SMC President Chui L. Tsang announces retirement

Current Santa Monica College President Chui L. Tsang announced on Tuesday evening that he will retire at the end of the academic year after leading SMC for nine years. In a letter sent district-wide via e-mail, Tsang revealed his decision to retire after "much consideration."  In the letter Tsang emphasized the achievements SMC has made under his tenure including being ranked as the number one community college for transfers in California. He also touched upon the various challenges that marked his tenure such as the recent economic crisis that affected schools nationwide and the June 2013 shooting on campus.

Below is Tsang's letter in full. The Corsair will update this story as it develops over the coming weeks.

Dear Members of the Santa Monica College Community:

I am writing to let you know that after much consideration, I have made the decision to retire as President and Superintendent of Santa Monica College at the end of this academic year. While I am sad to be leaving the work that I love, I make this decision confident in the knowledge that Santa Monica College today is in great condition.

Over the last few years we weathered tremendous challenges, from the worst economic storm to beset the community college system since the passage of Prop 13, to the senseless and violent tragedy of June 2013 that shook our community to its core. We endured the terrible pain of these trials together and have emerged as a stronger and more united institution. Santa Monica College now stands poised to achieve the next level of development as one of the great public educational institutions of California.

Today, the College is under the stable leadership of a Board of Trustees with a clear and ambitious policy vision for the institution, it is also administered by an outstanding and dedicated management team. Furthermore the College has a favorable financial reserve and faultless financial accounting operation. With the generously restored budget proposed by Governor Brown, our budget outlook for the coming academic year is better than it has looked in any of the past six years.

The College has achieved national and international recognition for our rigorous academic standards, innovative practices, and student-centered pedagogies, all of which have been made possible through the unrelenting and passionate attention of our world-class faculty and staff. Our long standing academic excellence has been enhanced through the addition of about one hundred new tenure-tracked faculty members, all with distinguished credentials, who have helped bring a renewed sense of passion and mission to our faculty. Together with our core of experienced faculty members, we have succeeded in creating one of the most enriching and rigorous lower division curricula that can be found in any public college in the U.S. Meanwhile, our comprehensive, student-centered support system continues to provide the one-of-a-kind learning environment that allows our students to flourish.

Santa Monica College today is the envy of the national community college system. We remain the number one community college for transfers in California, a title we have now held for 24 years. We have partnered with major universities to forge new pathways for our students to complete their Bachelors and Master Degrees. And of course, the recent approval of the new Bachelor Degree program in Interaction Design signals the beginning of an exciting, cost-effective, and accessible new approach that the College can continue to develop.

Over the last decade, with the support of our voters and taxpayers, Santa Monica College has completed major facilities projects that have physically transformed the College into a sustainable, user-friendly and modern campus; with even more facilities expected to come on line in the next few years. These changes have allowed the College to accommodate many new programs and broaden the services that we offer to our students and the community.

With an expanded web and broadcast footprint, our public radio station, KCRW, continues to lead the field with refreshing and trend setting programs. The Broad Stage at the College Performing Art Center, built just 7 years ago, has become the premier cultural venue on the Westside, and is now famous for its outstanding performances. Our Business Support program operates a vibrant assistance center, in conjunction with our partners in the private sector, to support local business growth. As a College, we have done much together to strengthen our position as an essential and integral member of this community; a truly vital institution whose reach is felt far beyond our classrooms.

With all the exciting work that is taking place, it is not surprising to see more and more students are seeking admission to Santa Monica College from communities all over Los Angeles, and indeed all over the world. In looking at our enrollment projection, which was substantially affected in recent years by State reduction, we will again achieve the high water mark that was reached in 07-08, the year before the general recession affected the State’s ability to support us.

As I think about the future, I believe that Santa Monica College will continue to lead the way as the standard bearer for community college education, and a model for the increasingly important role that community colleges must play in California’s system of public higher education.

I feel extremely privileged to have led this exceptional institution over the past nine years, and I am grateful to have served with the dedicated group of educators and enthusiastic community supporters who I now call my friends. I retire comforted in the knowledge that the College will remain in the care of an unrivaled faculty and staff who stand poised to lift this college and its students to ever greater levels of success. In your hands, I know that Santa Monica College will endure as an institution dedicated to the mission of helping every one of our students turn their dreams into reality.

Proud To Be, SMC!

Chui L. Tsang