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Chong named SRJC president


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.

Frank Chong

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.

Chong said he also received a congratulatory note from Agrella.

“He’s been very generous,” Chong said. “I can’t say how impressed I am with what he’s done during his tenure. I’m certainly going to pick his brain.”

Each of the junior college’s four previous presidents served long tenures. They were Floyd P. Bailey, 1934-1957; Randolph Newman, 1957-1970; Roy Mikalson, 1971-1990; and Agrella, who took the post in 1990.

Chong is single and has two teenage daughters who live with their mother. He is familiar with Sonoma County, as his sister recently retired as a program director at Sonoma State University.

The junior college conducted two searches for Agrella’s replacement after a first field of candidates did not match up for the job.

For the second search, the school hired Professional Personnel Leasing Inc., a head-hunting firm, for $24,000 plus up to $2,000 in expenses to bring in a wider selection of candidates.

Chong beat out a field of 42 candidates during that selection process.

As part of the campus interview process for the two finalists, Chong addressed about 160 students and faculty at a campus forum on Oct. 31. The other finalist was Joel Kinnamon, chancellor of Chabot-Las Positas Community College in Pleasanton.

Chong described himself as someone who keeps an open door, yet respects the importance of the chain of command so everyone gets involved.

He said he was a collaborative leader, but one who could make decisions free of the “paralysis of analysis.”

Speaking from his brother’s home, Chong said he could look out at the Empire State Building bathed in green and red lights for the holiday season.

“I feel like Christmas just came early for me,” he said.


Floyd P. Bailey, 1934-1957

Randolph Newman, 1957-1970

Roy Mikalson, 1971-1990

Robert Agrella, 1990-2010

One Response to “Chong named SRJC president”

  1. Gordon Poon says:

    Congratulations to Dr.Chong and to SRCC for this leadership selection. Dr.Chong has a tremendous capacity for improving student success and participation at his previous colleges. He is a strong advocate for the community college role and involvement in the communities served and a true supporter of great faculty hire and professional development. Happy New Year to ABC from NYC and SRC of Sonoma!

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