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

Meet the woman in charge

It all started 15 years ago.

Long before the days of attending weekend wine parties, working behind an administrative desk, or counting on a $215,000 salary.

Fifteen years before becoming City College’s Superintendent-President, things didn’t always work out so nicely for Andreea Serban.

“I think I will be a great role model to many students,” Serban said. “I am an example that the American dream is very alive.”

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Serban’s appointment concludes the seven-month presidential search process to replace current president John Romo in the fall. Serban is the first female president since the college was founded in 1909.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in her home country of Romania, Serban had a hard time getting into graduate school. Serban said that in the early ’90s, access to higher education was very limited. Serban hit a fork in the road when she thought she would follow in her mother’s footsteps by working in the medical field.

“I thought I would follow, but I fainted at the first sight of blood,” she said. “So much for that.”

Instead of saving people’s lives, she figured she’d just make the lives of students better.

In search of higher education, she made the travel abroad and moved to New York in 1993.

“In terms of opportunity and jobs, the U.S. is better than any country in the world,” Serban said.

While in the Big Apple, Serban received a doctorate and a master’s degree in higher education administration from University at Albany, State University of New York, respectively. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from University of Bucharest.

Wanting to put her degrees to use, Serban traded in the cold, clammy weather of New York for the sunny, drop-top weather of the West Coast.

“It seems like everything innovative happens in California,” Serban said. “I haven’t turned back since.”

Serban worked a seven-year stint as City College’s associate vice president for Information Technology Research from 1999-2006.

“I’ve always wanted to come back,” she said. “There is so much potential here.”

She left City College in 2006 for two years to further her career, and worked as the vice chancellor of Technology and Learning Services at the South Orange County Community College District.

“She’s a feather in the cap of the Orange Coast district, and she will be a feather in the cap for Santa Barbara City College,” said Raghu Mathurs, chancellor of the South Orange County Community College district. Mathurs hired Serban and supervised her.

Serban accredits much of her success to the guidance of former City College Superintendent-president Peter MacDougall. MacDougall served as president for 21 years.

“I’m sure she has the intelligence and courage to make the right decisions that will be best for the institution and the students,” MacDougall said.

Outside of the workplace, Serban enjoys writing and reading mystery and history books. Don’t be surprised to see her in her Ford, windows down, jammin’ out to the sounds of her favorite band, AC/DC.

“I was also a fan of the disco era,” Serban said smilingly.

During her lunch breaks, Serban opens her desk to her favorite guilty pleasure: a dark chocolate Milky Way bar.

“I always bring candy to my meetings, and I think that’s why people love coming,” she said.

Serban’s term begins June 2, but she isn’t going to wait until then. In the meantime, she is helping to plan the school’s bicentennial celebration next year, and promoting Measure V, a $77.2 million bond measure that will allow for renovations on campus.

Measure V is one among many tasks Serban faces, as she plans to provide leadership for the college for the next 25 years.

“This is my dream job,” she said. “Sometimes they do come true.”

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