Dr. Tammeil Gilkerson, newly-appointed Chancellor of the Peralta Community College District, spent her first full week on the job visiting the campuses of Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, Laney College, and Merritt College. Each college created a welcoming environment for the Chancellor and her staff, and the hope and enthusiasm for the future were palpable in every conversation.
The visits began on Wednesday, January 10, 2024, with Chancellor Gilkerson’s visit to Berkley City College. Dr. Denise Richardson, President of BCC and herself a recent appointment, welcomed the Chancellor and the district team that included Sasha Amiri-Nair (Board Clerk and Assistant to the Chancellor) and Tachetta Henry (Executive Assistant to the Chancellor).
The BCC presentation gave each department and division leader the opportunity to highlight programs at BCC. These highlights included:
- 2024 is BCC’s 50th Anniversary year with “Vista College” being founded in 1974. Vista was renamed Berkeley City College in 2006.
- The Milvia Street building funded by the Bond program that will feature a groundbreaking ceremony later this year.
The BCC visit concluded with a tour of the building where Chancellor Gilkerson got to visit with classified professionals and faculty members, and also chat with Student Trustee Natasha Masand.
On Thursday morning, January 11th, Chancellor Gilkerson had a homecoming of sorts, visiting Laney College. She knows the campus well, having served as President from 2017 to 2020. President Besikof, joined by his leadership team, shared some recent successes including:
- Free College – highlighting the leadership Laney provided with their launch of “Fall is Free” in 2022 and its expansion across the district to the other colleges for Spring and Fall 2023. Spring is Free in 2024 at all the Peralta Colleges for California residents who complete a financial aid application and take 6 or more credits.
- The Basic Needs Center providing food and clothing to students in need.
- Community Partnerships including the relationship with Steph and Ayesha Curry’s Eat.Learn.Play. Foundation and World Central Kitchen to provide free hot meals during the pandemic, a program that is now continuing in partnership with Alameda County Foodbank and Rotary volunteers to give away produce to students. Laney Food Services manager Neil Burmenko noted that since May 2020, Laney has served:
- 172,000 free Meals
- 40,000 free boxes of fresh vegetables
- 30,000 free pantry packages, including groceries, dairy, and meats
A highlight of the tour was seeing the US Bank in the Student Center, a special project near and dear to her heart to provide important financial services -- and job opportunities -- for students.
Friday, January 12th was a very busy day with stops at College of Alameda in the morning and Merritt College in the afternoon.
At COA, the visit began with Acting President Dr. Diana Bajrami and her senior leadership team (and yummy breakfast burritos!). Professor Drew Burgess echoed the positive vibe and expressed his appreciation to President Bajrami and Chancellor Gilkerson: “In twenty-plus years as a faculty member, this is the first time I’ve been invited to a sit down with the chancellor. I am so thankful for the dialog.”
President Bajrami noted some interesting stats about COA including that 85% of the 6000 students enrolled receive financial aid. Over 100 students receive CTE degrees or certificates each year, and 25% of COA graduates transfer to UC or CSU schools within one year of graduation.
COA is working to renew its Hispanic Serving Institute status while also developing into an Asian American and Native-American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution. And of course, COA is excited about the bond-funded building projects on campus for the new Transportation Technology Center and the COA Aviation Complex Replacement near the Oakland airport.
In the afternoon, Chancellor Gilkerson visited Merritt College in the Oakland Hills. Dr. David M. Johnson, President, greeted the Chancellor and team with more yummy food, this time chips & salsa, veggies, and wings.
President Johnson has a long and deep history with Merritt, “I grew up one exit away in Oakland, played hoops in the gym...My mama went to Merritt.”
While online learning is important, so many students need that personal touch, that helping hand for support. The Merritt team is ready to help.
The visit ended with President Johnson taking Chancellor Gilkerson to Parking Lot B, a largely unused area with a stunning view of the Bay Area, kicking around ideas on how best to utilize the property.
The visit to Merritt, and in fact all the visits, included respectful and candid discussions from all constituencies. Dr. Gilkerson brings with her a sense of energy and optimism that is infectious. Each meeting ended with declarations of HOPE for the future.
Representatives from the district Marketing, Communication & Public Relations team including Marcus Creel, Faiza Ali, and Mark Johnson were also present with the District Team to document the visits. Photos from all the campus visits are available in this SmugMug gallery.