Headshot of a woman in a blazer
Denise Richardson. Courtesy: Berkeley City College

Denise Richardson has been named president of Berkeley City College, taking the helm during a period of declining revenue and depressed enrollment that hasn’t yet recovered past pre-pandemic levels.

Richardson was appointed interim president in July after former BCC president Angélica Garcia left for Santa Rosa Junior College this summer. She has worked at Peralta Community College District for 20 years, beginning at Laney College in 2001 teaching political science. Most recently, she was the vice president of instruction at Merritt College.

She was appointed Tuesday at a meeting of the Peralta Community College District Board of Trustees. The decision will be formally ratified by the trustees Oct. 24.

“I’m so grateful to Chancellor Jackson and to the Board of Trustees for choosing me to continue to lead the incredible team of faculty, classified professionals, and administrators at Berkeley City College,” Richardson said in a press release.

Richardson has already named three top priorities for her presidency: Develop a collaborative campus community, close achievement gaps for Black and brown students and strengthen Berkeley City College’s reputation for academic excellence and social justice.

“BCC is perfectly poised to lead the nation in closing equity gaps among underrepresented students,” Richardson said at a candidate forum in September. “My vision for success is leveraging our individual and collective skills closing the ethnic gaps through relentless focus and collaboration.”

Richardson earned her doctorate in education from Mills College at Northeastern University in Oakland. She has a master’s degree in educational leadership from Mills College and a master’s degree in political science from San Francisco State University.

Richardson’s daughter attended Berkeley City College before transferring to UC Berkeley, and Richardson lives in Berkeley.

“Dr. Richardson is the best choice for Berkeley City College now, and into the future,” said Jannett Jackson, Interim Chancellor of the Peralta Community College District. “[H]er unwavering support for this community and its students is evidenced by her over twenty years of employment within the Peralta district.”

To increase enrollment at the community college, Richardson said she wanted to appeal to specific student groups, like high school students who can dual enroll at BCC, foster youth and students who were formerly incarcerated, calling the community college “still too well kept a secret.”

For the last two years, all four colleges in the Peralta Community College District were made free to students, an attempt to take advantage of COVID-19 relief funds and attract new students.

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Ally Markovich, who covers the school beat for Berkeleyside, is a former high school English teacher. Her work has appeared in The Oaklandside, The New York Times, Huffington Post and Washington Post,...