)
Christopher Suen (34th) (2-way tie)
Julian-Spencer Kraynik (36th) (2-way tie)
Luz Torres-Altamirano (36th) (2-way tie)
Jennessica Holliday (44th) (2-way tie)
Austin Sacker (46th) (2-way tie)
Sophia Root (50th)
Sophia Stetson (51st)

Thanks to the Penguins Participating as Judges: Erika Rosales-Shelfo, Cristal Zeas, Joshua Rosenberg, Aimee Carrazco, Dew Reid, Giulia Welch, Nuno Vungo, Olivia Ramirez, Bobby Bradford, Phil Novak, and Denise Lucy

Veteran’s Day: Honored with a Fundraiser


The Veterans Club, the Political Science Student Association, and the History Club organized a fundraiser to support the Fisher House Foundation as part of their Veterans Week activities. Fisher House is a non-profit organization that “provides free or low cost lodging to veterans and military families receiving treatment at military medical centers.” Members of our Dominican community have benefited from Fisher House’s services and this was our way of supporting the organization that has supported our fellow Penguins. Through a donation bake sale held at Montecito Plaza on Saturday, November 12 and the gracious donations from members of Marin, San Francisco, and the Peninsula del Rey communities, we raised over $1,400.

Broadcast Services Captures Make-A-Wish Reveal

Thanks to Leona George-Davidson and students in the Broadcast Services Crew for creating a Make-A-Wish Greater Bay Area video of Alessio, a five-year-old boy with Cerebral Palsy. He was granted his wish to go to Aulani, a Disney Resort in Hawaii, at a Make-A-Wish Foundation reveal organized and hosted by the Penguin Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (PSAAC) and Dominican Athletics on campus in September.

Click here to see the video!

Panel on Homelessness

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On November 18 there was a panel on homelessness as part of the The Democracy and Equity Initiative and the Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.  Over 60 students, faculty and staff attended.  The panelists included Zara Babitzke and Juliana Steccone from Ambassadors of Hope and Opportunity; Logan McDonnell and Jesse Taylor-Vermont from Downtown Streets Team; Simón Tiles from Ritter House; Rev. Paul Gaffney from Marin Interfaith Street Chaplaincy; and Sally Hindman from Youth Spirit Artworks. Dr. Laura Stivers moderated the panel.  Read the Marin Independent Journal article on the event.

Broadcast Services Guest Speaker


Steffan Postaer was the Broadcast Services guest speaker on November 17th. A copywriter by trade, Steffan is perhaps best known for his provocative and iconic work on Altoids, The Curiously Strong Mints.  Early in his career, Steffan co-wrote “Not your Father’s Oldsmobile,” which became a part of popular culture.

Steffan last served as Executive Creative Director at gyro, San Francisco responsible for elevating the creative product across a broad range of B2B and technology clients.

Steffan is immersed in new media platforms. His blog, Gods of Advertising is a must-read in Adland.

He’s the recipient of advertising’s most prestigious awards, including the Kelly Award for best print campaign in America and gold and silver Lions from Cannes.

In addition to his much-awarded screenplay, “Belzec: The Made Undead” Steffan has written three novels, all of which are available via online booksellers.

 Student News

Student Abroad at University of Chester


Bridgett Hernandez (Psychology) is studying abroad at the University of Chester in Britain. She writes:

“Two years ago when I had decided to attend Dominican University of California my dad took a mock photo of me “crossing abbey road” in the dreams that one day I’d actually cross the real one. Well today was that day and I couldn’t have been more happy. Through studying abroad (at the University of Chester) we are fulfilling our dreams.”

Jean Mizel Memorial Scholarship

The Jean Mizel Memorial Scholarship for Art History honors and supports Dominican students majoring in Art History. Current recipient of this honor is Art History major Maura Wilson. Pictured here with Mrs. Ann Mizel and Dr. Leslie Ross, Chair of Art History.

Faculty and Staff News

New AHSS Graduate Program Staff


Welcome to Natalie Babler, the new staff member for the Graduate Programs in AHSS!  


Op-ed Published in Marin IJ

Check out Dean Laura Stivers’s Op-ed “Is White Privilege Preventing True Sustainability in Marin?” in the Marin Independent Journal.

First Place at Ohio Star Ball

AHSS staff member Whitney Myers won the Open Pro-Am Smooth category at Ohio Star Ball this weekend.

Click here to find a short video!

Psychology Professor Focused on Positive Mentoring Relationships

Professor Veronica Fruiht (center) with students Danielle Davis (left) and Samantha Easley

Veronica Fruiht, who recently joined Dominican as an assistant professor of psychology, knows all too well the power of mentoring.

Fruiht attended a high school that was struggling to maintain academic standards in the face of a changing student body and educational climate. When it came time to apply to college, her high school counselor’s advice was to aim low. Colleges, Fruiht was told, would not be interested in students from her high school.

“I was lucky enough to have mentors outside of school who told me otherwise,” recalls Fruiht, who in 2014 became the first person in the U.S. to earn a PhD in Positive Developmental Psychology.

Her high school experience led to a lifelong interest in how developmental psychology and positive psychology can be used to improve the educational experience.

“I saw how devastating a lack of support for student success can be,” says Fruiht, who joined Dominican’s Department of Psychologyin the School of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences in April. “The experience made me want to better understand how influential people in the lives of adolescents effect their choices about academics.”

After earning her BS in psychology from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Fruiht earned both an MA and PhD in Positive Developmental Psychology from Claremont Graduate University.

As a graduate student, Fruiht began working with community colleges in Orange County to help them develop interventions to build hope in their higher-risk student populations. This work allowed her to study how these types of programs might help students build the psychological capital (for example, things like hope and goal-setting skills) to make them more successful in school.

She saw that the students who were most successful in achieving their goals were those who knew how to find people in their lives to help them develop that capital outside of these programs.

“My interest in natural mentoring relationships grew out of talking with students about how they recruited mentors from their own social networks to help them be successful.”

At Dominican, Fruiht plans to expand her research examining adolescents’ mentoring relationships and how young people find supportive adults in their lives to help them to achieve their goals.

“I’m particularly interested in how first-generation college students find mentors and what impact those mentors can have on their success in school and work.”

Her other main area of research is on the construct of hope.

“Positive psychologists define hope as being made up of having the “will” to achieve your goals and knowing the “ways” to achieve them,” Fruiht says. “While this is really useful for success in school and in life, I’m also interested in what hope means to people outside of the field of psychology, and how mentors might help people build hope that doesn’t have to do with their goals.”

As someone who studies mentoring, one of Fruiht’s favorite parts of research is getting to be a mentor to emerging scholars, something she looks forward to expanding at Dominican.

This semester she has two research assistants (sophomores Samantha Easley and Danielle Davis) helping analyze data for a qualitative research project about first-generation college students’ mentoring relationships. In upcoming semesters, she plans to build her research lab into a team of students that help with data collection and analyses, and have the opportunity to ask their own research questions with these data sets and present their findings at scholarly conferences.

New Integrative Advisor


The AAAC is excited to announce that we have a new integrative advisor. Molly Rogers joins our team as the part-time Integrative Advisor for the Dance department.

Molly holds an MFA in Dance from UC Irvine. Here at Dominican, she teaches Politics of the Body in Motion, a performance studies course that examines politics of identity and representation both on and off the dance stage. Molly designed and implemented the inaugural dance history curriculum at the Alonzo King LINES Ballet Training Program, where she serves on faculty teaching Critical Perspectives in Dance. She has worked as a lecturer in Dance at UC Irvine, as well as a guest speaker at St. Mary’s College and Sonoma State University discussing the work of Alonzo King. As an artist and scholar, she wholeheartedly believes in the value of a liberal arts education for dancers. In her newest role as integrative advisor for the BFA dance majors, she looks forward to mentoring students on their journey to becoming critically aware, multifaceted human beings.

Life Support Mexico House Building Mission

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Leona George-Davidson (staff) and Dominican IT staff member, Henry Jamison, Sr. traveled to Mexico for a house building mission for families in need. They were part of a sixty person team that built homes for three families.

Read more about it at!

Alumni News

National TV Commercial Score


Dominican alum Anthony Circo ’14, a music major, has an ear – and an idea – for music. He has composed the musical score for a national TV commercial for Toyota currently airing during NBC’s Sunday Night Football. Read the amazing story of how Anthony applied his musical genius and his Dominican experience to this project. 


Dean’s Deliberations

I have embraced Dominican’s focus on democracy and equity this year and was thrilled that College Debate 16 encouraged 18-24 year olds to participate in the political process by understanding the issues, engaging in dialogue with others of varying perspectives, and by both voting and getting their friends to vote.  The spirit of College Debate 16 was nonpartisan and primarily about promoting democracy. Our university focus this year has also included raising awareness about equity.  Equity is foundational for a thriving democracy.  The Democracy and Equity events have addressed social issues such as poverty, mental health, housing and homelessness, education, racism, and sexism.  

I believe our university must continue to hold onto two values that are sometimes in tension.  We should honor freedom of speech and the right of all students, faculty, and staff to voice their opinions in respectful dialogue.  Yet we must also continue to support a prophetic vision that includes social and environmental justice and peace, which is an integral part of our heritage. Dominican’s Diversity Declaration that advocates respect for the dignity of each individual regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, socio-economic status, culture, political conviction or disability, and our ideals of study, community, reflection and service can guide the bridging of this tension.

Since the election I, like many others, have been caught up in reading the various social media posts, often articles analyzing who voted for which Presidential candidate and why. Of course there are various factors for why people voted the way they did, from party affiliation to policy to religion to a strong dislike of one or the other candidate. For an overwhelming majority of voters of color, however, the racism, fear mongering and misogyny displayed by President-Elect Trump and some of his supporters were deal breakers (88% of Blacks and 65% of Hispanic/Latinos and Asians did not vote for him), while these aspects of the Trump candidacy were a deal breaker for only 37% of Whites.* Clearly this of great concern and we have a lot of work to do to ensure that the progress we have made as a nation toward securing fair and equitable access and treatment for all is not soon dismantled.

Prophetically standing up for social and environmental justice means we should respect the democratic process and the right of voters to vote in the way they see fit. Yet it also means we must stand up for what we know to be right, which includes honoring the dignity of all people and fiercely defending the right to fair access and treatment. Listening to all opinions, not just those that align with our own beliefs is an important first step.  As a social ethicist, however, I believe a focus on equity will prove to be more powerful and fruitful in ensuring a secure and democratic nation.  I invite everyone to join me in being an ally to all groups who are vulnerable in our society, whether from race, class, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or disability, and to work toward a more equitable society.

I feel fortunate to be a member of the Dominican community where we intentionally encourage dialogue where different opinions are welcome, while also ensuring that our campus is a safe place for all.  On that note, check out our “We Are With You” notes on the south side of Angelico first floor and post one yourself!



Laura Stivers Fall 2015 Portrait

Dr. Laura Stivers, Dean
School of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences




Conversation on Standing Rock

This movement touches on a variety of the social concerns today including honoring rights of Indigenous Peoples under existing treaties, militarization and privatization of law enforcement, land rights under eminent domain, climate change, political corruption, and police brutality to name a few. At center stage of this struggle is environmental racism, and the arising challenges that many Native communities and other communities of color often face with regard to health and the environment. This is a movement for the empowerment of Indigenous Peoples, but with lessons for us all.


Do you have an event planned in Spring 2017 that aligns with the Democracy and Equity community engagement theme? Contact Whitney Myers for more information on associating your event with this initiative.

Upcoming Events & Exhibits

Service Learning Symposium

Students from SL designated courses will share the important ways that they have learning from and with community members and partners.