Chancellor for public higher education system retires

by Cassandra Isidoro


After more than three years as Chancellor of  California Community Colleges, Brice W. Harris; 68, will retire on April 2016.

CCC is the nation’s largest system of public higher education.

Harris devoted 45 years of his career to expanding educational opportunities for students.

As a recognized leader on national educational issues, Harris became 15th chancellor of the 113-college system in 2012, after serving 16 years as head of the Los Rios Community College District.

He will close the college system’s initiatives this year with marked improvement in students’ access to vocational technical programs.

The initiative of vocational technical programs will provide funding for Career Technical Education, which provides students access to acquire technical skills in community colleges.

“The initiative will improve the access of people to teach in those areas to deal with the expensive equipment needs that those programs have and will ensure that students have the information they need to get into the right career tech programs,” Harris said.

The CCC Board of Governors will decide to approve the CTE initiative this month.

During Harris’ tenure, he implemented the Student Success Initiative that improved the capacity to have an easier time registering for classes needed.

Harris made available educational plans for students to complete college orientation programs as well as  earn degrees and transfer to four-year institutions.

This guarantees students’ access to California State Universities with about 2,000 associate degrees.

“He has been an excellent partner with the University of California in expanding access and improving services for California transfer students,” University of California President Janet Napolitano said.

In January, Harris introduced bachelor’s degrees for the first time  15 colleges offering careers in fields, such as respiratory therapy, dental hygiene, automotive technology and aerospace manufacturing technology.

His ongoing initiative is to expand the reach and quality of online course offerings. He introduced online tools that make the 113-college system the most transparent of higher education in the nation.

Harris also pushed for legislation that will expand high school students’ access to college instruction, providing them with early opportunities to help them succeed in college.

“The last three years have dramatically improved the opportunity for students in California,” Harris said.

His motivation has always been to change the future of students to making a greater impact in community colleges.

After earning his doctorate in education from Nova Southeastern University, Harris said he had interest in community colleges.

“I really couldn’t believe it was the sector of higher education that gave people who have their greatest challenges an opportunity to better their lives,” Harris said.

“There is just no other segment of education that provides more promise for people, regardless of what their history is, than America’s community colleges,” Harris said.

Harris said that people would be the judge to see whether he made the right decisions for the future of the 113-college system.

He plans to continue working with community college CEOs and Board of Trustees in leading the college system into the future.

He said that the next chancellor of the 113-college system will need to have worked directly with students.

His desire has always beento work and serve California students to improve their higher education.

“I just never cease to be amazed at our students in our colleges, they will get over any hole that it is front of them. They will work hard. They are eminently successful and makes us all proud on a daily day basis,” Harris said.

“Brice Harris has been, and continues to be, a transformational leader for California Community Colleges,” President of the community colleges Board of Governors Geoffrey L. Baum said.

“His integrity and passion for students and the advancement of our college system is unparalleled,” Baum said.

The CCC Board of Governors will select the next chancellor to be Harris’s successor this month.

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