Longtime educator Brice W. Harris was named Thursday as the new chancellor of the nation's largest community college system, assuming the helm at a crucial period of funding cuts, enrollment declines and shifting priorities.
He will become the 15th chancellor of the 112-college system, replacing Jack Scott, an educator and former legislator who retired earlier this month. The community colleges' Board of Governors announced Harris' selection at a news conference in Sacramento.
Harris, who previously led the Los Rios Community College District in Sacramento, acknowledged the tremendous stresses in the system, which has seen enrollment drop by 485,000 students since the fall of 2008 and state funding cuts of $809 million. During that period, classes were slashed 24%.
The 2.4-million student system could be hit with an additional $338-million cut in funding if voters reject Proposition 30, a tax increase measure on the November ballot supported by Gov. Jerry Brown. An additional 100,000 students could be denied access to classes, Harris said after the announcement.