Constance Carroll waves from a car at a parade

SDCCD Chancellor Constance M. Carroll.

Sept. 18 gala will honor retiring chancellor and benefit San Diego Promise

May 10, 2021 | San Diego Community College District

The San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) will be holding a gala on September 18, 2021 honoring the legacy of retiring Chancellor Constance M. Carroll that will also serve as a major fundraiser for the tuition-free San Diego Promise.

Chancellor Carroll will be retiring July 1, 2021 after serving for 17 years as the chief executive officer at one of the largest community college districts in California. The gala, titled “A Legacy of Achievement: A Tribute to Chancellor Constance M. Carroll, Ph.D. Benefiting the San Diego Promise,” is scheduled to be held at the San Diego Mission Bay Resort.

The SDCCD’s longest-serving Chancellor, Dr. Carroll has made an extraordinary impact on the district and its students since her appointment in 2004. Prior to that she served as president of San Diego Mesa College for 11 years. Among many initiatives and projects undertaken during her time as Chancellor, Dr. Carroll was the driving force behind the San Diego Promise. Launched as a pilot project in the fall of 2016 with an initial cohort of 186 students and has since expanded to become one of the largest free-tuition programs in California. In total, nearly 6,500 students have benefited from the program with the majority having come from low-income and traditionally underrepresented racial and ethnic communities.

The San Diego Promise is open to all first-time, full-time students at San Diego City, Mesa, and Miramar colleges. In addition, former foster youth, veterans, adult returning students, and certain part-time students are eligible to participate, thanks to the generosity of donors who have contributed more than $1.8 million to date. The inaugural San Diego Promise gala – held at the San Diego Natural History Museum on September 20, 2018, and hosted by four-time Academy Award nominated actor and former Mesa College student Annette Bening – raised more than $200,000.

Frequently referred to as “The People’s Chancellor,” Dr. Carroll also has overseen the transformation of San Diego City, Mesa, and Miramar colleges and San Diego Continuing Education through the voter-approved, $1.555-billion, Propositions S and N bond measures passed in 2002 and 2006 respectively; she co-chaired the advocacy campaign for Senate Bill 850, which established the California Community College Baccalaureate Program; she was appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve on the National Council on the Humanities; and she has supported a burgeoning Honors Program that has played a critical role in students earning a record-breaking number of degrees and certificates and transferring to some of the top universities in the nation.

Among the members of the September 18 gala Honorary Committee are Co-Chair Martha Kanter, CEO of the national College Promise initiative; Co-Chair Jerry Sanders, President and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce; UC San Diego President Pradeep Khosla; San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten; San Diego State University President Adela de la Torre; Point Loma Nazarene University President Bob Brower; Barrio Station Executive Director Rachel Ortiz; University of San Diego President James Harris, Mark Cafferty, President and CEO of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation; Donna DeBerry, President & CEO, Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce; Larry Galizio, President & CEO of the Community College League of California;  Margaret Iwanaga Penrose, President & CEO, Union of Pan Asian Communities; Mark Stuart, President & CEO of The San Diego Foundation; and Shirley Weber, California Secretary of State. Annette Bening and Jerry Sanders are honorary co-chairs of the San Diego Promise Development Committee.

Sponsorship and underwriting opportunities are available for the September 18 gala, with all proceeds benefiting the San Diego Promise. For further information, contact SDCCD Development Coordinator Lisa Cole-Jones at

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