New president Walter Tribley sets his course at Monterey Peninsula College

Tribley wants a more wired campus

Herald Staff Writer
Posted:   01/06/2013 11:05:07 PM PST
Updated:   01/07/2013 09:09:51 AM PST

Less than two weeks into the presidency of Monterey Peninsula College, Walter Tribley already has confirmed one of the first impressions he had of the college.

Campus relations are good, a tribute to the leadership of his predecessor, Doug Garrison.

“He’s been very mindful and deliberate in the way he led here,” Tribley said Friday. “He always had an eye on doing the right thing for students and all the faculty and staff in an incredibly difficult financial time.”

Tribley, 53, could have been talking about himself. At Wenatchee Valley College in Washington state, where he was vice president of instruction, Tribley built a reputation for being thoughtful and fair.

“He worked hard to find the facts before he’d make a decision and would make a decision given the best info available,” said Rick Underbakke, dean of liberal arts and sciences at Wenatchee. “He’s well thought-out.”

Tribley’s also focused on students, their access to the college and their success, Underbakke said.

“These two (issues) factored in many of his decisions, as to the type of classes offered and locations, so we could give students the access to the degrees from a variety of places that (were) convenient to students.”

Raised in New York, Tribley wanted to be a forester early in his student career, but he realized he was more interested in the biology of trees than their harvesting. So he switched his major to biology. At the University of Idaho, he also earned a degree in education and a master’s of natural science.

“It’s a degree in biology for those who want to teach biology,” he said. “At that time I wanted to be a biology teacher.”

Tribley taught biology at Seminole State College of Florida for three years, then he worked for the Interdisciplinary Center of Biotechnology Research at the University of Florida. His job was to organize workshops and training sessions on how to use the tools of biotechnology for a wide variety of research.

“In the early 1990s, so many professors in major universities did not have the training on DNA (synthesis and sequencing), fingerprinting, gene cloning — those were new technologies,” he said. “Then I fell in love with learning more about gene cloning, molecular biology, so I went back for my PhD.

After earning a doctorate in biochemistry and biophysics from Washington State University, Tribley got a post-doctorate fellowship for Atairgin Technologies, a health care technology company then based in Washington. He followed with a three-year stint for the company, now based in Irvine, as head of a research and development team looking for biomarkers for ovarian and breast cancer.

Seeking to return to education and to Washington state, Tribley was hired as allied health director for Wenatchee Valley College, where he moved up the administrative ladder.

As a result of Garrison’s efforts, Tribley senses a healthy workplace at MPC, something that will help its different constituencies as they confront changes that lie ahead.

The work will start with “something that MPC has been tackling and that’s funding,” he said.

“What Proposition 30 indicated is a strong support for our educational system, and that’s very much appreciated. But it just stopped the bleeding in the dramatic loss of funding, but it did not restore the base,” he said. “We have to find new ways to bring new revenue. Funding is one of the major hurdles and concerns.”

Proposition 30 is a half-cent tax California voters overwhelmingly approved in November. The new source of revenue avoids further budget cuts, but doesn’t restore funding lost since the budget crisis of 2008.

Money for the state Community College System has shrunk by $809 million — or 12 percent — since 2009. Proposition 30 allocated an extra $210 million for the entire system.

Other major issues on Tribley’s mind are implementation of the “Student Success Task Force” recommendations, a series of state directives to help increase graduation rates and student success.

Along those lines, Tribley would like to see Monterey Peninsula College become a more wired campus, one that offers more access to everyone in the community by taking advantage of what technology has to offer.

“This is not just about being more accessible online, it’s also about recruiting students and present(ing) the many good things already occurring at MPC,” he said. “Just to be more wired in all of our operations. I’m very excited about that.”


Claudia Meléndez Salinas can be reached at 753-6755 or


One response to “New president Walter Tribley sets his course at Monterey Peninsula College

  1. Pingback: Retiring MPC president looks back, forward | white page communications

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