The California Community College Board Thursday named Sonya Christian chancellor of the 1.8 million student system.
The first-generation immigrant will be the first woman and first Asian American to become chancellor of the nation’s largest system of higher education.
More than half of the students at the community colleges in the state identify as women and 70 percent are students of color.
Asians make up 14 percent of the student body. Less than 1 percent are Pacific Islanders.
For the past 20 months, Christian has served as chancellor of the Kern Community College District and worked 10 years prior to that as President of Bakersfield College. Both are in Central California.
“The selection of Dr. Sonya Christian as the next Chancellor of the California Community Colleges system is as historic and bold, as it is wise and an absolute win for students. Her track record and pioneering leadership make her perfect for the job,” said Michele Siqueiros, president of the Campaign for College Opportunity.
Last year she accepted the “2022 Beacon of Racial Equity” working to bring equal opportunity for all Californians to attend college. In 2016 Christian received the Woman of the Year award from California Assemblymember Rudy Salas for her accomplishments at Bakersfield College. She received a similar award from the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and “Educator of the Year” from the Delano Chamber of Commerce (2018).
“She has been at the forefront of expanding Guided Pathways, redesigning remedial education placement practices, strengthening transfer, and boosting workforce and career education in service of students,” said Siqueir. “As the first woman, and first Asian American to be selected, Dr. Christian’s appointment is inspiring and reflects a desire to stay focused on improving the community college experience for students and eradicating racial equity gaps. Dr. Christian has the know-how to lead the nation’s most diverse and largest community college system with the grace, experience, and commitment to partnership that is required. Our students, our state, and all of us fighting for greater college opportunity and student success are grateful she is taking the helm.”
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