The Peralta Community College District held its Spring 2024 "Flex Day" for Professional Development on Thursday, January 18, 2024, at Laney College and featured two new chancellors, Peralta's Chancellor Dr. Tammeil Gilkerson and California Community Colleges Chancellor Dr. Sonya Christian.
The event was kicked off in the morning with a warm welcome by Laney College President Dr. Rudy Besikof followed by more welcoming comments from district-wide Professional Development Co-Coordinators Marla Leech and Chelsea Cohen (both Laney College faculty members) and Natasha Spivey, the Professional Development Learning Center Program Manager.
Dr. Mark Rauzon, Laney College geography professor, gave a keynote address about global climate change with particular attention on the Bearing Sea of Alaska, focusing on its history, energy, biology, native inhabitants, and the impact of the Cold War. He emphasized internationalizing curriculum. He shared his experience in the Arctic and the ecological changes he observed. He concluded by urging the next generation to be respectful of our natural world and to be good stewards for the limited resources available. We knew he is a fantastic lecturer, but who knew about his poetic rap skills!
Next we had the pleasure of watching Professor Danny Nguyen's dance students from College of Alameda perform. Many thanks to the students:
- Lindsey Couple
- Anna Rodas
- Jack Prescher
- Caroline Valentino
- Sharin Esteban Gonzalez
- Hannah Corman-Roberts
You can enjoy their performances on YouTube here.
An absolute highlight of the day was the first major speech from our new Peralta Community College District Chancellor, Dr. Tammeil Gilkerson. In her talk, she shared her story and vision for the district. She emphasized the importance of collaboration and working towards a common goal of making the district better for students and the community.
Dr. Gilkerson's talk was filled with personal anecdotes and reflections on her experiences as an educator and leader. She spoke about her childhood as an adopted immigrant, her time as a student and faculty member at various community colleges, and her most recent role as president of Evergreen Valley College.
Throughout her talk, Dr. Gilkerson emphasized the importance of people. She spoke about the power of the Peralta community, the passion, purpose, and dedication of the faculty and staff, and the potential and infinite possibilities for students.
She also acknowledged the challenges facing the district, such as outdated systems, lack of resources, and equity gaps.
Despite the challenges, Dr. Gilkerson expressed her optimism for the future. She outlined her vision for a district that is innovative, student-centered, and equitable. She called on everyone to work together to make this vision a reality.
- The Peralta Community College District is a special place with a lot of potential.
- We need to work together to make the district better for students and the community.
- We need to be innovative and find new ways to solve problems.
- We need to focus on equity and make sure that all students have the opportunity to succeed.
- We need to have hope and believe that we can make a difference.
She concluded her talk with a video featuring the music of Andra Day and Common performing "Stand Up for Something" with its heartfelt lyrics over images of Peralta people and places to emphasize Peralta's Passion, Purpose, and Possibilities. Chancellor Gilkerson's brave and inspirational talk resulted in a standing ovation from those in the Laney Theater. If you weren't there, you really must watch the full video to experience her message with appropriate context. This summary does not do her justice!
Following a delicious lunch, live music from a Laney student band, and massage therapy, Flex Day resumed with a short talk by state chancellor Dr. Sonya Christian followed by a lively question and answer session with faculty senate leaders including:
- Matthew Goldstein - District Academic Senate President
- Leslie Blackie - Laney College Faculty Senate President
- Matthew Freeman - Berkeley City College Academic Senate President
- Jennifer Fowler - College of Alameda Academic Senate President
- Thomas Renbarger - Merritt College Academic Senate President
The day concluded with a mix of in-person and Zoom sessions focused on professional development. The full day's agenda with links to video recordings and slides is available here.
Many thanks to the incredible media team for Flex Day photography, audio and video support from Alejandro Acosta (Laney), Dale Nabeta (Merritt) and Marcus Creel, Faiza Ali, Bendi Yilmaz, Angel Hunter, Joe Sullivan, and Mark Johnson from the District Service Center department of Marketing, Communication & Public Relations.