Candidate profile: Kathryn Alexander

Kyle Rokes

At 92 years of age, Kathryn Alexander has held her seat on City College’s Board of Trustees since 1965.

And although she didn’t submit an official candidate statement for the Nov. 2 election ballot, or accept any financial contributions from donors, she’s said she feels her work as a trustee isn’t over.

“I feel the college needs me,” she told The Channels during an interview last Thursday.

“I don’t have a problem saying that.”

The institutional memory referred to by other incumbents is in great part due to Alexander. She has seen over forty years of presidents, trustees, faculty and students come and go. She has voted on a great deal too, although she hasn’t always agreed with her peers.

“I voted to go ahead with the SoMA building,” she said, noting that only two trustees did. It was something she felt strongly about endorsing, but circumstances compelled a majority to vote against it.

The state changed the money they’d contribute to the building, she said, noting that City College has adapted where other schools have not.

“There are community colleges with holes in the ground,” she said, referring to suspended construction projects at other schools.

She explained that the School of Media Arts might have received a new building if state cutbacks hadn’t forced the school to re-examine its Measure V budget.

But Alexander looks at the big picture.

“Administration is doing a great job handling the Measure V money,” she said, adding that even the pedestrian bridge connecting East and West Campus, despite finishing over budget and behind schedule, is still better.

Alexander recognizes that many in the community feel left out of the board’s decision-making process. If re-elected, she’d like to see more discussion with the community in general.

“Discussion. That’s part of what would be done differently.”

Alexander cites a need to examine the current issue of continuing education.

“We have to re-listen to the people,” she said.

“It was premature to go to a straw ballot, but the administration was under great pressure,” she said.

That straw ballot proposal has been tabled for further discussion at the Board’s next study session.

But Alexander also claims a high regard for faculty and staff, whom she sees as part of a unique and principled culture. That includes Superintendent–President Andreea Serban, who garnered a unanimous vote to be hired by the current board.

The issue about what’s seen by some as the college’s active recruiting of more international students strictly for financial gain.

Critics say more students from abroad inhibit locals’ chances of getting the classes they want or need, and that the move favors capturing more dollars over serving Santa Barbara.

“I think Santa Barbara wants to be known as a global community,” she said, and having people from different cultures goes a long way to help those born in the state better understand the world.

“Their status is just as good as any SBCC student,” she said.