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Leading the way: A closer look at Brian King Ed.D., finalist for SDCCD Chancellor

Chancellor candidates make their case in public forum
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CCLC, Community College League of California, Location Portraits, Headshots, Board Members, 2017

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the most current information. As of Dec. 5, the Academic Senates of Sacramento City College and American River College passed votes of no confidence against Brian King, who is the current chancellor in their district.

In May of 2023, the position of SDCCD District Chancellor became vacant after former Chancellor Carlos Cortez stepped down in order to care for his parents. After an extensive search, the Board of Trustees for the San Diego Community College District selected three finalists to fill the vacancy permanently. In a public forum held online and in person, finalists for the important position answered questions on an array of topics. This forum is meant to be a public introduction to the three finalists that have been carefully selected and hope to lead the states second largest district. 

Brian King, Ed.D seeks to be the new Chancellor of the San Diego Community College District. He is currently the Chancellor of the Los Rios Community College District, and has been since 2013. He is currently the longest tenured chancellor of any California Community College district. Before that, King served as President of Santa Cruz County’s Cabrillo College for over eight years. King studied history at the University of Missouri-Columbia where he received his bachelor degree. He received his Juris Doctor degree from Duke University, and his Ed.D in Education Leadership from the University of Arkansas. King hopes to bring his leadership experience, commitment to supporting students and diversity, and his connections in both the public and private arenas, to this new post in San Diego.

In the first of three public forums, candidates for Chancellor fielded questions on a range of topics. Here are some of the highlights from that public forum with Dr. King.

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Diversity

King plans to continue the emphasis of hiring diverse applicants and ensuring they find success and develop a culture of support, on the administrative level. “Hiring a diverse group of senior administrators and being intentional about infusing a diverse culture into the faculty is really important to us as a district.” As Chancellor in Sacramento, he has a strong record of supporting a diverse faculty and has been instrumental in the opening of permanent educational outreach centers, in the Los Rios district. He went on to say that, “it is incredibly important to have a faculty and staff that reflect the faces of the community.” 

King pledged to continue reducing barriers for students looking to gain an education. He would continue to create a welcoming environment and increase access for all students. King also mentioned food insecurity as an area of focus. “I want to make CalFresh more accessible.” According to the Jacobs & Cushman San Diego Food Bank, “48% of college students who responded to a recent survey reported food insecurity in the previous 30 days.” King referred to the importance of getting help to those students who need it and/or struggle with mental illness. “Anything we can do to reduce those challenges and barriers, and ensure students are successful once they are in our colleges.” 

Bond campaigns 

When asked about his experience in campaign funds and bonds, King recognized that it is incredibly complicated. He notes that there are many ways to gain funding on a collegiate level. Access to Federal funding is often difficult for community colleges, but King would use his relationships on the state and Federal level to ensure that San Diego was getting their fair share. 

The role of the chancellor is to be everywhere and gain support for bond measures. As President of Santa Cruz County’s Cabrillo College, King was successful in two local bond campaigns raising more than $20 million in private donations. 

“No knock on the Stanfords of the world but why would you donate to them? It’s like taking sand to the beach.”

— Brian King Ed.D Candidate for SDCCD Chancellor

He continued, turning to the topic of private fundraising: “It is one of the most rewarding things that I have done, asking individuals to support our colleges and students.” In San Diego, he believes that there is tremendous potential for personal philanthropic donations. King believes the potential to do good by donating, reaches so many more within a community college district and is far more rewarding than donating to large universities who have enormous endowments. 

Leadership and community engagement 

As Chancellor in Sacramento, King has served on many local and statewide boards. He has chaired many of those boards as well. In 2021 he was appointed Chair of the Valley Vision Board of Directors. He is a member of the Greater Sacramento Economic Council Board of Directors, the Align Capital Region Executive Committee, the 2023 Sacramento Metro Chamber Board of Directors, the Los Rios Foundation Board, and the Comstock’s Magazine Editorial Board

On the local level King would look to benefit the San Diego community of students by developing positive working relationships with other colleges. Currently as Chancellor at Los Rios he continues to build a trusting relationship, by hosting a Chancellor’s roundtable where Chancellors from all around the state meet to discuss pressing issues and lend support. On the statewide level, King supports the League of California, an advocacy group committed to local control of California cities through education and increasing the quality of life for all Californians.   

What comes next?

At this point in the search for a Chancellor, the Board of Trustees will conduct a final interview. A final vetting process occurs, and on Dec. 14, the Board will meet to select the next chancellor of the San Diego Community College District. The announcement of the final selection will be made some time in January or February, 2024.

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About the Contributor
David J. Bohnet
David J. Bohnet, Features/Sports Editor
David J. Bohnet is proud to be a part of the Mesa Press as the Features and Sports Editor. He hopes to shed light on important news and happenings around Mesa College and San Diego through his writing and photography.  He has a BFA from the University of Utahs' Actors Training program and is looking toward a masters in Journalism and Media Studies. David is hoping to feature the arts, sports, and entertainment with the occasional opinion piece. Stay tuned!
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