The Board of Directors of California Community Colleges elects a new chancellor

Oakley also commended her for emphasizing green energy jobs and supporting programs to reduce racial and ethnic graduation gaps in a conservative part of the state where such efforts are often less popular, he suggested.

“She spoke about justice and the transition to a green economy in a very difficult environment,” Oakley said.

Being an immigrant herself, taking on a system with a large number of foreign-born students, makes Chrisian particularly suited for the job, board member Felicia Escobar Carrillo said today. “I think that’s really special and something that needs to be celebrated.”

other challenges

Some colleges may receive less government funding if a new funding formula takes full effect in less than three years. The state currently considers university districts “harmless” that would generate less state funding due to the new funding formula, which for the first time not only takes into account enrollment, but also the number of low-income people and the number of graduates or graduates. This safety net will disappear in 2025-26. Although state laws would prevent any college district from raising less state funds than they did in 2024-25, several proponents worry that the formula will leave some colleges with less revenue than they need to fully fund their operations.

“We hope that the new chancellor can guide us through this precarious time and ensure that our colleges, and I hate to be so bad, can stay open,” said Evan Hawkins, executive director of the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges , in a telephone interview.

Christian was a member of the task force responsible for implementing the formula, Hawkins noted, implying that she is among the most knowledgeable about the nuances of the formula.

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Oakley, whose tenure sometimes infuriated faculty, argued that since 2019 colleges had to prepare for the funding shift, a change he advocated so that campuses would have financial incentives to enroll low-income students and complete graduate and graduate degrees improve transfer rates.

“Colleges operate on income that they don’t necessarily deserve,” Oakley said. Still, California is home to many students enrolled in online universities that operate in other states. “So there’s a lot of enrollment,” he said, but it’s up to colleges to “adapt to capture that enrollment.”

How to do that is one of the many tasks that await Christian.

“We need to expand the community college student community,” she said today. “And that means focusing on communities that have remained in generational poverty.”

And a brand new challenge awaits: just hours before Christian’s appointment, the state auditor issued a report criticizing adult education centers for not employing enough full-time teachers and knocking on the door of the Chancellery for miscounting how many full-time classes teaching – a major obstacle to a long-standing government goal of having at least 75% of instruction taught by full-time teachers. The report also singled out two districts, including Kern, the district Christian headed for the past two years, for failing to show they spent new federal money to hire additional full-time teachers.

Many interest groups, limited power

UC and Cal State systems revolve around central offices and top executives who have a huge impact on how the campus operates. Not so at California Community Colleges. Its chancellery shares power with a confederation of 72 locally controlled districts overseeing 115 physical campuses. Each district has its own employment contracts and must contend with local political dynamics that are often far removed from Sacramento.

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“There’s a natural tension” between headquarters and local districts, said Larry Galizio, president and CEO of the Community College League of California, an advocacy group for local college leaders and trustees.

He sees the chancellery and state board as key players in setting goals for colleges, but not in telling colleges how to achieve them — “tell us the what, not the how,” he said. But some local college leaders felt during Oakley’s tenure “that it had gone too far,” Galizio said. Many working groups agreed.

It is unclear whether this mood will change with Christian. The systemwide board of governors has determined that the next chancellor must follow the accountability framework that Oakley created with the board’s input. This document, titled Vision for Success, now guides the governor’s oversight of the community college system.

“Make no mistake, this board remains committed to the vision for success and a roadmap provided by our election of Dr. Christian,” said CEO Amy M. Costa today.

A field of tension between the chancellery and the factions does not break.

“I think it’s just going to be a lot of the same, which is obviously a bit challenging from our perspective,” Hawkins said.

He hopes Christian doesn’t propose new major academic and financial overhauls that have marked Oakley’s tenure, and instead gives colleges time to implement those changes.

“We really have a lot on our table,” Hawkins said.