Delta College joins family, friends, and community members in mourning the death on Sunday of Trustee Teresa Brown, who served on Delta’s Board of Trustees for nearly 14 years.
A longtime educator by profession, Dr. Brown was a strong advocate for Delta College in Area 6, which includes Tracy and Mountain House.
Dr. Brown was born in Pittsburgh, Penn., and grew up in a coal mining town outside the city before she left to pursue higher education. Like about half of Delta College students, Dr. Brown was a first-generation college student.
“My mother finished the eighth grade and went to work for the Pennsylvania railroad, and my father graduated from high school and went into the military,” she said in a 2020 candidates forum.
Dr. Brown went on to be a college professor, and her two siblings became a doctor and a lawyer.
“This is just proof that education can change an entire generation that quickly,” she said in 2020. “If we want to improve the lifestyle, the income, and the quality of life for people, community colleges are the key to that. Delta College is the closest, safest, least expensive, and best resource for higher education in San Joaquin County today, and I’m proud to be a part of that.”
Dr. Brown left her childhood home and traveled to West Virginia University where she got an undergraduate degree in journalism. She then went on to spend 18 years working in news media and public relations positions.
A self-described lifelong learner, Dr. Brown went back to school yet again, earning masters’ degrees in education and theology, and in 1992 she and her daughter Amber moved to California so she could obtain her Ph.D. in biblical studies from U.C. Berkeley and the Graduate Theological Union.
Dr. Brown was a pioneer of online education, teaching online courses as early as 1996. She later worked as director of online education for the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, where she taught biblical learning classes, and she later served as a program developer for University Extension Education at the CSU Stanislaus Stockton Center.
A resident of Tracy for 20 years, Dr. Brown was first elected to Delta’s Board of Trustees in 2008 and brought stability during a time of much turnover on the seven-member Board. She told The Record in 2008 that the college needed a more diverse faculty and staff, and emphasized the importance of transparency in how public business is conducted.
As a trustee, Dr. Brown worked to provide access for south county students. She manifested care for the College not only in her work on the Board, but in everyday acts of kindness as well. When the South Campus at Mountain House opened in August 2009, she brought blueberry muffins to share with staff and faculty on the first day.
Dr. Brown frequently attended College functions with her partner Jim, and her daughter. She was keen to celebrate the successes of students and employees.
She was well known as a community college trustee not only at Delta but throughout the state, having been instrumental in developing the Excellence in Trusteeship Program to help new trustees hone their skills. She served about 10 years as a member of the Advisory Committee on Educational Services for the Community College League of California.
Becoming a community college trustee was a steep learning curve, she said in 2020.
“You have to learn to be a team player, you have to learn how to get along with others, you have to learn how to listen, and that’s probably something I’ve done my whole life…. listen not just to the words people say, but what’s behind the words people say,” Dr. Brown said.
Outside of Delta and community colleges, Dr. Brown was a proud advocate for those with developmental disabilities, including and especially her daughter.
“I am saddened by the news of the sudden death of longtime trustee Dr. Teresa Brown,” said Delta College Board President Dr. Charles Jennings. “Her commitment to the San Joaquin Delta Community College District is commendable as is her influence in community college issues. Her loss will be felt statewide, too, as a longtime member and highly regarded presenter for the Community College League of California. Dr. Brown devoted her life to education. She was dedicated to the welfare of students, and her voice always represented thoughtful consideration of the issues being discussed. I will miss her and her thought-provoking conversations.”
“Trustee Brown was a dedicated and tireless supporter of the District and students in her area,” said Delta College Superintendent/President Dr. Lisa Aguilera Lawrenson. “She believed in her community, and she used her skills to advocate for all students. She will be deeply missed by all of us in the District. I want to extend my condolences to her loved ones, and thank them for her many years of dedicated service to Delta College as a trustee. She was an extraordinary person.”
Information about the process to fill Dr. Brown’s Area 6 seat on the Board will be released at a later date.
Services for Dr. Brown are pending.