Home / All News / New SBCC President Dr. Anthony Beebe Sets His Sights on Student Success

Dr Beebe and Carolyn-web

Dr. Anthony Beebe and his wife Carolyn. Photo courtesy of Monie Photography.

With the school year officially upon us, Santa Barbara City College is bustling once again. No one is more in tune with the start of the year than SBCC’s new Superintendent / President Dr. Anthony Beebe, who has already hit the ground running with a first year focused on scaling the size of the institution, thinking about how to redesign and add to the adult education programs, and providing more offerings for re-entry students. He is also excited to be working closely with the SBCC Foundation. “I am committed to doing whatever I can to help the foundation,” said Dr. Beebe. “As we move forward together, we will be contributing to the success of our students and the college, as well as the surrounding community.”

Dr. Beebe was born in San Diego, California, moving with his family to Southern Oregon as a young child. He enjoyed growing up in a small town, where he met and later married Carolyn, his high school sweetheart. While in high school, Dr. Beebe got an internship as a volunteer fireman. His passion for this work eventually landed him a job as a firefighter at Douglas County Fire District Two in an area just south of Eugene, Oregon. He did this for almost a decade before deciding to move into education. Now with nearly 30 years of experience, Dr. Beebe got his start as an adjunct working for different community colleges in the Portland area before landing a full-time faculty position at Portland Community College where he taught accounting, finance, and business law. His career later advanced to administrative roles, where he thought he could make a broader impact, with previous positions including president of San Diego Continuing Education and president of San Diego City College before taking the position at SBCC. “I have been here more than a month now, and so far I am liking the culture, the history of the city, and being so close to the water. Santa Barbara is truly a beautiful town.”

Ready to hit the ground running, Dr. Beebe has several focus areas he hopes to tackle in his first year at SBCC. One of the most critical is scaling the size of the institution. This is a complex balancing act incorporating community input to meet expectations and needs as well as sustaining financial expectations of the college related to enrollment, which has been steadily declining since its peak in the 2009-10 school year. “There is a massive balance that needs to take place. Scaling the institution is going to take time, but it is something I hope to accomplish by the end of the school year,” said Dr. Beebe. He would also like to redesign and think about how the college can bring back some of its adult education programs in addition to focusing on students who have been out of school for a while and need to brush up on skills necessary to get a job, get a promotion, or stay relevant in their current field of work. The college launched the Career Skills Institute (CSI) last year, and there is still a lot of growth potential. “I want to appeal to those students who have been out of school for a while,” said Dr. Beebe. “I hope they will come back and either finish their degree or certificate here, or come here for the first time and understand the value of a great education.”

Dr. Beebe is building positive momentum at the college, and is hopeful the surrounding neighborhood will lend its support over time. He is aware of the tensions some Mesa residents have addressed in response to the college’s impact. Dr. Beebe agrees that at the height of its student population growth, the college was just too big, and too stressful of a force on the community. Once the college is scaled to an acceptable size, the administration can begin to look at the composition of the student body. Having some students from outside of the Santa Barbara area is actually good because it allows the college to offer classes it would not be able to otherwise with low enrollment numbers. This will not include a large number of international students, however, as Dr. Beebe believes it is not healthy for a community college to be overly reliant on international students to finance its funding. “We want to focus on the local community first,” said Dr. Beebe. “I am a local community college mission person. I want to provide for the local community while supporting our students. I am committed to finding the right scale for the institution as it all ties into the complicated mosaic of what the college should look like.”

One area that will not be changing is how the college prepares students to transfer to four-year universities. The SBCC faculty teach to such a high level that students are equipped to go to any college in the world. Dr. Beebe knows that every student leaving SBCC will be prepared academically, and it is his hope that they will also be ready to be change agents in their communities, developing a strong understanding of the value of social change. “It is great to be a transfer institution, and to provide an excellent education to students, but to also understand the importance of social change as it relates to social justice and organizing can be a tremendous asset to every single student that comes out of SBCC,” said Dr. Beebe. “I believe local social change will translate to broader change in the nation, and the world. If we can contribute to that, then we will be a great transfer institution also focused on the betterment of the community, both locally and globally.”

Along with social change, giving remains at the forefront of Dr. Beebe’s priorities, as fundraising is a critical aspect of both the success of the SBCC Foundation and the college. Working closely with the foundation, supporting the foundation, and moving forward together is an important commitment Dr. Beebe has made from day one. “I want the college and the foundation to move forward successfully,” said Dr. Beebe. “I became an SBCC Foundation Visionaries Circle member with my wife Carolyn because it was an important commitment we wanted to make to the foundation. I am hoping others at the college, and in the community, will do the same. And even if individuals give at smaller amounts, just showing their dedication to the foundation and support of SBCC is vital.”

With the SBCC Promise launching this fall, it is more important than ever to support the foundation. Dr. Beebe is familiar with Promise programs, and saw the implementation of one in his former position at San Diego City College. Most Promise programs have criteria for inclusion such as meeting certain GPA requirements or only providing the “last dollar” to fill in the gaps for families who already have some resources. Often demographics are involved, and a need base is established. At Santa Barbara City College, students face no restrictions, and are guaranteed entry if they are recent high school graduates from the Santa Barbara Community College District. The Promise uses privately raised funds to cover all enrollment and required fees, required books, and required supplies. “Compared to other Promise programs, the SBCC Promise is really unique and special because it is the only one throughout the United States providing two years free with textbooks and supplies included,” said Dr. Beebe. “With the Promise, we are taking the expense factor off the table as an issue or an excuse for students not to be successful. Ultimately, the Promise is providing a fantastic opportunity for students who would never think about attending college due to the cost, while making a big impact on the local community.”

Looking into the future, Dr. Beebe is optimistic about the direction of the college. “I want to figure out how we can optimize the college size, be together philosophically, to support the community, the college, and the foundation,” said Dr. Beebe. “As the new guy, the future is important to me. Five years from now and beyond, I hope we are still educating every single student just as we have since 1909 while becoming ever increasing agents of social change for the betterment of the community and the common good.”

Author: Jessica Tade


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