Keralite Dr Sonya Christian to become first woman chancellor of California Community College

Dr Sonya Christian
Dr Sonya Christian, California community colleges. Photos: IANS, Wikimedia Commons

New York: Dr Sonya Christian is all set to become the first woman 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.

She is the daughter of Dr Paul Christian and Dr Pam Christian. Both her parents are orthodontists based in Kerala's Kollam district. Dr Christian has two brothers and a sister. All, except one of her siblings, are based in the US. Her brother Dr Kevin Christian is now running the dental clinic at Kollam. In an earlier interview with Manorama Online, Dr Christian said that she was constantly in touch with her brother and that she was proud of his initiatives in social work.

Dr Sonya Christian who completed her primary schooling in a Catholic school, finished her high school at Mount Carmel School, Thankassery.

She received her bachelor of science degree from Fathima Matha College under the University of Kerala, her Master of Science in Applied Mathematics from University of Southern California; and her doctorate from University of California, Los Angeles.

She arrived in the United States for higher studies in the 1980s.

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.

Dr Sonya Christian is all set to become the first woman to be appointed as the permanent chancellor of California community colleges. Photo: Special arrangement

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.

Dr Christian, who is Kern Community College District Chancellor, will step into her new role on June 1, 2023. She replaces Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley, who stepped down in August after leading the community college system for nearly six years.

(With inputs IANS and PTI.)

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