photograph of Don Barthelmess


September 2004

Don Barthelmess
Professor of Marine Technology since 1989
Marine Diving Technology Department
Associate of Science in Underwater Technology (AS), Florida Institute of Technology
Bachelor of Arts in Occupational Studies, California State University at Long Beach
Master of Arts in Educational Technology, Pepperdine University

Quotations from nominations:  “In the Santa Barbara community Don has worked tirelessly to create a positive reputation for the Marine Diving Technology Program and to promote activities that showcase the SBCC students and graduates, as well as the entire field of marine diving technology… Don is an extremely capable individual who gives 150% to everything that he does. As a teacher, he sets high standards and works closely with his students to help them be successful. He is kind and supportive while simultaneously requiring students to meet expected levels of achievement… He is the type individual who sees the ‘big picture’ but is also willing to work on the details to address and/or solve problems. He is sensitive and caring and is willing and able to compromise on issues for the good of the program/college. He can also be appropriately assertive when the situation requires that approach.”

Teaching Tip/Advice: Learning is embedded in context and is situational for most people. An important aspect of our job is to use communities of practice to create the situations and context where learning can occur. Often times, this means looking up and out of our immediate environment and traditional ways of doing things.

Words of Wisdom: You have a lot of power and influence as a teacher. Use it wisely. Our students dream of doing unique things and being successful. It is our job as educators to support that in whatever way we can. Thomas Edison said: Education is too important to be left to the educators. I totally agree with him. When you are lying on your death bed, what will matter most to you about your life? The answer to that is important for us to focus on in these busy times.

Career Experience Before Coming to SBCC: I worked full-time in the marine contracting business for International Underwater Contractors, Inc. which, at one time, was the world's largest privately owned commercial diving contractor. I worked as a submarine pilot and did diving work when required. Most of our work was way beyond diver range- even today. I worked my way up in the field from an entry level trainee position to Operations Supervisor. I was the General Manager of their Pacific Division office before leaving the firm to come to SBCC in 1989.

Most Influential Teacher: My most influential teacher was my former boss and mentor at IUC, Booker T. Washington. Booker was the manager of IUC's Submersible Division. He is a direct descendant of the historical educator. Booker had the most unbelievable work ethic coupled with a high degree of personal integrity. Booker gave all of us the freedom to learn on our own and guided us when needed. I learned from him that no matter how difficult a task is, there is always a solution. You will never know unless you try. He led by example and treated everyone with respect. We traveled to many different countries together and as a young sub pilot, he often was the guardian of my safety when I was thousands of feet below the surface of the ocean. We still stay in contact through e-mail. He is retiring next year and is still running deep diving operations overseas at 65 years old!

Student Line: When a student turned in a blank essay question on a test he wrote: Sorry Don, brain cramp.

Hobbies: I enjoy photography (surface and underwater), trap shooting, skiing and SCUBA diving. I also enjoy construction and working with wood.

Reading Now: The Art of Possibility- by the Zanders. It's about transforming your professional and personal life.

Like About Your Job? I really enjoy the fact that the discipline I teach in is so deeply connected to the local community and industry through its unique history. The Marine Technology Program has a huge impact on individual lives. I enjoy diving and training with my students at the Channel Islands and seeing them again long after they graduate from SBCC. I like walking around campus and seeing all of the positive and friendly classified staff and faculty who are a part of my life. There are some really great people here.

Accomplishment: Life is a journey, so it's difficult to look at something as accomplished. I would have to say that my wife and I are most proud of our two children Robby (15) and Dee-Dee (13) as we watch them grow. They are good, sincere people and make adult caliber decisions every day. Professionally, I was truly honored when the Marine Technology Program received the Exemplary Program Award from the Chancellor's office in 1998.

Don't Know About Me: I set several depth records as a 22 year old submarine pilot, in the US Gulf of Mexico and in the Santa Barbara Channel with atmospheric diving systems.

Happiness: I 'm pretty darn happy right now! I live and work in one of the most desirable communities in the world in a free country. I have a wonderful wife and two great kids. My family is healthy and happy. So when they are happy, I am happy.

Would Like to Meet: I would like to meet General George S. Patton, Jr. I would like to thank him for his leadership and persistence during World War II. The world and this country would likely be a very different place without people like Patton and the greatest generation.

Favorite Place: Southeast Alaska. Once you go there, a part of you never comes back..

Motto: I have several that I have adopted:

What goes around, comes around…

Do it right, or don't do it at all. Donald F. Barthelmess, Sr.

How do you know you can't do something unless you try?- Booker T. Washington