SBVC Campus Center Renaming Tribute to Lois Carson
By Dianne Anderson
San Bernardino Valley College Campus Center is set to proudly live up to its new name at an upcoming building dedication ceremony to the late Mrs. Lois Carson, a tireless advocate remembered for her lifelong commitment to the community, to students and education.
Mrs. Carson was also the first person of color elected to the San Bernardino Community College District Board of Trustees.
“She cared for young people, cared for the community and politics, and formed a community to help poor and low-income earners,” daughter Patricia Landaker said in a statement. “And she never lost her passion.”
On Friday, November 4, the community is invited out to the dedication that starts at 1:00 p.m. at San Bernardino Valley College, located at 701 S. Mt. Vernon Ave., San Bernardino.
“It is fitting that such a central facility on our campus, which serves so many of our students’ physical and academic needs, be named after Hall of Fame Alumna Lois Carson,” said interim president Dr. Scott W. Thayer. “Ms. Carson championed the causes of educational access and equity during her long and distinguished career and her impact continues to be felt by generations of students and families in our community.”
Ms. Carson, who passed away in 2021, was a staunch anti-poverty advocate, serving decades both as the Deputy Director for the San Bernardino Community Action Partnership, and later at the helm the Community Action Partnership of Riverside County. She taught at the University of Riverside Upward Bound program, and established several chapters of the National Council of Negro Women.
Gloria Macias Harrison, San Bernardino Community College District Board of Trustee Chair, described Mrs. Carson as extremely hard working, not only in her professional career, but as a board member.
Even after retirement, she continued service to the campus by serving on the San Bernardino Valley College Foundation.
“This is somebody who always put action to her words, and it didn’t matter if she had a title or not. Her community was important to her,” Macias Harrison said.
Education for young people and youth was the priority, and she continued to work in that arena, as well as in philanthropy. She never stopped thinking of how to benefit others.
“This was somebody who not only gave of her time, but also her resources, whatever she had she would give. She was dedicated to her students and dedicated to her community,” she said.
Even when Ms. Carson started walking with a cane, Macias-Harrison said she always showed up, dressed up with her head up.
“She generated a lot of feeling of confidence and strength,” she said. “She never gave up. No matter what it was, there was always a way to accomplish what she felt needed to be accomplished, a strong woman.”
Mrs. Carson is honored in the San Bernardino Valley College Alumni Hall of Fame. She earned her Bachelor’s degree and two Master’s degrees from UCR. Among her many endeavors, she taught at the University of Riverside Upward Bound program, and created SBVC Lois J. Carson Scholarship. She established the San Bernardino County Status on Women Commission; and recognized as California’s 62nd Assembly District 2008 Woman of the Year.
Joseph Williams, San Bernardino Community College District Trustee, said renaming the building in her honor is significant in its own right, but it’s also noteworthy that not many buildings in the college district are named after people.
He said this is the first building named after an African American.
“I think the legacy is just by the nature of our mission. You see a lot of things that she stood for in a lot of our guiding documents,” he said.
The college thrives in the culture and spirit of service, he said, which is exactly what Mrs. Carson stood for.
She started the Black and African American community college trustees association, a national organization, of which he also served two years as its president and recalled spending many hours on the phone with Mrs. Carson about its history.
“ Adding her name to the building just puts some of the work we’re doing in perspective and people can see they are doing this because of people like her,” he said.
In her spare time over the years, Mrs. Carson actively supported St. Anthony Catholic School. She also served as a community board member with Cal State University, San Bernardino Philanthropic Foundation. She was the longest-serving member of the SBCCD Board of Trustees at 24 years.
At the renaming event, the community is invited to participate in her other lifelong cause, blood donation in partnership with the Lifestream. Carson was the board chair of the Blood of the Martyrs Committee, an effort inspired by a Black Catholic Church in Michigan to recognize those that had died in the line of social justice.
SBCCD Trustee Member Dr. Anne Viricel said that Mrs. Carson was a fierce advocate for students and the community.
“She is one of the strongest female educational leaders whose actions inspired me to seek public office at the District, and her example absolutely inspires the current Board’s actions,” Dr. Viricel said.