Utpal Goswami and Kenneth Lawson
Utpal Goswami, left, and Kenneth Lawson have been selected as finalists for the position of Santa Barbara City College superintendent/president. They will participate in a public forum Thursday, with final interviews with SBCC trustees on Friday. (Santa Barbara City College photos)

Following a nationwide search, Santa Barbara City College has selected two finalists for its next superintendent/president.

The two candidates are Utpal Goswami, president of Metropolitan Community College-Maple Woods in Kansas City, Mo., and Kenneth Lawson, vice president of instruction at Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon, Wash.

The names were announced earlier this week.

The two finalists will participate in a free public forum Thursday at SBCC’s Garvin Theatre on West Campus. Each candidate will provide an opening statement and respond to questions from the audience.

Goswami’s session starts at 1 p.m. and Lawson’s at 2 p.m.

The forum will be livestreamed for those unable to attend, and SBCC’s website and social media will have a link to the real-time sessions. A video recording will be available on the college’s website afterward.

Here is information about the two candidates.

Utpal Goswami

Goswami has more than three decades of higher education experience at colleges and universities in California, Arizona, Missouri and Texas, according to his biography.

He has held various positions, including vice president of instruction and interim president/superintendent at College of the Redwoods in Eureka.

Goswami is experienced in statewide advocacy and initiatives for community college funding, fostering shared governance, launching and completing capital projects, improving technology platforms and ensuring institutional compliance with accreditation.

He is said to take pride in the fact that by empowering people he can create exceptional teams to drive positive outcomes for students. Goswami considers being able to personalize the learning experience as the ultimate institutional opportunity and challenge.

Goswami holds a doctoral degree in economics from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, and a master’s degree in development economics from Boston University.

Kenneth Lawson

Lawson has 20 years of experience working in community colleges.

He joined Shoreline Community College in Shoreline, Wash., as a full-time professor of political science in 2001 and later was elected by his peers to serve as a dean, his biography says.

Lawson served as dean of humanities and social sciences at Seattle Central College before moving to Skagit Valley College.

He worked with staff and faculty at Skagit Valley to create equitable learning environments, programs responsive to local economic and social needs, and educational pathways designed to increase student success, economic mobility and civic engagement.

He also helped lead the college’s strategy to improve student success and learning through the implementation of a comprehensive guided pathways approach, placing equity at the center of the effort.

Lawson holds a doctorate in political science from the University of Washington and a master of arts degree in political science from the University of Utah.

Hiring Process

SBCC has been searching for a successor to President Anthony Beebe, who retired earlier this year.

Interim Superintendent/President Helen Benjamin has been leading the college since the spring. She took the temporary position after her retirement from a 44-year career in community college education.

The SBCC Board of Trustees established a screening committee with representatives of internal and external constituency groups, SBCC spokesowman Luz Reyes-Martin said.

The committee was tasked with screening applications and recommending finalists to the board for consideration. An extensive nationwide search was conducted by a national consulting firm to recruit candidates.

SBCC trustees will hold final interviews with Goswami and Lawson in a closed session meeting Friday. The board is expected to hire one of the two.

Comments about the finalists can be submitted to the Board of Trustees after the forum.

“A public forum is a unique aspect of our hiring process that allows for members of the campus and broader community to hear directly from the finalists and ask questions,” board president Robert Miller told Noozhawk.

“SBCC is part of this community and this key leadership position will need to be actively involved in the community.”

Click here for more information about the superintendent/president search.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at bholland@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.