Good morning Bakersfield! It is Saturday, January 23, 2016…..a good day to be a Renegade.
It’s been a wild week here at BC. Of course, every time we start a new semester and welcome thousands of ready-to-roar Renegades back to campus, it’s a time of excitement, activity and barely contained chaos. We have approximately 7% more Full-Time Equivalent Students this spring compared to spring last year. It is a good time to be at BC!
Almost a month ago, on December 27th I did a blog on the new Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens http://bcpresidentblog.com/2015/12/27/a-holiday-blog/.
That led to a series of texts to Manny De Los Santos and Francis Mayer followed by phone calls to the creative team.
Did you spot the Sriracha?
So, the Creative Team made it all happen as fluidly as J.J. Abrams himself. From an idea fleshed out by Shannon Musser, Dylan Wang and Francis Meyer, BC’s videographer extraordinaire Manny de Los Santos, with his newly acquired drone, shot an amazing 3-minute short film to kick off Opening Day, bringing the entire world of Star Wars to the Bakersfield College campus.
Watch the Millennium Falcon take off and circle over 1801 Panorama Drive, the Imperial stormtroopers and R2-D2 strolling around campus, and the roar of Zav Dadabhoy aka Wookiee Chewbacca.
Put all that together — and you’ve got Spring Opening Day 2016. Looking out at the collected BC family in the Simonsen Performing Arts Center theater last week made it one of the best semester kickoffs we could have imagined. I received several emails appreciative of Opening Day. Here is one from Gayle Richardson or should I say Darth Richardson:
What an amazing start of a new semester! This is the start of my 69th semester at BC and I am a proud Renegade as I am certain you must know.
Kudos to those who magnificently presented the best Opening Day I have ever seen! I am hoping the live stream will be saved to a land not so far away in order for faculty to take bits and pieces to energize students. Big Smile!
Many years ago I was named “Darth Richardson” by students in 4 consecutive classes. It is a story, Sonya, that I would love to share with you in person.
As a new Star Wars fan, I can’t tell you how much fun it was to sit in Han Solo’s captain’s chair and fly the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs with my incredible crew — even if it was all just movie magic shot in our BC studio! But truly, all the work we have accomplished in such a short period of time is magic indeed.
Our Star Wars theme carried over as members of the BC team talked about some the amazing accomplishments we’ve achieved together in recent months. Here are the three videos:
Putting all the fun of droids and Jedis and Death Stars aside, Spring 2016 Opening Day also stands out for another important reason: the soft launch of The Renegade Promise. Mark your calendars, on April 29th, BC led by our SGA President Clayton Fowler will be ready to make the Renegade Promise officially to our community.
Students come to BC to expand their educational opportunities and turn that new-found knowledge toward a broader, more lucrative employment future. What often goes without saying is that our students and their families want the process to happen YESTERDAY and as President Fowler stated on Opening Day, he does not want to spend 6 years at BC to get a doctorate.
Well, we feel like it’s time to SAY it — we want you to move on too! As much as we love each and every BC student, Bakersfield College is committed to fulfilling the new Renegade Promise — assuring that every BC student attains their educational goals, graduates, or transfers as quickly as possible. All this without compromising the quality of learning that is our hallmark….the development of creativity, critical thinking and problem solving.
As a collective, the BC family is making the Renegade Promise a pledge to position students on a path to reach graduation or transfer requirements within our promised 60-credit window. Can this be done in two years? Of course this could happen if the responsibility is shared by BC and the student. BC by ensuring that the courses are available with the necessary academic support and the student committing to 15 credits per term. Now, if the student instead chooses to take 12 or 9 credits per term (remember, most of BC’s students work), it will mean the extension of the timeline for 60 credits from 2 years to perhaps three. Still a huge improvement. Now, should this “shared responsibility” extend to the community as well. Absolutely! The community has done an incredible job supporting education though providing internships and scholarships to help our students prepare for the workforce and quickly make progress on their educational pathways.
The Renegade Promise is a simple pledge…yet not always as simple to pull off as you may believe. Any number of delays, both personal and scholastic, can push a student off-course. Under the Renegade Promise, we’re all taking an active role in trying to foresee those delays for each student and chart pathways around those obstacles.
Top to bottom, Spring 2016 Opening Day was a tremendous day. Huge thank yous go out to several people, including my fellow presenters — SGA President Clayton Fowler, BC Campus Chair Ed Borgens, CSEA President Tina Johnson, Management Association President Sue Vaughn, Academic Senate President Steve Holmes.
Also major thanks to the ushers, the logistics team and M&O team members who made the day happen so seamlessly! Francis it was such a treat to work with you. You have talent! and thank you to the fabulous red, my Obi-Wan Kenobi, R2D2, and Yoda–Princess Jennifer.
To wrap up, I’d like to share my concluding remarks from Spring 2016 Opening Day:
Colleagues, we’re all instrumental in keeping Bakersfield College at the vanguard of local intellectual, cultural and economic vitality. As we continue to be accountable, and as we move the dial on student success, let us not forget that what makes life wonderful, rich and expansive is the little somethings that are not rational. It is the pure lightness that fills our hearts when we see the mountains at the far edges of the valley when the air is clear. Or the vibrations we feel when our drumline students perform in the gym. It is the excited text from Cindy Collier after the Deputy Sector Navigators visited our CTE program and her sense of pride in our faculty. Or what I experienced watching Liz Rozell at a breakfast keynote speaking about her life. It is hearing Nan talk about how we got the colors on a building wrong, or lamenting that the beautiful oleander bushes should not be trimmed down to resemble miniature poodles. Or noticing that my mentee from Shafter high who was stuck to me through the whole fall term is now a promising professional. It is the pride of Chef Sabella and team as they prepare a wonderful meal.
This is the essence of who we are as “humans in community.” This is the essence of BC. We impact each other in all we do. When we create the conditions to make our days rich with little somethings, we create the best environment for ourselves, for our colleagues, and for our students. This is the essence of our work to be accountable; but “little somethings” are the fundamentals of excellence.
I received an email from Matt Garrett on November 15, 2015. He wrote:
In 1945 Grace Bird’s message to the student body began by claiming the tune “You can be Better Than You Are” as the school theme song, and explained:
“Your College–your faculty and your student leaders–bring you opportunities to develop skills and enrich understanding. We ask you to bring your minds and your hearts. ‘In preference lies the root and essence of all excellence.’ Among the multitude of activities opened to you during the year, chose wisely.” –Grace Bird
Matt added that Grace Bird was quoting George Santayana’s essay “Value Irrational” found in his book titled “Little Essays” (1921), which prompted me to read this little gem. All three pages of it.
Here is an excerpt from the final paragraph that for me captures the little somethings that define our lives because they come from a deeper place of being:
Values spring from the immediate and inexplicable reaction of vital impulse, and from the irrational part of our nature. The rational part is by its essence relative; it leads us from data to conclusions, or from parts to wholes; it never furnishes the data with which it works. If any preference or precept were declared to be ultimate and primitive, it would thereby be declared to be irrational …
So colleagues, here’s to Spring 2016. A term of great rationality…. a term of data, and moving the dial, …… all this sprinkled with a great deal of irrationality and the little somethings that differentiate BC from the rest.
The Force is with…..BC!
Check out the 12-minute photo roll video that Shannon put together as everyone was gathering in the indoor theater for Opening Day