NOOZHAWK: What motivated you to run for the SBCC Board of Trustees? Explain your decision process.

Lisa Macker

Lisa Macker

LISA MACKER: In July, I received a couple of phone calls from acquaintances asking me to meet with them and discuss their concerns about what has been going on the past couple of years at SBCC, and their plan to find candidates to run for the trustee positions. I spoke to these individuals and met with some members of the community who had the start of a grassroots plan in motion.

I listened to their concerns and independently verified some of their claims. These centered primarily on the lack of process in decision-making, nonadherence to shared governance, and a clear message from board members that they were not interested in the community’s input. I was especially concerned when I reviewed board minutes and discovered that the Educational Policies Committee had not met in more than 15 months! And this during a time when so many proposed changes required additional discussion.

Finally, it was evident that the board did not have a sufficient depth in terms of understanding financial information. I made a decision to run based on this information and the certainty that I would be able to make a valuable and positive contribution to the college.

NOOZHAWK: What unique experience or expertise do you have that will make a difference on the SBCC board?

LM: I have 25 years experience in nonprofit financial and general administration. I have served on boards and held the position of board treasurer. I also have a BA in business economics and received a CPA license (currently inactive) in 1985.

Looking at the current board composition, there is a clear void in my area of expertise. Listening to the audio of a board meeting, reading information the board members and administration have released to the news media and postings on a Web site, it is evident to me that they need someone to assist them in reporting accurate information and in not misrepresenting the financial position of the college.

With me on the board, the community can be assured that each of its trustees will fully understand the financial information being presented to them as well as the financial ramifications of their budget priorities and decisions. I have experience making difficult choices during these economic times. I have experience in presenting financial information in an understandable way to nonaccountants. I will make certain that faculty have information that is understandable and accessible to them to facilitate the best decision-making for their areas.

NOOZHAWK: What is the most pressing challenge SBCC faces? How would you help resolve it?

LM: With the state of the economy, more and more high school students are looking to the community colleges as their first choice. At the same time, individuals who are out of work can use this opportunity to attend SBCC to receive additional training to make them more employable, or to retrain for a new career. Finally, the college is finding that entering students are not as well prepared for college-level courses as students in the past, and this is increasing the demand for basic level English and math courses.

How can the college deal with this influx of students at a time of cuts to the state budget and other funding sources? It is clear that many students are simply not matriculating through the school and completing their degrees. I believe we need to understand why, and concentrate resources on encouraging this matriculation. It has been suggested by one of my colleagues that now is the time to do a thorough assessment of classes being offered that are necessary for transfer to a four-year institution, to make sure these classes are available and students are not forced to stay additional semesters to get courses required for transfer. I think this is a good idea.

The question of students entering without the basic skills needs to be addressed initially through expanded relationships and partnerships with the local high schools. The needed skills are not being received during these students’ high school years. We need to help identify why and assure that students with plans to attend SBCC come to us prepared for college-level courses.

NOOZHAWK: Public education seems to be in a perpetual state of crisis at every level in California. What can SBCC do to take more control of its destiny locally?

LM: SBCC could benefit from a broader set of relationships within the community. As mentioned in the previous question, partnerships with the local high schools will encourage students to come to SBCC prepared to work at the college level. This means they will matriculate through the college faster, which saves them, the college and taxpayers money.

Fostering a strong relationship with the community means SBCC will receive community support for its efforts; this has a tangible result, i.e. the voters who supported Measure V to replace the college’s infrastructure. The intangible results of the goodwill of the community are harder to measure, but will be evident in financial support for efforts on behalf of the college.

Finally, I believe SBCC could do more work in creating collaborative relationships with the private sector in Santa Barbara. Local businesses, and other organizations, can join with our community college in ventures in sustainability, job training and job creation for our students, and other exciting opportunities.

NOOZHAWK: SBCC President Andreea Serban has said that the school is “one of the most fiscally sound community colleges in the state.” Do you agree? If not, what steps should be taken to make it so?

LM: I agree. SBCC is absolutely one of the most fiscally sound community colleges in California. I believe the next step in our fiscal planning is to clearly define appropriate reserve amounts for the various funds (general, equipment, construction). This will assist us in future budgeting cycles as we balance current needs of our students against safeguarding our financial future.

NOOZHAWK: What should be SBCC’s core mission? Are credit and continuing education programs equal? Should they be?

LM: The core mission of SBCC should be to serve its students and provide them with access to high-quality and affordable higher education programs. These programs include classes toward transfer as well as occupational competencies. In addition, the college must have as its mission a commitment to the greater community it serves and, as such, offer classes and programs in continuing education.

The credit side comprises approximately 90 percent of the college. Priority needs to be given to the credit side, but it is through the noncredit programs that the college will strengthen its ties to the community. For that reason, every effort needs to be made to assure the educational excellence and student success in credit, while being mindful of the importance of the community ties and support that come through continuing education.

NOOZHAWK: With state funding limitations increasingly affecting the UC and CSU systems, will SBCC graduates continue to have the transfer access they need to complete undergraduate degrees? If not, what’s the solution?

LM: I have already spoken to students and administrators at the college who indicate that transfer access has been severely affected. Some students indicate they are staying in the community college to switch their emphasis of study to make them more attractive to the four-year colleges. Others indicate their dreams of attending certain schools are no longer attainable, given the competition.

Last week, two bills were signed (SB 1440 by state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, and AB 2302 by Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino) in Sacramento. These bills will facilitate the transfer of community college students to state universities and will go a long way toward bringing increased access. If a community college student follows a certain path and takes the right courses, they will now be able to go to a Cal State University campus. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger says he is calling on the UC System to follow suit with a similar program.

NOOZHAWK: To help upgrade and improve aging campus infrastructure, local voters passed Measure V. The bond was to be matched by the state of California, but instead the state has reneged. What will be the long-term impacts of “half” a renovation? What options are available to SBCC to complete its modernization plans?

LM: The long-term impacts are difficult to measure but any future plans need to include strong efforts to prioritize those infrastructure projects that will most assist SBCC in fulfilling its mission. The college needs to be active in planning for its future curriculum, a curriculum that will keep the college strong well into the 21st century.

Prioritizing needs to be built around these two planning aspects: best use of funds for student needs and plans to support the curriculum of the future. Absent a benefactor who will contribute tens of millions of dollars, the only other option is a new bond measure.

NOOZHAWK: Besides the breathtaking views, what is SBCC’s greatest asset?

LM: An energetic, innovative and informed faculty that puts the students’ education first.

NOOZHAWK: What is your personal connection to SBCC?

LM: I attended SBCC as a student in 1975 prior to transferring to UCSB. Also, my father taught engineering classes in the evening in the late 1970s and my mother took classes toward an AA degree. In the early ‘90s, I attend one of SBCC‟s parent/child workshops with my kids. Currently, two of my teenagers are enrolled in classes, one as a high school dual-enrollee and the other full-time. My nieces and nephews attended SBCC, and, in addition, my 86-year-old father has been a volunteer tutor at SBCC for the past 15 years.

NOOZHAWK: Are you a Main Campus person? West Campus? Schott Center? Wake Center?

LM: I was a Main Campus person! I look forward to taking some adult-education classes after I raise my three children!

NOOZHAWK: Do you watch the TV show, Community? Who’s your favorite character?

LM: No. Don’t know.

NOOZHAWK: If elected, will you help us establish a Noozhawk lab as part of the required coursework for journalism, photography, advertising and marketing, and New Media?

LM: Ha-ha.

Click here for more information on Lisa Macker’s campaign.

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