It was the last generation of the old west. Hitching posts -- wooden beams used to tie up horses -- still dotted the dirt roads of Santa Barbara, California, an isolated small town along California’s Pacific coast. But times were changing.
A prosperous business community needed trained workers. Recognizing this growing need, J.E. Metzger opened Santa Barbara Business College in 1888. The new college was an instant success. At the time, Santa Barbara Business College educated area teachers and offered courses in banking, merchandising, shorthand, typing, and business law.
Metzger saw that the business world was changing. He strongly held that workers needed new and modern skills to advance in their careers. In 1888, he wrote, “The world moves with a wonderful velocity. Old methods are dead. The new ones are what you need and must have.” Under Metzger’s leadership, Santa Barbara Business College prided itself on providing employment-focused education and training. That tradition continues today.
In the 1890’s, leadership of the College was handed to Edward B. Hoover. In addition to his work at the College, Hoover was very interested in developing the business opportunities available in town, and was a charter member in organizing the local Chamber of Commerce. Hoover’s involvement with other business leaders gave him specific insight into which specific skills local employers needed. Quick to respond, Santa Barbara Business College, under Hoover’s direction, adapted quickly to teach specific skills that were in demand.
In the years that followed, the College added programs to meet the demands of emerging industries and technology and expanded to additional communities in Southern California. Throughout the last century - including the Great Depression, countless earthquakes, and two world wars - SBBCollege remained a presence along California's Central Coast.
Dean Johnston, a lifelong educator and school administrator, came to lead the College in 1979 in a partnership with investor and business owner, Wallace Wong. In 1988, Johnston commented on the College's historic 100th anniversary. “As we celebrate the College’s 100th year, we feel we have succeeded in fulfilling a need in our community, for students and employers.” In 2005, Matthew Johnston became President of the College, having worked his way up through the ranks as an instructor, staff member, and administrator. At that time, Dean Johnston moved to the post of Chief Executive Officer.
In recent years – along with celebrating its 125th anniversary – SBBCollege added a new campus location in Rancho Mirage and new programs, including bachelor's degrees in business administration, criminal justice, and healthcare administration, an MBA program, and an HVAC training program. Most recently, SBBCollege took to the skies, launching an aviation degree program that prepares students for careers as professional pilots.
For more than 125 years, SBBCollege has been a key business partner in communities across Southern California, training generations of students with the skills needed to meet the needs of local employers and enjoy successful careers.