Messages from the President

Waypoint: All Campus Kickoff!

August 23, 2016

Good afternoon, and I hope your first week of classes is going well!

The All Campus Kickoff activities last week were extraordinary in so many ways.  We had excellent workshops on Disaster Survival Skills, Starfish, Canvas, Mindfulness and Deep Listening, Learning from the Herd, and too many others to list here.  All outstanding!  A big thank you goes to Kenley Neufeld and the Professional Development Committee for the first-rate job of pulling the sessions together.  I was particularly touched by the Faculty Awards Reception.  The acceptance speeches were emotional and personal.  They demonstrated the professionalism and dedication of our teachers, several of whom have served three or more decades at SBCC.  For my part in the All Campus Kickoff, I presented an overview of the College’s fiscal affairs, my goals for the year, and some vision elements for your consideration.  It is these vision elements that I want to focus on in this Waypoint.

A College’s mission statement describes what it does.  The SBCC mission states that,“Santa Barbara City College provides students a diverse learning environment that inspires curiosity and discovery, promotes global responsibility, and fosters opportunity for all.”  A College’s vision statement, on the other hand, describes its future.  A vision is a “stretch goal.”  It’s a provocative, aspirational statement about where the College wants to be.  SBCC doesn’t have a current vision statement, which presents a grand opportunity to define our future together.

As I stressed at the All Campus Kickoff, it is critical for a vision statement to be a shared vision.  Yes, it would be so much easier and faster to simply write up a statement and submit it to the Board, instead of spending hours with the governance groups collectively developing our vision.  However, it is exactly the time that we spend together creating the vision that is so important!  It cultivates meaning, context, and shared ownership.  Accordingly, at this point, I am only sharing some ideas for a College vision.

The two vision ideas I shared at the All Campus Kickoff were that in addition to a first-rate education, SBCC will be the nation’s leading college in 1) developing socially conscious citizens, and 2) promoting strategies of civility.

Socially Conscious Citizens.  It is clear that SBCC is a leader in providing educational excellence.  The vision idea here is not to diminish that in any way, but instead to leverage this excellence.  In addition to an outstanding, first-rate education, SBCC would lead the nation in developing students into socially conscious citizens.  In this way, all SBCC students would leave our College with a world-class education and a profound understanding and consciousness of complex social issues.  These issues are wide ranging and could include environmental concerns, Veteran issues, immigration policies, homelessness, hunger, human trafficking, etc.  In addition to classroom faculty, Student Services, the Associated Student Government, Classified staff, and Managers could participate in important way in areas meaningful to them, spreading the word, supporting learning efforts, and getting involved in service learning activities.  This effort would be nonpartisan, helping students understand all sides of an issue and promoting a broad spectrum of socially important topics regardless the student’s educational focus (mathematics, biology, art, engineering, nursing, music, etc.).  It would be completely up to faculty members on how or what they present, or if they would want to participate at all.  For some, it may be a 15-minute explanation of the mathematics of homelessness, the biology of hunger, the art of border issues, or the psychology of human trafficking as it relates to Santa Barbara, the nation, and/or the world.  Other faculty members may want to explore something much more extensive with their students.  Since speaking about this at the All Campus Kickoff, faculty members have contacted me indicating that they are already doing something like this in their courses, but not in any concerted way or as a common College goal.  It is this common College goal that is so potentially powerful – being together and proactively creating our future!  This could be an incredible opportunity for all of us!

Tools of Civility.  In essence, civility is about how we treat each other.  For students, becoming socially conscious about complex social topics can be very emotional, and they can react poorly to others.  We know that the more emotional a person gets, the less logical the person becomes.  Accordingly, we must provide students with tools of civility, so that they can converse about sensitive, emotional subjects calmly, respectfully, logically, and nonviolently.  This is true of both men and women.  We need to help students recognize that an emotional response is not always the most effective or persuasive method by which you get their point across.  Sharing tools and methods that help de-escalate situations is a valuable skillset our students should have.  Civility and respect enables us to disagree with one another and still be cordial.  In fact, civility helps build friendships, because if we are civil with one another when we disagree, allowing the other person to express his or her ideas and learning from each other, we build trust and respect. 

Thank you for considering these ideas.  I would like to hear your feedback on them.  I look forward to creating a vision for the College and designing our future.  Thank you, too, for a great start to this semester!


Together forward,

Dr. Anthony E. Beebe

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