Beloved City College administrator passes away at 93
By Lisa Martin
Laurent Broussal, a dedicated City College administrator of thirty years, passed away on Jan. 12, after battling pancreatic cancer. He was 93 years old.
Broussal, also known as “Larry” by his friends and family, was born on Aug. 9, 1925 to immigrant parents from France. He was raised in Butchertown, present-day Bayview, during a time when cowboys drove herds of cattle down Third St. He attended Polytechnic High School, which was in operation from 1884 until 1973.
The native San Franciscan grew up hunting and fishing with his father and developed a lifelong passion for the outdoors, which he would later share with his wife Randi Broussal and their four children.
“Going hunting for him was as much about seeing what he could find. He’d come home with beautiful rocks or dropped horns or skulls of animals that he’d find… He just liked being outside and tromping around.” Randi said.
Broussal was also a qualified scuba diver that loved to search for abalone. He once joked that he knew the California community college system did not offer “underwater basket weaving” classes because if they did, he would be the only one qualified to teach it. As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, Broussal continued these hobbies well into his 80s.
During his freshman year at San Jose State University, Broussal obtained parental consent from his mother and enlisted in the Navy during World War II. He entered the V-12 officer training program, where he served for two years, then received his commission on a landing ship tank in the Pacific.
After the war, Broussal completed his bachelor of arts degree at San Jose State and went on to earn a master’s degree in special education at San Francisco State University. He pursued a PhD, but did not complete his dissertation.
According to his wife, Broussal was always interested in education and searched for a “helping profession.” He began teaching special education in 1953 and later transitioned into more administrative roles.
“He was interested in how education could help people, how administration could help teachers help students, how the whole way that the community college works is such a non-elitist organization,” Randi said.
In 1970, when California mandated that all K-14 school districts must switch to K-12, Broussal worked with Lou Batmale, the first Chancellor of the San Francisco Community College District and former President of City College, and Phoebe Bostwick, a former City College faculty member, to help create the framework for what would become the San Francisco Community College District.
One of the decisions that shaped the new identity of the college was to integrate both non-credit and credit divisions. This provided students enrolled in non-credit classes with a smoother transition into credit classes and guide them toward degrees, certifications and transfer opportunities. Only five school districts had this at the time and among them, San Francisco had the largest offerings of non-credit courses.
“When we, the S.F. Community College District, separated from the Unified School District, we were accused of including both City College and the Adult and Occupational Division in the newly created district in order to collect a financial windfall of several million dollars,” Broussal said in a 1982 presentation to fellow administrators.
He always advocated for the complementary inclusion of non-credit and credit divisions at City College despite criticism and the years that passed.
During his tenure at City College, Broussal became president of the non-credit division, then called the “community college centers,” and upon his retirement in 1984, he served as Dean of Admissions and Records for the credit division.
Jack Harrington, a former administrator in the Centers Division and a friend of 40 years, described Broussal as a supportive, compassionate and dedicated person who always worked hard to do what’s best for teachers. To Harrington, Broussal was a man filled with good ideas and who made time to speak with anyone that asked.
“He was a follow-through kind of guy, his integrity was there, and people followed him easily. They followed him as Larry,” Harrington said.
During retirement, Broussal spent more time with his family, traveling and enjoying the outdoors. He is survived by his wife of 34 years, four children, eight grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. Funeral services were held on Feb. 9 at St. Cecilia Church.