Chancellor Constance M. Carroll waves to the crowd at the 2020 MLK Parade.

SDCCD Chancellor Constance M. Carroll waves to the crowd at the 2020 MLK Parade.

'The People's Chancellor,' Constance M. Carroll, to retire in 2021

January 31, 2020 | San Diego Community College District

San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) Chancellor Constance M. Carroll, who has served as chancellor since 2004, has announced that she will retire in 2021, following a national search for her replacement. Frequently referred to as “The People’s Chancellor,” Dr. Carroll is the longest-serving chancellor in the history of the district. 

Dr. Constance M. Carroll portrait photo
Dr. Constance M. Carroll

“It has been an honor to serve the San Diego Community College District, because of our mission of service to students and the community,” said Dr. Carroll. “This is a truly great organization and I have been privileged to work with a wonderful Board of Trustees and the phenomenal faculty and staff of City, Mesa, and Miramar Colleges, and Continuing Education. There will be time in the future to celebrate our accomplishments together, but I wanted to announce my plans now in order to give our Board and our district the necessary time to develop and implement a search process for the next chancellor.”

As chancellor, Dr. Carroll has overseen a transformation of San Diego City, Mesa, and Miramar colleges, and San Diego Continuing Education funded through the voter-approved, $1.555-billion Propositions S and N bond measures passed in 2002 and 2006 respectively. She’s also a national leader in the tuition-free Promise movement and launched the district’s San Diego Promise program, which now serves more than 3,000 students annually.  Chancellor Carroll co-chaired the advocacy campaign which helped establish the California Community College Baccalaureate Program, including a new bachelor’s degree program at Mesa College. In addition, Dr. Carroll was appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the United States Senate for a six-year term on the National Council on the Humanities overseeing the work of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and she has served on numerous local, state, and national boards and committees committed to educational and economic excellence.

Related video: Tribute to Dr. Constance M. Carroll

Prior to being named chancellor, Dr. Carroll served 11 years as president of San Diego Mesa College, the district’s largest college. Before that, she was president of Saddleback College in Orange County and president of Indian Valley Colleges in Marin County, where she also spent one year as interim chancellor of the Marin Community College District.  Prior to her community college service, Dr. Carroll served as an administrator at the University of Southern Maine and the University of Pittsburgh.

SDCCD Board President Maria Nieto Senour says the district will soon begin the search process for a new chancellor. Dr. Senour shared that it will be a challenge to replace Chancellor Carroll, who is revered by her colleagues, having served as a community college CEO longer than anyone else in California.

“The San Diego Community College District is indebted to Chancellor Carroll for her many years of service on behalf of our colleges and students,” said Dr. Senour. “Constance is recognized both locally and nationally for her transformational leadership and during her time as chancellor, the SDCCD has established itself as one of the leading community college districts in the nation known for its deep commitment to social justice.”

Dr. Senour says the SDCCD Board of Trustees will designate a board subcommittee to oversee the search process, which will be conducted by a search committee. Board policy stipulates that committee members will include members of district governance groups and representatives from the community. Following the committee’s search process, trustees will interview finalists and then select the new chancellor. The new SDCCD chancellor is expected to begin in July 2021. However, Chancellor Carroll has agreed with the Board that if necessary, she will remain in the position until the next chancellor’s start date.

While retiring from her full-time administrative role at the district, Chancellor Carroll says she will pursue other avenues of service in education and in cultural organizations.  Recently, Dr. Carroll led the establishment of the California Community Colleges Baccalaureate Association (CCCBA), a nonprofit organization with the mission of providing assistance and expanding opportunities for the state’s 115 community colleges to offer four-year degrees in workforce fields that now require a bachelor’s degree. Dr. Carroll, who serves as president of the CCCBA, says she is looking forward to focusing her time on the organization.

“Everyone who knows me knows that my life is about service,” said Chancellor Carroll. “In closing this particular chapter in my professional life, I will be opening a new one which is designed to provide new opportunities for people who want to reach new heights in their lives and careers.”


16 - Years serving as chancellor, the longest tenure of any SDCCD chancellor

27 -  Years of service at the San Diego Community College District, which includes her 11 years as president of San Diego Mesa College

41 - Years serving as a California community college CEO

122,117 - Number of degrees and certificates awarded during Chancellor Carroll’s tenure as chancellor (she’s presided over 64 commencement ceremonies)

42 - Number of new buildings constructed as part of the SDCCD’s Propositions S and N bond programs (since 2002)

15 - Number of California community colleges now awarding 4-year degrees as part of a state pilot program which Chancellor Carroll co-chaired the advocacy effort for

4,360 - Number of students who have participated in the San Diego Promise free community college program since its inception in 2016

2 - Number of “ancient” languages spoken by Chancellor Carroll (Greek and Latin)

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