What About Bob?

With a fiscal budget that would make Oliver Twist sit back down and shut up, and a spending cap on all matters of student services that would make a Dickensian workhouse look like tea time at the Ritz, the job of vice president of business and administration at Santa Monica College isn't one for someone with, a history of cardiac irregularity.

Thankfully, however, the recent appointee, Robert "Bob" Isomoto, is taking preventative measures to ensure no health issues will arise for him that may hamper an already difficult job.

"I like to work out whenever I can," said Isomoto, "normally in the morning before work."

Isomoto, 58, clearly relishes the task of wrestling with the college's constricted budget, but he is under no illusions as to the severity of the situation, and is quick to point out that this is a problem with no imminent conclusion.

"While SMC is still doing a fantastic job at offering classes, I do foresee more cuts." He continued, "This is something that will probably continue for the next one to two years."

Whatever troubles may arise, and there's sure to be many, he has an impressive working history in the field of education from which to draw inspiration.

Born and raised in Los Angeles by working-class Japanese parents, Isomoto earned a scholarship to USC where he achieved a bachelor's degree in psychology.
From there Isomoto transferred to Northern Arizona University and gained a master's degree in counseling.

With his academic studies behind him, he spent a brief period of time as a staff aide for vocational training in the Los Angeles Community College District before accepting a position at the age of 25 to East Los Angeles College as an academic counselor.
It was here he spent the next 33 years ascending the ranks from student counselor to interim president, an appointment he held for two years, and it is also a place that has obviously proved instrumental in shaping the "Bob" of today.

"I feel like I grew up at ELAC. I arrived in 1975 and was there until last year. I miss the people I worked with, they were a really good bunch of people."

His tenure there was not, however, without its setbacks, and one particularly inclement period during the start of this decade ensured that the problems of today are not necessarily new to him.

"I've seen good times and bad times. I was a victim of Prop. 13, a legislation that cut community college funding, and changed the basis of it. I was furloughed. I went from being a twelve-month-a-year employee to a ten-month-a-year-employee."

Isomoto started at SMC on June 29, and with a little over two months already squeezed in under his belt, he holds high praise for a number of components.

"I'm probably most impressed with the students. I see them as highly informed and motivated to finish their studies. The transportation initiative is well thought out too, with an eye for efficiency and the environment."

Isomoto voiced a note of caution concerning the way SMC's financial program is structured, for he believes that a more integrated financial system, as utilized by many other academic institutions, would improve the efficiency of the current policy.

But he was quick to add that "there are ways of improving things, we've just got to be wary of choosing one that's right for SMC."
His warm and affable nature is already winning over droves of colleagues, and Chris Bonvenuto, director of fiscal services, succinctly summed up the feeling his appointment has generated.

"Bob came in here at the most difficult time," said Bonvenuto. "Jeanine Hawk [the previous vice president] left after preparing only half of this year's fiscal budget.

For Bob to come in and punch it up to the next level is a testament to his leadership, team building qualities, experience and personality."