Robert (Bob) Casier Tributes
Robert (Bob) Casier
The following colleagues of Dr. Casier share their memories:
Bob Casier was one of SBCC’s best. He was a man deeply committed to his profession, his academic areas of expertise, his college and, most importantly, his students. He was an outstanding teacher mentor and colleague. He was smart and brought a lot of class and dignity to all he did.
During my years as vice president and president of SBCC, students (and sometimes parents) would often stop me as I walked around campus or in the community to tell me about faculty who had had a strong, positive influence on them and “changed their lives.” Bob was one of these professors. The comments were much the same: “Dr. Casier was inspiring, an expert in his subject matter, uncompromising in setting high standards and sensitive and responsive to the needs of students. Bob had a deep and lasting influence on students. He was a good man.
Bob’s passing is a sad loss for his family and many friends, SBCC and our community.
Bob Casier was one of SBCC’s finest…a superior teacher, an engaged, consistent, and highly effective faculty leader throughout his 37 years at the college, and a valued friend to many.
Bob’s commitment to his discipline and superior teaching, coupled with an openness and full engagement with colleagues and college issues, resulted in his being a major force in developing the excellence that has characterized SBCC. His collegial approach, sense of fairness, integrity, and confidence in his well-reasoned positions resulted in his being a formidable force in advancing both faculty and college interests. Bob Casier’s quality service to SBCC, over many years, has clearly been a major factor in Santa Barbara City College earning its well-deserved reputation.
I had the privilege to serve SBCC with Bob for his last 11 years at the College. His reputation for teaching excellence, being a valued faculty leader and a supportive colleague was well-earned and a major force in making SBCC the special institution that it is. Bob, along with Henry Bagish, were critical to SBCC’s early development, and particularly for setting the high academic standards and a collegial approach to college governance that have served the College so well.
We, i.e., SBCC, has lost an exceptional faculty leader, but not the values and influence his many years of service have meant to our special institution. Bob was a friend and a colleague. One can only be thankful to have served with an individual of such sterling character, and deep commitments to learning and excellence. I will miss him.
Dr. Bob Casier was a welcoming senior leader of the College when I was hired as an assistant professor of History in 1974, the first woman to be in a tenure track position in the Social Science Division. I was not aware then of how much Bob was responsible, along with other founding faculty of the college, for the culture I entered, one that valued high academic standards and faculty leadership. For Bob, this was to be a college, not an extended high school. In the best colleges and universities the administrators kept the college running smoothly, and the faculty made all critical academic decisions: course content, balanced and sensible curriculum, the hiring of knowledgeable and talented teachers, evaluating and improving faculty performance. By my second year Bob and a few others encouraged me to take an active part in college governance, clearly seen as one of my academic responsibilities. I became a faculty leader. Similarly, he encouraged and supported my teaching techniques of balancing lecture with small group discussions, analysis of primary documents, encouraging debate, etc. A compliment that I always treasured was from a student sometime in the late 1970s: “You teach like Dr. Casier.” There was no higher compliment!
I am just one of thousands whose life was enriched by Bob Casier’s warmth, intellectual curiosity, and gentle guidance. Students and colleagues of Santa Barbara City College were fortunate that he spent his career among us.
Professor Emeritus of History and former head of the Academic Senate
I was fortunate to meet Bob a few years before I became a part time lecturer at SBCC. I had met him at UCSB and when I applied at SBCC as an adjunct lecturer, Bob was one of the first colleagues to welcome me and to share with me lecturing tips, snippets of articles and commentaries on various key texts we both enjoyed to read and used in our classrooms. This habit of Bob’s to annotate articles and to pass those on to me continued until a few years ago. I enjoyed every sidebar he added and every emphasis he highlighted, and found his insights always to be sharp and to the point.
I was honored to be called to apply for Bob’s position in 1992, and I know that Bob was my main sponsor and supporter for that position. As a result I felt a particular obligation to continue his legacy and the high standards he brought to the task throughout the years, to the best of my abilities.
Bob was an old school scholar and professor. His demeanor, his interactions with students and colleagues and his standards were all reminiscent of the professors of a bygone age and I enjoyed that tremendously. My title for Bob was always “Chairman of the Board,” and at the gathering we just had for his 91st birthday I addressed him as such again. Colleagues around us called him “the Boss,” but he turned to me and said “I prefer Chairman of the Board;” I will accept that.”
With every passing of a friend and colleague there is a lot we lose. Bob was a founder and a gentleman and a scholar, and with his passing a whole era of the college seems to have come to a close.
Professor, Political Science
In 1963, I met Bob Casier during his sole year as an administrator, namely, the Academic Dean (of instruction.) Bob interviewed me as a possible Math department instructor. I was unsure of applying since I was happily ensconced (except for a salary inadequate for a growing family) as basically the Math department at Bishop Diego High School. To get a feeling for the Santa Barbara Junior College (as it was then known), I had talked to several math faculty members and was impressed by their devotion to excellent teaching, high-standards, and fierce independence in matters pedagogical. Wary of administrators, particularly one not in my field, I was very interested in what the Dean had to say.
Bob Casier clinched it for me. He had a commanding while friendly demeanor, a fierce devotion to teaching excellence with high academic standards and a similar wariness of administrative interference in faculty independence. He had a quiver of penetrating questions for me and I had a few myself. A spirited conversation ensued on multiple topics. That conversation continued for my tenure and beyond via a strong friendship.
Bob’s expectation was that teachers not disappear into a classroom cloister, but they participate in the faculty governance and in other college educational matters. In other words, he was pointing out a roadmap for a potential faculty member’s future at SBJC/SBCC.
I followed that roadmap to the best of my ability for my 38 years at the college. I remain grateful for it and for the continuous example of Bob’s character, intellect, humanity, friendship and the seminal role he played in forming the SBCC that exists today.
The school should immortalize Bob Casier as it has Henry Bagish (I hope that current decision-makers read the Legacy Project’s memoirs/histories of these two distinguished emeriti.) Bob deserves, in my opinion, recognition, along with Henry, as one of the two “founding fathers” in terms of their crucially important participation in the birth and formation of SBCC as an independent, collegiate institution for adults, free of the secondary system’s necessarily more parental policies.
SBCC cannot do less if it is to honor its origin and history.
R. Michael Mallen
Emeritus Professor, Mathematics
“Don’t be sad it’s over. Smile because it happened.” That insight from Dr. Seuss is, to me, a good way to think about Dr. Robert Casier’s long and loving relationship with Santa Barbara City College. Early on, he helped set the gold standard for a strong faculty presence in the governance structure of the college. He was an influential voice advocating the creation of an independent Santa Barbara Community College District in 1964. A year later Bob Casier was the first faculty leader to present the Instructors Association’s salary proposals to the newly installed Board. He remained involved in college affairs until his retirement in 1992.
Community affairs aside, Bob Casier’s primary focus at SBCC was in the classroom where he excelled for over three decades as a teacher. In his first years at the college he taught a variety of courses in the social sciences, including philosophy, history, psychology and political science. Later, as the faculty and student body grew, Bob was able to concentrate on his major academic field of political science. I can still see Bob Casier working long hours in his office, carefully preparing course lecture notes which he distributed to his students along with attached readings on a variety of timely topics. His office, unlike his ordered mind, was no paragon of neatness. Stacks of clippings and books rested on every conceivable surface. Richly deserving, Bob was chosen to be SBCC’s first Annual Faculty Lecturer for the academic year 1979-1980.
To me, Bob was a close friend, a mentor and a role model for living life with lots of energy and enthusiasm. He left a lifelong mark on the history of Santa Barbara City College. His example is the best thing he could have given us. I smile because that happened.
John Kay taught at SBCC from 1965-2007
Professor Emeritus of Political Science and a former head of the Academic Senate and Instructor’s Association
Some 35 years ago, when I was a student reporter at The Channels, I published my first column. The topic—if you can believe it—was my support for the Equal Rights Amendment. Bob Casier wrote a letter that was published in The Channels, praising my content and my prose, which he called “alive with style and verve.” I still have that letter today. Bob’s letter was the first time I’d ever heard from a reader. His kind words and support came at a critical time, giving me confidence to continue pursuing a challenging field. I went on to graduate from UC-Berkeley with a master’s degree in journalism, worked nine years as a newspaper reporter in the Bay Area, and have taught journalism here at SBCC since 1991.
A busy man, Bob didn’t have to take the time to type up a letter to a student who wasn’t in any of his classes or to send it on. It made a difference. He made a difference.
Patricia Stark, associate professor
Chair, Journalism Department
Student News Media Adviser, The Channels
Political Science was my first class at SBCC, it was raining and I didn’t know how to register so I walked into his Poli-Sci class and he added me. He was an exceptional professor and I was just thinking of him today as I sat in the flex meeting. I was wondering what he was thinking about the state of our country, he was a great man.
Linda E. Macias, SBCC faculty
Bob Casier, Ph.D., was dean-elect in 1962, and he as well as Dean Winifred Lancaster selected me to join the faculty to replace Dr. Kenneth Shover, who left to join the faculty at the University of Texas, El Paso. I had heard of Bob’s teaching prowess from local teachers when I was a teacher at San Marcos High School. He was a local legend due to his leadership roles while at Santa Barbara High School and the University of California, Santa Barbara College as well as his high profile as an outstanding athlete at both institutions. I talked with Bob for a considerable period after the conclusion of the interview, and found that he was extremely well qualified in his field, worked hard at his teaching profession, demanded a lot from his students, and participated actively in the governance of Santa Barbara Junior College, as it was then known. I learned that he expected his new faculty members to follow his example. In doing so, he established a template for all his hires in the year he was the Dean of Instruction, and continued to do so for his colleagues in the SBCC Social Science Division for many years thereafter.
In the thirty-two years I worked at SBCC, I always tried, but never quite succeeded in emulating Bob’s example of mastery of his subject matter, beautiful organization of his lectures, facility to encourage discussion, as well as his support and encouragement of all of his students, particularly those with ability. Bob set an example for continued research and constant upgrading of his classes, including completing his Ph. D. at UCSB while working full time at City College as well as teaching on a part-time basis at the University of California.
To only touch upon Bob’s academic and teaching activities, would be doing a dis-service in this tribute to him. He was an encouraging and charming colleague, who welcomed all the new faculty while maintaining the friendship he developed with long-time colleagues at both City College and UCSB. His parties, hosted ably by his late wife, Shirle, were wonderful opportunities to discuss contemporary politics, important books, as well as dining and eating well, along with some bocci ball or paddle tennis activities at his beautiful home in Montecito. I was his neighbor in Santa Barbara for nearly 10 years, and can say that he was a really wonderful guy as well as one I respected greatly.
I was his colleague for many years, and never knew him to ever be not completely prepared and less than outstanding in both the classrooms and his other work on campus. If this college has reached the heights of being the number-one-ranked community college in the nation, it is because all of faculty, administration and staff “stand on the shoulders of Bob Casier” to reach that high level of accomplishment.
George E. Frakes
Emeritus Professor of History
Faculty member from 1962-1994
Robert Casier hired me as a reader in 1969. A 20-year-old know it all, I had gone to local schools including UCSB where I had heard SBCC belittled as “Santa Barbara Silly College” and therefore was skeptical about its credibility as an educational institution. Within minutes of sitting in on one of Dr. Casier’s classes that skepticism evaporated. I felt I was in the presence of an instructor who had the gravitas of an Ivy League professor. His lecture was erudite and carefully organized. He stimulated students with rhetorical questions and encouraged their input. He commanded respect yet was warm and accessible.
In the interview he contributed to our SBCC Legacy Project, Dr. Casier noted that when he began teaching for what was then called Santa Barbara Junior College, the college was affiliated with the high school district and not taken seriously by many as an institution of higher learning. His goal was to help elevate the college and give it academic credibility. His success in achieving that goal is his legacy.
SBCC adjunct since 1971
QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS
If you have questions or comments about this page, please contact the SBCC Office of Communications.