UPM Featured Faculty
Focus on Faculty
Each issue, we'll focus on one faculty member, so that you can get to know your fellow UPM members.
Rowena Southard: English Instructor
Recently, Rowena Southard and I walked across the parking lotto Woodlands Cafe. Over a BLT (Rowena's) and a Ruben (mine), Rowena shared her story, including her long history at College of Marin. How many UPM members can claim a relationship with COM that starts at age 12?!
Born in Barstow, Rowena grew up outside of Houston, Texas. Her dad was in the Marines and then got a job in the freight shipping business. She remembers Texas: "Parts of it were grim." It was a time of social unrest. So moving here to Kentfield when she was in middle schooI was ultimately a great thing. She had grown up in a conservative school environment, addressing adults with, "Yes, ma'am," and "No, sir," so when the fami ly moved to Kentfield halfway through sixth grade, although it was eventually the best thing for Rowena and her family, it was a huge culture shock. Rowena still remembers what she wore on the first day at Kent Mid dle School, right across from COM: a corduroy skirt, nylons and a striped top. She gotto school and she was the only student in nylons and probably the only one in a skirt -- it was the 70s and Marin was home to hip pies: most of the other students were wearing t-shirts and jeans. She had a thick Texan accent and she was very self-conscious.
When I asked Rowena to reminisce about this area back then, she had some funny memories. Rowena re members College of Marin as a great place for her to play with her sister, who would climb on the roof of Harlan Center and peek in the windows. Next to where Woodlands Market is now th ere was 'Tweeds and Weeds," a clothing store for people with big wa Ilets and conservative tastes. The Black Oak Saloon was the local bar, and just down the street was a movie theater where Rowena remembers watching 'Them" a sci-fi movie a bout giant ants . Later in the theater's history, for a few yea rs it featured pornographic movies.
After attending Red wood High Schoo I, Rowena came to COM as a student for one semester and promptly dropped out. She says she can really relate to our students who don't know what they want to do - she was that student. In fact, she said, "I had to work. I needed to pay the rent." She remembers thinking, 'This [college] isn't going to help." She ended up going to City College in San Francisco, getting a certificate in floristry, and working as a wholesale florist for ten years. She had eventually had her own business, buying flowers wholesale atthe Flower Ma rt in San Francisco and then selling them to supermarkets in Marin, such as Cala Foods in Fairfax, Mill Valley, and Tiburon.
At age 26, she married Dave Southard. They live in San Anselmo "five feet from the border of Fairfax." Dave, a retired butcher, plays rock guitar. Rowena is grateful for Dave's union job, which gave him a job with a pension, benefits, and job stability, something Rowena had never experienced in the floristry industry.
When she was 29, she realized that she wouldn't be able to do floristry's physically demanding work indefinitely, so she came back to COM, figuring she might get a degree in botany or biology. Her first class was a night class taught by Walter
Rowena remembers fondly English 151 with Nancy Siedler - they read Passage to India and watched the movie, too. She really enjoyed a morning biology class with the late Al Molina. She believes she was in one oft he very first classes taught by Jamie Deneris. "I loved her class," Rowena said. Rowena feels there might have been more students back then, more events (she's glad to see more events here recently), and mo re electives. She has a memory of hearing a concert on the grassy area in front of Student Services by John Lee Hooker when she attended the college the first time in the early 80's.
Rowena transferred to Sonoma State, where she became an English major, and she stayed to get her mas ter's degree in English literature, with a double emphasis on creative writing and nineteenth century Amer ican fiction. Her master's degree culminating project was a collection of short stories. She still enjoys writ ing; usually inspiration strikes in the summer after resting up a bit. Some of her stories have been pub lished.
She got her first work at COM as an English tutor, a job she continued to do along with teaching until a few years ago. She was pleasantly surprised to learn that her job was a union job. She was grateful to get her first job with a pension and benefits. She was an emergency hire for English 62 and eventually became an adju net English instructor.
When not teaching, Rowena plays the ukulele and the musical saw! The funniest story she told me in volved finding a musical saw teacher. She found a website, The International Musical Saw Association, and emailed them, asking for advice on finding a teacher. Three minutes later, she got back a reply, "Hi Ro! Art here. One the world's best musical saw teachers lives two miles from you!" Rowena had no idea that her friend, Art, had anything to do with musical saws! Check out Rowena's blog on musical saws,
As we were wrapping up the interview, I asked Rowena how unions have intersected her family's life. She repeated her gratitude for UPM and the Butchers' Union that Dave belonged to. She mentioned that Dave's father was a member of the Newspaper Guild as a newspaper photographer for the San Francisco Examiner, and his pension supported her mother-in-law after her father-in-law's death. She also said that her sister and brother-in-law are kinesiology instructors at Chico State and union members.
She used to keep herdistance from UPM, except as a member of the socia I committee, not wanting to get involved in college politics. I mused that that described me and probably many if not most of our faculty but sheis currently on the UPM Executive Council and is really enjoying it. She says she is meeting people, learning a lot and that she feels she is contributing in useful ways. Plus, she says thatthe work is pleasant. She is impressed with the Executive Council members, mentioning the good work ofthe negotiating team and the treasurer. Near the end of our chat, Rowena repeated her great affection for our college and our students. Rowena loved COM as a student and said, 'When I got hired to work at the college after being a student here, it was wonderful." Rowena: thank you for sharing your story with your fellow union members.
Cheo Massion: English as a Second Language Instructor
I asked Cheo Massion, English as a Second Language instructor at the College of Marin since 2008, if I could interview her for our UPM newsletter. She invited me to her beautiful home in San Rafael, with a view of Marinwood Open Space in the distance. Over our cups of peppermint tea and with a friendly cat named Maximoto in the background, Cheo Massion shared her biography.
She was born in Cortez. Colorado, in the beautiful high desert of the Four Corners. The youngest of four sisters, who all have short, unusual names, Cheo (pronounced "KEE-o") was named by her father, who liked the sound of the name. Education was highly valued in Cheo's family. Her father was a physician, and there was considerable pressure on the four girls to get good grades. Cheo's family was oriented towards getting the girls into four-year colleges and would never have considered a community college back then - "I was an east coast snob before it was a thing," admitted Cheo, but now she believes strongly in community colleges, proud of the high quality, low-cost education we give our students. After she graduated from Welles ley in 1979 with a double major in biology and American Studies ("I love learning," she said, and she especially liked American literature and history), she moved to California to be near one of her sisters. Now, all four sisters are here.
At Berkeley, she got a master's degree in plant pathology and then worked for Chevron in biological control, spending two years doing bench research on the use of microorganisms to combat disease. She moved within Chevron to market research because she really enjoyed doing research of any kind. This interest in market research brought her into the software industry, doing market research for a small company called Jandel Scientific, then for Autodesk, and eventually for her own clients as a market research consult ant. When the dot com bubble of the late 1990s burst, Cheo decided to change things up completely.
After only a month-long ESL teaching certificate course, Cheo moved to Poland to teach ESL in the city of Tarnobrzeg for two years. She enjoyed her work and realized she wanted more training, so she returned to the Bay Area and got a master's degree in teaching English as a Second Language at San Francisco State University. In her practicum, she got a chance to be an assistant teacher at the College of Marin, doing one semester with Barbara Bonander and another with Jeff Cady. She got hired on as an adjunct in 2008 and was
hired full time in 2012.
Cheo is very grateful to our union for the gains it has made for noncredit ESL instructors. Negotiated long ago, noncredit instructors (Full-time and Part-time) earned 0.6 Teaching Units (TU), while all credit instruc tors earned 1.0 TU for every hour in the classroom. Two rounds of negotiations ago, the union negotiated a 0.75 to 1.0 TU equivalency, and in the most recent round, the union negotiated full parity at 1.0 to 1.0 TU-noncredit to credit instructors. Cheo believes that this change in our contract now acknowledges non credit ESL instructors for the role that they play at COM, and the new contract has made a positive difference in the lives of noncredit ESL instructors; she repeated her gratitude to UPM.
Cheo Massion and Patricia Seery hiked 165 miles of the Camino de Santiago, Spain in June 2015.
Cheo admires our hardworking, big-hearted students, who she says are a pleasure to teach and learn from. She feels that her work requires a great deal of creativity and gives her enormous satisfaction. She served on the Basic Skills Committee for about seven years, coordinated the Road to Success with Becky Reetz, co-created with Patricia Seery "Designing Our Destinies," an annual end-of-year ESL celebration - now in its fifth year, and served on the Educational Planning Committee for two years, helping to write the Student Access and Success section of our 2019-2022 Strategic Plan. Her hope - and it made it into the current draft of the Strategic Plan - is that COM's ESL Department and Career Technical Education can continue to coordinate in ways that would allow ESL students training in order to get better jobs more quickly (Click here and scroll to page 6, Action Step 2.4).
Currently, Cheo is on sabbatical, working hard on two related projects that address teaching and learning across the disciplines: "Brainy Teaching: Educational Neurosciences and Classroom Practices," which is for supporting fellow faculty members, and "Tips and Strategies to Become a More Effective Learner," a series of handouts to help our students to build strong learning skills. You can hear about Cheo's work during Flex Week in January 2020.
Summing up her experience at COM, Cheo says, "I love my job and our students. You can put that in caps!" Many thanks to Cheo for welcoming me to her home and sharing her story with us.
Are you willing to be featured in a future edition? Let us know!
Arthur Lutz: Machinist - Inventor - Artist - Educator
At College of Marin we have an outstanding faculty. Many of us, however, have only a limited knowledge of the credentials and qualifications of our faculty colleagues. So each semester we will be showcasing one of our own, so that we might have a better understanding and appreciation of their contributions to our college.
Arthur Lutz is the lead faculty member in our Machine and Metals Technology program, CoM’s career technical program that prepares students for employment in the metal-working trades as machinist, toolmaker, computer machine operator/programmer, and welder.
The MMT program also supports, encourages and helps develop the skills of those who are committed to the “maker ethic” – people who value, appreciate and enjoy designing and fabricating new, innovative devices – often for their personal satisfaction, but also as socially relevant marketable products.
Arthur’s formal training as a journeyman tool-maker, his extensive experience as a medical instrument-maker and his work as an award winning jeweler, make him an ideal instructor and mentor to serve the diverse technical and artistic interests of the varied students that enroll in his classes.
As a young person Arthur was initially trained by his father, a journeyman master- machinist and mechanic who ran his own fabrication business. Arthur worked for him and subsequently for numerous other mechanically related companies.
Arthur also pursued academic interests, and after receiving a B.A. in Experimental Psychology at Bard College, Arthur worked at New York’s Downstate Medical College in the Neuroanatomy department. Arthur was then offered a graduate research assistantship at the Primate Laboratory of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, to study with Dr. Harry Harlow, where Arthur helped develop instrumentation to test neurophysiological responses of Rhesus monkeys. While there, Arthur also worked at the University Medical Center helping to develop brain mapping instruments for the renowned neurophysiologist Dr. Clinton Woolsey.
After leaving Madison, Arthur moved to San Francisco where he began work at UC Medical Center as Principal Medical Instrument Maker/Development Engineer, and where he continued to design and fabricate hundreds of medical research devices; receiving patents for neurophysiological, urological and ophthalmic instruments, often working in surgical suites with physicians helping test his inventions. Arthur remained at UC for twenty-five years.
Arthur also created the “Bowl of Hygiea” award trophy that was presented by the UC Pharmacy Department each year (for 15 years) to their outstanding pharmacy graduate.
During a voluntary five year leave of absence from UC, Arthur pursued his sculpture and jewelry-making interests, exhibiting his work and receiving numerous awards throughout the area. His works are exhibited in private collections, galleries, and purchased by the San Francisco Arts Commission.
After retiring from UC, Arthur taught machining techniques in the Engineering Department at CCSF, and in 1985 was hired by the College of Marin as a sabbatical replacement for the Machine and Metals program director. In 1992 Arthur became the program’s full-time lead instructor.
Arthur’s years of training and employment in the metal-working industry as toolmaker, designer and engineer fostered his great respect for precision fabrication, but it also fostered his respect and admiration for the many tradesmen and women with whom he worked collegially and collaboratively, who proudly used their skills to produce objects of great beauty, precision and social utility.
So it’s not surprising that at CoM Arthur retained his commitment to the value of a collaborative and respectful working environment, and to that he end has devoted his energies in support of United Professors of Marin, our faculty union, where he serves as a member of the UPM Executive Council, Bargaining Team, UPM Political Action Committee, as former Shop Steward (Grievance Officer), and currently as Editor of our Union’s award-winning Newsletter. Arthur is also a long serving member of the CoM Academic Senate.
Arthur Lutz is one of our esteemed faculty members whose contributions have helped make the College of Marin the premier institution that it is.
Outstanding Faculty is a new feature sponsored by the United Professors of Marin AFT 1610.
We are actively seeking on-going articles for UPM members to be featured in the Outstanding Faculty section of our website.
Please submit articles about your colleagues or yourself for consideration by the members of the UPM Executive Council to:
Josette and Joan at Secretary@UPM.website
Page Last Updated: Nov 27, 2019 (11:43:45)