‘Family’ bids farewell, honors Gilkerson’s legacy


Denis Perez / The Advocate

Former Contra Costa College Vice President Tammeil Gilkerson smiles as staff, faculty and students clap for her during her farewell reception in Aqua Terra Grill on Thursday.

By Roxana Amparo, Editor-in-Chief

Friendly faces of faculty and management gathered in the Aqua Terra Grill on Thursday to wish Vice President Tammeil Gilkerson farewell as she leaves to be the president of Laney College in Oakland.

President Mojdeh Mehdizadeh said, “I want to cry.”

But she said she is excited for Gilkerson to take on her next leadership position.

“I am thrilled for her. This really is the next move for her. I think she is extraordinary. I want to say, Laney is so lucky they are getting her as a leader.”

Gilkerson said, “I am so honored, really, to have worked with you all.”

“My goal is to do a good job at Laney so you all can be proud,” Gilkerson said.

The more than 30 in attendance gathered around Gilkerson to see a video made by faculty and classified staffers who made a series of challenges in the video after she leaves the college and takes the Laney presidency.

The video had challenges from students, faculty and staff performing them for Gilkerson to imitate.

In the video, men’s basketball coach Miguel Johnson challenged Gilkerson to touch the ceiling.

To send Gilkerson off, prepared for work at Laney, Mehdizadeh and others put together a package of presents for her office.

Among the gifts were flowers, a journal, phone charger, pillow and vodka to ease the stress.

HSI STEM Manager Mayra Padilla said she shares Gilkerson’s “passion” for spicy tequila margaritas.

Dr. Padilla said Gilkerson embodies what the license plate on her car says — “show love.”

She said Gilkerson’s colleagues will miss her leadership.

“She was amazing at organizing things,”  Padilla said.

Dean of Enrollment Services Dennis Franco said he appreciated her ability to have a vision for the college and the direction it is headed.

“She was always three to four steps ahead of us,” he said.

Franco said he had the chance to see Gilkerson outside of her work environment during a conference in April 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.

“It was great to get to know her outside of work. It was a lot of fun,” he said.

Padilla said whoever is the college’s next vice president has “big shoes” to fill.

Mehdizadeh said the first time she met Gilkerson was when she was one of the representatives on the hiring committee that selected the vice president for CCC.

When Gilkerson completed her interview for the position, Mehdizadeh said it left her saying “wow.”

“This is someone who is extraordinary and well-put-together,” Mehdizadeh said. “She is a genuine, kind person.”

Mehdizadeh said Gilkerson is well organized and understands that it’s about the students.

Business Services Director Mariles Magalong said she knew Gilkerson before she came to CCC as vice president.

“She is a great leader,” she said, “as well as a great motivator.”

Padilla said Gilkerson will be missed, but is glad she has the chance to take on the presidency at Laney College.

Gilkerson will begin her tenure at Laney at the end of this month.