Laney College President’s Report – March 1, 2023

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Laney College Sees One-Year Increases of 33% and 21% in Numbers of African American, Latinx Students Served

Spring 2023 is continuing the year of change at Laney College, with 1512 more students enrolling than the year before, an 18% increase from Spring 2022. The growth at Laney is reaching the diverse communities it serves, with 507 (33%) more African American students enrolling than a year ago, as well as 494 (21%) more Latinx students. AAPI student numbers showed a more modest increase but still account for 24% of the college’s total population. The numbers show the college’s continuing resurgence as it emerges from the considerable challenges faced during the pandemic, achieving 86% of its Spring enrollment target, compared to 68% in Spring 2022.

In addition to the Fall/Spring is Free initiatives, Laney is emphasizing increased contact with the community, most recently with a presentation by President Besikof and Professor Lawrence Vanhook at the Montclair/Piedmont Rotary’s regular meeting, along with constant external appearances at Chamber of Commerce events, college fairs and gatherings of organizations such as East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC). Additionally, employee and external giving continues to support students through Foundation initiatives such as the President’s Emergency Scholarship Fund at Laney.

The Laney is Free initiative – designed to raise FAFSA/Dream Act awareness and address some student Basic Needs insecurities - is coupled with innovative personal attention to keep students engaged. Laney’s Pathway Maps now have more students planning college, the SOAR program provides personalized student support, tutoring is now front and center on campus, and great learning communities such as Umoja/UBAKA and Puente are experiencing corresponding growth. Along with the outstanding service of our employees, student leaders are telling Laney’s story.

With more than 80 late-starting classes set to kick off in March, the College hopes to attract more students from our community while supporting current students who are within one or two classes of graduating. Thanks to all at Laney who are making 2022-23 special, and while Spring has been a success, the work is not yet done!


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Laney College Welcomes Students from OUSD

On Feb. 8, 2023, Laney welcomed 90 high school students from Castlemont and Rudsdale High Schools for a tour and visit of not only the campus but also its many programs. These students are part of the Oakland Unified School District’s Newcomer Program (

These visitors were treated to lunch and engaged themselves in college life by taking part in Fab Lab activities and observing instruction in the Cosmetology, Electrical, Culinary, and Welding departments. It was a full day supported by many on the Laney team, including President Besikof, Vice President of Students Marlon Hall, Associate Dean Gary Albury, Employment Services Specialist Raya Zion and Puente/General Counselor Laura Gomez-Contreras, ESOL Instructor Ángela Jiménez Velayos, and many others.

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The Newcomer Program is but one OUSD group of colleagues that has become a “fast friends” partner of Laney College. “Newcomer students” in OUSD community are English Language Learner and Multicultural Achievement (ELLMA) learners whose introduction to Laney complements their transition into learning a new language and assimilating into the U.S. urban setting that is Oakland. Work within this OUSD program is grounded in the following:

  • Program development based on research and professional development for newcomer teachers and leaders within OUSD;
  • The ensuring of access to culturally sensitive mental health, health, legal services, and other social services for newcomer students and their families;
  • The aligning of policies and resources for Unaccompanied Immigrant Youth, Refugee & Asylee and other Newcomer students.

The College appreciates our OUSD partners and thanks all on campus who made these future Eagles feel welcome.


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Laney College, Student Government Host Statewide Forum on Basic Needs

On Feb. 15, 2023, Laney College was pleased to welcome student leadership from the Student Senate for California Community Colleges (SSCCC) as they hosted a listening session on Student Basic Needs. Joining our own student government on campus were regional student leaders Kevin Ruano-Hernandez and Chanelle Win, both from the Contra Costa Colleges District. Kudos to our own student leaders in the Associated Students of Laney College (ASLC) as well as Laney colleagues who lent their support to an event that discussed the most critical of topics!

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Participating in the event was Katrina Santos, a Laney colleague, who has recently transitioned into the role of Basic Needs Coordinator. This is a new position funded by State Statutory Requirements Senate Bill 129 (Budget Act of 2021), which requires each California community college campus to establish and/or expand a Basic Needs Center and designate at least one staff person as the Basic Needs Coordinator to provide holistic, comprehensive basic needs services and resources to students to support their successful matriculation through the California community colleges system and beyond.


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Laney Celebrates Black History with Engaging Events for Students, Community

Laney College has been hosting several events for Black History Month, thanks in great part to Shanice Millican, Kimberly King, Janelle Tillotson, and all those who make UMOJA/Ubaka a great program and community for African Students. Festivities got started in grand fashion with a February 1 screening of Till in the Student Center, but one highlight was the February 8 African American History and Liberation Presentation and Dinner held in Eagle Village and a host of colleagues and students attending in a packed room. At the conclusion of a stirring lecture and discussion, President Besikof remarked that all in attendance, given that he had seen most of them at a host of on-campus events, were true leaders.

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The month continued with a February 15 Open Mic Event and Resource Fair in partnership with Laney's Employment Services Center, as well as the February 22 HUD Housing and National Financial Literacy Workshop and Lunch. With Laney College continuing to embrace our communities, it is no wonder that we have seen a 33% increase in our numbers of African American students in 2022-23! Thanks to all colleagues whose hard work and dedication make events like those taking place during February happen, and special appreciation to Laney Photography student Elwood Jefferson for capturing all that takes place at Laney!

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Laney College Journalism Professor Honored

Laney Journalism Professor and Department Chair Eleni Gastis has recently been honored with the Beverly Keys Educator Award by the Society of Professional Journalists Norcal organization. The award honors “First Amendment” and “Transparency Champions” and is one of the James Madison Freedom of Information Awards. According to the SPJ Norcal website, the Society recognizes “people and organizations whose work advances transparency, freedom of information and the public’s right to know. SPJ NorCal’s Freedom of Information Committee presents these awards in the spirit of James Madison, the creative force behind the First Amendment.”

Summarizing Professor Gastis’ achievement, SPJ NorCal notes that Professor, faculty advisor to Peralta's award-winning student newspaper The Citizen, "brings an infectious energy and enthusiasm for hard-nosed public interest reporting" and "emphasizes data journalism, a core investigative reporting skill rarely offered at community colleges." information-awards/

As shared in the February 14 Laney Board Report, Professor Gastis was also recently selected as the lone community college professor in her appointment to U.C. Berkeley Journalism's new Advisory Board for California Local News Fellowship Program. Additionally, Professor Gastis and student journalists Shiloh Johnston and Ken Luster appeared on KTVU‘s Mornings on 2 broadcasts ( to talk about The Citizen and Gastis’ award.

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Laney congratulates Professor Gastis, as well as all its employees and students for their achievement!



This article is taken from the President’s Report, written by Dr. Rudy Besikof, Laney College President, that was presented to the PCCD Board of Trustees during their regular meeting on Tuesday, February 28, 2023. To view it as a pdf, click here.

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