The fall semester is upon us. It's the busiest time of the academic year for your community colleges -- Berkeley City College, College of Alameda and Laney and Merritt colleges in Oakland.

Classes start Monday, and everyone is scurrying about making sure that they have things in place to make this autumn a time of teaching and learning.

It won't just be new students arriving at our four community colleges this semester. There will be a number of other new faces on campus -- teachers and administrators -- to greet students. Let's meet just of few of them.

On the campus of College of Alameda, Tim Karas steps in as the new vice president of instruction. Karas has hit the ground running, preparing for this semester's classes, and for good reason: before joining the team at Alameda, Karas was with Mission College in San Jose as interim dean of instruction.

Karas was also a tenured faculty member at the College of San Mateo and active in the academic senate and the curriculum committee. He has a background as a librarian for Palo Alto and Redwood City. He has a master's degree in library and information science from San Jose State University and a bachelor of arts in geography from Humboldt State University.


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Berkeley City College also added a new vice president of instruction. Tram Vo-Kumamoto was tapped by college President Deborah Budd to lead BCC's academic programs beginning this fall. Tram served most recently as dean of science and mathematics at Chabot College and has 20 years of experience in a variety of educational systems.

Tram earned her bachelor of arts in psychology and social welfare from UC Berkeley and holds a master's degree in counseling with an emphasis in higher education from Cal State East Bay. Tram is a member of the Community College League of California's Commission on the Future. She also serves on the board of directors of the East Bay Agency for Children Auxiliary.

Over at Laney College, there is a new distinguished member of the faculty. "Overview of the California Court System and State Law," a political science class, will be taught this semester by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Vernon K. Nakahara. The class, Political Science 21, is also part of the Legal and Community Interpreting Curriculum, designed for individuals interested in a career in court interpretation. Judge Nakahara is sure to provide an extraordinary learning experience for Laney's students.

Speaking of Laney College, you won't want to miss "Welcome Back Week," a series of crowd-pleasing events full of information about Laney and the community it serves. There will be events in the quad each day from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., running from Monday through Thursday.

On Monday, you can meet college leadership officials. There will also be special college resource tables set up to answer all your questions. On Tuesday, it's meeting the faculty members, complete with music and performances. On Wednesday, it is all about college programs with information about the many classes and programs offered at Laney College.

The festivities will conclude Thursday with a special convocation ceremony at the campus's Odell Johnson Performing Arts Center featuring Laney alumni sharing their inspiring stories. You won't want to miss any of the these great events.

For more information, call Tomoko Roudebush at 510-464-3536. See you this fall at one of our local community colleges.

Reach Jeffrey Heyman at jheyman@peralta.edu and follow him on Twitter at @JeffHeyman.