Community colleges are egalitarian, open-access institutions, accepting 100 percent of the students who apply. They have a very special place in higher education in our state and this country, meeting students where they are and assisting them in achieving their educational goals—whatever they may be. In my short time as Interim Superintendent/President, I have not only found that to be true of Santa Barbara City College, but I have also seen the remarkable uniqueness of the college. It is a college in which faculty, staff, and managers work tirelessly on behalf of students. I am impressed with the level of commitment and dedication they demonstrate daily.
When I talk about our college, I am talking about this community. So many of you are an important part of this college: as current or former students, parents, employees, and volunteers; as donors to the SBCC Foundation; and as employers who hire our current and former students. We are grateful for your support and feedback.
The students who come to SBCC are dedicated, bright and hopeful. We successfully transfer students to four-year universities and help students find employment with certification of their learning. Our School of Extended Learning offers educational programs that advance career and life skills and offer bridges to credit. Students come to us from all walks of life and experiences and all ages. Their diversity creates an enriching experience for all.
The college has been under a high level of scrutiny and has faced many challenges in the last two years. We are not immune from conflict and division. Most recently, we have been faced with difficult discussions about race, equity, and injustice. Additionally, we now face a budget deficit and a changing state funding model that will impact how we operate the college and provide services to students. Yet, in the midst of these challenges, our employees have continued to provide excellent service to students. We are working hard to develop even better programs to further the success of our students.
Since my arrival at the college, we have been doing some self, as well as group, reflection in the areas of equity, diversity, and inclusion. We are examining our interactions with each other in light of recent events. The results will serve as a guide as we develop a plan for strengthening relationships between and among employees in our service to students.
I am proud to have worked in education for more than 45 years with 27 of those years in California community colleges. It is an honor for me to be a part of this community and to be engaged with fellow educators at SBCC in enabling students to achieve their dreams and goals and to increase the effectiveness of our college.