In honor of her dedication to the Inland Empire and decades of service as a mentor, advocate, and champion of education, San Bernardino Valley College is renaming its Campus Center as a tribute to Lois Carson, an alumna and 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.”
The Lois Carson Campus Center building dedication will take place at 1 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 4, at San Bernardino Valley College, 701 S. Mt. Vernon Ave., San Bernardino. This event is free and open to the public.
“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.”
Carson, a member of the SBVC Class of 1965, died on July 14, 2021, shortly after her 90th birthday. Throughout her lifetime, Carson was devoted to public service, starting when she was a girl growing up in Memphis, Tennessee. The valedictorian of St. Augustine Catholic High School, Carson earned a United Negro College Fund scholarship and attended Wilberforce University, the first private historically Black university in the United States.
In 1959, Carson moved to the Inland Empire with her husband of 55 years, Harry Carson, a fellow SBVC graduate. Together, they raised six children, while actively working to make the community a better, more equitable place.
Carson earned her bachelor’s degree in English from California State University, San Bernardino, as well as master’s degrees in English and education from the University of California Riverside. While a teacher and director of UCR’s Upward Bound program, Carson helped low-income high school students prepare for higher education, something she continued to do as deputy director of San Bernardino County Community Action Partnership and later executive director of Community Action Partnership of Riverside County.
In 1973, Carson made history by becoming the first person of color elected to the San Bernardino Community College District Board of Trustees, and her 24 years on the board make her the longest-serving member to date. She was also on the SBVC Foundation board; created SBVC’s Lois J. Carson Scholarship; served on the National Board of Community College Councils, where she pushed to increase minority access to nursing programs; established the San Bernardino County Status on Women Commission; and was named the 2008 Woman of the Year in California’s 62nd Assembly District.