Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

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The Citizen endorses Tammeil Gilkerson for PCCD Chancellor; Rudy Besikof strong runner up

Tammeil Gilkerson answering a question at a public forum held on Oct 25 (Photo by Lylah Schmedel-Permanna/The Citizen)

The Citizen recommends that the Peralta Community College District (PCCD) Board of Trustees select Evergreen Valley College President Tammeil Gilkerson to be the district’s next permanent chancellor, with Laney College President Rudy Besikof being a strong second choice for the role.

Our newsroom researched, conducted interviews, and attended the forums for all four finalists for chancellor. To help guide discussions, staff members scored all four candidates based on a rubric of factors that included their professional experience and background, approaches to governance, and strategy for the financial stabilization of PCCD. Over multiple rounds of deliberations, The Citizen’s Editorial Board narrowed down the choices to Besikof and Gilkerson. 

We deliberated on the strengths and weaknesses of the two candidates, and held a vote to choose who we would endorse. Gilkerson received the majority vote.

Most members of The Citizen Editorial Board felt that both of the candidates were strong, but Gilkerson is ultimately the top choice for chancellor. The opinions below are our conclusions from our collective discussions of both candidates. 

Rudy Besikof
Writer: Timothy Lane

Besikof has several strengths that would make him a good chancellor. As Laney’s current College President and former Vice-President of Instruction, he has a deep knowledge of many of the barriers to student achievement. As President, he has conducted multiple student forums where he has listened to student complaints, particularly those related to the state of Laney facilities, with respect, empathy, and commitment to change. In his interview with The Citizen staff and at the public forum, he showed a deep and realistic analysis of the problems facing the district and a plan to work constructively with PCCD’s many stakeholders to show tangible results.

He appears to have solid and collegial relationships with the other three college presidents, which could go a long way towards reducing long-standing tensions between the Colleges and PCCD Administration. He has also continually demonstrated a commitment to transparency, accountability, and being accessible to The Citizen’s student journalists.

However, there remains a deep current of student and faculty discontent around the ongoing crisis with the state of our facilities and with safety and security on campus. While these are not particular to Laney and not fixable by presidential fiat, these have contributed to a perception that Besikof has barely made a dent in these issues during his tenure, and questions as to whether he will be any more successful as Chancellor.

Tammeil Gilkerson
Writers: Leo Premnath-Ray, Satch Alvarez, Timothy Lane

Gilkerson demonstrated a number of traits which are essential to the leadership of PCCD. Because of her personability and history as former Laney College President, The Citizen believes that Gilkerson has shown the capability of building connections and trust with her constituents. Throughout the forums and our interviews, Gilkerson consistently came across as honest and humble. She didn’t seem to stretch her accomplishments, and acknowledged her lack of exact statistics during the forum.

Gilkerson has shown a commitment to racial equity throughout the course of her career. Additionally, during the forum, Gilkerson focused on the intersection of race and student needs. 

Gilkerson reinforced our belief in her leadership abilities through her handling of vacancies during her presidencies at Laney and Evergreen Valley College. She was clear at the forum that she is not opposed to interim appointments, yet feels that they can be harmful at times. She preferred to serve in those administrative roles herself and promote greater collaboration and connection between her and her constituents. 

Additionally, The Citizen Editorial Board believes Gilkerson’s drive, previous experience at Laney College, and passion for meeting the needs of her constituents could motivate her to hold her position as chancellor for an extended period of time.

Yet, some staff felt that she did not convey a sense of deep inside knowledge of the issues Peralta currently faces, or relationships upon which she would rely to move the district forward. She spoke with less specificity as to how her demonstrated commitment to principles of shared governance and collaborative decision making would translate towards progress on some of the long-festering obstacles to good governance in the district. Specifically, her vision for stabilizing PCCD’s long-term financial outlook felt underdeveloped.

Decision
Writer: Ivan Saravia

Based on thorough consideration between the two candidate’s forums, our interviews, as well as their backgrounds, The Citizen Editorial Board ultimately came to the decision to endorse Gilkerson.

We believe that she carries the leadership qualities that we, as both students and journalists, look for, as well as the intelligence and capacity to overcome not having Beskiof’s immediate familiarity with Peralta’s current state. Her student-centric approach was a key highlight alongside her push for racial equity and championing of support systems for disenfranchised students of color.

Members of The Citizen Editorial Board, despite acknowledging some of the limitations within Beskiof’s role as president, feel that there has been a lack of considerable change across Laney’s most potent issues during his tenure. In contrast, during Gilkerson’s short tenure as Laney’s President, she had built up a strong working relationship with the PCCD Board of Trustees, subsequently being given a PCCD honors award for her leadership and academic support programs around Laney. 

A key point of concern was the high turnover rate at Peralta, and the overall instability that has plagued our district for years. Gilkerson has recognized these issues and demonstrates a clear positioning towards addressing them. With Gilkerson’s approach to handling vacancies during her past presidencies at community colleges, we have confidence that she has the experience and know-how to work hard towards building stability in leadership at Peralta. With her well noted dedication towards consistency and transparency, we hold faith that she has the capacity to lead our district on the right track.

Voting members of The Citizen Editorial Board: Li Khan, Timothy Lane, Ivan Saravia, Tamara Copes, Isabelly Sabô Barbosa, Leo-Premnath Ray, Satch Alvarez, Lylah Schmedel, and Nico Addams-Tumaneng

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  • J

    JasmineOct 30, 2023 at 1:12 pm

    I am 100% certain that Tammeil would not make a great Chancellor. I work at her current college and am completely miserable here. That’s largely due to some of her hiring/rehiring decisions. Having ACADEMIC deans that are ACADEMICALLY qualified is apparently not important to her. People who know very little are somehow able to keep their jobs. Instead of taking the time to make sure that ALL of the administrators at our college are high-character people, she spends her time applying for a new job. Now that I think about it some more, maybe our college is better off without her. PCCD, please take her off our hands!

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  • J

    JohnOct 29, 2023 at 10:50 pm

    Given her decision to retain Matais Pouncil as Vice President at Evergreen Valley College, I have serious concerns about Tammeil Gilkerson’s judgment. What happened to the Honors Program and Service and Learning Program at Evergreen Valley College?

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