The S.B. Questionnaire: Scott Vincent

Talking Education Opportunity and Dad’s Legacy with the President of the SBCC Foundation

Scott Vincent at Santa Barbara City College. (September 5, 2019) | Credit: Paul Wellman

“It feels right to do what I can to provide for others the opportunity of a great education without student debt,” says Scott Vincent, the newly elected president for the board of directors of the SBCC Foundation. The nonprofit foundation provides more than $5 million annually for student success programs, scholarships, book grants, emergency funds, and other critical needs of Santa Barbara City College students.  

In 2016, the foundation launched a program called The Promise. “The Promise is the broadest expression of the foundation,” says Scott. “Its goal is to make education available to everyone, offering all local high school graduates the opportunity to attend SBCC full-time at no cost.”   

Scott gets very passionate when speaking about this incredible program. “I like the fact that it provides a great deal of financial support, but it’s not dictating a student’s path,” he explains. “It supports the student’s path while providing extensive counseling. The Promise has given our service focus.”    

Having served on the foundation’s board for the past two years, I have witnessed Scott’s fervor first hand, and I’ve been inspired by his resolve.  “The Promise has increased local student involvement,” he says. “It has also increased first-time student attendees, and increased the staying power, the persistence, of students finishing the two-year program.”

Scott was born and raised in Santa Barbara. He grew up seeing his parents frequently giving their time to the community. His father, Nick, served on executive committees and boards of Cottage Health System as well as the Santa Barbara City College Foundation, among others. Scott attended Santa Barbara High School and transferred to Thacher, where he graduated in 1988. He studied economics at Bucknell University, graduating in 1992, and later attended the University of San Diego School of Law.   

After San Diego, he returned to Santa Barbara. “This place has always been my home,” he exclaims. “I consider myself privileged to say that. I came back and my first job and only job was working for the City of Santa Barbara.”   

Scott became an assistant city attorney for the City of Santa Barbara, advising the Community Development Department and Planning Commission on land use law. He also advised the city’s Finance, Fire, Library, and Parks & Recreation departments.   His “first dip into volunteerism” was serving on the Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (CADA) as a teen court judge for nearly 10 years.

Scott and his siblings marked the occasion of his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary by endowing a scholarship in their honor through the SBCC Foundation. He is now retired from the city and not practicing law. After his parents’ deaths, he and his brothers were entrusted to manage a number of properties.  

When his father died, Scott asked to take over his seat on the SBCC Foundation’s board. “The main reason I joined the foundation was to continue my dad’s commitment to the foundation,” he says of his father, who went to college on a basketball scholarship and put himself through medical school with scholarships and other forms of assistance. “My dad found it possible to give me a great education without student debt, and allowed me to take a job in the public sector.”

Scott Vincent answers the Proust Questionnaire.

Who do you most admire? 

My parents. When my parents arrived in Santa Barbara in 1969, neither had any prior connection to the community.  Over the remainder of their lives, they both found ways to contribute significantly to their adopted hometown. I hope to contribute to my community as much as they did.

What is your current state of mind?

Focused. I feel our community, nation, and planet are at multiple crossroads. We all need to be paying close attention as to how we move forward from this point.  

What do you like most about your job? 

Last year I retired from an 8-to-5 job that I had for 23 years. I now work for myself. What I like most about my new job is that it enables me to spend more time with my family and volunteer for causes that I find important.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? 

A sunset sail with good friends.

What is your greatest fear? 

I don’t like horror movies, so I guess horror movies are my biggest fear.  Otherwise, I don’t really focus on fear. I like to race sailboats offshore, which has an element of risk involved, but I view that as a calculated risk with an associated benefit.

What is your greatest extravagance? 

I am not very materialistic, but I am selfish with my time. I save my time for those persons and causes that are important to me.

What is the quality you most like in people?


What is the quality you most dislike in people? 

The quality that I most dislike in people is tardiness.

What do you most value in friends?
Loyalty.  In my opinion, reciprocal loyalty is the essence of friendship.  A loyal friendship will stand the test of time.

What is your most marked characteristic? 

Empathy. I employ a high degree of empathy in my interactions with others in order to find common ground and avoid conflict. If it isn’t empathy, then it would have to be humor with a dash of sarcasm. You can’t take things too seriously.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? 

The phrase “Blah, blah, blah.”  When I retired, the Planning Commission presented me with a toy that said “Blah, blah, blah” in several different ways when a button was pressed. I now realize I owe an apology to anyone who watched the Santa Barbara Planning Commission over the last 14 years.

Which talent would you most like to have?

Mind reading. It just seems like it would be helpful in so many ways.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? 

I would stretch more — physically, emotionally, and spiritually. (I guess that is really three things.)

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My sons, but they are a work in progress.

Where would you most like to live? 

We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. I am perfectly happy living right where I am, but I wouldn’t mind my next house to have a view.

What is your most treasured possession?

A wristwatch my parents gave me for high school graduation. I wear it every day, 31 years after my graduation.

Who make you laugh the most? 

My son Justin. Although he is still developing his sense of humor, he is absolutely hilarious. I also crack up over Robin Williams’ bit about how a Scotsman created golf. 

What is your motto? 

I think my fraternity motto was pretty good: “Honor super omnia” (honor above all things).

Which historical figure do you most identify with? 

Lt. Gen. Harold Moore, as portrayed in the movie We Were Soldiers. His ethos of duty and regard for those with whom he served just resonate with me. I don’t know if the film is an accurate depiction of the man, but I appreciate the values depicted in the film.

On what occasion do you lie? 

I am a horrible liar. The only time I lie is when I am playing poker. I guess that explains why I don’t do well at poker.


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