New York | Dr Sonya Christian, a distinguished academic leader, has become the first person of South Asian heritage to be appointed as the permanent chancellor of California community colleges which is the largest and most diverse system of public higher education in the US.
The California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in the nation, composed of 73 districts and 116 colleges.
Christian, who is the 11th permanent chancellor of the college system was unanimously selected by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors on February 23, an official release said.
She received her bachelor of science degree from the University of Kerala.
For more than 30 years, Christian has actively engaged in policies and practices related to state and national completion, quality and equity agendas, it said.
In July 2021, Christian was named the sixth chancellor of the Kern Community College District, where she implemented a call to action with a focus on advancing student success and closing achievement and equity gaps, the release said.
“On behalf of the 1.8 million students of the California Community Colleges, our faculty, staff and the Board of Governors, we are thrilled to welcome Dr. Sonya Christian as the newest chancellor,” said Board of Governor's President Amy M Costa.
“Dr. Christian is one of our nation's most dynamic college leaders, with a demonstrated record of collaboration and results in the Central Valley,” said Governor Gavin Newsom.
“I am honoured 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.
“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 to do this work at scale, not eventually, but now. And we will work with a shared vision that keeps students first," she said.
Christian started her career in higher education as a mathematics faculty and later as division chair, then dean of science, engineering, allied health and mathematics at Bakersfield College, California.