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SBCC founding member and retired professor dies at 91

JULIA LEE, Channels Staff

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The City College community is preparing to celebrate the life of Dr. Robert Casier, a founding professor who hired and mentored some of the most influential faculty members working today.

A Celebration of Life is being planned for 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 29, at the Vista del Monte Retirement Community, 3775 Modoc Road, Santa Barbara. The SBCC foundation is also accepting donations in honor of Casier who died Aug. 13 at the age of 91.

Casier taught at City College for 37 years, from 1955 to 1992. He witnessed significant changes during his time at the school such as moving locations or financing the early development. He also wrote an extensive piece of City College’s history in the SBCC Legacy Project.

“He was a mentor, was a teacher’s teacher, and he inspired you to do your very best. He took the idea of being a citizen in this participatory democracy very very seriously,” said Dr. Peter Haslund, retired City College political science professor and a member of the Board of Trustees. “He was very engaged in conversations about candidates, about issues.”

At City College, Casier founded the political science department, was Chairman of the social science division and played a significant role in recruiting faculty. He was also President of the Academic Senate and Instructors’ Association and spent a year as an Academic Dean. Casier was one of the founding members when the city college moved from the Riviera to the current location.

“Bob Casier hired me in the fall of 1969. He used to teach one course in political science,” said Haslund. “He sat in my first lecture and gave me a wink and a thumbs up and I’ve been there ever since.”

Casier took on many roles in his lifetime such as teacher and basketball coach at Santa Barbara High School, director of Youth Sports Leagues for the Santa Barbara City Recreational Department and the husband of Shirley Lerner. He had three children named Craig, Roger, and Bryan.

He has received awards and national recognition on more than one occasion.

“When he decided to retire in 1992, I was hired basically to fill his position. And he was on the hiring committee, and he was not only a dear friend but a supporter for my candidacy for the position,” said Manou Eskandari, City College political science professor. “And I always considered him as an elder statesman, a mentor. We’ve had many conversations and exchanges and he was an inspiration to a lot of people.”

Bob was also the first professor to be given the honor of being selected as faculty lecturer which is the highest honor of the campus, explained Eskandari.

Casier graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from UCSB, received his master’s degree in political science from UC Berkeley and his doctorate in political science at UCSB.

Casier played basketball and volleyball at UCSB. He led the establishment of one of the first inter-racial social fraternities in the United States and was the president of the UCSB Honor Societies in Political Science and Education.

“Coming here was the best thing I ever did but I had a harder decision because I was offered the same year a job I had aspired to in my youth, which was to become the head varsity basketball coach at Santa Barbara High School. I turned it down and had never regretted it,” said Casier in an interview for SBCC: In the Beginning. “I can say that those were good years, productive years, and I was fortunate enough to teach at two campuses with tremendous views. It was a pleasure always coming to work.”

Donations can be made to Santa Barbara City College, designated “In honor of Bob Casier” and sent to SBCC Foundation 721 Cliff Drive, Santa Barbara, CA 93109.

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SBCC founding member and retired professor dies at 91