Friday, July 11, 2008

Serban spells out vision for SBCC


When new Santa Barbara City College President Dr. Andreea Serban accepted her first position at the seaside school in 1999, she had her eye on the president’s office.
It was her goal, she said today during an interview with the Daily Sound, to one day take the helm of the school and help change the face of local higher education.

A move in 2006 to become Vice Chancellor of Technology and Learning Services at South Orange County Community College District was another part of the grander plan. Serban said the position helped her gain the last bit of administrative experience necessary to better align herself for an eventual bid for City College president.
Whether it was a stroke of good luck, impeccable timing or both, Serban got what she was looking for and couldn’t be happier.
“I’ve been away a year and 10 months and counted every minute of it,” she said. “I have to say I feel very fortunate and for me it’s a dream come true.”
Serban hit the ground running. The day after officially taking over for former SBCC President John Romo, the fate of Measure V, a $77.2 million bond measure that will primarily be used for facility renovations, was overwhelming approved by voters.
It was a good start for the 40-year-old Serban, who prides herself on being the youngest president in the 110-school strong California Community College system.
While Measure V will no doubt strengthen the fiscal stability of the 99-year-old school, Serban said one of the biggest challenges facing City College will be ensuring its financial viability while simultaneously adjusting and reforming the way students receive their educations.
Serban said the traditional model of full-time students taking class from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. will always have its place in higher education, but isn’t reality at City College, where as many as 70 percent of the school’s 19,000 credit students are part-time.
As a result, Serban said she hopes to implement alternative forms of delivering classes. One example she cited would be to offer courses in one-month, intensive blocks.
“I think we will be long gone if we don’t explore new models,” she said.
Serban emphasized the need to revamp online courses and drive increases in enrollment this way.
Creating a thriving online educational experience will not only provide more opportunity for students, she said, but will allow the school to increase enrollment without impacts on campus.
Since enrollment accounts for roughly 95 percent of City College’s funding, Serban said enrollment increases are necessary for survival. The only hitch is City College is already operating at roughly 90 percent student capacity on most days, and geographically has little space to grow.
The answer, Serban said, is to push online courses and continue dual enrollment with high school students.
“We have quite a bit of work to do there,” Serban said.
As it is, City College already reaches a significant number of people on the South Coast. Aside from the credit students, Serban said 50,000 people take adult education classes each year, which by her count means about one in every four people on the South Coast will take a course at some point with the college.
Another priority for Serban is to implement a campus emergency system, which utilizes text messages to relay up-to-date information to students. Such a system is costly, but Serban said it would be well utilized. During the height of the Gap Fire last week, she said such a system would have been helpful in letting students know when the power was off at the school.
While Serban will be busy over the next few years ensuring the 11 planned Measure V projects are finished smoothly, one immediate concern is the state’s ballooning budget deficit, which some fear could be as high as $20 billion. Though the state has yet to finalize its budget this fiscal year, Serban said City College’s recently approved budget showcased a 2 percent cut across the board, which when all said and done may not be enough.
Budget issues aside, she said she looks forward to breaking ground on the new School of Media Arts, which could be completed as early as winter of 2011 and is the largest of the Measure V funded projects.
In the world of college presidents, which is often marred by high turnover, Serban plans on sticking around for at least 25 years.
She said she has been able to foster a productive and positive relationship with the school’s Board of Trustees, and hopes to be a stable leader for the school into the future.
“It’s such an exciting time from my perspective,” she said. “In a sense it’s kind of like a new day; a new direction, but building on the strengths that we already have.”


RKV said...

Santa Barbara City College has way too many students. In order to actually serve the community it would have something like 4000 students. The article says it has 19000. When are we going to wake up? We complain about high rents and traffic, and miss an easy solution. Time to cut enrollment at SBCC.

Anonymous said...

Thats True, it's unrealistic to think that a town designed for 60,000 people with narrow roads and limited building space can support 160,000+ people. Yet, the institutions that make this town function are education, tourism, and rest-homes; these bring cashflow to the this otherwise sleepy town.

I cant beleive how SBCC tries to bring so many foreign students who then fall in love with the town and never want to leave. Foreign drivers who also purchase cars and add to the traffic, and bad driving situations.

Many of these students from other countries also get the bright idea to get knocked up and bind up poor unsuspecting American students.

Its's also time to cut enrollment at UCSB, they should raid the whole town for drugs, conscidering how many college students are cardholding mariguana patients; who are expert pot growers, pill poppin', meth cramiing criminals.

The city can't sustain all of these people.

Realestate is overblown!

And these propert management companies are making a killing ripping these student families off.