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California Community Colleges Names New Chancellor To Lead Its 116-Campus System

A woman seated with brown hair and glasses speaks at a conference.
Chancellor-select Sonya Christian speaking to the California Community Colleges Board of Governors on Feb. 23, 2023.
(Jackie Orchard
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Sonya Christian, current chancellor at Kern Community College District, has been named the next chancellor for the California Community Colleges.

Why it matters

With 116 campuses serving about 1.8 million students, the chancellor leads one of the largest higher education systems in the nation. More than half of enrollment is “non-traditional” students — that is, students aged 25 and older. Nearly two-thirds are classified as economically disadvantaged, and community colleges are a lower-cost alternative to traditional four-year schools.

What does Christian want to address as chancellor?

“The emergence of potential game changers, like virtual reality and generative AI, a pressing need for climate action, redefining of jobs and therefore the workforce, uncertainties in college enrollment … a legacy of student debt, social and political unrest, and the persistence of inequity,” she said.

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Why now, and the backstory

The nationwide search began in July 2022 and the system's Board of Governors appointed the new chancellor today.

Christian is the first woman to be permanently appointed to the post. She takes the helm from interim Chancellor Daisy Gonzales. Christian began her education career in 1991 at Kern Community College District as a mathematics professor and returned to Kern CCD in 2013 after being selected as president of Bakersfield College.

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