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Georgia Perimeter president steps down

COVINGTON -- Georgia Perimeter College President Anthony Tricoli has stepped down after financial problems led to a $16 million budget shortfall at the two-year institution.

University System of Georgia Chancellor Hank Huckaby said in a statement released late Monday that GPC recently informed USG that the college "faced a significant budget shortfall" this school year, which ends June 30.

He said after several days of analysis, system fiscal and audit staff determined that the shortfall is around $16 million.

"Prior to alerting the system office, GPC had already taken steps to control spending for the remainder of (the school year). These steps were expanded when the size of the shortfall was determined," Huckaby said in the statement. "These steps include curtailing travel, canceling various encumbrances and purchase orders, delaying hiring and suspending contracts. In addition, the system will reallocate funds internally and will ensure that GPC will finish (the year) with a balanced budget."

Huckaby said the shortfall will carry over into next year, when the same measures likely will be put into place.

"We do not know at this time precisely the impact in every budget area, but it will be significant and will likely impact personnel," he said. "These actions are necessary to address a shortfall of this magnitude."

Huckaby said that GPC's tuition and fees will not be increased beyond what the Board of Regents already approved at its April board meeting.

At that time, USG reported that this fall, most students at Georgia's 35 public colleges and universities will see the smallest tuition increase in a decade at 2.5 percent, which is the lowest percentage increase since fiscal year 2003.

USG officials said it was in part due to Gov. Nathan Deal recommending and the General Assembly agreeing to full funding of the formula for the USG, and that by doing so, the regents were provided with a strong financial base upon which to set current tuition policy in fiscal year 2013.

Huckaby said the college needed a "fresh approach," so Tricoli stepped down.

Dr. Alan Jackson, vice president of Academic Affairs at GPC, will serve as acting president until Huckaby appoints an interim president "in a few days to move GPC past this difficult moment," Huckaby said in the statement.

Tricoli will move to the university system office to help with distance education, adult degree completion and learning support programs. He became president of GPC in 2007; he is the sixth president of GPC.

"I want to thank President Tricoli for his dedication to GPC's students and his leadership," Huckaby said.

Tricoli presided over GPC commencement ceremonies over the weekend. He was the keynote speaker at the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce's annual meeting in January.

The college is the third largest institution of the USG, serving approximately 27,000 students through four campuses in Clarkston, Decatur, Dunwoody and Newton, as well as several sites in metro Atlanta, including an Alpharetta center and partnerships at the Rockdale Career Academy in Conyers and the Newton College & Career Academy in Covington.

"GPC is a strong and vibrant college with much going for it. It is a wonderful institution, and I know will remain so," Huckaby said. "Our focus will be to continue the great work of GPC toward meeting its educational mission while ensuring its long-term financial stability."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.