After a nationwide search, the final candidates for president of Fullerton College came to campus to answer questions and make their case for why they are best suited for the position.

Faculty from other community colleges in Fullerton’s district moderated the forum. NOCE President Valentina Purtell and Cypress College President JoAnna Schilling led the questioning.

Questions written by both the chancellor’s office and the community were asked. A recording of the forum can be viewed online.

The Chancellor’s office is requesting community feedback on the finalists, which can be submitted before April 8 at noon, though feedback received after the deadline may still be considered. The interview process will end on April 9 with a decision announced shortly afterward.

The three finalists

Dr. Gilbert J. Contreras, Fullerton College interim president.

Dr. Anthony Culpepper, executive vice president of Glendale Community College.

Dr. Tammy Robinson, vice president of instruction at Cañada College.

Shortly after the former president Greg Schulz was appointed president of Citrus College, Gilbert Contreras, was appointed as Fullerton College’s interim president and has been serving in that role since July 2021.

Contreras has worked in California community colleges for 15 years, working mainly in student services. Since becoming interim president at Fullerton College, he has created programs such as Behavioral Health Services, as well as the College Antiracism Statement.

Dr. Gilbert Contreras during the presidential finalist forum at Fullerton College on April 7.

Dr. Gilbert Contreras, FC interim president at the Presidential Candidate Open Forum hosted at Fullerton College on April 7. Photo credit: Eulalia Saucedo

“The best ideas should come forward to guide this institution, not the politics of the time, or things that will benefit certain areas over other areas, but what is in the best interests of our students…and the college,” said Contreras.

Anthony Culpepper has spent 24 years working in higher education, serving in a variety of administrative and academic roles. When asked how he would create an inclusive environment for minority and marginalized communities at Fullerton College, Culpepper spoke on the critical need to make sure all voices are heard. He also spoke about taking action to create change.

Dr. Anthony Culpepper answers questions during the Presidential Candidate Open Forum at Fullerton College on April 7.

Dr. Anthony Culpepper answers questions during the Presidential Candidate Open Forum at Fullerton College on April 7. Photo credit: Eulalia Saucedo

“I can have a philosophy of diversity, equity and inclusion but my actions need to lead to access, where individuals are actively involved, invited, welcomed and engaged,” said Culpepper.

While at Bakersfield College, Culpepper guided students in reviving the long-dormant Black Student Union. While in his current position at Glendale Community College, he lobbied the state to pass a law making Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day a holiday for community colleges.

Tammy Robinson is an alumna of Cerritos College, UCLA, CSU Dominguez Hills and USC and has 25 years of experience as a community college administrator and faculty member, working across California during her career.

Dr. Tammy Robinson answers a question from moderator NOCE President Valentina Purcell during the president finalist forum at Fullerton College on April 7.

Dr. Tammy Robinson answers a question from moderator NOCE President Valentina Purtell during the Presidential Candidate Open Forum at Fullerton College on April 7. Photo credit: Eulalia Saucedo

When discussing the biggest challenge facing community colleges today, Robinson spoke of a radical reimagining of higher education to appeal to the next generation of students. She also acknowledged the many issues students face, including the pandemic, homelessness and marginalization.

“We have to normalize asking for help. And as I’m a person of color, I can say people of color don’t like letting you know we need help. Students face challenges and we have to let them know, ‘We got you,’” said Robinson.

Community turnout was strong, with the room nearly at capacity. Evangelina Rosales, NOCCCD Board of Trustees member, said the level of community involvement was the highlight of the forum.

Students, faculty, staff and community members at the Presidential Candidate Open Forum on April 7 at Fullerton College.

Students, faculty, staff and community members at the Presidential Candidate Open Forum on April 7 at Fullerton College. Photo credit: Eulalia Saucedo

“I’m very happy to see community members, faculty, classified staff and students alike coming to the forum. It’s an example of how the Fullerton College campus community is very involved.”

Author profile

Eulalia Saucedo (she/her) is an art history major from Whittier, CA. She enjoys contemporary art, screenwriting and watching bad movies with her friends.