Alumni Events

Alumni Cocktail Party

Thanks to all alumni who joined us on October 1 for a wine and cheese reception on the upper patio of campus!

Over 30 alumni stopped by to chat and network with their fellow graduates as well as with Antioch University Santa Barbara faculty and staff. The reception was topped off by speeches from Victoria Riskin, chair of the AUSB Board of Trustees, and alumni Michael Ruiz and Shannon Stark.

Check out more photos in our gallery from the party on our Facebook page – and Like us while you’re there!

Alumni cocktail party 1


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Alumni cocktail party 2

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Alexa Aparicio wins iPad miniiPad mini giveaway winner

Smiles all around as Alexa Aparicio won an iPad mini from the Antioch University Santa Barbara Alumni Association after entering a drawing for all alumni at Commencement in June.

Alexa, who graduated with her BA in Fall 2013 and will continue on in the MBA program at AUSB, stopped by on Monday, July 14 to pick up her prize from university President Dr. Nancy Leffert.

Previous Events

Visit Lotusland with the AUSB Alumni Association!

On Saturday, August 6th, a group of AUSB alumni and special friends attended a fabulous tour and reception at Ganna Walska’s Lotusland.





The lotuses were in bloom! A summer day to remember, the AUSB Alumni daytrip to Lotusland was awe-filled and inspiring.  After the Santa Barbara morning fog burned off, it turned out to be a beautiful sunny day at the Montecito Estate named by Madame Ganna Walska ‘Lotusland’.  AUSB Alumni and friends gathered at the visitor’s center and were led on stunning tours of the grounds by volunteer docents.  Each guest experienced an intimate two-hour tour of the gardens, pools, ponds and unique features of Lotusland.

Our docents were very knowledgeable about Madame Ganna Walska and we were treated to historical insights into her extraordinary life.  Madame Walska had a keen insight and love of extraordinary and unusual plants and partnered with world renowned landscape architects and local area experts of her time in the development of the property.

One of the oldest features is the stunning lemon arbor and one of the newest features is the cactus garden, which is so unreal it feels as if you are in another world. The single blossoms were captivating in the Japanese Garden and the single and double blossoms were breathtaking in the Water Garden. A symbol of enlightenment, the tall lotus shoots up from the murky bottom of the pond to several feet above the water, blooming for only three days.

Our tour ended at a reception at the former residence of Madame Ganna Walska, a little house under the trees. The smell of plumeria blossoms wafted in the air and the soothing gentle bubbling sound of the outdoor patio fountain created an intimate and unforgettable backdrop for the reception that followed. AUSB President Nancy Leffert and AUSB Board of Trustees Chair Victoria Riskin spoke briefly about the upcoming campus grand opening in the fall and to AUSB’s commitment to the continued success of our Alumni Association.

Ganna Walska Lotusland is a 37-acre botanical wonder containing subtropical and tropical plants from around the world. Lotusland is home to several extraordinary collections including rare cycads, cacti, palms and euphorbias.  Additional gardens feature ferns, aloes, succulents, lotuses, waterlillies, and bromeliaeds. Theme gardens include the blue garden, theatre garden, butterfly garden and a Japanese garden.  Lotusland incorporates the principles of sustainability into the preservation and maintenance of its extraordinary plant collections.

Madame Ganna Walska, a well-known Polish opera singer and socialite, purchased the estate in 1941 and spent the next 43 years of her life designing unusual display gardens with exotic plants. In creating Lotusland, Madame Walska experimented freely with bold forms and unusual color combinations.  After Madame Walska’s death in 1984, Lotusland became a nonprofit educational institution and opened to the public in 1993. Visit their website for more information at

Photos by Bill Dewey

Hearst Castle and Hearst Ranch Winery Daytrip

Saturday, May 14, 2011, 7am – 7pm

Alumni and special friends of Antioch University Santa Barbara gathered together for an enchanting day trip to Hearst Castle and Hearst Ranch Winery on May 14th. Friends, community members, and alumni made new connections from the moment we shared fresh coffee and pastries boarding the Santa Barbara Airbus.

View Our Flickr Slideshow

Upon our arrival in San Simeon, we began our “Experience Tour” of the five-story Hearst Castle Theater to watch ‘Hearst Castle: Building the Dream’. Combining vintage clips and stills from the 1920s and 30s, the documentary was a classic cinematography delight. The weather and mood at the castle were both bright and cheery as we toured the sprawling gardens, terraces and beautiful buildings of the Hearst Castle, including Casa Grande and Neptune’s Pool.

Following a fine lunch at Hearst Castle, the bus headed to Hearst Ranch Winery in Paso Robles. We were greeted by AUSB President Nancy Leffert, her husband Mark Leffert, and their son Jeremy Leffert – Hearst Ranch Winery viticulturist and winemaker.

Time on the tours allowed our group of alumni and guests to engage in inspiring conversation, sharing life stories. “We really bonded as a group, while our senses were quenched with fine art, good food, quality wine, and laughs!” commented alumna Lorrie Thomas.

For the wine aficionados, we were treated to a special tasting and enjoyed sampling the 2008 ‘Glacier Ridge’ Chardonnay and the 2007 ‘Lone Tree’ Cabernet Franc. We had the opportunity to taste a pre-release of the Hearst Ranch Vineyards stellar vintages making their debut, including the 2009 “Babicora” Malbec and the 2009 “Chileano” Tempranillo. One of the highlights of our private wine tasting was the limited release 2010 “Solace,” a Tempranillo Rosé which benefits the Hearst Cancer Resource Center located in San Luis Obispo, California.

All who attended had a spectacular time, and we’ve shared our photos here. AUSB alumni and our special guests hope to make this one of many annual events to make friends and have fantastic conversations. We hope to see you there next year!

About Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle is one of the largest of approximately 5,000 historic house museums in the U.S., with one of the most sophisticated guided tour programs in the country. Once the home of William Randolph Hearst, California State Parks strives to keep the estate looking like a private residence. The tours take the visitor back into time through the interpretation of a combination of many aspects regarding the estate, including William Randolph Hearst and his family, and the collection, architecture, gardens and lifestyle at the Castle.

Hearst Ranch Winery

Hearst Ranch Winery was started in 2009 by Jim Saunders, a long time Paso Robles grape grower, and Steve Hearst. The pair found that they had many commonalities such as philanthropy, environmental stewardship, and sustainable agriculture. The vision of Hearst Ranch Winery became real and their first vintages were sent to bottle in January of 2010.

Links to destination websites:

Hearst Castle:

Hearst Ranch Winery:


Karen Cator – Alumni Symposium – March 2, 2011

Antioch University Santa Barbara was proud to host Karen Cator, the Obama Administration’s Director of Educational Technology, US Department of Education. Cator’s address to the Santa Barbara community is titled Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology, and the event was held on Wednesday, March 2, 6:00 – 7:30 pm, at the Canary Hotel.

Karen Cator has been instrumental in shaping the Obama administration’s vision of 21st century opportunities for students using technology to transform teaching and learning. She has been a leading voice at the intersection of education policy and research, emerging technologies, and the reality faced by teachers, students and administrators. Prior to joining the Department of Education, Ms. Cator directed Apple’s leadership and advocacy efforts in education. She has been a leading voice at the intersection of education policy and research, emerging technologies, and the reality faced by teachers, students and administrators.

Below is a video from the evenings presentation.

The event was part of the Alumni Symposium series and a continuation of AUSB’s community collaboration surrounding the presidential inauguration of Dr. Nancy Leffert.

Alumni Holiday Celebration December 16

Alumni Symposium March 8, 2010


Antioch University Santa Barbara’s first-ever alumni symposium on March 8 was a huge success, presenting a distinguished panel of speakers that included three members of the AUSB Board of Trustees delivering remarks to around 130 alumni, faculty, staff and guests. With introductions and welcome from Board of Trustees Chair, Victoria Riskin, the Board of Trustees Forum: The Future of California: Walking Back from the Brink, presented important topics from a panel that included: The Honorable Congresswoman Lois Capps: Representative to the U.S. Congress, District 23, Lou Cannon – Historian; Journalist; White House Correspondent and L.A. Bureau Chief of The Washington Post; and Trustee, Jerry Roberts: Former Managing Editor, The San Francisco Chronicle; former Executive Editor, The Santa Barbara News-Press, Founder,; and Trustee, and Susan Rose – Former Supervisor, Santa Barbara County, and Trustee.

Below is a short video of excerpts from the symposium.