The California Community Colleges system Board of Governors selected Sonya Christian as the new chancellor to lead the 116-college system, according to an announcement Thursday. Many campus and faculty leaders predicted she was the frontrunner.
Christian, currently the chancellor of the Kern Community College District, will be the first woman and first person of South Asian descent to be appointed the permanent chancellor of the system. She previously served as president of Bakersfield College and began her higher education career as a math professor. She assumes her new position on June 1, and interim chancellor Daisy Gonzales will continue to serve in the role in the meantime.
“I am honored to be selected to lead the most important system of higher education in the country and grateful to the Board of Governors for their confidence,” Christian said in a press release. “We continue to face many challenges, but I truly believe our greatest challenges enable us to do our greatest work. We are called to design the most vibrant, resilient, and effective learning environment ever. We are called do this work at scale, not eventually, but now. And we will work with a shared vision that keeps students first.”
Her selection has received celebratory responses.
Governor Gavin Newsom praised her selection in the release, calling Christian “one of our nation’s most dynamic college leaders.”
Michele Siqueiros, president of the Campaign for College Opportunity, a California-based research and advocacy organization, said in a statement that Christian, who serves on the group’s board, is “an absolute win for students.”
Wendy Brill-Wynkoop, president of the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges, said Christian was an “obvious choice” for the Board of Governors, given her dedication to the Vision for Success, a strategic plan for the system set in 2017.
“Dr. Christian has been dedicated to advancing student success and opportunities for economic mobility during her tenure at the Kern Community College District,” Brill-Wynkoop said in a statement. “She deeply understands community colleges’ critical role in providing accessible, affordable, and high-quality education to California students. We look forward to working with her to support our students, faculty, and staff.”