A woman sitting at a long desk writing on a piece of paper
Beatriz Chaidez, chancellor of the San Jose-Evergreen Community College District, strives to attract underrepresented students to the district through dual and concurrent enrollment with high schools. Photo by Lorraine Gabbert.

After a national search, a local community college district has selected one of its own as chancellor.

The San Jose-Evergreen Community College District board of trustees unanimously appointed Beatriz Chaidez — who’s acted as interim chancellor since July — as permanent chancellor last week with an annual salary of $385,360.

Board President Tony Alexander said Chaidez, who was chosen from eight finalists, is thoughtful and a great listener.

“We had the opportunity to interview a lot of folks, take a look at their perspective and their experience,” he told San José Spotlight. “We decided to work with our interim chancellor. After looking at all that, we thought she was going to be the best (leader).”

Chaidez, 53, started with the district on Feb. 4, 2019 as associate vice chancellor of human resources. She has held multiple roles with San Jose-Evergreen Community College District, including interim chancellor, vice chancellor of human resources and associate vice chancellor of human resources. Having those multiple experiences and knowing those varied responsibilities is critical as chancellor, she said. 

Beatriz Chaidez, San Jose-Evergreen Community College District interim chancellor, was appointed to the full-time position. She understands how education lifts youth out of generational poverty. File photo.

Chaidez is working to attract underrepresented students to the district through dual and concurrent enrollment with high schools, as starting earlier helps them succeed, she said. An English learner and first-generation college student who relied on financial aid, she said she’s empathetic with struggling students and wants to pay her success forward. Seeing the lack of resources, income and opportunity as a child of farm workers in rural Fresno County motivated her to pursue an advanced degree.

“I see what education does in terms of addressing generational poverty,” Chaidez told San José Spotlight. “Silicon Valley is a place of a lot of haves and have nots. Achieving an education and a career… is critical… in terms of options and improving quality of life. Achieving higher ed degrees certificates, there’s definitely a difference in what you’re able to do.”

She has spent more than 25 years in education, including as a K-12 teacher and administrator. She also served as an adjunct faculty member at San Jose State University, where she taught a seminar course on administration in educational settings. Chaidez earned a doctorate in educational leadership from University of California, Davis, a master’s degree in educational administration from Fresno Pacific University and a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from California State University, Fresno.

Alexander said he and his colleagues appreciate Chaidez’s assurance of long-term stability in its leadership and her ability to work with San Jose City and Evergreen Valley College faculty and staff.

Following an October 2023 rally by part-time faculty and union members demanding better pay and health care, the board ratified a three-year contract, agreeing to provide full benefits to part-time faculty carrying a 40% load, according to district spokesperson Ryan Brown. The district will be able to seek reimbursement for 50% of the program costs from the state, Brown said, adding its agreement with the union ensures health insurance will remain in effect regardless of state funding.

As vice chancellor of human resources, Chaidez was involved in negotiations with employee bargaining groups, Brown said, but when negotiations finished and the union contract was ratified, she was serving as interim chancellor and no longer actively involved at the negotiating table.

The board also supports Chaidez’s approach to attracting and retaining students. Although district enrollment dipped during the pandemic, it has increased during the past two years, Brown said.

“We’ve been talking to East Side Union High School District, San Jose Unified and Milpitas Unified School District,” Alexander said. “She’s been able to work with those leaders to make sure that we step up. We have a great working team, this board of trustees, and we now have our chancellor, so we’re looking forward to many positive things.”

As the second permanent chancellor in five years, Chaidez said the greatest challenge is building trust. There’s a learning curve in gaining familiarity with campus culture and building relationships, she said. She plans to start by learning from stakeholders what’s going well and what can be done better.

“I’m very fortunate to be part of an amazing team of like-minded individuals,” she said. “Collectively, we want to do what is in the best interest of the students.”

Contact Lorraine Gabbert at [email protected].

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