GPC President Anthony Tricoli
GPC President Anthony Tricoli

Anthony Tricoli is a busy man with a lot of interests.

Wood working, kayaking, fly fishing, and painting capture his attention during his time off. But his true passion is his job.

For the past five years, Tricoli has served as the president of Georgia Perimeter College, a position he calls the most rewarding of his life.

“I can’t wait to get up in the morning and come to work,” Tricoli said. “I know I’m going to get to help students achieve their dreams.”

Georgia Perimeter College is a two-year college with five campuses around Atlanta, including one in Dunwoody. Tricoli counts among his accomplishments unifying the different campuses, which he said were once more like a federation of colleges with sometimes-competing agendas. “Now we operate as one very strong unit,” Tricoli said.

He also worked to establish partnerships with other colleges to benefit students once they graduate from GPC.

Georgia Perimeter has transfer admission guarantees with all four-year institutions in Georgia, as well as other universities located outside the state, such as Auburn University, University of Louisville and Syracuse University.

“We are one of the few institutions in the nation that offers such a program,” said Tricoli of the agreements, which guarantee successful students admission to the schools of their choice. “Four year institutions love GPC transfer students.”

Tricoli said he feels a connection to the college and its students, many of whom are non-traditional students working while they earn their degrees.

“My mom and dad did not spend a dime on my college education. I worked, got scholarships, made it through on financial aid,” Tricoli said. “I’m not unlike the students here. Every student has a story. I understand where they’re coming from.”

His parents always pushed the importance of education, though neither had a high school diploma. Tricoli’s father attended high school through the 11th grade; his mother had an eighth grade education.

“My mom was a very strong figure in driving me to get a college education. She knew the value even though she wasn’t able to attain a high school or a college education herself. She understood the great value gaining a college education would have for her children,” Tricoli said. “She wanted to do it, but she was working, helping her family.”

Above, some of Tricoli’s pens.

Tricoli, too, feels inspired to help others work toward degrees that will improve their lives.

“I’ve been asked four times to move to the university level. But this is where I belong,” Tricoli said. “I feel like I was put in the right place at the right time. It really is a dream come true for me and my career and I’m honored to hold this role.”

In his time as the leader of Georgia Perimeter College, the college has seen tremendous growth and change.

The school is will soon begin offering some four-year degrees. The focus will be on non-traditional majors, such as American Sign Language, he said.

“We intend to build baccalaureate degrees that really fill a niche need,” Tricoli said.

In the fall of 2007, the projected enrollment was 13,400. This year, the projected enrollment doubled to 28,000. Over the past five years, online enrollment has jumped from 1,600 to more than 8,000.

Alan Jackson, the vice president of academic affairs, said Tricoli has helped bring a new attitude to the college. During his tenure, the school has become more engaged in the community and within the world of higher education.

“There’s a certain increase of energy, activity that has been present, particularly in last three to four years,” Jackson said. “I think the college is better than it was before. We’ve made a lot of positive strides. We’re not unwilling to be participant in higher education things because we’re a two-year college. We don’t have that attitude anymore.”

Though he loves his job, Tricoli admits it’s not easy. He said many work days are 17 or 18 hours. He always carries business cards in case he meets someone while he’s out in the community that could lead to a potential partnership for the college.

“When you’re the president of a college, it’s not Monday to Friday, 8 to 5. It’s 24/7 and there’s no escaping that,” Tricoli said.

Though his job cuts into his personal life, Tricoli’s wife Robin is very understanding— because she’s a college president herself. Robin Tricoli is the president of Hiwassee College in Tennessee. The Tricolis share their stories and struggles over the phone, and make the three-hour drive to see each other on the weekends.

“I’m married to a spouse who understands what I do and does what I do,” Tricoli said. “There’s no power trip in our house. We’re a married couple who love each other and support each other. It just happens to be in the same field.”

In his time away from the college, Tricoli said he enjoys activities that allow him to focus completely on something that is not related to work.

“If I don’t pay attention I’m going to get hurt. If I go whitewater kayaking, I can’t be thinking about what’s going on at the college,” Tricoli said. “When I do my woodworking I’m using power tools that can take fingers off.”

Last August, Tricoli began making homemade Christmas gifts for the employees at GPC. Using wood from his yard, he made 125 snowman figurines, working up until Christmas Eve to complete them.

He’s enthusiastic about woodworking, channeling the same dedication he puts into the college.

“I think I’m a starving artist at heart,” he joked.