A new vision for City College


City College President Anthony Beebe speaks with cosmetology instructor Patricia Grooms-Jones at an Aug. 4 mixer introducing Beebe to faculty and staff. Photo credit: Troy Orem

Angelica Wallingford

New City College President Anthony Beebe held his first convocation for faculty, staff and administrators Aug. 14 at the Saville Theatre.

The convocation day started with breakfast on the patio of the theater for the attendees, who then quickly convened inside the theater to await the start of the program.

Before Beebe took the stage, there were welcome remarks and commentary from Vice President of Instruction Randy Barnes, Board of Trustees President Rich Grosch, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Guild, Local 1931, President Jim Mahler and San Diego Community College District Chancellor Constance M. Carroll.

Carroll talked about numerous changes at City over the past year, such as receiving millions of dollars to invest in the college, the opening of the Arts and Humanities and Business Technology buildings, the school’s budget and the hiring of 92 new faculty members.

“Our district has hired 92 new faculty positions, 24 positions at City … We’ve also been hiring new classified staff members mostly in student services and facilities management,” Carroll said.

After a quick introduction from Carroll about Beebe’s long career in education and community service, the man of the hour took the stage.

Beebe’s speech consisted of what he called “elements for a new vision,” which included a list of four points — advancing social change and civility, increasing access and completion, transitioning the adult learner and building community connections — with a majority of the speech focusing on the first point, and not only about improving City College itself, but the students who attend here, as well.

“Community colleges were founded on social justice issues. City College has local relevance to the community here; we’re not just a generic milquetoast community college here in San Diego,” Beebe said. “… Our community has social issues. City College needs to be involved in framing the community solutions to those social problems.”

His speech then shifted to the privilege of having an education and the importance of helping those who are less privileged in the community.

“We are privileged because we are educated … If you look at the world’s population of 7.2 billion people, 6.7 percent of that population has a degree or has been educated. By our very nature, we are presaged because of that component. Now do we potentially each have oppressions, as well? Absolutely, but we have a privilege, and because we have privilege, we have a duty and a responsibility to help the less privileged among us,” Beebe said as the audience’s applause filled the theater.

He went on to cite the 1970s book “Education of the Oppressed” by Paulo Freire as a foundation for his ideas for City and encouraged the audience to read or re-read the book for its significance.

Accompanying his speech, Beebe had a slideshow presentation that included a slide that said he will have an “open door policy,” meaning that no appointments are necessary for staff, faculty and students to visit and speak with him; a mailbox where people can send suggestions anonymously; and a Twitter account to keep people up to date with the goings-on at City.

Beebe’s speech concluded with a clip from the film “Dead Poets Society,” in which the late Robin Williams asks his students, “What will your verse be?” The answer that Beebe gave was that he believes City’s verse will be strongly related to social justice issues.

Concluding the program were remarks from Berta Harris and Yvonne Schmeltz, presidents of the Academic Senate and Classified Senate, respectively, a video tribute for new faculty and retirees, and presentations from Dotti Cordell, director of Student Health Services, and Denise Whisenhunt, vice president of Student Services.

Faculty and staff later gathered in Gorton Quad for Beebe’s official welcome party.