In July 2021, Dr. Sonya Christian became the sixth chancellor of the Kern Community College District, where her priority for faculty, staff and students across the 25,000 sq miles of the district’s service area has been to rapidly advance student success and economic mobility with equity. Her call to action to colleagues and friends in the community - Dare Mighty Things - inspired by the quote on NASA's Perseverance Mars lander, instilled urgency to the work across the district. Dr. Christian has been leading Kern CCD to prepare the workforce of tomorrow for careers in emerging energy and climate technologies, with an insistent focus on equity by building community resilience and empowerment. For example, under her leadership, in August 2022, the California Resources Corp. pledged $2M to the Kern CCD to establish the CRC Carbon Management Institute, and the state funded $50M to establish a clean energy center of excellence at Kern CCD.
Dr. Christian began her three-decade career in education at Kern CCD in 1991, first as a mathematics professor and later as division chair, then Dean of Science, Engineering, Allied Health and Mathematics at Bakersfield College. In 2003, Dr. Christian joined Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon, as associate vice president for instruction, then vice president of academic and student affairs and chief academic officer. Dr. Christian returned home to Kern CCD in 2013 after being selected as the 10th President in Bakersfield College’s prestigious history. As faculty and then President, Dr. Christian has always been deeply committed to equity, which she has demonstrated through her work in the areas of Guided Pathways and Early College.
Dr. Christian is the Immediate Past Chair of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), which she chaired from 2020-2022. She began her service with the ACCJC in 2015. She currently serves on the boards for the Campaign for College Opportunity, the Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce, the Equity in Policy Implementation Advisory Board, and is the Chair of the California Community Colleges Women's Caucus. Dr. Christian has previously served on the Learning Lab Advisory Council (2020-2022), and Bakersfield Homeless Shelter Board, and was appointed by the Governor to the Student Centered Funding Formula Oversight Committee (2018-2022). She previously served as Vice-Chair of the California Community Colleges Women's Caucus (2020-2022).
Dr. Christian earned her bachelor of science degree from University of Kerala in Kerala, India; her master of science in applied mathematics from University of Southern California; and her doctorate from University of California, Los Angeles.