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SBCC Prez and Her Job Search

She Clearly Wants Out


JOB HUNTING: Although Santa Barbara City College President Andreea Serban didn’t get the top job at Mt. San Antonio College, she’s reportedly applied at three other community colleges.

After three years as SBCC president, she’s having problems dealing with the newly elected board and clearly wants out. When I phoned for comment Tuesday, Serban asked, through an aide, for me to email my questions. But she didn’t reply.

Barney Brantingham

One question being asked is why Serban didn’t give a heads-up to the SBCC Board of Trustees when she applied elsewhere or once she made the list of five finalists at Mt. San Antonio and reportedly took part in a public forum. After all, if Serban had gotten the job, the board would have had short notice to scramble for a replacement.

The SBCC board seems to have been taken by surprise at her flurry of job applications. “I was very surprised” at Serban wanting to leave, said trustee Marty Blum, the former Santa Barbara mayor.

“I didn’t know we were not getting along” until Serban released a statement earlier this month after her top-five ranking at Mt. San Antonio became public, Blum said. In the statement, Serban said that efforts to work with the new board “have not resulted in the highly collaborative approach” needed and it was “necessary for me to consider all possible alternatives.”

Stresses and strains have been obvious in recent weeks since Blum and three other new trustees took over, replacing a board that had been in office for years. Critics felt it needed new blood. After a contentious election campaign last fall that ended with the incumbents being ousted, Serban was clearly uncomfortable with the new board. Its way apparently wasn’t her way, and she’s taking to the highway.

The roads lead in many directions. There are reportedly at least 20 vacant community college presidencies around the state to be filled. Normally, changing of the guard takes place in June, at the end of the school year.

Being hired elsewhere soon would also relieve Serban of facing an annual job evaluation, which must be completed by June. She is said to be under a “rolling” three-year contract: Each June, her contract is up for renewal for another three years. If a community college president is terminated under such a contract, he or she is paid for an additional 18 months, not the full three years, a source told me. But I didn’t get the impression that the board is sharpening an ax.

ASHLEIGH STILL LAID UP: Dropped in to Mission Terrace Convalescent Hospital this week to check on “Pot-Shot” artist Ashleigh Brilliant, who was knocked flying by a car January 27. He’s had abdominal surgery and will have to remain there until his shattered leg is mended. Ashleigh was walking across an Upper Eastside street, in the crosswalk, when he was hit by a car driven by an 18-year-old, who said he’d been blinded by the sun.

LOM-POCK: Weather Channel folks broadcasting from Santa Barbara County during Sunday’s storm kept warning about possible flooding in “Lom-pock” … Town & Country magazine has been in town, reportedly working on a spread about prominent women of Santa Barbara. (You know who you are.)

THOSE BLUE ROOFS: When and if the Miramar project ever gets built, heaven alone knows what the room rates will be. But according to a brochure sent by Pierrette Porter of Goleta, they started at $17 a night back in 1976, in one of those blue-roofed cottages. W.P. Gawzner was president and James P. Gawzner was general manager. Now the once-beloved beach resort is a shambles. Owner Rick Caruso just got an okay from county supervisors for a downsized rebuilding plan, and they extended his permit until 2015. Caruso also just announced plans to spend $50 million to enlarge his L.A. mall and $60 mil for a luxury apartment/retail complex. But apparently he just can’t find financing for a resort on one of California’s best beaches.

MUSIC FOR KIDS: The Santa Barbara Symphony is treating 2,000 county schoolkids to free concerts this week at the Granada Wednesday and Friday. Rod Lathim directs.

ALOFT IN SOLVANG: With Santa Barbara’s downtown bereft of mega-chain bookstores (but the lucky Northside boasting Mahri Kerley’s Chaucer’s), I chanced upon another shop devoted to the printed word. In Solvang, no less. Heading for a coffee fix Saturday at the Bulldog Café, I noticed that it’s attached to The Book Loft, 1680 Mission Drive. It’s a friendly spot, an independent bookstore since 1970. A downtown Santa Barbara shopkeeper said tourists keep asking her where they can buy books. The good old Book Den, right across from the library, is one option.

AUTHOR, AUTHOR: I’m looking forward to Pulitzer-winning historian David McCullough, who will speak at the Granada on May 16, thanks to UCSB Arts & Lectures. On his last visit a few years ago, sponsored by Westmont College, the genial historian spoke wisely not only about the past but the present. My favorite books of his are The Path Between the Seas, about the building of the Panama Canal, and his biography of President Truman.

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