SDCCD’s chancellor-elect draws inspiration from the views of his guru

Carlos Turner Cortez speaks in first interview after being appointed chancellor-elect

Carlos Turner Cortez

Carlos Turner Cortez was formally approved as chancellor. SDCCD photo

Gabriel Schneider, Editor-in-Chief

When speaking about social justice issues and the recent tragedy at San Diego City College, Carlos Turner Cortez evoked the lessons of his guru.

“One of my heroes is Rev. (William) Barber,” Cortez said. “He argues when we are having conversations about social justice and inclusion not to pigeonhole ourselves into allegiances to particular age, race or ethnic group.”

Barber believes there is much more that unites us than divides us. According to Cortez, he urges to focus on the commonality of experience among suppressed poor working people regardless of skin color, gender, ethnic or religious identity.

Cortez won the vote to become San Diego Community College’s chancellor-elect yesterday in the board of trustees meeting

“We need to unite with one another, then our numbers are larger and we have more strength in an American democratic system to impact long term change,” Cortez said.

A program in the city of Oakland passed a legislation that focused on low-income families with children of color, excluding white people. According to Cortez, this is inappropriate.

“Poor people are poor people,” Cortez said. 

Cortez added the district needs to be invested in supporting all community groups on their campuses.

“We need to create an environment of inclusion where all folks are welcome and any effort to exclude or discriminate against any student population should not be tolerated,” Cortez said.

Recently, Cortez was appointed to be on the advisory board of the Regional Taskforce on the Homeless, which focuses on implementing best practices to end homelessness.

He believes that community colleges are best situated to help create sustainable pathways for people with housing and security challenges to develop skills, which will get them into a career field.

San Diego College of Continuing Education has a program to assist those in need called Rising to Success that aims to break down barriers to student success by providing inclusive learning environments.

According to Cortez, it has 500-plus students in a learning community that is designed to help homeless adults. 

“Throughout his career Dr. Cortez has elected to work primarily with underserved ethnically diverse student populations from low income communities,” said Alberto Ochoa in public comment reading at the board of trustees meeting.