After the previous president was forced to resign last year over an inappropriate sexual relationship, California Community College veteran Tammeil Gilkerson is taking over as president of Evergreen Valley College.
Former President Keith Aytch failed to disclose a sexual relationship with another employee as per district policy for fear of jeopardizing a promotion to interim president. He accepted the promotion in 2017, then again failed to reveal the relationship when he applied to be the permanent president in 2018. Aytch resigned in Nov. 2019, leaving the San Jose-Evergreen Community College District to spend eight months searching for a new president.
Gilkerson, who assumed her new role job Monday, will face the challenge of leading during the campus’s first fully remote semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. EVC launched its “Virtual Campus” at the end of June and announced that campus facilities will remain closed through the fall semester in an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
“While the ongoing pandemic presents some challenges, it has also created opportunities,” Gilkerson wrote in an email. “The health and safety of our students, employees, and the broader community is my highest priority, but at Evergreen Valley College, our dedicated faculty and staff remain committed to finding innovative and creative ways to deliver remote instruction and student services to meet the needs of our students.”
Gilkerson is returning to the San Jose-Evergreen Community College District where she previously served as the dean of counseling and matriculation at EVC for four years and the vice president of academic affairs at San Jose Community College for one year. Her most recent experience is as president of Laney College in Oakland, where she served since 2017.
“I am exceptionally proud to be named the president of one of the premier community colleges in the state,” Gilkerson said in a statement. “I am humbled by the confidence and trust of the search committees, Chancellor Breland and the Board of Trustees. I look forward to returning to the Evergreen Valley College community that has already taught me so much. I am excited to listen, learn and grow together.”
De Anza College in Cupertino also got a new president this month after former President Brian Murphy retired after a 14-year tenure.
Lloyd Holmes started on July 1 after being recommended by district Chancellor Judy Miner and unanimously endorsed by the Foothill-De Anza Community College District Board of Trustees last month.
Holmes has been hailed as a champion of student success and lauded for his commitment to equity and inclusion in higher education.
“I believe that Lloyd has the capacity to be a transformational leader. He has the skills to guide the college in adapting to change at a challenging time in ways that will maximize De Anza’s potential,” Miner wrote in her recommendation of Holmes in June. “He will cultivate the enormous talent that exists within our campus community, suggest new ways to collaborate and welcome those with expertise to share.”
Holmes’ drive for inclusion comes from his own background as a Black student attending the University of Mississippi, where he earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. While in attendance there, he experienced incidents of racism and discrimination from other students, which he said compelled him to continue pursuing his education and making diversity, inclusion and equity a cornerstone of his career.
De Anza announced that most classes in the fall term will be remote, adding to the challenges Holmes faces as a new leader of the college.
“I plan to support, foster and advocate for those who are collectively ensuring that all students are included in the life and work of the college, both online and in person,” Holmes wrote in an email. “Certainly there are unique challenges inherent in beginning a presidential position during this time. However, the listening and learning — which I would have made a primary goal in any event — can be done remotely at this point, however much I would have wished to do so in person, with students, faculty, staff and administrators. I look forward to hearing from all groups and individuals about core issues and hopes for the future, and take additional steps forward for student inclusion and success.”
Holmes’ most recent previous experience is with Monroe Community College in Rochester, N.Y., which is part of the State University of New York system, the largest comprehensive university system in the country.
“I am honored to have been selected as the president of De Anza College,” Holmes said in a statement. “I have come to know De Anza as one of the leading community colleges in the nation. Together, we will do even greater things to positively impact our students, faculty, staff and community. I thank the De Anza family and Chancellor Miner for entrusting me to lead this great institution.”
Contact Stella Lorence at [email protected] or follow on Twitter at @slorence3.