Constance Carroll, chancellor of the San Diego Community College District, greets spectators at 2017 MLK Day Parade. Photo by Chris Stone

San Diego Community College District Chancellor Constance M. Carroll, who has served in the role since 2004, announced Friday she will retire in 2021, following a national search for her replacement.

Carroll, 74, is the longest-serving chancellor in the history of the district.

“It has been an honor to serve the San Diego Community College District because of our mission of service to students and the community,” Carroll said. “This is a truly great organization and I have been privileged to work with a wonderful board of trustees and the phenomenal faculty and staff of City, Mesa and Miramar Colleges, and Continuing Education.

“There will be time in the future to celebrate our accomplishments together, but I wanted to announce my plans now in order to give our board and our district the necessary time to develop and implement a search process for the next chancellor.”

Carroll oversaw the voter-approved, $1.55 billion propositions S and N bond measures passed in 2002 and 2006, respectively. She also launched the district’s San Diego Promise program, which now serves more than 3,000 students annually with two free years of tuition.

Carroll was appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate for a six-year term on the National Council on the Humanities.

Before being named chancellor, she served for 11 years as president of San Diego Mesa College, as well as stints as president at Saddleback College in Orange County and Indian Valley Colleges in Marin County. She also served as an administrator at the University of Southern Maine and the University of Pittsburgh.

The community college district will soon begin its search for a new chancellor, who is expected to start July 2021. The district’s board president, Maria Nieto Senour, said it would be challenging to fill Carroll’s role.

“The San Diego Community College District is indebted to Chancellor Carroll for her many years of service on behalf of our colleges and students,” Senour said. “Constance is recognized both locally and nationally for her transformational leadership, and during her time as chancellor, the SDCCD has established itself as one of the leading community college districts in the nation, known for its deep commitment to social justice.”

Recently, Carroll led the establishment of the California Community Colleges Baccalaureate Association, a nonprofit organization with the mission of providing assistance and expanding opportunities for the state’s 115 community colleges to offer four-year degrees in workforce fields that now require a bachelor’s degree.

“Everyone who knows me knows that my life is about service,” Carroll said. “In closing this particular chapter in my professional life, I will be opening a new one which is designed to provide new opportunities for people who want to reach new heights in their lives and careers.”

Updated at 3:58 p.m. Jan. 31, 2020

— City News Service contributed to this report.