New VP of SEL works to support historically marginalized students


This image is curtesy of Carola Smith.

Hunter Clark, Staff Writer

Earlier this month City College’s Board of Trustees appointed Carola Smith as Vice President of the School of Extended Learning. 

The School of Extended Learning offers Santa Barbara’s diverse adult population credit and noncredit courses that advance their career and personal life skills. 

“She brings strong institutional knowledge and commitment to SBCC and Santa Barbara, which are significant assets in this position,” Vice President of Student Affairs Paloma Arnold said. “She is very student and equity-focused and believes deeply in supporting many of our most historically marginalized students.” 

Smith joined City College’s faculty over 25 years ago as an educator, teaching Spanish, German, and English as a second language or ESL, before taking on administrative roles in a multitude of departments and programs across campus. Positions Smith has held at the college include Director of Study Abroad, Senior Director of International Programs, and Dean of Educational Programs.

Before her official appointment as vice president, Smith held the interim position. She found this role helpful for identifying the needs and opportunities of the program and her team. “It gave me an opportunity to learn about the programs and to work on unifying the team and creating a shared vision moving forward,” Smith said. 

Smith says that online courses, particularly ESL, have greatly improved retention rates for students with busy schedules and families. “I want to look at what worked well during the pandemic, and streamline those programs,” Smith said. 

In efforts to expand the School of Extended Learning, faculty and staff plan to adapt and create a curriculum around the needs of the community. “We are reaching out to local businesses and organizations, and developing our programs around their training and needs,” Smith said.  

Over 3,000 students are currently attending the School of Extended Learning (a 5% increase over last year’s enrollment), but enrollment is lower than pre-pandemic numbers. Smith hopes to raise enrollment among our immigrant population, a group Smith says she easily identifies with. Prior to working at City College Smith attended the college as an international student. Smith said her educational opportunities in multiple different countries have broadened her perspective and have made her more culturally aware and sensitive. 

“The more diversity we can bring to our campus, the richer the learning environment becomes for all students,” Smith said. “We serve many students facing many different challenges, and these students bring an incredible richness to our programs, which we should celebrate.”