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Chancellor’s Update – December 13, 2021

13 December 2021

Dear Peralta Colleagues,

As we head into the Fall semester Finals Week, I wanted to share some thoughts with you before the end of the year and everyone takes a well-deserved break.

In retrospect this semester, and this whole year, has been full of challenges (some, like COVID-19, that are beyond our control), changes, yes, but successes too.

COVID-19 and particularly the Omicron variant continues to be a threat, but we have met that threat head-on with the vaccination policy and by addressing our workplace and facilities issues, particularly building ventilation.

We have been successful in addressing our fiscal and operational challenges. These successes are described in several reports: our ACCJC Follow Up Reports, our response to the Civil Grand Jury Report, FCMAT, financial aid concerns, internal controls, and establishing stability with critical hires and organizational changes that have allowed us to adapt to a changing landscape. Not all of these changes have been met with approval, some have received negative responses, but as Mark Twain once said “I’m in favor of progress; it’s change I don’t like.” Well, change is inevitable, whether we like it or not. So, let’s reflect a bit:

Return to Campus (RTC)
To ensure the safety of our staff and students the Board of Trustees directed we adopt a vaccination policy as a condition of employment, with exemptions to the policy which require weekly testing. We coordinated with local health officials to have stations established at each college in order to facilitate this process. The weekly testing schedule is online at Safe Peralta.

Additionally, We implemented procedures to capture this vaccination information via Company Nurse (for employees) and Campus Solutions (for students).

We implemented screening procedures for coming to campus, with employees using Company Nurse and students, vendors and guests using Campus Shield (app available in the Apple Store and Google Play).

We have brought on board Bright Star to assist students on campus with the vaccination policy requirements.
And, we have also completed a process for notification of teaching faculty on the status of their face-to-face students, to ensure compliance.

I strongly encourage you to check with your colleagues at other campuses. The Peralta District has done more to inform, protect, make the necessary engineering adjustments, and publicly post the results, than any other district within the Bay-10! This was not by happenstance; it was a deliberate effort on our part to respond to your concerns and keep you informed.

I ask for your constructive feedback and patience as we travel this uncharted path together. As we increase the number of face-to-face classes for the spring 2022 semester and the resultant increase in face-to-face services, my hope is the spirit of ubuntu will be at the forefront. My goal, as always, is to provide a safe environment for all concerned, and that will continue, as our RTC planning activities proceed for spring…and beyond. We will hold another RTC Webinar prior to the end of the semester, more details to follow, and of course, it will be recorded.

The pandemic has indelibly reshaped the workplace, and post-COVID will not be the same as pre-COVID. Business and industry (as well as educational institutions) are looking at telecommuting and tele-work. So are we. An administrative procedure regarding ongoing remote work is in the very early “infancy” stages of development. We want to be purposeful, fair, and thorough in our examination of how this process might impact our key objective, which is to provide comprehensive services both in and outside the classroom, —always with a focus on our students and their success. Without that focus on students and their success, there would be no need for any of us – in person or remote!

District Personnel Changes
In the military, we call it “Hail and Farewell”, again, change is inevitable, and personnel come and go. So, we “hail” the new additions, and say “farewell” to those who leave. Peralta is no different; we have (and will continue to have), individuals who join our organization and those who transition on to other goals.

Stephanie Drucker

Dr. Stephanie Droker

At the direction of the Board of Trustees, we re-activated the position of Deputy Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer. Dr. Stephanie Droker, currently the President/Chief Executive Officer of the Accreditation Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), will assume this interim role January 10, 2022. As I’ve stated before, “We are extraordinarily fortunate to have Dr. Droker join our Peralta team. Her experience, at all levels of leadership, her knowledge of community colleges, coupled with her demonstrated support of our students will make her an invaluable asset to our organization.”

Tim Taylor
Timothy Thomas

We made good progress in our efforts to establish the tenets of a Holistic Safety, Wellness, and Restorative Justice program by hiring Timothy Thomas, as our Director of Public Safety. Peralta Gems provided an insightful interview of our new director, and I encourage you to read it. Tim has already been out and about on all college campuses and the district office assessing our capabilities, strengths, and challenges. He will be working with college campus safety committees as well as a district-wide committee, currently being organized under the auspices of the District’s Participatory Governance Council Chancellor’s Workgroup (CWG), as we move closer to making this idea a reality.

Siri Brown
Dr. Siri Brown
Other changes include the return of Dr. Siri Brown, Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs and Student Success, to her first passion: teaching. Dr. Brown has served for five years in her current position and will be returning to Merritt College at the end of this year. As per the PFT contract, she will be allowed a semester before returning full-time to the classroom. In the interim for the VC role, we will be selecting an in-house appointment to allow for professional development and growth of one-of-our-own. We will seek a permanent vice chancellor prior to fall 2022.

Professional Development and Learning Center
The PDLC is a pilot program that addresses a severe lack of coordinated professional development for classified professionals, administrators, students, and yes, our Board of Trustees. The goal is to reduce our reliance on outside consultants and vendors, so that we have consistency and provide a coordinated effort amongst all colleges and the district office. The idea of onboarding and staff development has been a recurring refrain from many of our employees, and this concept of classified professional development has been championed by the District Classified Senate as a goal for many years. This was an in-house announcement and other qualified candidates applied; however, I selected Dr. Siri Brown to lead these efforts, for the following reasons:

  • She has worked and provided training to all constituency groups – faculty, classified professionals, administrators, students and even the Board; She has knowledge of all four campuses and the district office, and has worked closely with instructional and student service personnel, as well as with student leadership
  • She is knowledgeable of state legislative statutes and the ed code; She is a forward thinker, a self-starter, with a strong work ethic and demonstrated record of project completion
  • She has leadership experience having served over 5 years as a vice chancellor and dean; and been a faculty leader in advancing our Ethnic Studies and study abroad program, and
  • She is a respected leader in the district having served as a faculty member and administrator in Peralta for over 20 years.

Again, the PDLC is a pilot program and will be assessed and modified as factors dictate.

Organizational Change
Whenever there are organizational changes, reflection and review of existing administrative structures must occur: Are we organized efficiently? Can we address the concerns identified in external reports? How do we incorporate the recommendations made by FCMAT, ACCJC and others regarding personnel needed to shore up systemic internal control issues? I have been reviewing this in light of our accreditation site visit in October, the fiscal crisis management report due to the Board of Governors the end of this year, program reviews, financial aid concerns, external audits, factors affecting our general obligation bond ratings, and our functional mapping of operations. During the next several weeks I will continue my review of these recommendations along with my own assessment based upon listening sessions with our various constituency groups, community leaders and the Board of Trustees. As our planning cycle continues, I will keep you abreast of the results, and will seek your feedback.

Dr. Jannett N. Jackson
Happy Holidays
As we near the end of this calendar year, I want to wish each of you the best for a prosperous and safe new year, and for your continued support and service to this district. In the spirit of ubuntu, we will face the challenges together, as your success is directly related to that of the whole. While change is hard, we are making good progress.

In that spirit, I wish you Happy Holidays! And for those individuals who are retiring or parting ways at the end of this year – good tidings!

Be safe,

Dr. Jannett N. Jackson
Interim Chancellor

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Holiday Campus Closure 12/23 through 1/2

10 December 2021

Peralta Community,

The Peralta Community College District is closed from December 23, 2021 through January 2, 2022.

Students: all new applications received during this period will be processed immediately upon our return to work on January 3, 2022. Thank you for your patience and thank you for applying to the Peralta Colleges!

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Peralta Colleges to Erase $2.8 Million in Student Debt

9 November 2021

The Peralta Community College District has targeted more than $12 million in federal relief funds to wipe out student debt and provide enhanced financial aid resources for the 30,000 students enrolled across its four East Bay campuses. Some $2.77 million will be allocated for the relief of student debt from the most recent three semesters, going back to Summer 2020 impacted by the global pandemic. An additional $9.5 million is earmarked for financial aid for future semesters.

The four colleges in the Peralta system – Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, Laney College, and Merritt College – serve one of the most diverse student bodies in the Bay Area, with students coming predominantly from communities of color and lower-income areas of Alameda County. Despite the lower cost of community college compared to four-year institutions, affording college is challenging for many of these students. Across the district, 60% of our students qualify as low-income, while 49% are first-generation.

When the district received Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) grants from the U.S. Department of Education, it chose to direct a substantial portion of these funds to address this crucial financial issue.

“With these funds, Peralta is demolishing the biggest roadblock between our students and their ability to continue their educational journey,” said Dr. Jannett N. Jackson, Chancellor of the Peralta Community College District. “By clearing the path for them, we are realizing our mission to provide equitable access to education in our communities and empower our students to achieve their highest aspirations.”

At Merritt College, the grants will provide nearly $940,000 in debt relief and $1.5 million in financial aid for its 6,000 students.

“I’m thrilled that we are able to reward the hard work and dedication of our students by taking away the burden that is student debt,” said Dr. David M. Johnson, president of Merritt College. “Along with the additional financial aid funds, we can ensure that more students will achieve their educational goals.”

For the 6,500 students at Berkeley City College, the District has allocated $732,000 of debt “wipe-out” and $1.9 million in future financial aid.

“This could not have come at a more opportune time, as the pandemic has exacerbated the fiscal realities of students living in the Bay Area,” said Dr. Angélica Garcia, President of Berkeley City College. “Relieving BCC students of debt accrued during the pandemic will enable many students to finish their term here, leading to employment or their transfer to a four-year institution and earn their degrees.”

At Laney College, the funds will provide $739,056 in debt relief, and $4.84 million in financial aid to the student body of some 16,000.

“One of the main goals of the federal government’s HEERF grants is to make college more affordable to students, especially those with greater needs,” said Dr. Rudy Besikof, President of Laney College. “For the 2,690 Laney students receiving $739,056 in debt relief, this truly represents a fresh start, and these are students we will absolutely be inviting back to our College.”

Students at the College of Alameda will benefit from $364,000 in debt relief funds, as well as $1.25 million in financial aid.

“At College of Alameda, one of the things we promise students is the chance to open a new chapter on their future,” said Dr. Nathaniel Jones III, President of the College of Alameda. “Thanks to this infusion of federal aid, we are now better equipped to ensure that more students can turn those pages and realize their dreams.”

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Leadership statement on the passing of Supervisor Wilma Chan

5 November 2021

The Chancellor, Peralta College Presidents and our respective campuses at Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, Laney College, and Merritt College join our greater community in mourning the passing of Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan. Her vibrant leadership has been an asset to our area, most notably with hundreds of thousands of residents in need having received food, vaccinations, and other forms of support since the pandemic began thanks in no small part to her leadership.

As a lifelong advocate for education, especially as a change agent that positively impacts people’s lives, Supervisor Chan broke barriers and was known for her advocacy for marginalized communities and for gender equity.  She remains an inspiration to all who were privileged enough to work with her.  This dedication to our community and championing of education are part of a legacy which we will all take forward. 

We join with the community in mourning her tragic loss and convey our most heartfelt condolences to her family, friends, and colleagues.

Thank you and be well,

Dr. Jannett N. Jackson, Interim Chancellor, Peralta Community College District
Dr. Angélica Garcia, President, Berkeley City College
Dr. Nathaniel Jones III, President, College of Alameda
Dr. Rudy Besikof, President, Laney College
Dr. David M. Johnson, President, Merritt College

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Peralta Community College Board Extends Chancellor Jannett Jackson’s Contract for Two Years

15 October 2021

The Board of Trustees of the Peralta Community College District (PCCD) today unanimously voted in special session to extend the contract of Dr. Jannett Jackson as Interim Chancellor of the District for two years.  

“The Board took this action to continue the positive momentum and direction enabled by Chancellor Jackson’s leadership,” said Dr. Cynthia Napoli-Abella Reiss, President of the Board of Trustees of Peralta Community College District. “Chancellor Jackson has demonstrated a fervent commitment to students, staff, and faculty; and the Board understands and values how critical leadership stability is in remaining steadfast on our course of action.”

The Board renewed Interim Chancellor Dr. Jannett Jackson’s contract until December 2023.

“Chancellor Jackson is the right person at the right time for this job. She brings decades of administrative experience to Peralta and has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to the well-being of students, staff, and faculty- and really our entire community,” added Dr. Nicky Gonzalez Yuen, Vice President of the Board. “She has worked to build a culture of inclusion, respect and accountability across the District.”

“I’m excited about the opportunity to continue to lead this district,” said Chancellor Dr. Jannett Jackson. “I am humbled that the Board of Trustees has demonstrated their trust and support of my actions as the senior leader, and I look forward to continuing to work with some amazing colleagues.  Peralta and its colleges have great promise and potential to make an even greater positive impact on the lives of our students and our community.”

Chancellor Jackson is an experienced CEO having served as the esteemed Chancellor of the Chabot-Los Positas Community College District from 2013 to 2018 when she retired, and previously served as Interim President of Skyline Community College in San Bruno in 2019-2020 prior to her appointment as PCCD Interim Chancellor in April of 2021.

Chancellor Jackson first joined the PCCD District via College of Alameda in 2004 serving as Vice President of Instruction. In 2010 she was promoted to President of the College and she served as President with distinction through 2013, when she left to become Chancellor at the neighboring Chabot-Los Positas Community College District.

Chancellor Jackson was hired by PCCD in April because she knows the community so well and has proven experience as both an educator and chief executive officer, Dr. Napoli-Abella Reiss said at the time of her hiring, adding that Dr. Jackson’s would “help Peralta continue the good progress we’ve made over the past year, on both our finances and our accreditation.”


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Safe Return to Campus Town Hall video & FAQ are live

5 October 2021

Dear Peralta Community,

I would like to again thank all of you who attended the COVID-19 Update Town Hall, Safe Peralta Return to Campus, October 4, 2021.  There was a tremendous number of you who participated, over 500 students, staff, faculty and administrators.  Given the number of inquiries (over 150), we had to delay posting the responses until today.  We needed the extra time to try to organize the list of questions by topic and not just a list of the questions, which would then require that you scroll through or search the page to find specific answers.

I want to specifically thank, Aaron Harbour, our District Web Content Developer, who grouped the questions into subject bundles, and incorporated pertinent items from the “everyone” chat into the FAQ document now online.

We promised information from Forensic Analytical Consulting Services (FACS), which is now available.  This information includes:

Additionally, FACS created a workbook tool to assist campus leadership and to further clarify specific space needs. The workbook tool is a live database and cannot easily be shared.

College leadership is in the process of providing additional equipment now, however, it will also be incorporated in the next phase of the Return to Campus plan in January 2022.

The addition of these items completes the process to offer transparency and collegiality as we transverse this uncharted path. Remember, as things change, we will post updates on the Safe Peralta website

I again, want to thank you for your support and attention in helping us move forward with our phased in approach to Return to Campus (RTC).

Stay well,
Jannett N Jackson, PhD
Interim Chancellor
Peralta Community College District

(to view the FAQ as a pdf, click HERE; to view it online at Safe.Peralta click HERE

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Chancellor’s Announcement: Vaccine Policy Update 9/29/21

30 September 2021

I hope your semester is going well. I am following up on the email I sent last month with an update regarding Peralta’s vaccination policy effective October 13th, 2021. 

Vaccination Policy 

If you are coming to campus for a class and/or in-person services, you must follow the vaccination policy set forth by the Board of Trustees. Here is the policy:  

“As a condition of, and, for permission to access all properties controlled by the Peralta Community College District (PCCD) all students must provide proof of ‘full’ COVID-19 vaccination (as defined by the U.S. Center for Disease Control) or submit a request for exception on medical, disability, religious grounds, or a deferral based on pregnancy. In addition, all non-COVID-19 vaccinated students will be required to properly wear Face Masks that always cover mouths and noses while on PCCD controlled property and must be tested weekly for COVID-19.” 

Student Vaccination Proof 

Students will be required to upload proof of vaccination or exemption documents via the Campus Solutions module in PeopleSoft ( You will receive details on how to upload your vaccination proof early the week of October 4th if not sooner.  

We recommend using the state Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record at to get a screenshot of your vaccination record for uploading in Campus Solutions. 

Proof of vaccination will be checked against California State vaccination records. Falsifying vaccination data (such as forging a vaccination card) is considered a felony, as well as a breach of Peralta Board Policy 5500, Administrative Procedure 5500, and Education Code Section 87732.  

Vaccination Policy Enforcement 

Beginning on October 13th, 2021, the vaccination policy will be enforced for students.  If you still need a vaccination, there are several options available including: 

Campus Shield for COVID Screening 

We will continue to use the Campus Shield app (for Apple iOS devices, click here; for Google Play, click here) to pass through safety checkpoints and access campus facilities. First time users please download the app and register with your student email address ( Once set up, use the COVID Health Assessment option to answer the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) questions. If you have questions about your student email, visit this Canvas resource for help.  

COVID Testing 

Peralta Community College District is in the process of arranging weekly COVID testing on each of the campuses including the District Office. This service is expected to begin the week of October 11, 2021. 

Town Hall

Please join me on Monday, October 4th from 10am to 11:30am for a Town Hall webinar to discuss the Vaccination Policy and our Back to Campus activities. We want to answer any questions you might have. More information including the Zoom link is online here. A recording will be posted on Peralta’s YouTube channel. 

In-Person Services 

I know the pandemic has made things more challenging – for you, your instructors, and your support team. During the week of October 11, many of our employees who have been working remotely will be returning to the college campuses.  Please keep an eye out for information on in-person support services that will be available as the semester progresses. If you have any questions, please contact your student services team – we are here to support you!   

Your health and safety are important to us and we have taken steps to support your return to campus. Thank you for including the Peralta Colleges in your educational journey. 


Thank you and be well,

Jannett N. Jackson, PhD

Interim Chancellor

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Chancellor’s Announcement: Return to Campus Update

27 September 2021

Dear Peralta Employees,

I’m writing to provide you with an update regarding the Peralta Community College District return to campus plan.  As mentioned previously, we are using the Fall 2021 semester to gradually and safely restore in-person support services as well as in-person instruction, which students need.  

Classified Professionals

During the week of October 11, 2021, we expect Classified Professionals who have been working remotely to begin returning to the office in some capacity.  The specific needs and schedules will be communicated by the College Presidents and their administrative teams (for college-based staff) and Vice Chancellors and their managers (for district office staff). I expect those messages to go out next week.

Employee Vaccination Proof

As previously announced, all employees must provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 by October 7, 2021, as a condition of employment.  The Board of Trustees adopted the vaccination policy to make the inevitable return to in-person instruction and student support as safe as possible for all individuals involved. If you have not done so already, please upload your vaccination information or exemption request via Company Nurse. Exemption forms are available at Safe Peralta and also must be submitted by October 7, 2021.

Vaccination Policy Enforcement

Beginning on October 8, 2021, the vaccination policy will be enforced for employees and students.  For employees, failure to comply with the vaccination policy requirements may be grounds for administrative action.  If you are still in need of vaccination, contact your healthcare provider, use the free Alameda County Public Health Department vaccination service, use your local pharmacy, or sign up for upcoming clinics at the colleges as posted on Safe Peralta

Student Vaccination Proof

Students will be asked to upload their vaccination proof or exemption documents via the Campus Solutions module in PeopleSoft. Our IT department is working with Oracle developers to have the PeopleSoft process in place by the end of September. By having the data in PeopleSoft, faculty and administrators will be able to view reports showing whether students are compliant or not with the vaccination requirement, for example, by class roster.

Proof of vaccination will be checked against California state vaccination records. Remember that falsifying vaccination data such as forging a vaccination card is considered a felony as well as a breach of BP/AP 5500 and Education Code Section 87732. There will be consequences for such dishonesty.

COVID Testing

The Department of General Services (DGS) is in the process of arranging weekly COVID testing on each of the campuses including the District Office. This service is expected to begin the week of October 11.

I want to thank faculty, staff, and administrators for your hard work and support of students as we continue to expand our in-person services. I also want to thank you for your patience as we work out the soft launch of expanded student services and in-person instruction together as a community, in the spirit of Ubuntu, to help our students.

Wear A Mask

Please remember to always wear your mask properly ensuring that it covers both your nose and your mouth at all times while on Peralta controlled property.

The situation with COVID-19 and the Delta variant are changing rapidly.  Please visit the recently redesigned Safe Peralta website at to keep up with the latest developments here at PCCD. 

Again, thank you all for your dedication in serving the students of the Peralta Community College District.    

Be Well, and Stay Safe,  
Jannett N. Jackson, PhD  
Interim Chancellor 

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Merritt College receives 2021 John W. Rice Equity Award

22 September 2021

Merritt College, which was a leader in moving away from assessment tests that wrongly placed students of color in remedial classes, and Barstow College, which has enhanced its student success rates through numerous support services, are the winners of the 2021 John W. Rice Equity and Student Success awards.

merritt college drum circle sankofa umoja 2020

Representatives of the colleges were presented with the awards at the September 21, 2021 meeting of the California Community Colleges Board of Governors.  The Merritt College representatives included Merritt College student Melvin Vierra and the college president, Dr. David M. Johnson.  

“For decades we used flawed standardized tests to determine whether a student would start in remedial or transfer-level English or math classes,” said Board of Governors President Pamela Haynes. “The colleges recognized today are at the forefront of new approaches that unlock students’ potential and yield success.”

Equity Award winner Merritt College has not offered below transfer-level English since 2019 or below transfer-level math classes since 2018. It was praised for getting students to where they need to be by redesigning its curriculum and investing heavily in student support, embedded tutors, retention specialists and its campus Learning Center. Merritt College also recommitted itself to the Puente, First Year Experience, and Sankofa-Umoja programs, assigning a full-time manager to oversee the learning communities and build a pervasive spirit and culture of family.

“Merritt College is honored to accept the 2021 Dr. John W. Rice Award for Diversity & Equity. Given our institutional commitment to fostering a culture of equity and inclusion through our rich educational programs, receiving this award is particularly edifying” said Merritt College President Dr. David M. Johnson. He continued, “We know all too well that many of our students face barriers and encounter challenges along the road to educational success, and the experience of our African American and Latinx students underscores that reality in dramatic terms. As such, we are committed to continuing the progress to which this award attests, and applaud the efforts of our students, faculty, and staff to stay the course and move the needle.”

Merritt College President Dr. David M. Johnson

Student Success Award winner Barstow College was lauded for myriad efforts, including a vibrant Teaching and Learning Support Center, faculty-led workshops, enhanced tutoring and improved early-alert tracking. All have contributed to overall increase of 29% of students completing transfer-level English and math courses within one year of their first attempt.

Established in 2001, the Dr. John W. Rice Awards annually recognize colleges for setting the standard in advancing diversity, equity and student outcomes. In 2019, the nomination process was redesigned to bring the awards into alignment with the goals and commitments of the Vision for Success. Finalists for the Equity Award were chosen based on the reduction of equity gaps for students of color completing gateway, transfer-level courses in English and mathematics over the course of the Vision for Success. Student Success Award criteria focuses on colleges seeing the greatest improvements in all students completing gateway transfer-level English and math over the course of the Vision for Success.

Honorable mentions went to the following colleges:

  • Equity Award runner-up Palo Verde College has reduced equity gaps through a holistic approach that includes Disabled Student Programs and Services, Extended Opportunity Programs and Services, embedded tutoring, counseling, food distribution and more.
  • Student Success Award runner-up East Los Angeles College reduced equity gaps with a range of programs to help with the transition to college, including peer mentors and navigators, along with embedded tutoring and supplemental instruction for those enrolled in transfer-level math and English.

Student Success Award runner-up Woodland Community College saw improvements in students completing transfer-level math and improvements in students completing transfer-level English thanks in part to a comprehensive approach that includes a full-time behavioral health therapist, increased mental health services, the Woodland Community College Promise program and more.

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Berkeley City College President Dr. Angélica Garcia Selected for Aspen Institute’s New Presidents Fellowship to Advance Student Success

22 September 2021

President Garcia

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program today announced that Dr. Angélica Garcia, President of Berkeley City College, is one of 25 leaders selected for the 2021-22 class of the Aspen New Presidents Fellowship. This program supports community college presidents in the early years of their tenure as they aim to achieve higher and more equitable levels of student success. The Fellowship’s philanthropic partner is JPMorgan Chase.

“I’m honored to receive such a prestigious fellowship,” said President Garcia. “I believe pursuing higher education is an act of liberation, especially for historically minoritized communities. Berkeley City College students are part of a thriving community which mirrors the Bay Area’s ethnic, cultural and socio-economic diversity. I am energized by the prospect that this fellowship will support the advancement of student success, completion, and building an equitable and racially just community at Berkeley City College.”

The 25 Aspen Fellows, who lead colleges that collectively serve more than 280,000 students, were selected through a highly competitive process. Starting later this year, the Fellows will engage over nine months in residential sessions and virtual learning to develop strategies to meet their goals for student success and equity with data to assess challenges and progress.

“We continue to learn how the best community colleges improve outcomes for students and close persistent race- and income-based equity gaps,” said Josh Wyner, executive director of the College Excellence Program. “This year’s fellows have demonstrated their commitment to achieving excellent and equitable student outcomes, and we are eager to work with them as they join Aspen’s network of more than 100 fellows who serve as community college presidents.”

“Congratulations to Dr. Garcia for her selection to this prestigious Fellowship. Her leadership at Berkeley City College here in the Bay Area’s diverse Peralta Community College District as well as her unique lived experiences that are representative of many of the students we serve will undoubtedly contribute a great deal to the Aspen New Presidents program. We are proud of her. Her peers in the program are lucky to have her,” said interim Chancellor Dr. Jannett N. Jackson.

As community colleges grapple with the impact of COVID and enrollment declines, turnover among presidents remains high. Aspen is committed to helping prepare the next generation of exceptionally capable and highly diverse leaders through its fellowship programs for new and rising presidents. This new class of Aspen Presidential Fellows is 52 percent female, and 64 percent are people of color. Located in 17 states, their institutions too are diverse, from a tribal college with fewer than 500 students to an urban college that educates more than 35,000 each year.

“Community colleges play a critical role in helping to prepare young adults and incumbent workers for in-demand jobs of the future,” said Monique Baptiste, Vice President and Head of Jobs & Skills for Global Philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase. “Ensuring that the leaders of these institutions are equipped with the support and training they need to develop equitable student success is an integral part of building capacity over the long-run. JPMorgan Chase is proud to partner with the Aspen Institute to build the next generation of exceptional college leaders as they work to advance the prosperity of the diverse communities and students they serve.”

JPMorgan Chase’s philanthropic support for the Aspen Presidential Fellowship is part of the firm’s New Skills at Work initiative to prepare young people for the future of work and meet the growing demand for skilled workers, and the $30 billion commitment to advance racial equity and drive an inclusive economy. 

The 2021-22 Aspen New Presidents Fellows


  • Rebecca Ashford, Chattanooga State Community College (TN)
  • Seher Awan, Los Angeles Southwest College (CA)
  • Vincent Bowhay, Independence Community College (KS)
  • B. Buxton, Durham Technical Community College (NC)
  • Karin Edwards, Clark College (WA)
  • Angélica Garcia, Berkeley City College (CA)
  • Veronica Garcia, Northeast Lakeview College (TX)
  • Tracy Hartzler, Central New Mexico Community College (NM)
  • Greg Hodges, Patrick Henry Community College (VA)
  • Stephanie Kashima, West Valley College (CA)
  • Georgia Lorenz, Seminole State College of Florida (FL)
  • Kimberlee Messina, Spokane Falls Community College (WA)
  • Rachel Pokrandt, Umpqua Community College (OR)
  • Christy Ponce, Temple College (TX)
  • Omid Pourzanjani, San Joaquin Delta College (CA)
  • Monte Randall, College of the Muscogee Nation (OK)
  • Anton Reece, West Kentucky Community and Technical College (KY)
  • Ángel Reyna, Madera Community College (CA)
  • Claudia Schrader, CUNY Kingsborough Community College (NY)
  • Ricky Shabazz, San Diego City College (CA)
  • Ron Slinger, Miles Community College (MT)
  • Willie E. Smith, Baton Rouge Community College (LA)
  • Russell Swagger, Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College (WI)
  • Justina Wilhelm, Iḷisaġvik College (AK)
  • Jermaine Williams, Nassau Community College (NY)

For bios and photos of all 25 extraordinary  leaders, visit HERE.


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  • Peralta Colleges

    Sunday 16 January 2022
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  • Peralta Community College District is comprised of Berkeley City College, College of Alameda, Laney College, and Merritt College. Together they provide northern Alameda County a range of educational programs and life-long learning opportunities.
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