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

Breaking: PCCD appoints former San Leandro police chief to Interim Executive Director of Public Safety
Breaking: PCCD appoints former San Leandro police chief to Interim Executive Director of Public Safety
Abdul Pridgen will lead the district’s community-based safety program
Li Khan, Editor in Chief • June 21, 2024
Carpentry instructor spruces up department
Carpentry instructor spruces up department
Rym-Maya Kherbache, Staff Writer • April 24, 2024
A cap at the Laney College commencement ceremony on May 24 reads in Spanish, This is for my mom who gave me everything. (Photo: Marcus Creel/PCCD)
Graduations, resignations and more: PCCD Trustees wrap up school year at 5/28 meeting
Romi Bales, Staff Writer • June 17, 2024
Student Trustee Natasha Masand believes her voice has the power to impact the PCCD community.
Student Trustee Natasha Masand finds her voice
Isabelly Sabô Barbosa, Social Media Editor • March 19, 2024

Laney President Rudy Besikof announced as finalist for SMCCCD chancellor

Besikof up against two former finalists for PCCD chancellor and incumbent
Laney College President Rudy Besikof. (Source: Laney College website)
Update: SMCCCD selects Melissa Moreno for chancellor

Laney College President Rudy Besikof is one of four finalists for the San Mateo County Community College District’s (SMCCCD) search for a new chancellor. 

Other finalists include Carlos Cortez, the former Chancellor of the San Diego County Community College District; current SMCCCD Interim Chancellor Melissa Moreno; and former Foothill College president Thuy Nguyen, who is currently a partner at the law firm of Garcia Hernandez Sawhney, LLP.

SMCCCD announced the finalists in a press release March 13. Information on the candidates and search process is available online

SMCCCD has over 28,000 students enrolled across its three campuses in San Mateo County: Cañada College, College of San Mateo, and Skyline College. 

Besikof, Cortez, and Nguyen, were also finalists for the Peralta Community College District’s (PCCD) chancellor search last year. PCCD’s search concluded in November 2023 with the selection of Tammeil Gilkerson, a former Laney College President who was serving as Evergreen Valley College President at the time. 

During the PCCD search, the The Citizen Editorial Board interviewed each of the four finalists and ultimately endorsed Gilkerson by majority vote with Besikof as runner-up.

Besikof’s contract as President of Laney College was renewed by Chancellor Gilkerson and the Board of Trustees in February this year, for his service through June 30, 2025. 

When asked if he intended to vacate his seat if selected for SMCCD chancellor, Besikof declined to comment on an “ongoing” process, but added that he felt “blessed” to be Laney College President. 

Besikof joined Laney College as Vice President of Instruction in 2018. He became Interim President of Laney in July 2020 following Gilkerson’s departure from that position for her post at Evergreen, and was appointed as permanent Laney College President in November 2020.

His tenure as Laney President ran into nearly immediate controversy. In February 2021, the Laney College Faculty Senate passed a resolution to censure Besikof, alleging a “lack of planning, communication and leadership.”

Besikof commented on the censure during an October 2023 interview with The Citizen. 

“At the time, I was a new president,” Besikof said. “[…] I was a leader who was learning on the job, and in spite of that action […] things have turned in an incredible, remarkable direction.”

Besikof has been an enthusiastic proponent of the free tuition initiative at Laney, which began in Fall 2022 after PCCD saw crushing blows to enrollment levels during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

PCCD enrollment hit a low of ​​17,405 students in Spring 2022, a 25% drop from Fall 2019, according to state data. The decline was consistent with a 25% decline in enrollment across California Community Colleges. 

Recently, PCCD has seen enrollment rebound to nearly pre-pandemic levels, with 21,434 students enrolled in Fall 2023 compared to 23,432 students in Fall 2019. 

SMCCCD enrollment has surpassed pre-pandemic levels, according to state data

Statewide, the CCC system is still missing about 300,000 students.

Besikof and the other finalists participated in one-hour recorded forums on March 14-15. The recordings will be available online until March 22. 

SMCCCD anticipates announcing its decision on a chancellor-elect at its next regular Board of Trustees meeting, scheduled for March 27. The district intends for its new chancellor to take up the position on July 1, 2024. 

About the Contributor
Timothy Lane
Timothy Lane, Opinion Editor
Known to friends as Tim or “TL”, Timothy Lane was raised in western Massachusetts. His hobbies and passions as a young boy included reading the Encyclopedia Americana and National Geographic at random, studying maps and atlases, and swimming the breaststroke for the Westfield, Mass. YMCA youth swim team. Tim has spent has spent much of the last 30 years as a teacher and scholar shuttling between the US and South Africa: first as a volunteer teacher in a rural high school in the northern Limpopo region of South Africa; then doing oral historical research in those rural communities as well as South African national archives in Pretoria; and since 2003 working with international public health scholars and community organizations throughout the US and South Africa to end the HIV epidemic. He has lived in the Bay Area since 1993, and has called Oakland home since 2015.
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