Anthony Beebe cites cancer, heart ailment as reasons for retirement
Santa Barbara City College Superintendent and President Anthony Beebe announced Friday that he will retire this summer, citing significant health-related issues including cancer and heart problems.
Dr. Beebe and board of trustees President Robert Miller released statements to the campus community announcing Dr. Beebe’s decision.
On Thursday, Dr. Beebe called a special meeting of the board to inform trustees of his health concerns and his intention to retire. The trustees met in closed session for about an hour and 20 minutes and announced they took no action after a “performance evaluation” of Dr. Beebe.
“This was not planned, but as many of you know, I have been struggling with significant health-related issues, including cancer and heart problems,” Dr. Beebe said in the statement. “Not addressing these issues has caught up with me, and I now need to focus on my health.”
Dr. Beebe thanked the college community for the experience and honor to serve in his role and thanked the board of trustees for its support.
“While my time here has been challenging, we have had many memorable experiences and several accomplishments of which to be proud,” Dr. Beebe said.
He mentioned various programs the school has launched, such as Guided Pathways, the new School of Extended Learning, the Equity and Social Justice and Umajo Centers, and crafting a new college vision statement.
When Dr. Beebe assumed his new role in July 2016, SBCC was facing a projected $9 million deficit.
“It is remarkable that he was able to pull the College together to address our financial challenges and help the College emerge with a positive financial outlook in a very short period of time,” Mr. Miller said in a statement.
Both Dr. Beebe and Mr. Miller mentioned the Thomas Fire and Montecito debris flow and how the college assisted by hosting first responders, the American Red Cross and Montecito Union School.
“When the Board considered a new Superintendent/President in 2015 and 2016, Dr. Beebe emerged as the top candidate due to many reasons, including his commitment to strengthening the relationship between the College and the Community,” Mr. Miller said. “From his first day on the job, he has worked tirelessly to accomplish this goal.
“The School’s expansion was a significant and positive change for our community. The School is thriving and will only continue to grow.”
Students, staff and campus faculty have spent the last several months calling for new leadership at the college. Dr. Beebe has faced scrutiny for his handling of a Title IX investigation last summer and the college’s more recent decision to allow an administrator to return to campus after using a racial slur in a meeting.
At Thursday’s meeting, a staff member identified as Simone said she had filed a complaint with the college’s human resources department because she felt untrusted and black students felt unsafe on campus. She said believed Dr. Beebe was responsible.
Students told the board they were embarrassed to have Dr. Beebe serve as their president and another staff member said the campus is more divided now than at any point during her tenure, which dates back to 1975.
“We recognize that the last three years have not always been easy. Our College has faced, and continues to face, very difficult conversations and challenging issues,” Mr. Miller said. “We have complete confidence that Dr. Beebe is moving the College in the right direction and putting into place positive change.”
The board will appoint an interim superintendent and president, though there is no timetable for the appointment, officials said.
“I see the heart of our college every day in our dedicated staff, administration, and faculty, and how deeply you all care about our students and our mission here at SBCC,” Dr. Beebe said. “I have witnessed first-hand during my classroom visits the exceptional teaching and learning for which SBCC is known. For all of these reasons, while we always have work to do, I feel good about the progress we are have made at the college.”
Dr. Beebe has worked in education for 31 years. He came to SBCC after serving as president of San Diego City College.
Dr. Beebe and college board members did not respond to requests for comment.