The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

SBCC boss looks forward to break after 35-year career

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City College’s superwoman Superintendent-President Dr. Lori Gaskin is looking forward to hanging up her cape after 35 years of working in the community college system.

She went directly into teaching after earning a doctorate in Fluvial Geomorphology, the study of streams and river systems. She took the position at City College in July 2012, and said it was an opportunity she couldn’t ignore.

Academic Senate President Dr. Kim Monda remembered her first impression of Gaskin during the hiring process.

“I felt relief when I saw her,” Monda said. “Because I was like, ‘wow, this is a really smart, funny, loving, dedicated, strong leader. And we are going to go places.’”

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Gaskin will turn 60 next year, and said in light of her upcoming birthday and the recent successful accreditation, she felt the time was right for retirement.

“I want to exercise, not at night when it’s getting dark or at five in the morning, you know, during the day,” Gaskin said. “I want to read books other than ‘Emerging trends in higher education.’ I want to garden, I want to learn about birds, I want to follow my passion with botany. I have a lot of things I want to do, and I need time to do them.”

Monda described Gaskin as helping City College become “more itself,” through her unwavering commitment to students.

“She wasn’t homegrown from City College, but she was us. She was what’s best about us,” she said. “The heart, the desire to do things better, problem-solve, serve students, see the whole person…. She was a teacher first, so I think that background really helped her understand the magic of the classroom.”

Those working with Gaskin describe her leadership style as all encompassing and focused, reaching out to all members of the college and community. She helped create things like the All Campus Kickoff day, the annual breakfast burrito thank-you for classified staff, the Neighborhood Task Force and an Isla Vista focus group.

“There’s a lot of mis-perceptions, there’s a lot of frustrations out in the community,” Monda said. “And she has had the courage and the patience to engage in those conversations… She doesn’t hide from anything, and it’s really easy to try to just set aside those things that are too hard. There’s always so much to do.”

When asked about the challenges and criticism she faces, Gaskin said it comes with the job, but the joys overshadow all difficulties.

She worked hard to address community complaints and tackle many valid issues. However, she felt that the beauty of City College could be lost with individuals who only criticize or complain.

“Public education is fundamentally a social good,” she said. “It’s good for the commons, it’s a societal good. Educating our citizens and providing access to education for our young adults, or our adults who are any age, can only be and can only mean something good for society.”

Gaskin recounted signing up for a meditation class for stress-management. Turning off her phone and leaving it in her bag stressed her out more than the class relaxed her. She said she empathized with her students, as it was the only class she ever dropped in her life, and she felt bad about it. Her passion for the outdoors leads her to gardening, bird watching and other outside activities, which she said is her version of meditation.

Regarding any worries about the future of City College, Gaskin said change is only natural and that the college is in great shape.

“Being in education for so long, it’s both a very stable profession as well as a profession that is full of change,” she said. “So it has this kind of duality to it. And change is okay, change keeps us fresh and renewed. I just know that some of the very, very positive things that we have accomplished together remain as part and parcel of our culture.”

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