SBCC hires Arturo Rodriguez as new Dean of Student Affairs



Arturo Rodriguez, dean of educational programs, student affairs, Friday, Sept. 29, outside his office in the Student Services building at Santa Barbara City College in Santa Barbara, Calif. Rodriguez has a degree in architecture and teaching credentials in mathematics.

TOVA KIBAL, Associate Editor

There are two chairs placed on opposite sides of a round table in Arturo Rodriguez’s office. He explains that this is where he does the “disciplining,” an important part of his new job as Dean of Student Affairs.

It’s not as scary as it seems. Instead, Rodriguez sees discipline as an important puzzle piece in a student’s success in college. He talks from own experience when pointing out that having discipline can help students who don’t come from the easiest circumstances.

“That is one thing that you learn growing up in a very difficult environment,” he said.

“You end up either growing up angry, growing up mad and frustrated… or you can simply say ‘it happened,’ so what am I going to do to create a life for myself.”

Rodriguez was born in El Tecolote, Guanajuato, México. When he was about 4 years old, his mother grabbed her two sons and fled their abusive father. He said he remembers walking across a garbanzo field in the middle of the night and arriving at his grandmother’s house. From there, they travelled to Tijuana by bus, about 1,500 miles from his hometown.

“My mom was like my first revolutionary that I’ve know about,” Rodriguez said.

Because of his own past, Rodriguez feels a lot of empathy for students who struggle, especially for people who are tackling the obstacles that immigrants face.

He points out that when a student has big challenges outside the classroom, it is hard to be successful in school. He relates this to his work at City College.

“We have to create an environment where [students] feel at ease, they feel appreciated, they feel welcome and that allows them to stay focused with the task at hand,” he said.

Working with student discipline, Rodriguez has to deal with cases of threats, sexual assault and acts of disrespect.

“[I want] to ensure that our students are safe and that they are respectful,” he said. “We need that for learning to take place.’’

Rodriquez’ administrative assistant Rebecca Saffold thinks he is a good fit for replacing Dr. Ben Partee, the former dean.

“He is eager to learn every aspect of the job,” Saffold said. “He knows how to talk to every type of person.”

Rodriguez said he had to learn the importance of discipline the hard way in college. When he started taking challenging math classes, he hit a wall. He was told by a friend that ‘‘a D is for done,” which he calls the worst advice he has ever received.

“I realized that it comes down to [your] focus and your discipline. If you don’t have that when you’re taking some challenging courses, you’re not going to be able to do well.”

With this insight, Rodriguez earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and a master’s degree in education from San Jose State University.

Rodriguez moved to Santa Barbara 4 years ago. He enjoys the many choices of activities here, such as running and biking along the shoreline.

“Here it is like a paradise compared to where I grew up, and I just couldn’t believe the difference,” he said.

“…here, it is beautiful. You’ve got the mountains, you’ve got the ocean, you’ve got downtown.”

Many of Rodriguez’ former jobs have been at high schools and middle schools. This is his first time working at a college. He says that City College is so far his favorite place, because of the ambitious students he meets, and the wide outreach at his job.

“They are going to be changing the world,” Rodriguez said. “They are going to move on and either get a career or transfer, but these are the people that are going to make a big difference.”

He wants to develop a system that helps students learn about the services that the school offers.

“You just get a sense that they definitely have a positive energy, and you know, you get a sense that these are the kind of people you want to hang out with.”

Clarification Oct. 14, 2017:

A previous version of this article said that Rodriguez was hired has the new Dean of Educational Programs. It has been updated to correctly read that his new position is Dean of Student Affairs.