We first introduced readers to Brice Harris in our “New Faces in High Places” section in Dec. of ‘96, when he became chancellor for the Los Rios Community College District. What a ride it’s been.
We first introduced readers to Brice Harris in our “New Faces in High Places” section in Dec. of ‘96, when he became chancellor for the Los Rios Community College District.
After serving as the president of Fresno City College for five years, where he was credited for implementing a nationally recognized student success program, Harris brought his 25 years of instructional and administrative experience to Los Rios.
“(Harris) is a highly regarded educational leader and an extremely articulate and gifted administrator who will be able to lead our growing district into the next century,” said Los Rios Board President, Fred Dawkins.
Sixteen years later, in Aug. of ‘12, Comstock’s chronicled Harris’ career and approaching retirement. He had guided Los Rios through two local bond measures to fund renovations and expansions at all four of Los Rios’ colleges, as well as led the charge to develop Three Stages performing arts center at Folsom Lake College (since renamed Harris Center for the Arts).
“I was on track to leave in August 2011, but the worse the state budget situation got, the more the board and I felt it would best if I stuck around another year,” Harris said of his impending departure.
At the time of his retirement, Harris had spent much of the previous three years maneuvering the district through one of the most difficult budget periods in California history. He was an ardent supporter of Gov. Brown’s $6 billion tax initiative to support public schools. Known as Prop. 30, it passed in Nov. of 2012.
“On balance, I happen to be a pretty optimist person,” Harris said. “I do see a slow recovery. If the tax initiative doesn’t pass, the recovery will linger as long as 2017 before we’re back to the point of three years ago. Even then, the community college system will not be as broadly missioned as we were when we started.”
Apparently retirement didn’t take. Less than two months after officially retiring, Harris answered a call to become chancellor of the California Community Colleges. The unexpected retirement of Jack Scott at the chancellor’s office led Harris to do a little explaining on the home front.
“I think, like any spouse who has also retired, Barbara was expecting there was going to be a little more ‘us’ time,” Harris told Comstock’s (Back to School, Nov. 2012). “At the same time, I believe she’s excited that I’m looking forward to this opportunity.”
Harris is now overseeing the implementation of SB 1456, the Student Success Act passed in Sept. of 2012, including changes to student support services that will be implemented this fall.
“The biggest challenge facing all of us in public education is finding ways to close troubling achievement gaps that exist among some groups of students and improving academic performance across the board so that we reduce social stratification,” Harris told me recently. “Opportunities abound for students at the state’s 112 community colleges. It’s up to us as educators to do everything we can to help them succeed because California’s future depends on it.”