An Up-Close Conversation with SMC's President, Chui L. Tsang

"The last fiscal year was an extraordinary one for the school," as reported the in Santa Monica College Annual Report for 2007-2008.

The college accomplished developments such as the "Any Life, Any Time" program, where students and employees with an Santa Monica College ID can ride the Big Blue Bus for free. SMC also became a smoke-free campus, enrollment went up 5% compared to the year before and the unrestricted general fund balance increased from $1.7 million to approximately $17.7 million.

After a year like that, how does Dr. Chui L. Tsang, president of Santa Monica College, plan on topping it? He doesn't. "We started a lot of exciting things and we want to make sure they are bearing fruit that we are expecting," he said.

One of Tsang's favorite terms is "global citizenship." He wishes to promote interconnectedness of people around the world in terms of knowledge, attitude and skills. "We need to get our students ready to deal with the world they are facing as well as the world they will be facing," he said.

The college has recently imposed a new requirement on graduation, obligating students to fulfill global citizenship requirements in the classes they take. Tsang believes that through this the students will learn to deal with situations and will work beneficially for mankind.

Tsang also plans on having the college offer more courses for living sustainably.

Right now, he is working on getting Measure AA, which will be on the ballot for Santa Monica and Malibu on Nov. 4, passed for the building of new structures. The focus is the math and science buildings. "We've been in those temporary buildings a long time. It's time we got a new home," he said. "Our science program is very strong and that is an area that attracts students to come here. We want to support the facilities that enable them to come here."

The plan also includes beautifying and modernizing Drescher Hall and the entrance of the college on Pico Blvd. "The building is not very impressive and we want to change that," he said. The building is built in a way that it has its back to the street. There is excess space that is not being used and Tsang wishes to improve the presence and make SMC a more welcoming place.

Other construction includes a new wing for communications at the AET campus and a replacement health and fitness building on campus. "We need facilities to go along with the excellent classes we offer," said Tsang.

To actualize these plans, voters are being asked to approve a $295 million bond measure, which will only cost each person approximately $1.12 per month. "Students should be appreciative that the community supported us before and will continue to support us," said Tsang. "This community has been very good to the college."

Aside from construction, Tsang is busy with preparing for accreditation, planning of facilities, final design plans for the student center and the Latin American education center. He is also looking to find a sustainable way to support the new "Any Line, Any Time" program.

Tsang calls his job as president of the college "the greatest job anyone can have" and states that he shares this feeling with many of the faculty and staff members. "We get to do things people dream about doing, it's wonderful."