San Diego: Dr. Ashanti Hands Names President of San Diego Mesa College

After a national search, the San Diego Community College District on Wednesday announced the promotion of one of its own to succeed Pam Luster as Mesa College president.

Ashanti Hands, Ed.D., joined San Diego’s largest community college in 2008 where she has held positions as dean of Student Affairs, acting dean of Student Development and Matriculation, and vice president of Student Services. 

As a member of Mesa College’s executive management team, Dr. Hands has provided leadership for the college-wide initiative to become the leading college of equity and excellence. The college is widely recognized for its adoption of data-informed decision-making to ensure equitable outcomes.

“Dr. Hands is exactly the type of dynamic leader needed to take Mesa College to the next level of community engagement and success,” said San Diego Community College District Chancellor Carlos O. Cortez. “With her familiarity with the district and college, she will be able to help Mesa accomplish its student-focused, equity-minded mission.”

Dr. Hands earned a doctorate of education in educational leadership from San Diego State University. She also has a master of arts in education with an emphasis in multicultural counseling from SDSU and a bachelor of arts in sociology from the University of California, San Diego.

Prior to joining Mesa College, Dr. Hands served as dean of Student Affairs at the University of California, San Diego.

“The ability to live my purpose of creating conditions that matter for students to succeed at a college so deeply committed to equity and excellence brings me immense joy,” Dr. Hands said. “I am excited to continue the great work we have started at Mesa College and look forward to the bold, courageous, equity-minded ways we will show up for our students, each other, our district and community.”

Dr. Hands’ selection follows a national search for a successor to Mesa College President Pam Luster, who is retiring June 30. Dr. Hands’ contract is scheduled to be ratified at the June 9 SDCCD Board of Trustees meeting. She will begin her new role on July 1, 2022, according to the announcement.

Congratulations to Dr. Ashanti Hands!

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