Anthony Tricoli listed 19 goals he wanted to accomplish upon becoming president of Georgia Perimeter College nearly four years ago.
That list was completed last spring and GPC has become a different institution than it was before Tricoli started his tenure. GPC’s enrollment has grown from 13,400 to nearly 26,000 students and is the third-largest college in the state.
The school’s online enrollment has grown from 1,600 students to 8,000, and Tricoli said he anticipates about 10,000 online students by spring semester.
The college’s mission of positioning itself as an open access institution is the basis for past and future growth. The college now has five campuses –Clarkston, Decatur, Dunwoody, Newton County and Alpharetta.
Partnering with Georgia State University also has helped Tricoli carry out GPC’s mission.
“Two-year colleges should enroll the greatest number of students, all with the goal of feeding four-year -state college and four-year research universities,” Tricoli said.
Tricoli’s experience at two-year colleges runs deep. He has more than 30 years of experience in education and has served as a teacher, director, dean and executive vice president for academic and student affairs at community colleges. He was president of West Hills College in California before coming to GPC.
Tricoli has helped transform GPC to a “one-college” philosophy. GPC offers more online courses, has more freshmen, more dual-enrollment students and has more students transfer to four-year colleges than any other college in the University System of Georgia.
“The University System of Georgia understands the role of two- and four-year colleges in the total education system,” Tricoli said. “Because of that, two- and four-year schools develop great partnerships. There’s great value there.”
GPC has created degree programs in business administration and teacher education through its partnership with Georgia State, and is reviewing the possibility of similar arrangements in criminal justice and social work, Tricoli said.
“Both (Georgia State) past president Carl Patton and current president Mark Becker have been wonderful partners for GPC,” Tricoli said. “Partnerships are the key to success, and GPC has been among the top two-year colleges in the country at developing strategic partnerships to the benefit of our students.”
Another type of partnership is the development of the Transfer Admission Guarantees. The TAG agreements with 39 institutions in Georgia enable GPC students to be guaranteed admission upon transferring to their first choice of a four-year college or university, Tricoli said.
“These types of partnerships between four-year colleges and GPC validate the excellent education our faculty is providing,” Tricoli said. “As a new student enters GPC, all they have to do is follow the road maps we’ve provided to them, take the courses spelled out in the agreement, earn the grade point average required and they will be admitted to their desired institution.”
Students of all ages are taking advantage of GPC’s expanded offerings. In the spring, Tricoli said, graduates included an 18-year-old and a 70-year-old. The average age of a GPC student is 27, Tricoli said.
The formula for GPC’s emergence goes beyond Tricoli. When asked what the most significant factors related to the growth of the college are, the third two items on his list were “outstanding faculty” and “a dedicated staff that are willing to go the extra mile to help our students,” he said.
“While the past two years in particular have been challenging financially, GPC’s faculty, staff and administrators have worked together as one team,” Tricoli said, “and have shown the resourcefulness necessary to maintain our outstanding academic programs and student services while increasing access to students.”
It has been a trying summer for Tricoli personally. He is recovering from cancer surgery where doctors removed a tumor from his colon and part of his colon. He missed six weeks but now is back in full swing.
Tricoli is focused on a new set of goals to begin the 2010-11 school year. Among the school’s top three goals is the implementation of a new software program for fall semester that will enable the school to better manage 16,000 new students per semester, Tricoli said.
Other goals include expanding online and hybrid courses, and building on the school’s mission as an open access institution.
“One of our most important goals as we move forward is putting measures into place to increase our retention and graduation rates into the four-year institutions of the University System of Georgia,” Tricoli said.