GREGORY A. SMITH, Chancellor

Greg Smith wears a black graduation cap and gown with a teal sash and a chancellor medallion


Gregory Smith takes on chancellor responsibilities with a clear commitment to equity and opportunity for students and employees

At the start of the millennium, Gregory Smith was a college student looking for work, barely making ends meet, living in Phoenix and driving a busted car with no air conditioning. That’s when he learned about an opening for a position as a compliance officer with the U.S. Department of Labor enforcing equal employment opportunity and affirmative action regulations. He jumped at the opportunity.

His role with the federal office would set the foundation for a career dedicated to safeguarding the rights of the most vulnerable. It also set him on a pathway that would lead him to being named the San Diego Community College District’s seventh chancellor in its 50-year history.

Chancellor Smith’s first day at his new position began February 1, and his focus is clear.

“My vision is creating an environment where everybody who comes here feels they can be who they are authentically, an environment where students know and feel they belong, a District that’s invested in them, that supports them as they become the person they want to be,” he said.

As chancellor, Smith is responsible for a $1 billion annual budget and all operations for a system that stands as the largest provider of workforce training and higher education in the region. The District and its four colleges ― San Diego City, Mesa, Miramar, and Continuing Education colleges ― have an annual economic impact of $4.5 billion. Enrollment is growing and, thanks to the governing board’s careful stewardship, the District’s fiscal health remains solid.

But challenges remain. Many students are still struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which required some to put their education on hold. The state, which funds most District operations, is facing a budget deficit estimated at $38 billion in 2024-25, with multi-billion-dollar deficits projected for following years. The District, in need of significant upgrades to support the latest innovations in technology, as well as much needed facilities upgrades and repairs, is preparing to place its first bond program on the ballot since 2006.

Additionally, Chancellor Smith takes over on a permanent basis at a time when the U.S. Supreme Court is taking a more hostile attitude to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) and affirmative action in hiring practices.

He remains undeterred. Smith likes to tell people: “Relentless optimism is my superpower.”

Those who know him say Chancellor Smith, who served as acting chancellor for nearly a year, is more than ready for whatever comes his way.

“One of the things that really strikes me is how skilled he is in understanding how data affects solid decision-making,” said SDCCD Board of Trustees President Bernie Rhinerson. “It’s also quite remarkable how he has detailed data at his fingertips. Ever since he joined the team as vice chancellor of People, Culture, and Technology Services in 2020, he has exhibited the highest standards of insight and innovation in the work that he does. He is a true leader.” Read the full story


Articles and Chancellor Statements

Chancellor's Message: The 2024-25 California Budget May Revision - May 14, 2024

Chancellor begins new role with clear focus on equity and opportunity - April 17, 2024 

Q and A with Chancellor Gregory Smith - April 11, 2024

Opinion: San Diego community colleges adopted a living wage for workers. It’s humane and necessary. - February 1, 2024, San Diego Union-Tribune

Opinion: Community college opens doors of opportunity for foster youth - July 12, 2023, Times of San Diego

Statement on the Supreme Court Affirmative Action Ruling - June 30, 2023

SDCCD raises flag in honor of Juneteenth - June 15, 2023

SDCCD celebrates Pride Month - June 1, 2023



Photos of the Chancellor for media Use
Greg Smith waves to the crowd at the MLK parade. He is wearing a black shirt with two hands shaking.