Brice Harris, a veteran administrator within the California Community Colleges System, was selected to be the next chancellor of the 112 college system, officials announced Sept 27.
The system’s Board of Governors unanimously appointed Harris, the longest-serving chancellor of Los Rios Community College District, to replace Acting Chancellor Erik Skinner, effective Nov. 6. Skinner took over for former chancellor Jack Scott, who stepped down Sept. 15.
When he takes over, Harris will inherit a system that has lost $809 million in state funding since the 2008-09 academic year and has had to cut course offerings. According to data released by the system, enrollment has since dropped by more than 485,000.
But at a press conference on Sept. 27, Harris expressed optimism for the future of the system.
“I am bullish on California Community Colleges, I believe our best days are ahead of us and I look forward to this challenge,” he said at the conference.
As chancellor of the Los Rios Community College District, which enrolls more than 90,000 students, Harris used two local bond measures to fund improvements and expansions of district facilities and helped launch the district’s fourth college, Folsom Lake Community College, according to Susie Williams, associate vice chancellor for communications and research at the district.
Despite exploring alternative funding options, the state’s public education systems may face devastating budget cuts if Proposition 30 — Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative, which will temporarily increase taxes on high incomes and sales taxes — fails to pass at the polls in November. The community college system and the UC system stand to lose $338 million and $250 million in midyear cuts, respectively.
This could create further limitations on class offerings and make the process for community college students seeking to transfer to the UC system more difficult.
“Students have trouble getting into the courses they need to transfer because of these issues,” said UC spokesperson Dianne Klein. “So we’re all interconnected.”.