The California Community College’s Board of Governors appointed Sonya Christian as the new Chancellor of the California Community College System on Feb. 23. The appointment follows new UC initiatives to increase transfer student enrollment.
Prior to becoming California Community College (CCC) Chancellor, Christian served as Chancellor for the Kern Community College District in Kern County, California. Christian is the first woman and first person of South Asian heritage to serve as CCC Chancellor.
“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 public statement. “We continue to face many challenges, but I truly believe our greatest challenges enable us to do our greatest work.
California Governor Gavin Newsom voiced his support in a public statement issued on Feb. 23.
“Dr. Christian is one of our nation’s most dynamic college leaders, with a demonstrated record of collaboration and results in the Central Valley,” California Governor Gavin Newsom said in a public statement issued on Feb. 23. “She understands what is needed to deliver on record levels of higher education investment to make real improvements to the lived reality of our students. I look forward to continuing to partner with Dr. Christian to ensure our community colleges are engines of equity and opportunity.”
UC President Michael V. Drake applauded Christian’s appointment in a Feb 23. press release, noting a history of collaboration between CCC and the UCs in aiding transfer student success.
“I look forward to forging an even stronger partnership as Dr. Christian assumes her role and to advocating together for California’s world-class public higher education system,” Drake’s press release read.
UC Student Association President Alex Niles and Transfer Student Affairs Student Officer Abeeha Hussain issued a press release on March 1 in support of Christian’s appointment, commending her support of AB 928 and AB 1705.
“We look forward to seeing how Dr. Christian continues to raise the standard for student equity and access as she represents a system that oversees 1.8 million students each year,” the statement read.
Christian’s appointment comes at a time of increased state legislation and emphasis on improving transfer student success.
AB 928 — the Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act — was signed into law October 2021, and requires the California Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates to implement a lower-division general education pathway meeting requirements for the UC and California State University systems.
The UC Board of Regents has been focused on improving CCC transfer student admission and retention. During the Regents’ Jan 19. meeting, they addressed two recommendations from the CCC-UC Transfer Task Force: increasing the number of CCC students who apply, gain admission to and enroll at the UC and create and promote cost-saving incentives for UC-bound CCC students.
The Regents identified 65 community colleges in the report with “a high proportion of low-income students or an existing partnership through UC Transfer Preparation programs” as the focus of their efforts.
“UC’s steps to implementation include developing deeper partnerships and offering expanded services at the targeted 65 CCCs,” the Regents’ discussion item read. “University of California campuses will be using $2.5 million of new ongoing [Student Academic Preparation and Educational Partnerships] funding to expand and deepen their partnerships with these colleges.”
The UC Office of the President did not respond to questions regarding the progress of the discussed transfer student initiatives.
A version of this article appeared on p. 7 of the March 9, 2023, print edition of the Daily Nexus.