Dr. Wise Allen Steps in as Chancellor, Announces Strategic Vision for the Peralta Colleges
Peralta Community College District Chancellor Has a Plan for Success
OAKLAND, Calif., July 13, 2010 – In his first week on the job, the new Chancellor of the Peralta Community College District, Dr. Wise E. Allen, has had to deal with state budget cuts to education, probationary status for his colleges, planning for potential Johannes Mehserle trial demonstrations, a civil grand jury report and dramatically increased educational demand.
It's all in a days work for Dr. Allen, who is well positioned to get the job done for the Peralta Colleges after his appointment as interim chancellor on July 1. He served as the district's Vice Chancellor immediately prior to his appointment as Chancellor, and is a former President of Merritt College, as well as previously serving as an administrator at each of the other three district colleges: Laney College, Berkeley City College and College of Alameda. He began at the latter institution as a sociology professor 35 years ago.
As Chancellor, Dr. Allen has laid out his strategic vision: "Our top priority is to keep budget cuts as far away from the classroom as possible. Our core mission is to provide affordable quality education in a caring teaching environment, so our highly diverse student body can pursue life-changing opportunities.
"The state no longer provides full funding to teach our local students, so it's a constant challenge to fund our classrooms. We can accomplish that, both by economizing – for example, we've cut travel expenses by 70 percent – and by finding new money. That's a major role for us in Peralta Community College District management: we aggressively seek funding to educate as many students as possible. In the last 18 months, for example, we've secured $14 million in grants from the federal government, plus millions of dollars from other sources to finance our classroom education and vocational training.
"That makes it possible for thousands of local residents of all ages to attend classes which would otherwise not be available to them. It makes it possible for thousands to change their lives by transferring to a four-year university, getting a job or upgrading their job skills for career advancement. We make a huge difference in people's lives.
"My second priority is to do the administrative work to get us off probationary status with the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. We already have a comprehensive plan in place, and a highly qualified senior management team has been working diligently on our financial management procedures and technology since December 2009.
"Our students and faculty are not affected by the probationary status, because the accreditation of our colleges remains in place. Classes continue, credits remain transferable to other colleges, and, financial aid is unchanged. We have to report to the accreditors in October and have until June of next year to correct deficiencies.
"Finally, I want to improve our reputation as one of the finest community college systems in the state. We've learned from the past, and this district now probably has stronger ethical controls on our leadership than any in the state. I'll make it a priority to ensure that all the new reforms that we've put into place in the past year will be carried out, and thereby will help build public confidence. I also have the greatest respect for our board of trustees, who really care about the students. We do fantastic work for our students, and the general public has no clue. We have more positive impact on our students' lives than the average four-year university. It's time we got the word out."
Since 1964, the Peralta Community College District – Berkeley City College, College of Alameda and Laney and Merritt Colleges – has served Alameda, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Oakland and Piedmont by providing East Bay students of all ages with a range of educational programs and life-long learning opportunities.