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Education: College President's Selection

June 25, 1995

Now that a "cease-fire" has been declared by a democratic voting process at Santa Monica College (Westside, June 15) and our Board of Trustees can begin to focus on an appropriate welcoming agenda for the new president, Dr. Piedad Robertson, I would like to add my 2 cents plain.

I have always identified this beloved institution as Santa Monica Community College, which creates an image that is pleasing to me of the college belonging to all of us, like the public library. On a personal level, I have two adult daughters, Terry and Laura, who are graduates. Both of them left Santa Monica High School at the age of 16, and I have always felt a deep sense of gratitude to the faculty and the staff for providing an important intellectual and social period of adjustment, a path of confidence and maturity for them before they entered the anonymous maelstrom at UCLA.

As a longtime supporter, I was very unpleasantly surprised at the level of hostility and lack of respect for the Board of Trustees that I observed at the meeting of June 5. A fortress mentality was displayed by the Rocky Young supporters that went far beyond a public airing of disappointment. There was apparent outrage that the board, having asked for and received the input of the faculty to help them in making a final choice, had chosen an "outsider." The dictionary defines "outsider" as one who is isolated or detached from the activities or concerns of the community.

It seems impossible to me that Dr. Roberston, who has held both a vice presidency and a presidency of two large community colleges and comes to us after four years as the secretary of education in Massachusetts, could be described as isolated or detached from the universal concerns of organized educators across this country.

It was extremely disturbing to me that the board, all of whom have given hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of time and were elected by the people of Santa Monica, were accused of being "outsiders," unconcerned with the hopes and future of the college. In other words, the enemy.

I spring to their defense. The enemy is in Sacramento where so-called leaders would raise the registration and course fees to a level where no one of modest means could send their children to college and who exhibit a far greater concern for building prisons instead of preparing our children to confidently take their place in the world.

The enemy is the January, 1994, earthquake that disrupted so many lives and left the campus so damaged that it became necessary to spend millions of dollars on buildings.

Finally, I am truly disappointed that the students at the college have not learned a very important lesson that my parents and teachers taught me when I lost an election for student body president of my junior high school long ago: Commit yourself totally to your cause (no apathy allowed) and give yourself heart and soul to the battle. If you lose, and you most certainly will, articulate and mourn it and then let it go.


Santa Monica

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