Ms. Kathleen O'Connor
Annual Faculty Lecturer 2011-2012
Kathleen (Kathy) O’Connor was born in Los Angeles but has been a resident of Santa Barbara since she was an infant. After graduation from Carpinteria High School, she earned an A.A. Degree from Santa Barbara City College, a B.S. in Physical Education from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an M.A. in Physical Education from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
During two years at Laguna Blanca School, she developed the girls’ PE and athletics
program while teaching physical education and coaching teams in four sports. This
was followed by a year at Goleta Valley Junior High teaching science and physical
education after which Kathy was a part-time instructor in physical education at SBCC
for two years. During that time, she started the college’s athletics program
for women before being hired full-time in 1976.
Kathy’s years at SBCC have been characterized by her involvement in college governance. This has included 20 years on the Academic Senate, with two years as its president, and service on numerous Academic Senate committees, including Curriculum Advisory, Instructional Technology, Scholastic Standards, and Planning & Resources. She continues to serve on college-wide committees, including College Planning Council, District Technology Committee and Matriculation. She was also among the first faculty members to develop distance-learning classes at SBCC, and she has been an Athletics academic adviser for over 30 years.
Her involvement has extended to the state level where, as a representative of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, she has made numerous presentations at plenary sessions and co-authored two ASCCC publications. As a representative of the State Academic Senate, she was appointed to—and served as chairperson of—the Distance Education Technical Advisory Committee and, more recently, was appointed to the System Office Advisory Committee on Curriculum and the Kinesiology Discipline Committee to develop transfer degrees.
Kathy has received several awards for teaching and professional excellence: the SBCC Faculty Excellence Award, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges’ Hayward Award for Excellence in Education, the Community College Foundation Award for Outstanding Achievement in Technology Education, and the Louise Lowry Davis Sportswoman of the Year Award presented by the Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table.
The local community has also been the recipient of her dedication. As a horse owner, she recognized the threat to horses posed by wildfires, and was co-founder and president of the Santa Barbara Equine Assistance and Evacuation Team. She continues to be actively involved in providing training and educational opportunities for emergency services personnel and community members. Kathy has made presentations to community organizations on such topics as fitness and nutrition, self-defense for women, drug and alcohol education, and women’s health issues.
Kathy sums up her approach to both education and life with the phrase, ”If it’s not broken, break it,” by which she means that it’s often necessary to take apart and examine underlying assumptions, evidence or convictions upon which our decisions or actions are based. “As educators, teachers make a difference when we help students overcome their fear of change and develop the courage to live by a set of values that will reinforce their self-esteem and self-respect. However, we can only assist them in doing this if we are willing to take risks, lead with our hearts, maintain high expectations and, most importantly, teach by example.”