Frank Chong, a federal education policymaker who has roots in New York City's Chinatown and has described himself as a collaborative leader, was named Friday to succeed Robert Agrella as president of Santa Rosa Junior College.
Chong becomes only the fifth president of the school in its 93-year history. Agrella, who announced in September that he was stepping down at the end of the year, has been in charge since 1990.
“I'm just really jazzed. I can't wait to start,” Chong said Friday night from his brother's apartment in New York City.
Chong, 54, currently is the deputy assistant secretary for community colleges at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C.
He called his job there an “opportunity of a lifetime” to affect education policy at the federal level, but he said he misses the Bay Area and “the rhythms of campus life.”
Chong will assume his new role at the junior college on Jan. 11. He will earn $235,000 annually while inheriting unprecedented challenges confronting California's education system.
Chong said he would explore ways of increasing new revenue streams for the school, including through grants.
“Hopefully we can have a strategy to expand the pie, as I like to say,” he said.
Prior to his current job, Chong was president of Laney College in Oakland and Mission College in Santa Clara.
He has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley in social welfare and Asian American Studies and a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University. He earned his doctorate in educational administration, leadership and technology from Dowling College in Oakdale, N.Y.
Chong said a search consultant notified him on Wednesday that he had been tapped for the Santa Rosa job. The school's Board of Trustees formally made the announcement on Friday.
“The Board is confident that Dr. Chong is the best fit to lead Santa Rosa Junior College considering the current and future challenges facing our college,” Rick Call, the board's president, said in a statement.