Article - Office of College Advancement

New Ohlone College president promises smooth transition

Gari Browning pledges support for women, minority students

By Matthew Artz, The Argus.

Friday, August 29, 2008—Reprinted from Inside Bay Area.

Ohlone college president Gari Browning gives her state of the college address in Fremont Friday, August 29th, 2008. Browning took over at Ohlone college July1st. —Photo by (Mike Lucia/Oakland Tribune).

Fremont—In her first address as Ohlone College's president, Gari Browning presented herself as a number cruncher and people person who won't veer far off the course set by her predecessor, Doug Treadway.

"Let me assure you that Dr. Treadway and I have communicated about the presidency here at Ohlone," she told a capacity audience at the Smith Center on Friday morning. "No one is going to drop that baton."

Browning took over the presidency July 1 following Treadway's retirement.

The 45-minute speech, sprinkled with Olympic analogies, was long on details, and devoid of rhetorical flourish.

As for the near term, Ohlone students should expect a new student services center to be completed within a year, Browning said, and Ohlone employees are not in danger of layoffs this semester.

Fall classes are scheduled to begin Tuesday following a summer of ups and downs for the college. In July, an accreditation commission ordered Ohlone to correct several issues or face possible sanctions.

But last week, Ohlone learned that the Newark Center, which opened in January, is the first U.S. campus to be certified as LEED Platinum—the highest distinction for sustainable building design.

As for dealing with the accreditation commission, which criticized the board of trustees for micromanaging the college, Browning said she will work to improve relations with board members.

Browning said she plans to meet regularly with individual trustees, give them regular written updates of college operations and provide board meeting reports in advance of the meeting.

The campus also is working to address the accreditation commission's other concerns, which included long-term planning as well as program review and employee evaluation procedures, she said.

Browning said the college's finances were in reasonably strong shape considering that state lawmakers still haven't passed a budget.

Ohlone will balance its budget this year by leaving several nonessential positions vacant, she said.

Although Ohlone has fewer students than it did two years ago, it has a higher percentage of full-time students, and more international students, Browning said.

Ohlone students also will have greater opportunities to study and work abroad as part of a new exchange program with Suzhou, China.

Demographically, Ohlone students are 35 percent Asian, 28 percent white, 12 percent Hispanic, 7 percent Filipino and 4 percent African-American.

Browning said she is "passionate about attracting underrepresented students to Ohlone," and increasing the numbers of women and underrepresented students in science and math programs.

"Today, we are the Michael Phelps of education and sustainability," she said. "And tomorrow, we will keep raising the bar."

Fremont reporter Matthew Artz can be reached at 510-353-7002 or martz@bayareanewsgroup.com. Read his blog posts at www.ibabuzz.com/tricitybeat/.

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