Dear Peralta Community,
The year 2020 was about lifting each and every one of ourselves up. As individuals, as family members, and as PCCD community members, we all lifted each other up during this year of great struggles and challenges.
As we head into 2021 with hope, I want to wish everyone a joyous Holiday Season and Happy New Year. And I want to reflect on the Peralta Community College District and the important accomplishments and milestones we have achieved together during a year of in which the pandemic affected our lives and a renewed focus on racial and social justice is changing America for the better.
When 2020 began, and COVID-19 began to impact our health and safety, PCCD cancelled in person classes and transitioned to remote teaching and instruction. None of us were fully prepared for this rapid transition from in-person to remote learning. Yet, we rose to the moment and made remote classes happen over a period of weeks back in March and April. Canvas and Zoom moved from the periphery to the center of our teaching workflows. This was only possible because of the dedicated and hard work of each and every one of you: faculty, students, staff and administration.
I want to touch upon some other important milestones this year, which would not have been possible unless we all lifted each other up:
The Peralta District is Financially Stable and On The Right Path
PCCD is now financially stable and on sound footing through active and thoughtful financial leadership. Both the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) and Moody’s credit service acknowledged in 2020 that PCCD finances are in better shape now than a year ago. Both organizations recognize the considerable work done by PCCD to improve our financial standing. The signs are promising that we are on the right path.
As you may recall, probationary status was announced by ACCJC in January 2020 for our four colleges. The colleges have now provided ACCJC additional evidence of financial improvement.
We are confident that College of Alameda, Berkeley City, Laney and Merritt Colleges have addressed ACCJC’s concerns and have demonstrated each meets the requirements to be removed from probationary status. We will report back in the New Year.
In 2020, four amazing new presidents were hired. The District tapped Dr. David M. Johnson as president of Merritt College, Dr. Angélica Garcia as president at Berkeley City College, Dr. Rudy Besikof as president of Laney College and Dr. Nathaniel Jones III as president of the College of Alameda. We believe their strategic, inclusive, and equity initiatives will propel these campuses to new achievements.
COA Celebrates 50 and Opens New Liberal Arts Building
The College of Alameda celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2020. As part of this noteworthy event, the New Center for Liberal Arts (Building H) at the College of Alameda was completed in November. The nearly 54,000 sq. ft. building will welcome students and faculty for programming liberal studies and language arts, career and workforce education as soon as the pandemic is over.
State Awards for Berkeley, Laney, Merritt
BCC, Laney, and Merritt colleges were recognized for their exemplary educational work in implementing the Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) programs by the Campaign for College Opportunity, a California non-profit bipartisan policy and research organization.
Each college received the organization’s inaugural “2020 Equity Champion of Higher Education” designation for their exemplary work in awarding ADTs to Black and Latinx students. Berkeley City College was also cited for having “one of the highest shares of ADT conferrals for the 2018-2019 school year.”
Feeding Students and the Community
Congresswoman Barbara Lee honored Dr. Tina Vasconcellos, Vice President of Student Services at College of Alameda, for her leadership in feeding students and community members during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The College of Alameda, in partnership with World Central Kitchen and Steph and Ayesha Curry’s Eat.Learn.Play. Foundation, has given away more than 70,000 free meals to students and the community during the pandemic and injected nearly $725,000 into the food service economy by hiring local restaurants to produce the meals. When the similar partnerships for free food and produce distribution at Berkeley City College, Laney College, and Merritt College are added, we realize that this partnership between Eat.Learn.Play., World Central Kitchen, Peralta Community College District, and the Peralta Colleges Foundation has injected nearly $2 Million into the local economy helping the local food service industry, which has been devastated by the pandemic, and feeding students and community members dealing with food insecurity and recession.
In conclusion, despite significant worldwide, national, and local challenges, Peralta seized opportunities to make the world a better, more equitable, just and educated place. I thank each and every one of you for your role and support in 2020 and send you a joyous Holiday greeting for a Happy New Year in 2021.
Dr. Carla Walter