Interested in who the next president of Laney College may be?
Students, staff, and faculty had the opportunity, on Jan. 30, to meet the three short-listed candidates for college president, and ask whatever was on their minds.
Michael Reiner, Ph.D., Tammeil Gilkerson, and Anthony Tricoli, Ed.D. attended several forums throughout the day to introduce themselves and field questions from the Laney community.
Tricoli said he was passionate about programs for student veterans, but questioning revealed that he is currently involved in an ongoing sexual harassment lawsuit,and left his position at Georgia Perimeter College under ambiguous circumstances. Gilkerson introduced herself as a Bay Area native, who currently holds a position at Contra Costa College. She emphasized herself as a proponent of diversity and sanctuary institutions, and put forth a realistic plan for homeless and low-income students.
Reiner noted his nearly two decades experience as a faculty member, and has held numerous administrative positions. He was staunch on issue of deferred maintenance.
To watch P-SPAN’s videos of the presidential forum online, visit the Peralta Colleges YouTube channel at http://bit.ly/2jFfmb8.
For more information on the candidates’ backgrounds, visit http://bit.ly/2ksz3Y6.
DR. ANTHONY S. TRICOLI
Dr. Anthony S. Tricoli, the former president of Geor- gia Perimeter College (GPC), made it clear from the start that he was a California native and a “product” of a California Com- munity College.
Moving on to the Q&A, Dr. Tricoli championed his own achievements as a pioneer of the veterans program at GPC.
Georgia Perimeter College is now known as Perimeter College at Georgia State University.
“We did not have a veterans pro- gram there,” he said . “Ultimately I said, ‘If we’re going to do this right, we really need to bring on some- one who understands the details and the challenges of our vets.’”
As a result of his work, Dr. Tricoli said that Georgia Perimeter now has a “full force” veterans program and contractual agreements securing services for vets living on military bases.
Tepid waters heated when Dr. Tricoli had to field questions pertaining to what appears to be a checkered past.
According to several sources, including GPC’s newspaper The Collegian, Dr. Tricoli resigned from the presidency in 2012.
Henry Huckaby, then Chancellor of the Board of Regents at GPC, announced Dr. Tricoli’s resignation alongside the discovery of a $16 million deficit in the school’s budget.
“Not exactly,” said Dr. Tricoli, who explained that an unexpected merger between GPC and Georgia State University (GSU) were to blame for his leaving the position.
Because GSU was a “university focused on research,” Dr. Tricoli said he took issue with the direction he felt GPC was being forced into.
“Next thing I knew, I was told that my college was being merged and that there was no need for two presidents,” said Dr. Tricoli.
“I was not fired, but I was not invited back for a sixth year.”
Dr. Tricoli did not mention the $16 million deficit.
Whether the former president was to blame for the deficit or simply a scapegoat is a matter of debate.
Dr. Tricoli did file a civil suit against Huckaby along with the board itself and several other state officials for fraud and damages.
The lawsuit, however, were dismissed and in April 2016 the Georgia Court of Appeals denied Dr. Tricoli’s request to reconsider that decision.
This was not the end of Dr. Tricoli’s woes in the court system, however.
In March 2016, Pam Christensen and her daughter, Sarah McDougal, filed a $1 million lawsuit against the Girls and Boys club in Knoxville, Tenn., headed by then-Executive Director Anthony S. Tricoli.
Focused specifically on Dr. Tricoli, the complaint details his alleged sexual harassment of both Christensen and McDougal.
The lawsuit is ongoing.
Communication and diversity were the themes of Tammeil Gilkerson’s talk. Gilkerson grew up in Hayward as one of seven children and was the first in her family to earn a college degree.
Adopted by her parents and sharing a home with siblings from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, Gilkerson said that, from childhood, family life instilled in her a “deep respect” for diversity.
With this background and her time spent in administration with several community colleges in the Bay Area, Gilkerson believes that the existence and understanding of multiculturalism is essential for any college.
“I believe that cultural competence is a process rather than an end product,” she said.
A former interim vice president of academic affairs at San Jose City College, Gilkerson currently serves as the vice president of academic and student affairs at Contra Costa College.
Gilkerson expressed the importance of communication between colleges within a district and between districts.
‘I’m willing to roll up my sleeves and work side-by-side with you.’ Tammeil Gilkerson
“I have always worked in a multi-college district and understand the nuances and dynamics of shared practices and procedures, resource allocation and the need to maintain autonomy and individuality in college-specific approaches,” Gilkerson said.
“I’m willing to roll up my sleeves and work side by side with you all.”
A common thread of questioning at the forum was how candidates would respond to students adversely affected by gentrification, homelessness, and President Trump’s recent executive orders which specifically target immigrants in America.
When asked what she would do for homeless and low-income students at Laney, Gilkerson was hopeful yet pragmatic.
“There are a lot of traumatic experiences…and institutional inequities…that makes it difficult,” she said. “The thing that I would do as a leader is to really ask our institution to think about that.”
Gilkerson mentioned the possibility of implementing a shower program for homeless students and the importance of the college’s role as a sanctuary institution. Continuing on the subject, Gilkerson’s tone grew frank.
“I think it’s hard for a community college to be all things for all people,” Gilkerson said.
“I’m not sure that—at least in my role at Contra Costa College—that we could actually do anything significant about homelessness in a systematic way.”
She has both B.A. and M.A. degrees from local universities.
As an introduction, Michael Reiner started by asking himself questions in order to explain his educational and professional background.
A New York City native, Reiner earned his BA in Psychology from Haverford College in Pennsylva- nia and received a Ph.D. from the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota.
Reiner served as professor of psychology at Kennesaw State University.
“I was faculty for 17 years. I love teaching. I love students,” he said.
But eventually Reiner felt that his talents would be better put to use in administration.
“I only moved on to administration when I thought it might be more effective, not just with students, but with faculty and staff and administrators to help the institution become more successful,” he said.
“My strengths? Well, for one: I am very analytical,” said Reiner. “I like looking at problems and analyzing them.”
Acknowledging his educational background, Reiner listed his experience in psychology as an advantage in administration.
“I’m also a psychologist by trade,” he said. “I understand people because of that background and can help them to become more successful.”
Noting his educational background from what he called a Quaker university, Reiner listed the “Four Cs” (Collaboration, Consensus, Compassion, and Courage), which he learned from said Quakers, as his model for leadership.
“It’s my role to try to empower the people I work with,” he said.
Deferred maintenance was one issue that Reiner felt was in need of immediate attention. It started when he first drove on campus.
“When I drove in this morning, I saw the flagpole and I saw three flags that were tattered,” he said, “and that disturbed me.”
Reiner also offered some criticism of former Laney College President Elnora Webb.
“I sense that we had a morale problem,” he said. “I did read that there was great concern within the faculty senate as to where the dollars were going.
“I think that the college was in need of some new leadership.”
Reiner was also a finalist for the BCC presidency last May.