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Dismissed: What they haven’t told you about Tricoli’s resignation

By David Schick

Photo by Michale Ferguson/ AAUP


“I think everything’s going to work out.”

The Collegian spoke with former GPC President, Dr. Anthony Tricoli, on the phone on May 8, the day after Chancellor Hank Huckaby announced a $16 million budget shortfall and Tricoli’s departure.

“I’ve got a lot of questions coming from a lot of different angles right now,” said Tricoli. “Could you call me back tomorrow?”

But everything didn’t work out.


Tricoli came to GPC in 2006 and more than doubled enrollment from a projected enrollment of about 13,000 students in 2007 to over 27,000 students in 2011, making GPC one of the top two-year colleges in the nation.

During his presidency, Tricoli received several awards and national recognitions including the Ralph S. Brown award for shared governance from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and the Michael C. Holen Pacesetter award for exemplary commitment to academic advising from the National Academic Advising Association (NACADA).

However, Tricoli’s reign wasn’t all awards and recognition.

“I am very concerned about the material weakness, listed at the close of this letter, that was identified in the recent state audit of your institution … due to the seriousness of this finding, I am requiring that you send monthly updates to me and John Fuchko,” wrote Huckaby in an email to Tricoli on February 8.

The GPC community became vaguely aware of the college’s financial situation on April 27 after a general email, with a subject line of “Resources and Institutional Needs,” was sent from Ron Carruth, former vice president for financial and administrative affairs, that stated a spending freeze was in effect,

“You need to look at this. Shows last 3 years gpc ran deficits if I understand it,” wrote Steve Wrigley, executive vice chancellor, in an April 30 email to Huckaby.

The email included a spreadsheet, which illustrated a four- year analysis of GPC’s revenue and expense activity.

“I believe we can balance FY 12 and FY 13 but the reductions will result in staff losses since it appears from our initial analysis that employment levels are far higher than they should be.”

Tricoli drafted a memo on May 3 to inform faculty and staff about GPC’s financial situation.

“It seems he is still in a mode to avoid reality,” wrote Wrigley, on May 3, about the draft. Tricoli’s draft claimed that they were not considering furloughs.

“We do not have to set ourselves on fire but some of this is just plain misleading it seems to me,” wrote Wrigley.

At 1:37 a.m. on May 6, the eve of his removal as president, Tricoli sent an email to John Millsaps, vice president for Board of Regents media relations, about his selection for an award from NACADA.

“As indicated below, I am the first individual from a two- year college to receive this award since 2001. Pretty exciting. Some good news among the weird of late,” wrote Tricoli.


“Recently the leadership of Georgia Perimeter College informed the university system that it faced a significant budget shortfall,” wrote Huckaby in an announcement to faculty and staff on May 7. “In light of the need for a fresh approach, President Anthony Tricoli has stepped down.”

Huckaby thanked Tricoli for his dedication and added that he would be joining the system office “to assist with initiatives in distance education, adult degree completion, and learning support programs.”

Thirty minutes later, Tricoli emailed Huckaby.

“I never agreed to ‘step down’ I did agree to accept your offer to move over to the system office to assist you on several important initiatives. I ask that you please retract the two words ‘step down’ as it is extremely detrimental to my career, and does not reflect what we agreed, nor the facts.”

Attached was a five page resignation letter, which Tricoli requested be sent “well more than one hour before” Huckaby’s email to faculty and staff. It summarized Tricoli’s “mixed emotions,” five years of “fond memories,” and his “great sense of accomplishment” at GPC.

“I will look for great outcomes to continue to come from GPC in the years ahead.”


Tricoli met with Huckaby at the University System of Georgia’s office on May 10. After the meeting Huckaby wrote an email to Board of Regents members.

“I advised Dr. Tricoli that his contract for the current year would be honored through the remainder of the fiscal year and during that time he would be on Administrative Leave. His employment with the University System of Georgia will end on June 30, 2012.”

Tricoli’s attorney, Matthew Maguire, from Parks, Chesin & Walbert, then contacted Chancellor Huckaby via email.

“Lee Parks and I will be representing Dr. Tricoli in connection with his removal as President from Georgia Perimeter College and his termination of employment. We will correspond with you more formally as soon as possible (hopefully by the end of the day), but in the interim, we ask that you not make any public statement about Dr. Tricoli’s termination until we have a chance to discuss with you.
As you know, it can be very difficult to ‘unring’ a bell such as this.”

Huckaby’s email to Board of Regents members:

“During our conversation [Tricoli] alleged fraudulent behavior by key financial personnel at GPC. He was advised that those concerns would be taken seriously and that our investigation was not complete. The criminal division of the Attorney General’s Office was immediately notified of these accusations.We have subsequently been contacted by attorneys for Dr. Tricoli requesting that we refrain from commenting further on the firing of President Tricoli.”


The Collegian called back Tricoli for an interview the next day, May 9, but his phone had been disconnected.

After the news of the budget shortfall, the AAUP issued a statement of regret in awarding him the Ralph S. Brown award.

The Collegian was recently informed by Maguire, Tricoli’s attorney, that they had “mutually parted ways.”


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  • K. Parrish

    To David S and the Collegian
    Thank you for your persistence in following this story. For some staff, you were the only reliable source of information during difficult times. Good journalism and a good journalist.

  • Curious

    I’m curious about the method of selection for the faculty e-mails/excerpts published here. Why these six, if not all? Does this sample accurately reflect the body of correspondence from GPC faculty to Chancellor Huckaby?

    • http://www.reportschick.com David Schick


      I will be scanning and posting all the emails before the end of this week.

      • Curious

        Thanks, David. Good to know.

  • Get it straight

    Janie, they are no longer “Tricoli’s crew.” It’s time to call them “Watts’s crew.” Mr. Watts selectively removes and promotes people without explanation. I present the following FACTS : Sean Brumfield has retained his 90,000+ salary. He was not placed back in the classroom at a faculty salary (around $45,000) when the administrative position he was hired for was dissolved. Watts (not Tricoli) chose to place him in another administrative role and retain his 90,000+ salary. On the other hand, Watts had no problem reassigning administrator Joanne Chu back to the classroom. Watts chose to promote Whitaker to the position of executive director of libraries with his six figure salary and administrative assistant rather than reassigning him to library staff. Watts chose to provide Anna Schachner, the editor of the Chattahoochee Review, with a full-time staff editor, a full-time secretary, and faculty editors with release time. Schachner teaches one class/semester. Faculty releases cost money as do two full-time support staff with benefits. I could go on and on. Point: Tricoli is gone. Start directing the criticism where it belongs.

  • Janie

    What upsets so many of us is that Tricoli’s crew have kept their highly paid jobs while services to students have been massacred. Tutoring, libraries and computer labs rely on part time staff. Tutoring hours and staffing have been cut almost through the bone. Check it out: http://depts.gpc.edu/~gpcltc/locations.htm
    Morning, evening and weekend hours have been reduced or eliminated. Late night library hours have been cut back. Many students are in learning support classes and need help to make the grades to pass. Students are paying for these services. Perimeter can’t eliminate these to make up for the mistakes and coverups of managers. Whitaker, June and others are paid big money but do not earn it while essential services to students have been slashed. Tutors aren’t paid much and Whitaker’s and June’s salaries would cover many tutoring hours. Students petitioned about weekend library hours last year. Tutoring services are essential and I hope students will notice the cuts and protest loudly. I hope the Collegian will report these issues. Employees are too afraid for their jobs to do so. Why are Tricoli people being rewarded with better job titles and higher pay? Thanks for showing the emails to the Chancellor about Tricoli and please report emails about the others. These corrupt people have to be eliminated if Perimeter is going to move past this. Why haven’t University System officials done more to help since Watts won’t? Whitaker should have gone with Tricoli, Carruth, Champion and several others. With his pay and position he is a lingering bitter reminder of all that is bad and wrong at Perimeter.

  • Reply to “Me”

    I agree. I also recommend that Drs. Jackson and Jensen submit Open Records request for e-mails submitted by Rob Jenkins and Sally Wheeler to determine if any libelous statements were made. I would also recommend that they request names and IP numbers via legal counsel and courts to identify the posters of any career-damaging posts on previous blogs, including the AJC. I suspect the same small group of names will appear over and over again. In fact, we may already know two.

  • Me

    Proceed with Caution

    I suggest caution in attacking people in these blogs. I’m sure you’ve read of recent national cases where anonymous bloggers were charged with making libelous statements that damaged an individual’s professional reputation, and the blog facilitator was forced by law to reveal their identities and IP numbers.

  • Dismissed – why not Whitaker – Tricoli’s assistant

    August 2006 – “Dr. Tricoli’s experience, leadership skills and track record in getting results make him a perfect match for Georgia Perimeter College,” said Watts, to whom Tricoli will report, as do all USG two-year-college presidents.

    During his previous time as GPC’s interim president, Rob Watts promoted Decatur library director Julius Whitaker (Dubious Shitaker) out of the Decatur library into positions he was even less qualified for. Since getting rid of Tricoli, Watts has moved Whitaker into position as executive director of all GPC libraries. Until recently Whitaker was Tricoli’s “Chief of Staff” (his own made-up title) – does he think he works in the White House? He hasn’t worked in a library for years. He keeps his old salary of $101,000, his own executive assistant, and much resented refurbished offices with new furniture far removed from library staff.

    Library budgets and library and tutoring staffing have been drastically cut. “It will not be easy,” wrote Watts in regards to GPC now having to operate with significantly lower staffing levels. “Our goal is for these staff reductions to have the smallest possible effect on students.” How can cutting library and especially tutoring staff not affect students?

    Whitaker is despised and ridiculed by most library staff, many faculty, and staff from his previous non-library positions at GPC. At his much delayed campus library staff meetings, he talked relentlessly about himself and his accomplishments working with Tricoli. Dropping Tricoli’s name around GPC after 300 people lose their jobs is truly stupid and offended many.

    His idea of “one size fits all” cookie-cutter libraries does not fit the diversity of GPC’s 5 campuses. He uses the cliche of “thinking outside the box” while trying to make each library fit the same box. The Dunwoody library director and another longtime library employee retired rather than work for Whitaker. Other library employees have recently found other jobs and many highly experienced and valued library staff are applying elsewhere. No one can fault Clarkston’s former library director for retiring rather than dealing with budget and staff cuts, but faculty and staff wish she would have stayed at least another year. Her calmness, wisdom, and years of experience are much needed by the libraries at this time.

    Beth Jensen as English department chair almost destroyed GPC’s English department and its morale within a few months. Whitaker is just such a fiasco, lacking people skills (except brown nosing), library skills and Jensen’s intelligence. Library morale has hit bottom, and Whitaker tries to micromanage tiny details despite his lack of knowledge, lack of staff and greatly adding to stress. Only his own former campus library (Decatur) was truly in need of change. His own lack of attention during his time there and the insanity of its next director gave the Decatur library a very big black eye. Many students and faculty assume that a longtime employee there is the director. Although she is not a professional librarian with a library degree, she has been the real manager of the library for many years and is better suited to be the libraries’ executive director than the pretentious imbecile Whitaker.

    If Rob Watts is so impressed by Whitaker’s abilities, why wasn’t Whitaker kept on as Watts’ assistant (Chief of Staff) rather than dumping him on the libraries? Whitaker is a necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating bacteria) within the libraries. GPC’s accrediting agency (SACS – allows your credits to transfer) is visiting in September and many are looking forward to a chat with them about Whitaker, Truesdale and a few others.

    Watts’ judgment is in doubt given his endorsements of Tricoli and Whitaker. If Watts won’t dump Tricoli’s chief yes-man, maybe SACS will move him along. How about a library strike or sickout during the accreditation visit?

    “I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: “O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.” And God granted it.” – Voltaire. Each time Whitaker opens his mouth, he makes himself ridiculous. Not even God could do it better.