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San Diego Continuing Education

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New President Named at San Diego Continuing Education

Carlos O. Turner Cortez, Ph.D.San Diego Continuing Education has a new president: Dr. Carlos O. Turner Cortez, a longtime educational leader with a strong commitment to social justice and a legacy of success from New York to California.

Dr. Cortez comes to Continuing Education from Berkeley City College (BCC), where he has served as Acting Vice President of Instruction and Dean of Academic Pathways, Workforce Development, and Student Success.

“Dr. Cortez is a remarkable person,” said San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) Chancellor Constance M. Carroll. As an experienced educational leader, he combines academic interests, innovation, research, and effective management with a respect for faculty and staff and a deep and compassionate commitment to students. I am looking forward to working with him.”

SDCCD Board of Trustees President Dr. Maria Nieto Senour agreed, adding, “His commitment to diversity is also a great strength. The Board of Trustees welcomes Dr. Cortez and looks forward to his joining our leadership team.”

Dr. Cortez will assume leadership of San Diego Continuing Education, which serves 45,000 students per semester at seven campuses and many community locations. Continuing Education plays a vital workforce development role in the region and offers an array of programs ranging from citizenship courses to welding classes. It is one of the oldest and largest noncredit institutions in the nation, serving San Diego since 1914, and its students are among the most diverse in California culturally, ethnically, and educationally. It also offers the high school diploma and GED in conjunction with the San Diego Unified School District. The Continuing Education division was recently lauded by the California Little Hoover Commission for its organization, practices, and success, and is being used as a statewide model.

In addition to his position at BCC, Dr. Cortez also serves as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California, where he has worked in various capacities since 2001. His research interests center on the role of educators and administrators of color in the historical development of American social welfare and education policy. He is also an expert in the area of promoting equity and access in urban education through literacy and policy initiatives. Before BCC, he served as Director of Education Extension at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Prior to UCLA, he worked in education at the P-12 level as a teacher, administrator, and researcher.

“I am honored by the remarkable opportunity to serve as the new president of Continuing Education,” said Dr. Cortez. “Throughout my lifetime, I have focused my personal, academic, and professional efforts on closing equity gaps for underserved populations. I believe that these collective experiences will lend themselves to this next challenge. The San Diego Community College District has long demonstrated academic excellence and a commitment to supporting the academic success of all students. I am honored to join the SDCCD family and grateful for this opportunity.”

Dr. Cortez’s educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in History and Sociology from Georgetown University; a master’s degree in Race and Gender Politics from New York University; and a Ph.D. in Education Policy and Administration from the University of Southern California.

The presidency of Continuing Education opened up last summer when its former president, Dr. Anthony Beebe, was named president of San Diego City College. Rudy Kastelic has served as interim president since August 1.

Dr. Cortez’ appointment is scheduled to be ratified at the May 14 Board of Trustees meeting. He will begin his new role July 1.

As the second-largest of California’s 72 community college districts, the San Diego Community College District serves approximately 100,000 students annually through three two-year colleges and San Diego Continuing Education. The three colleges, San Diego City College, San Diego Mesa College, and San Diego Miramar College, offer associate degrees and certificates in occupational programs that prepare students for transfer to four-year colleges and entry-level jobs. Beginning fall 2015, Mesa College will also offer baccalaureate degrees in the field of Health Information Management.

San Diego Continuing Education (SDCE) is the adult education division of the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD). SDCE was one of the first continuing education institutions in California to meet the standards for independent accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Nearly 45,000 students are served per academic year at seven campuses in San Diego. Noncredit classes are available at no cost, including online options. Short-term job training programs are offered for numerous industries including: Automotive Technician, Child Development, Culinary Arts, Nursing Assistant training, Professional Bakeshop Skills, and Plumbing. Classes are free because San Diego Continuing Education is part of the California system of higher education. Funding also comes through business and industry partnerships. Learn more at


Jack Beresford

Director, Communications and Public Relations

San Diego Community College District

3375 Camino del Rio South, Suite 335

San Diego, CA 92108

(619) 388-6540 office

Local media coverage:

Times of San Diego article

U-T San Diego article