Berkeley City College in downtown Berkeley. Photo: Melati Citrawireja

Angélica Garcia has been named president of Berkeley City College, taking up the leadership role during a rocky time for the Peralta Community College District.

Garcia comes from Skyline College in San Bruno, where she was vice president of student services, and is BCC’s first Chicana leader, according to a press release. She’ll start her job May 7, taking over for Deborah Budd, who held the position on an interim basis after former President Rowena Tomaneng left to run San Jose City College at the beginning of the year.

“I’m honored to lead a school that is already a top choice for students looking to transfer to UC Berkeley or UC Davis,” said Garcia in the press release. “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 socioeconomic diversity. I am energized by the diversity among students and the local community.”

At Skyline, Garcia launched programs to boost graduation rates and address equity issues. She designed the Promise Scholars program, promoting graduation within two to three years, and created a new division focused on student equity and support, including programs addressing food and housing insecurity among students, according to BCC.

“Her experience as a first-generation college student, and student of color, informs her teaching and leadership, always putting students first,” said Regina Stanback Stroud, Peralta’s chancellor, in the release. “I have seen her move mountains to assure student success at Skyline College, and I have no doubt that will continue at Berkeley City College.”

Garcia received her doctoral degree in educational leadership from San Francisco State University, as well as a master’s degree in social work from San Diego State and a bachelor’s from St. Mary’s College. She grew up in the East Bay and lives in the area with her wife and two young daughters.

The new president will begin her Berkeley tenure by leading a campus that has no students on it. All four Peralta colleges, along with district offices, will stay closed through June 30 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Many classes and student services are being provided remotely.

The entire Peralta district, which serves more than 30,000 students between BCC, Laney College, Merritt College and the College of Alameda, was put on probation in January.

Accreditation officials gave the school nine months to repair fiscal issues, including a structural deficit, failure to comply with policies, and other financial mismanagement problems. Several months earlier, state analysis determined that Peralta was headed toward financial instability, prompting the state to assign a fiscal monitor to observe the district, only one of two in California put under that watch.

Stroud came in last fall, after the resignation of former Chancellor Jowel Laguerre. She told the San Francisco Chronicle in January that she’s confident her administration can pull the Peralta colleges out of their financially troubled states.

Natalie Orenstein reports on housing and homelessness for The Oaklandside. Natalie was a Berkeleyside staff reporter from early 2017 to May 2020. She had previously contributed to the site since 2012,...