Santa Fe College’s new president, Paul Broadie II, delivered his inaugural address Tuesday afternoon. As he steps into his new role, Santa Fe students and faculty reflect on former President Jackson Sasser’s legacy at the college.
After 18 years of serving as Santa Fe’s president, Sasser said he decided to step down so he could spend more time with his wife and five grandchildren.
Sasser considers his time at Santa Fe to be the “zenith” of his career.
“I can’t think of any way it could’ve been any better,” Sasser said.
Sasser made an undeniable impact on Santa Fe during his time as president, said Bea Awoniyi, the vice president of student affairs at Santa Fe. She said Sasser implemented numerous programs to increase connectivity and inclusion on campus.
“He has a great respect for students and creates programs to get them involved and support student engagement,” Awoniyi said.
During his time as president, Sasser spearheaded several programs at Santa Fe to create an environment where every student has an opportunity to succeed, such as My Brother’s Keeper, The Spectrum of Success Program and Take Stock in Children, Awoniyi said.
Awoniyi said Sasser started My Brother’s Keeper, a program designed to increase the success of black males through mentorship, scholarships and leadership opportunities,before the national program even began.
“He did not start it because it was ‘in,’” Awoniyi said. “He started it because he realized the need for that program.”
The Spectrum of Success Program, which aims to provide students on the autism spectrum with employment and life skills, was founded by Sasser, Awoniyi said. Sasser would implement programs such as these to “fix holes when he saw them.”
When Sasser noticed that students who participated in Take Stock in Children during high school were struggling without the support of mentors in college, he asked Awoniyi to coordinate a similar program to support students, she said.
Take Stock in Children provides students from low-income families with scholarship opportunities and mentorship. Through Santa Fe’s program, Awoniyi checks in with students struggling academically and connects them with resources on campus.
Awoniyi said Santa Fe was the first institution to provide this program at a college level.
“He looks at how the college can actually fill those gaps so that no one is left behind,” Awoniyi said.
Overall, Sasser credits the progress Santa Fe achieved during his time there to the culture of openness and respect the administration encourages between students and faculty.
He said this respect is reflected in the college’s commitment to serving all students equally regardless of age, income level, academic preparation or grades.
Alejandro Puga, who served as Santa Fe’s student body president from 2018 to 2019, said Sasser impacted the college in three distinct ways: by internationalizing the school, having a vision for the future and always caring for students.
Puga, 21, is now a senior studying political science online at Liberty University in Virginia. He said that Sasser’s efforts as president allowed Santa Fe to be one of the few state colleges in the U.S. to receive a grant to meet with college presidents from other countries.
During his time as student body president, Puga had the opportunity to meet visitors from Ukraine, Pakistan and Egypt.
“We learned what was going on in their country, and they were learning how the college process works in our country,” Puga said.
Puga looks forward to seeing President Broadie continue in Sasser’s footsteps.
“I want him to have the opportunity to give his own vision to the college, and to make sure that he continues the traditions that Dr. Sasser started,” Puga said.
Contact Sarah Mandile at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @sarahmandile.