Celebrating our faculty, staff, students and the community

Good morning Bakersfield.  It is June 11, 2016….A good day to be a Renegade!

Sonya Spring 2016

Sonya Christian

And I am so very happy to be the President of Bakersfield College!  Can’t you tell…..


Woke up relatively late this morning,  6:30 a.m.  I was gone for most of the week attending the Accreditation Commission meeting.  The days were long and intense but I must say that the quality of the discussions were excellent, the dedication of commissioners, the president of the commission and other staff is truly extraordinary. Quality assurance in this country is monitored by a peer review process. How cool is that!

Larry Braskamp wrote about the peer evaluation process in his essay, on Being Responsive and Responsible in the CHEA publication.

“Faculty (Academics) have had a remarkable history of being able to run their own affairs, i.e., the academic community itself has determined the standards held for the faculty and has judged the quality of their work. Accreditation is one manifestation of this position, since it serves as a mechanism for peers, mostly within the academy, to judge the worth, value and merit of academe. Despite this, the work of the faculty (academics) has never been totally isolated from the larger society. Being accountable-responsive and responsible-has always been embedded in the social contract between society and higher education.”

Accreditation builds on this idea of peer review—the reviewers are colleagues and peers with comparable jobs as vice presidents, deans, faculty and directors at other colleges.  These reviewers (evaluators) then submit their report to the commission that meets to take action on cases twice a year–in june and again in janaury.  The work, as I mentioned earlier is intense and rewarding at the same time.  Each commissioner can be elected for a total of six years broken up into two terms.  This is my first year on the commission and I thank the region (California, Hawaii, the Pacific Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia) for electing me last spring.

Harvey Hall June 9 2016 at Board MeetingOn June 9th, Mayor Harvey Hall, as the chair of the Bakersfield College Blue Ribbon Committee briefed the Board on the work being done by the Blue Ribbon Committee.  In addition to Mayor Hall, the following members of the Blue Ribbon Committee were also in attendance: Jay Rosenlieb, Pastor Hayward Cox, Jay Tamsi, and Michael Bowers.

Mayor Hall opened by saying how much BC means to him.   He could not but say “yes” when I asked him to chair this major initiative for the college because of his deep commitment to the college that has served this community for over 100 years..  The college moved up to the Panorama campus in the 1950s from the Bakersfield High School (then Kern High) campus.  The community leaders who planned the new campus were visionaries who planned the facilities on this 153-acre parcel.  Now the campus is over 60 years old and it is our turn to take care of the facilities for next generations of Kern County.  In 2016 planning for the next 50 years.  2016 to 2066. Check out the website at http://www.abetterbc.com/.

In addition to Mayor Hall, we have an incredible Blue Ribbon Committee. Former Congressman Bill Thomas serves as the senior advisor of the Blue Ribbon Committee.

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Here are the remaining members of the Blue Ribbon Committee

  • Karen Thompson, Vice President of Chevron and Vice Chair of the BC Foundation
  • Michael O’Doherty, COO Cushman and Wakefield and Chair of the BC Foundation
  • Keith Wolaridge, Owner Wolaridge Consulting.
  • Benjamin Stark, Office of Senator Jean Fuller
  • Malcolm Johnson, Office of Assemblymember Rudy Salas

Let me go back several weeks and tell you about the fabulous faculty, staff and students we have at BC.

Celebrating our students

BC Commencement 2016Congratulations to the Renegade Class of 2016! I was so proud to see so many students participating in our 102nd Commencement on May 13th.

I am so proud of our graduates and was excited to see the smiles and tears of their families and they cheered their loved ones.

2016_Commencement Agbalog Christian CarterIt was an honor to have two trustees at this years graduation –Trustees Romeo Agbalog and Kyle Carter.  Thank you trustees for making this a priority and taking the time to celebrate with us.  It means a lot to our faculty and staff to have you as part of our BC community.  And thank you Trustee Agbalog for your inspiring remarks about a veteran who risked his life for his comrades and using this as a call to action for our graduating class to step up for others.

Thank you Chris Hine, KCCD General Counsel, for attending and addressing the graduating class on behalf of the Chancellor and the District Office.


And congratulations to Professor Reggie Williams, who was announced as our 2016 Sam W. McCall Award winner! Our students vote on this award each year to honor an outstanding faculty member.  Academic Senate President Steven Holmes introduced the Sam McCall winner and he did so with his usual high energy warm engaging words and presence.  Professor Becki Whitson, Chair of the Alumni Association, welcomed the new graduates into the Alumni Association.

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And of course, the celebration isn’t complete without fireworks! We were treated to an amazing aerial display. You can watch a drone video of the fireworks at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWJNYyNl01Y.

Thank you Manuel de los Santos for putting together an awesome 3:56-minute video overview of our commencement. Check it out at https://youtu.be/IJabQc12634.


Here are some fun pictures of the platform party getting ready for commencement.

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Celebrating our faculty and staff

The end of the year is also a time to celebrate the accomplishments for the year as well as our faculty and staff.  It is a tradition at BC that we end our academic year with closing day celebration, where we are able to share our thoughts and achievements on the previous year.

Clayton Fowler, who served as Bakersfield College Student Government Association President for the 2015-16 year, gave a heartfelt speech and introduced his successor, Matthew Frazer.  Check out Clayton’s blog at https://claytonjfowler.wordpress.com/

A special thank you to our ushers, Andrea Watson, Heather Barajas, Chris Glaser, and Isabel Castaneda helping get everyone seated and for making sure our beautiful indoor theatre stayed clean!


Closing Day Planning Team

I would also like to thank our wonderful Closing Day team for putting together such a nice event – Monika Scott, Shannon Musser, Francis Mayer, Kristin Rabe, Manny De Los Santos, Dylan Wang, and Jennifer Marden.

We heard from our employee groups – Bernadette Martinez representing our classified staff as Vice President of CSEA, Isabel Stierle representing our faculty as CCA Campus Chair, Steve Holmes representing our faculty as president of the Academic Senate, and Sue Vaughn speaking on behalf of the Management Association.

It was touching to recognize our 12 faculty retirees this year: Mark Dommer, Nancy Magner, Alice Desilagua, Greg Chamberlain, Katherine Hairfield, Randal Beeman, Sandra Sierra, Randy Messick, Vienna Battistoni, Ann Marie Michalski, Rene Trujillo, and John Carpenter. We also had 9 faculty members attain tenure this year! Congratulations to Bryan Hirayama, Charles Kim, Rae Ann Kumelos, Linda McLaughlin, David Neville, Scott Peat, Laura Peet, Oliver Rosales, and Neal Stanifer.

Our faculty members also received awards. Reggie Williams was named the recipient of the Levan Faculty Scholarship Summer Grant, a program intended to encourage and support the scholarly and creative work of Bakersfield College faculty, established by the Norman Levan Center for the Humanities.

The Shirley Trembley Distinguished Teaching Award went to Kenward Vaughn, and the Margaret Levinson Faculty Leadership Award went to Jennifer Johnson. Those awards honor outstanding faculty members each year, and are named for exceptional women from BC’s past – Shirley Trembley,  a member of our math faculty from 1956-1990, and Margaret Levinson, who was with BC from 1931-1966, serving as English faculty, Dean of Women, Dean of Students, and Dean of Instruction.

As is the tradition, at Closing Day, I presented the Presidential Leadership Awards to departments, committees, or individuals. Here are this year’s recipients.

Athletics/Health & PE Department:

In looking at the student rosters for our athletics programs, I am fully sold on the fact that athletics is one of the best “student success in academic” strategies. Our faculty coaches are just phenomenal.

What an incredible year for BC athletics. I’ll just cut to the chase; they sent 15 of their 19 teams to the post season this year!

This group of faculty are always monitoring their students; almost 24-7. They monitor each of their students’ academic progress and then make sure that they attend tutoring or the study hall within the HPEA building organized by Stig Jantz. For their students to perform on the field (and they certainly did with 15 of the 19 sports going to playoffs) they must perform in the classroom.

And then there is the entire support staff that I see at all of the athletic events. Out there day-in and day-out. What commitment!

I would like to once again thank Sandi Taylor, athletic director; Keith  Ford, associate athletic director; and Reggie Bolton, Health & PE Department Chair. I also recognized our amazing coaches: Tim Painton (baseball), Rich Hughes (men’s basketball), Paula Dahl (women’s basketball), Carl Ferreiera (volleyball), Pam Kelley (track & field, cross country), Jeff Chudy (football), Brittney Goehring (golf), Scott Dameron (soccer), Christie Hill (softball), Matt Moon (swimming), Nick Jacobs (tennis), Nick Loudermilk (tennis), Brett Clark (wrestling), and Marcos Austin (wrestling). We had 15 sports make it to the post-season this year! Go Gades!

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Agriculture Department

How do you describe leadership when you are talking about a whole department? Teamwork? collaboration? Respect for each other’s talents and skills? Stepping up when called upon?   These words describe the Bakersfield College Agriculture Department.

Whether it is developing multiple associate degrees for transfer, organizing Ag Camps for middle school students, organizing an award winning Gardenfest, or hosting a group of Chinese Agriculture educators, the members of the Ag Department, Bill Barnes, Gregg Cluff, Bill Kelly, Lindsay Ono, Chris McGraw, Norman Oiler and Sally Sterns demonstrate the BC value of Community, represented in their department and through their strong ties with the surrounding community. They step up, tackle new projects, and do what ever it takes to get the job done.

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Research, scholarship and artistic creation:

BC, to me, feels more like a liberal arts college than a community college. This is largely due to the fact that our faculty are committed to their discipline as much as they are committed to the teaching and learning of their field. Today I would like to recognize three of our faculty for their scholarship and the impact of their work across the college and beyond the college to state and national levels- Dr. Oliver Rosales, Dr. Reggie Williams, and Dr. Randy Beeman.
Dr. Rosales was an early presenter on Renegade Talks, reminding us why history matters, and challenging us to ‘remember the legacy and diversity of civil rights era and how it informs current discussions of educational justice and student equity’. Oliver was instrumental in bringing a conference about the anniversary of the Delano grape strike and partnered with CSU Bakersfield to bring a fleet of nationally-renowned scholars together for a symposium which C-SPAN broadcast nationally. Oliver has a passion for history coupled with an unbridled enthusiasm for bringing scholars together and engaging others.
Dr. Beeman is retiring this year after 20 years as a professor at Bakersfield College. Randy co-authored a book in 2001, “A Green and Permanent Land: Ecology and Agriculture in the Twentieth Century”. He continued his research about agricultural history and rural studies. And he brought that scholarly lens to topics closer to home with his writing about the agribusiness industry’s response to Cesar Chavez and the farm worker movement. He was a Levan Faculty presenter in 2007, on the topic of “The Sustainable Path to Peace & Prosperity. “He was also the founding faculty director of the Bakersfield College Archives. Randy we will miss you, your passion for history and your scholarship. And your friendship.

In 2013, Dr. Williams became the second Bakersfield College scholar to give a Levan Lecture at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His topic was “Feminism and Rape.” In 2014, his writing on Feminism and Rape was selected for publication in Public Affairs Quarterly. This year, 2016, he spoke about race, wealth and inheritance at a Levan Institute forum. And this spring, his paper on this topic was selected for presentation at the prestigious 40th National Council for Black Studies Conference in North Carolina. Reggie’s intellectual curiosity, rigor and passion for research about contemporary topics have brought him national recognition.

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Nicky Damania & Lesley Bonds

Two of our junior managers have been here less than two years.  One has been here about one year.  And in this very brief period of time they have set this campus ablaze by their work.  Both are workaholics, and both have created initiatives and student success interventions and immersed themselves completely in our campus community.  They are models that any young professional should emulate.  Positive; collaborative; understated and humble; and prolific in their work output.

I can safely say that it is a joy to observe them at work, and when they partner together on a project, watch out!  They did exactly that when they partnered in the Renegade Promise project.  They came together to guide our SGA leaders, and the project grew,  and grew,  and grew.  We are now working on a “Kern” Promise.  Our campus is in good hands with leadership from Dr. Nicky Damania and Lesley Bonds!

Paul Beckworth

PaulBeckworthCourageous. Passionate. Honest. Intrinsic sense of duty.

And a champion of those students he has chosen to represent.

You want these qualities in any person that has served our country, and is now honoring those service members who came after him. Paul Beckworth has been the leader who has established the first Veterans Lounge on our campus, and then encouraged us to expand that concept to a Veterans Center with an embedded advisor, recruitment activities and workshops on critical resources and information, including the GI Bill, service credit and more.

It’s not just that! When called on to help, he is always available and gives of his time fully and completely.

Paul Beckworth is writing his own history and expanding our service to those to whom we own a deep gratitude! Thank you Paul Beckworth!

Dr. Jennifer Garrett

JenGarrettJennifer has been at Bakersfield College for only 3 years. In that short time she has furthered the tradition of excellence established by Dr. Ron Keen, and has brought the choral program to regional, national, and even international venues. Last summer she and Chamber Singers performed in Rome, Florence, and Venice, Italy.   In 2018 she assures me that I will be at the Sydney Australia Opera House listening her BC Chamber Singers. And I believe her – trust me, when Jennifer says she will do something, she makes it happen.

Jen’s irrepressible energy, at the same time serious, joyful, and playful – she combines the best of creativity, leadership, intellect, hard work and just plain fun.  She was honored as the recipient of the 2016 Outstanding Collegiate Educator Award, bestowed by the Kern County Music Educators Association. She loves her students and gives them her all, and in return her students love her and bring her the best they have to offer. Vocal music has no better advocate, leader, teacher and practitioner.

Steven Holmes and Andrea Thorson:

Andrea Thorson, Academic Senate Vice President and Steven Holmes, Academic Seante President, each embody a fearlessness when they step in and take on an issue.

Andrea has taken out significant institutional projects and departmental projects while teaching a full load and being a mom. The Renegade Talks (partnering with Todd Coston), working on improving “communication” of BC with its internal and external communities in response to an accreditation recommendation the college received 3 years ago, and fearlessly stepping in on controversial issues as a junior faculty without tenure.

Steven, with his flip flops and easy demeanor has been putting in countless hours on tough issues to make sure that BC is well positioned for the future. Guardie Banister during our 2015 Opening Day in Delano talked about “stepping in”. Steven has done exactly. Here are some examples:

  • Reviewing Board policies and documenting the work. In fact his work has become the official College work through College Council.
  • Setting the record straight on BC’s performance on the 50% law by relentlessly seeking data and then analyzing it.
  • Partnering with Anthony Culpepper and other members of the budget committee to tirelessly work on the Budget Allocation Model and other financial issues. In fact, I have repeatedly said this year that BC’s budgets are in good hands under the leadership of the co-chairs of the budget committee—Anthony Culpepper and Steven Holmes.

As President of the College I get to see Steven Holmes in action in his role as Senate President—whether it is at Board meetings or at consultation council or the budget committee or college council. I must say, he makes BC proud!

Executive Office

I also want to recognize the members of our executive office: Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, Zav Dadabhoy, Anthony Culpepper, Tarina Perry, Somaly Boles, June Charles, Tracy Hall, and Jennifer Marden.

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The 9th President of Bakersfield College: Greg Chamberlain

Nan Sonya Greg Rick April 30 2016

Rick Wright, Greg Chamberlain, Sonya Christian, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg

On Saturday, April 30, a group of Bakersfield College faculty & staff gathered, along with friends in the community, to celebrate our former college president Greg Chamberlain, who is retiring from his faculty position at the end of this semester.

I would like to share my remarks from that evening’s celebrations:

Today we are here to celebrate a diehard Renegade whose blood runs a deep Renegade red. In 1980 he first came to Memorial Stadium as a young trombone player from El Camino College, along with a tall flag bearer by the name of Kelly.  It was then in 1980 that he lost his heart to Kelly…..and to BC. Since that time in 1980, BC has been in his blood, and he has been in the lifeblood of BC. This is evident in the love and respect he has earned from BC faculty and staff through a long and cherished history at the college.

  • In 1989, BC made the best decision by hiring Greg as a computer science faculty.
  • In 1993: he became Chair of Computer Science
  • In 1997: he was selected Director of Instructional Technology
  • In 2001: he was named Dean over learning technologies
  • In 2006: he moved to the District as Vice Chancellor.
  • And in 2008 there could not have been a better announcement for the faculty, staff and students when Greg Chamberlain was named the 9th president of Bakersfield College.

His tenure as President will be known forever for the way he:

  • Valued faculty and staff participation in governance and decision making
  • Kept students at the center of every decision
  • Dealt with difficulties in a straightforward, honest manner, with grace and humor.
  • Acted with compassion

BC went through some of its most difficult times from 2008 to 2012 and Greg’s steady hand not just kept the college on course, but creatively growing despite the challenges. I see his touch across the college and I am beyond grateful. He engaged with budget cuts by creating the budget committee to bring the best minds across campus to work side-by-side with him to find solutions.  He brought in external grant funding, like the C6 grant, to support innovation in instruction, particularly in CTE.  Greg understood students’ need for a place to practice their foundational skills of writing and set up the Writing center.  And then there are the solar panels and BC’s focus on sustainability.  So you can see my friends, that Greg’s life’s work is deep in the lifeblood of the college, and can be felt all across the campus—from direct services to students, to facilities upgrades, as well as finances.

Greg and I have had a long relationship—Part 1 (1991-2002) and Part 2 (2012-today)

I started as faculty in 1991 and worked with Greg for 12 years before I headed to Oregon. And then again when the position of President was announced in 2012, Greg was one of the first individuals that I reached out to.  From that very first reconnection, through the anxious months prior to being named president, and throughout my time as President, both Greg and Kelly have been there for me. I am deeply grateful … helping me with my first Sterling Silver event in the foundation, or letting me use the President’s Office Banner that Kelly lovingly hand-sewed for Greg so that he could display the banner when he went to football games.  Through many difficult moments in my Presidency, Greg has offered me heartfelt advice, wisdom, and counsel, always insightful, with great perspective and consistently kind.

Whether it is a 4.8 red chili-pepper hot on RateMyProfessor.com, or a siracha-pepper-hot as the 9th President of BC, or any of the many roles and thousands of actions in between, Greg’s work is and has always been through his time at the College, exemplary.

But today we are simply here to tell Greg: We love you.

I’m so grateful that we had so much to celebrate at Bakersfield College this year, and I’m looking forward to what the next year brings!

We are…BC!



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4 thoughts on “Celebrating our faculty, staff, students and the community

  1. nickydamania June 11, 2016 at 1:27 pm Reply

    The pictures on the site are not downloading for me. Is this just me?

    Dr. Nicky P. Damania Director of Student Life Bakersfield College (661) 395-4614

    Sent from my iPhone. Please excuse the brevity, spelling, and punctuation.

  2. Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg June 11, 2016 at 5:04 pm Reply

    What a fantastic group of people to work with at BC. Graduation is such a celebration!

  3. Isabel Castaneda June 12, 2016 at 7:45 am Reply

    🙂 yes in deed a great time to be a RENEGADE! we have amazing people who make BC a better place

  4. bcpresident June 12, 2016 at 9:40 am Reply

    Thank you Isabel for writing this comment. And thank you for your hard work and dedicated to BC and to our students. We are…BC!

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