Tag Archives: Kate Pluta

Looking Forward to Spring 2017

We make history at Bakersfield College. It’s what we do – it’s what our students do – it’s what our community does!

Good morning Bakersfield. It is Saturday, January 14th, my grandfather Arthur’s birthday and an absolutely fabulous day to be a Renegade.

This week was so crazy and sooo good… ups and down, a roller coaster.  A definite downer was when I got on the 6am direct train to Sacramento, having forgotten to take my power cord for my laptop, had to get off at Wasco, get back to Bakersfield, and catch the next train/bus back up to Sacramento for the Accreditation Commission meeting. To make matters worse, I got soaking wet as I transitioned to the bus in Stockton and to the cab in Sacramento.

Don’t get me wrong… I do love the rain – just not getting soaked in cold rain.  After all I grew up in Quilon, Kerala, India where the monsoons are dense and spectacular.  Here is a 1:11-video to introduce you to where I grew up

But then there were so many ups this week…. The Governor’s Budget with $150M for Guided Pathways, the Winter Institute at BC, the Condors playing at Memorial Stadium (thank you Matt Riley), and Opening Day.

So let me start with Spring 2017 Opening Day on Friday the 13th.

Spring 2017 Opening Day

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Bill Thomas, Kay Meek, Tom Burke, Steven Holmes

Yesterday, we celebrated a dynamic Opening Day for the upcoming Spring 2017 semester! It’s fantastic to see faculty and staff brighten with excitement for the incoming students and a brand new semester. But also, for moving our work forward, continually improving and changing standards to always build a better BC!

Thank you Janet Fulks, Lesley Bonds, and Steve Waller for all that you do to improve student success.  And thank you Maribel Montelongo for saying hello and taking this selfie with me.

It was wonderful to have the President of the KCCD Board of Trustees, Kay Meek join us for Opening Day.   Kay was welcomed to the podium with a standing ovation and she thanked the college on behalf of the Board especially for the phenomenal work on the passage of Measure J.  We also had Congressman and Trustee Bill Thomas join us and briefly address the group.  Here is a tweet from Lesley Bonds

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It was also wonderful having our Chancellor Tom Burke join us with his new beard and all. He was warmly welcomed by the Renegades.  Here are pictures of 3 of the many speakers at Opening Day

I find it endlessly exciting to be able to wrap up one part of Measure J, while looking forward to the work we will put into utilizing a $500 million investment from our community. BC is about to change in a way it hasn’t seen since it broke ground on the hill in 1956. Amazing! #WeAreBC

Thank you Bill Potter and Eric Middlested for starting to work on the details of implementation of Measure J.

We also heard from the constituent group leaders.  Classified Union — Bernadette Martinez and here she is with Helen Calip who won Woman of the Year in Delano.

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Bernadette Martinez, Helen Calip

We also heard from Isabel Stierle, Faculty Union President; Sue Vaugn, Management Association President; Steven Holmes, Academic Senate President; Matthew Frazer, Student Government Association President; Susan Pinza on the Levan Faculty Colloquium; Todd Coston who led us in a stretch break; and myself.  It was wonderful seeing Tom Moran who was signing from the stage; and usually Tom Moran is behind the camera and it is a treat getting him in front of a camera.  Thank you Cara Jackson and Earl Parsons for the great photos.

Talking about our Academic Senate President Steven Holmes…. well, he is smart and extremely engaged in making sure that the interests of the Bakersfield College students are met….but he is also a trickster 🙂  On Opening Day Steve hazed the senior level administrators — myself, Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg and Zav Dadabhoy.  Zav captured this video of Steve removing the license plate from my car as a prop for his presentation.  This video is really funny.  Here it is

Here are some additional photos:

Loved the jacket Robby Martinez was wearing.  Prof. Martinez is a faculty in music, a Grammy award winner and got the Bakersfield College jacket you see in the picture at a vintage store in Hollywood.  What a story!

Thank you to all who came to Opening Day

Just three years ago, we waited for students to arrive at our campus where they would be met with one of the most life-changing experiences – attending college for the very first time.

But today, times have changed. Local students all throughout high school are starting to see possible pathways that extend above and beyond their 12th grade year. These options include higher education, unlimited student support, clarity of goals, and mastery of skills.  The Guided Pathways program is not about limits, it’s about clarity – a relentless clarity – so that students can navigate change and do what they need to do.

You see friends, Guided Pathways is not a new concept for us at BC.  It is an integration of what we do best…. It is connecting what was not connected before…. It is amplifying certain aspects of what we have done.

We engaged, on Opening Day with Guide Pathways through our stories.  Stories that were told by 14 talented faculty and staff who spoke to the four pillars of Guided Pathways. I asked the room of attendees to fully listen to these 14 colleagues with an open mind and an open heart and see themselves and to see BC through these stories.

Here are the four pillars and the 14 speakers:

Pillar 1: Clarify the Path with Jennifer Johnson, Faculty co-chair of the curriculum committee; Michele Pena, Director of Admissions and Records; Reggie Bolton, Department Chair of Health, Physical Education and Athletics

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Pillar 2: Getting Students on the path with Steve Watkin, Director of Outreach;
Dr. Matthew Garrett, History Faculty; Maria Wright, Director of Academic Support

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Pillar 3: Keeping Students on the Path with David Moton, English Department Chair; Mark Staller, Communication Department Chair; Dr. Nicky Damania, Director of Student Life; Dr. Paula Parks, English Faculty.

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Pillar 4: Meaningful Learning with David Neville, Spanish Faculty; Anna Agenjo, Department Chair, Library; Lisa Harding, Nursing Faculty; Dr. Joe Saldivar, Biology Department Chair.

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It is equally inspiring that BC has begun our Accreditation process, hand-in-hand with Guided Pathways. Governor Jerry Brown recently announced $150 million to support California Guided Pathways and Bakersfield College has been at the forefront, advocating for this promising transformation. Talk about innovating the community college education system! Accreditation will be our measure of Guided Pathway’s success. I’m ready for an incredible journey!

Kate Pluta planned the accreditation self evaluation launch in the Fireside Room after the early morning session of Opening Day in the Indoor Theater.  So proud of our faculty and staff who presented and also those who attended.  The presenters included: Bill Moseley, Mark Staller, Janet Fulks, Jason Stratton, Liz Rozell, and Kate Pluta.  Jason Stratton and Liz Rozell will be leading the self evaluation work and Mark Staller and Janet Fulks will lead the Quality Focus Essay (QFE) work.  Here are some photos I took with my iphone

The leaders for our 18-month work on the Self Evaluation and the Quality Focus Essay–Jason Stratton, History Faculty; Liz Rozell, Dean of Engineering and Industrial Technology; Mark Staller, Department Chair of Communication; Janet Fulks, Dean of Institutional Effectiveness

The person behind the accreditation work…the fabulous Kate Pluta in action.

 Thank you to all who came out to support YOUR Bakersfield College.

Winterfest & The Condors

The incredible hockey game last weekend made ESPN! How cool was it to see our Memorial Stadium, our Bakersfield Condors, and our incredible fans and community on ESPN?!  You have to check out the video at

http://www.espn.com/video/clip?id=18429665&sf49966194=1

selenaIt was a rainy, blustery and cold evening, but nothing could stop us. I saw a text from Selena Gasca, a student employee in our student life department who sent over a selfie and said “The outdoor Condor’s game was a fun experience for both my brother and I – a night to remember!”

Trustees, faculty, staff, fans, and people from around the state brought together for such a memorable evening. Reagan Fletcher  and little Tyler came all the way from San Francisco to see the event and I loved seeing dignitaries, Bill Thomas, Romeo Agbalog, Lily Agbalog, JPLake, Ingrid Lake sitting rinkside.

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Lily Agbalog, Ingrid Lake, JP Lake, Sonya Christian, Bill Thomas, Romeo Agbalog

Thank you to all of you who came out and showed support for OUR HOMETEAM -The Bakersfield Condors!!!

Was great to see Lynette Smith, faculty in Rad Tech and Janet Tarjan, faculty in math.  Here is the picture of Reagen Fletcher and little Tyler, all the way from San Francisco.  Tyler’s grandfather got him the rinkside VIP tickets for his birthday.

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Here are some more fun pictures:

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KGET Spotlight

Early this week, KGET cast the spotlight on financial aid benefits for our youth and the underserved of Kern County. It’s no surprise that financial aid systems are often complex and hard to navigate, but at BC our dedicated staff is always willing to help. Stop by sometime or give them a call. We’re always here to help our students! Pictured here are Alyse Braaten, Kern Community Foundation and Frank Ramirez, Youth 2 Leaders with KGET’s Jason Galvin.

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Jason Galvin, Alyse Braaten, Frank Ramirez

Greater Bakersfield Chamber Installation Luncheon

On Thursday, January 12, the Greater Bakersfield Chchamber-installationamber of Commerce, of which I am a proud Board Member, hosted its annual Board Installation & Awards Luncheon. It was a wonderful time of honoring the hard work and dedication of our immediate past Chairman, Steve Murray (Murray Family Farms), as well as the inauguration of our incoming Chairman of the Board, Derek Abbott  (Tejon Ranch Company). Our very own Dr. Greg Chamberlain was also recognized for his service and dedication as an outgoing Board Member.

Here featured in the picture: Corny Rodriguez, Lisa Kent, Mayor Karen Goh, Yadira Guerrero, Greg Chamberlain, Manny Mourtzanos, Chris McCraw, Steven Watkin, Ashley Ward, Bill Moseley.

BC is fortunate to have countless community partners and friends in the Chamber, such as Mayor Karen Goh (pictured with our BC representatives), J.P. Lake (Rain for Rent), Carla Musser (Chevron), Aera Energy, The Wonderful Company, Hall Ambulance Service, The Bakersfield Californian, KGET, and so many others.

And btw, Nick Ortiz the CEO of the Chamber is just wonderful!

Emails worth sharing – Huge Antarctic Iceburg poised to break away

 I received an email from Kenward Vaughan that I wanted to share. Kenward said “Who knows… we may yet be owners of shorefront properties!”

I invite you to check out the article and learn more about this massive iceberg hanging by a thread at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-38522954

Winter Institute

In fall 2015, BC was selected as one of just 30 colleges nationwide to participate in the AACC Guided Pathways Project.  The project is designed to help us implement the #GuidedPathways model that integrates our student success work campus wide.  Since then, small leadership teams have traveled to various institutes where we learn from experts in the field and share the incredible work happening right here in Bakersfield.  We hosted over 400 people for a statewide summit on Guided Pathways in February 2016, and have been working as a college to engage faculty and staff through professional development institutes, book panel discussions, and focus groups.

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We had long planned this winter institute. We built towards it with an amalgamation of our smaller teams from AACC and then a larger college-wide implementation team.  150 faculty and staff representing 20 discipline areas and virtually every office on campus poured into our Fireside Room for two days (1/11 and 1/12) of robust dialogue, debate, research review, pathway development, and a commitment to support our students in innovative ways.

It was just icing on the cake to hear that over parallel efforts on the statewide front aligned a large investment in CA Guided Pathways in Governor Jerry Borwn’s budget which was unviled on January 10th.  I was on the train to Sacramento when the Governor released his budget.  Here is my tweet from the train

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I do want to recognize Chancellor Eloy Oakley of the CA Community College system as well as Mario Rodriguez, Vice Chancellor of Finance.  They are just super cool!  Taking CA Community Colleges to the next level. #CACommColRock!

Back to BC’s Winter Institute……on the second day of the Institute, faculty and staff had lunch with BC students, asking questions about their experiences and learning the things they feel they most need to navigate college successfully.

I enjoyed reading the attendees’ remarks on the institute evaluation.  Here are some standout reflections on guided pathways:

 “Every student needs to be seen and know who to see”

“It’s our job to open windows, doors, and walls for students to pass through”

“Students shouldn’t have to be extraordinary to get a college degree”

Attendees bravely wrestled with the difficult questions and tough decisions – the whats, the hows, the whens.  What kinds of curricular changes need to happen?  How do we ensure every student has access to the right course in his or her pathway and at the right time?  When can we make this happen?  Why should we do this?

All I can say is that students come to BC with a great hope..hope for getting a good job that can sustain their family hope for a great future.  The work we do results in greater social mobility for our community and greater economic health.

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I especially loved seeing this wordle  on attendees’ responses to why they chose to pursue a career in education. As the amazing Nick Strobel stated, we have the right people here for the right reasons: students and learning.

Now dear friends, you can see why I love BC! #WeAreBC!

A special thank you to Janet Fulks for her leadership of the BC Guided Pathways Implementation Team and for making this happen.  And thank you to all on the pathways implementation team members for committing to this important work of the college: Stephen Waller, Matthew Garrett, Krista Moreland, Andrea Thorson, Abraham Castillo, Nick Strobel, Matt Jones, Reese Weltman, Maria Wright, Tim Burke, Heidi Forsythe, Mindy Wilmot, Lisa Kent, Shannon Musser, Jessica Wojtysiak, Shauna Turner, Cindy Collier, Jennifer Johnson, Sarah Baron, Mark Staller, Grace Commiso, Klint Rigby, Andrew Haney, Bill Moseley, and Lesley Bonds.

Also, loved that our Counseling and Advising Department did a pre Institute on January 9, 2017.  Thank you Grace Commiso, Zav Dadabhoy, Steve Watkin, and Kathy Rosellini for making this happen

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Retiree Passings

This is a sad message about two of our family.
First, DAN NYSTROM, 88, died on December 12.  He was a BC zoology teacher from 1958 until 1984.  He and Arleen were married for 47 years and raised three children.  After Arleen died in 1998, Dan married  Mary Horst in 2000 and they had 16 years together before she passed away earlier in 2016

Second, DALENE OSTERKAMP, 84, passed away on December 27th.  Dalene was a distinguished BC art teacher (listed in Who’s Who of American Women and, in 1989, given the First Annual Service to Women Award from the American Association of Women in Community and Junior Colleges.)  Primarily a print maker, she retired to Glennville and worked in prints, stained glass, mosaics, etching, pottery, and jewelry making.  At BC she was also a counselor and worked with the Women’s Studies Department.

The entire BC family holds each other in deep respect and affection as some leave us and new ones join.  I know I’m not the only one who is grateful for our common bond in the Bakersfield College family.

Thank you Jerry Ludeke for keeping us informed.  Jerry Ludeke and the Archives…true BC gems!

Here is a picture from my January 7th exercise class.  Here is Donna Plater the English Department Chair at Foothill High School.  We have such a great relationship with Kern High School District.  Bryon Schaefer is doing good work!

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Sonya Christian, Donna Plater

And here is a dedicated group on January 9th preparing for the accreditation site visit of our Baccalaureate program.  Thank you Liz Rozell and Jason Dixon and all the faculty and staff for your leadership.  Particularly Blaire Pruett a great industry partner and chairs the advisory committee to the baccalaureate program.

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And, throughout the jam-packed week, I still managed to find time to take a selfie, super tired, while waiting for the train to Bakersfield, in Stockton.

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That’s all for now.  

Until next week.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya — the luckiest and happiest college president ever

On remembrance, and making memories

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Sharon Baker, Sandi Taylor, Vickie Edden, Leonard Cravens, Sonya Christian, Peter Reyes

Good morning Bakersfield.  It is Sunday, September 18th…I started this blog yesterday, but since the day was packed with events that ended with driving to Riverside to watch Renegade football on the road I could not finish my blog.  It was great to see the Bakersfield Community come out to support an away game.

Here is a gang of regulars at the games.  Sharon Baker and Bill Baker (The Renegade Football doc) come to all the games.  It always warms my heart to see both Dr. Baker and Dr. Tivnon out there with our student athletes.  Here is a picture of Dr. Baker with Terence Young, one of our star football players last year who got seriously injured.

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Terence is now a student at BC although he does not play football.  I want to recognize the kindness and generosity of the Bakers.  Both Sharon and Bill have given their time, money, and unwavering commitment to BC. This is what makes the community of Bakersfield unique.  And this is what makes Bakersfield College so successful.
We are BC!

the-moon-sep-18-2016The entire week was just like Saturday, a lot of travel — Wisconsin (Tuesday-Wednesday), Sacramento (Friday), and then Riverside (Saturday).  Quite tired this Sunday morning and enjoying the calm and quiet with a cup of coffee and the beautiful early morning moon through the window in my bedroom.  Life is good!

The many highlights from the week started with our first football home game on September 10th at BC against Chaffey! Even ESPN was buzzing with excitement! Really, check out the video on the GoGades Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/p/BKMmC1hAgP6/

Saturday, Sep 10th: New Faculty Reception

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Photo by Cara Jackson

Before the first home game of the season, we celebrated with the new members of the BC family in the Fireside Room at the New Faulty Reception on September 10, 2016. BC hired a total of 39 new faculty for the 2016-2017 academic year.  The college has been growing in the number of students we serve over the last three years.

Thank you Trustee Romeo Agbalog and Trustee Dennis Beebe for attending.  We really appreciate our trustees coming out the college campuses.  If you check out the picture carefully you will be able to spot both trustees.

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Photo by Cara Jackson

A special thank you and shout out to our new cook Nicole Sizemore who prepared an elegant dinner and dessert menu for faulty and guests! My favorite was the watermelon salad with flavorful ingredients including feta cheese. Come to think of it, I loved the tri-tip, the couscous salad and everything on the menu.

After dinner, we headed to the first football game of the year!  And what a game it was.

Join me in welcoming… Teresa McAllister, ACDV; Heather Baltis, Agriculture; Jaclyn Krause, ASL; Ronnie Wrest and Jeff Huston, Art; Katie Ganster, Biology; Ximena Da Silva, Chemistry; Melissa Ysais, Child Development; Talita Pruett and Neeley Hatridge, Communication; Maximo Pena, Construction Management; Catherine Ryan and Elvira Martinez, DSPS; Cynthia Quintanilla, Counseling; Vanessa Bell, EOP&S; Keri Kennedy and Mark Osea, SSSP; Thomas Rush and Kelvin Albaa, Engineering; Isaac Sanchez and Savanna Andrasian, English; Don Brady, Fire Tech; Ayan Hill, Allied Health; Catherine Jones, Industrial Safety; Eddie Rangel, Information Technology; Timothy Heasley, Performing Arts; Dillon Giblin and Jonathan Brown, Math; Nichole Hernandez and Shae Johnson, Medical Surgical; Noelia Citialin, Mental Health; Kathryn Kuby, Music; Christine Harker, Allied Health; Jacelyn Hill, Rad Tech; David Riess and Eleanora Hicks, Sociology; Sara Palasch, Spanish; Brian Sivesind, Theatre; Ronnie Knabe, Sim Lab; Milena Lilles, Biology; John Kelleher, History; Alba Romero, Math; Cari Meyer, Geology; Mark Kay and Yuki Takeuchi, Foreign Language; Jeanne Young, Nursing; Heidi Forsythe, Communication; Kristin Mercer, Denise Canning, Tanna Rozar, Sara Wallace, and Justin Bell, English.

If you get the chance, visit https://www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/employees/new-faculty-staff to see the new faculty photos!

Running of the Renegades & BC Football

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Photo by Cara Jackson

The evening started off with the annual Running of the Renegades event that welcomes the Football team back to the Stadium for their first home game. This event offers the BC Community the chance to run across Memorial Stadium behind the Renegade Mascots and alongside the BC Cheerleaders before the BC Renegade Football players take the field. This year, 30 students, staff, and faculty members dashed onto the field at 5:55pm sporting their Red and White Spirit. Starting with Renegade pride is always a fantastic way to kick-off a great game and a great week!

BC beat Chaffey College by 45-35 in their home opener at Memorial Stadium on the strength of an offensive explosion led by Derrick Vickers’ three touchdowns and 289 multi-purpose yards. Check out the game summary by Francis Mayor at GoGades.com.

It was wonderful having so many from the community come out to support Renegade Football.

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Sonya Christian, Karen Goh, Romeo Agbalog, JP Lake

A huge thank you to JP Lake for not only attending but also being involved as the halftime guest on Vince Palms show. Francis has made the video available on YouTube – definitely check it out to see JP Lake and your BC Renegades!

JP is the co-chair of the Measure J campaign committee along with Sue Benham, Michael Bowers, Norma Rojas Mora, Jay Rosenlieb, and Karen Thompson. Mayor Harvey Hall is the chair.  Here are a some of the many community leaders on the committee: Michael O’Doherty, Mayor Milt Stowe from Porterville, Justin O’Neill (from Cerro Coso), Jay Tamsi, David Torres, Ed Davis, Fran Flores, Ken Byrum, Rick Kreiser, Cheryl Scott, Chad Hathaway, Janet Rabanal, Reyna Olaguez.

And huge thanks also to Karen Goh for regularly attending our football games and showing your Renegade spirit in the stands! Karen has posted the most fantastic photos on her Facebook – check them out here!  Also much appreciate the connection with other parts of the campus like our Student Government Association.

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And special thank you to Cara Jackson for these great photos from the game:

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Cara also sent an email to share a story of how she was able to capture these great images:

“A moment before I walked onto the football field to capture the Running of the Renegades, I saw another photographer heading that way for the game. I casually asked, “Sir you wouldn’t happen to have an extra lens I could borrow?”

Nick contemplated respectively for a short moment and replied, ” Yes, I might just have one for you.”  I was surprised and excited, and when he pulled out his extra Canon 70-200 mm f2.8L telephoto lens, I was jumping for joy!

It turned out my wish came true and he loaned it to me for the entire game! Not only did he do this, but helped me improve my settings on my camera so I could get these great shots!

It’s wonderful that there are still positive and amazing people out there wishing the best for you and helping you succeed in life, even if you meet them for the first time!

A huge shout out to Nick Ellis from the Bakersfield Californian. Thanks Nick!”

We truly are the community’s college.

Sunday, Sep 11th: World Trade Center Memorial on 9/11

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I had the honor of attending the World Trade Center Memorial in Southwest Bakersfield. The sun was shining bright when the breathtaking memorial featuring a structural girder from the North Tower of the World Trade Center was unveiled. This national artifact is one of many sent throughout the nation for 9/11 memorials. Thank you to Fire Chief, Doug Greener, who petitioned for Bakersfield to get one of the last remaining pieces. Our community was approved to receive the piece because of where the memorial is situated – on Buena Vista in the southwest directly between a fire station and police station. I encourage you to stop by and pay respects and remember the brave men and women in New York that day.

I was so proud to see one of our BC music students Linda Snoddy lead the color guard with her bagpipe. BC has the best music program!  And then hear from Mayor Harvey Hall who was the first speaker of the morning.

 

I asked Jennifer to email Heather Pruitt and get the mayor’s written remarks.  Here they are.  I love the way he wrapped up his speech by saying “thank you for your hearts.”

As we gather today let us not forget the 4,377 souls who perished as a result of the deadliest terrorist attack in our history. Let us not forget the husbands, wives, sons and daughters who lost their lives. Let us not forget the devastation felt by many Americans on this dreadful day.

For fifteen years now we have given our heartfelt condolences, sympathy and caring contributions to the survivor’s families, first responders, police officers and rescue workers. Today is a day of honor and recognition for the Bakersfield City Fire Department and the many volunteers and sponsors who have made this 911 World Trade Center Memorial possible.

What an everlasting tribute our city will have for reflections on each September 11th in our future.

Let us not forget to give prayer and thanks to our wonderful country, fireman, police officers and first responder ambulance paramedics for the daily contributions they make to keep us safe and healthy.

Your presence here today is another example of how Bakersfield cares, a thought I have carried with me for the past sixteen years as our city’s Mayor.

Let us remember and never forget September 11, 2001. Thank you for your hearts today.

I also texted Tim Capehart, Director of BC’s Fire Tech program and asked him if Tyler Hartley, Deputy Fire Chief, could be willing to share his brief comments.  Here are the powerful words by our Deputy Fire Chief:

The attacks on September 11th have been documented as the most destructive acts of terrorism on American soil.  On that unforgettable morning, 19 terrorist associated with the extremist group al-Qaeda hijacked four commercial passenger jet airliners enroute to San Francisco and Los Angeles from Boston, Newark, and Washington D.C. Two of the planes were flown into the towers of the World Trade Center, a third plane hit the Pentagon, and the fourth plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania – this series of events changed our lives forever.

Although fifteen years have passed since that fateful day, it is important that we do not allow time and distance to cloud our memory of that tragic event. The Bakersfield Fire Department World Trade Center Memorial shall serve a reminder to future generations of what September 11th means to our Nation.

We Shall Never Forget

 

 

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Following the event, I was inspired to take some quiet time for reflection and to read poetry written after 9/11. I truly believe that words hold immense power to comfort, express, console, and heal. A collection of poems can be found here and one really caught my attention titled, Firefighter’s Prayer. It reminded me of how courageous and brave each of our men and women in all first responder roles prove themselves to be each and every day. The immense physical and mental training requires strength and dedication, but the role these individuals fulfill requires a bravery that can’t be taught.  And I am proud of the BC fire tech program.

This year’s fire season, including the recent Erskine fire, serves as a true testament of the challenges faced by our Kern County and Bakersfield fire departments. A post on BFD’s Facebook page this past Tuesday, announced that over the past 48-hour period, BFD responded to 13 fire related incidents; 145 medical/rescue emergencies, and 79 public service related calls. We are lucky to have both Fire Chief, Brian Marshall of Kern County FD and Fire Chief Doug Greener of Bakersfield FD leading our local firefighters. A shout out to both of these incredible departments for all you do!

Follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BakersfieldFire/ and https://www.facebook.com/kerncountyfire/

September 12th: College Night

Any opportunity to expose young people to the endless opportunities of higher education is one to celebrate. On Monday evening over 80 BC staff, faculty, administrators, and students represented the college at the 17th Annual Kern County College Night at the Rabobank Convention Center.  Representatives from more than 100 colleges and universities were in attendance answering questions about their campuses and providing information about admissions requirements and financial aid to high school students and parents. Approximately 1,200 students submitted an interest card requesting further information about Bakersfield College.

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Fellow KCCD Campus, Cerro Coso was also in attendance and it was fanatic to see Pam Campbell, CC’s Director, Outreach and Student Life and Lisa Stephens, CC’s Director of East Kern and Kern River Valley.

pamcampbell_lisastephensBC even had multiple groups and tables at the event. Tom Gelder and Kathy Rosellini hosted the BC Alumni table and Sue Vaughn, Gustavo Enriquez, and Mary Jo Pasek hosted the BC facilities needs booth.

Events like this reinforce what we do at Bakersfield College! Our student body continues to grow and grow each year and the need for higher education in Kern County is expanding.

Thank you Steven Watkin, Director of Outreach, and the Outreach Team (Josie, Debi, Ashlea, Chris, Manuel, Claudio) for making it happen. And a special thank you to Matt Boone of Bakersfieldnow.com for the great media coverage and video. Check out the article here! And various pictures are on our photo gallery located here! We Are BC!

Remembering Dr. Thomas Larwood

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Sonya Christian, Pauline Larwood, Tom Larwood

On Sunday, Sep 11th, afternoon, I had the opportunity to attend Dr. Thomas Larwood’s memorial. Dr. Larwood was dedicated man who led groundbreaking research to find a cure for Valley Fever and together with his wife Pauline –one of Bakersfield’s power couples – always willing to get involved, put in the work, and find solutions.

In his obituary, he was described as a devoted physician, caring deeply for a wide range of patients. It goes on to describe how as a missionary, Tom contracted polio and was inspired by his friend and partner, Dr. Hans Einstein to study Valley Fever. He was an active member in the community alongside his wife, and an active member of the East Bakersfield Rotary.

“Affectionately known as “Doctor Tom” or just plain Tom, he was a man of the people. He chose a life of service very early, active in church leadership in his teens. At 18, talking with his father, Tom worked out that he liked “science and people.” He explored pre-med. After two years, he was drafted in 1944 and became a Navy Pharmacist’s Mate. Shortly before Navy discharge, he was deeply inspired by a talk by Dr. Day at a Methodist Youth Conference meeting. Dr. Day asked “Are you going to invest your life or just spend it?” That very night he felt he had been called to develop and share this gift, and he indeed gave and gave his entire life.” Check out the full obituary by clicking here.

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It was great to see fellow BC friends and family at the memorial, including Nick Strobel and Jerry Ludeke singing in the choir. I particularly liked the rendition of Amazing Grace and the Nick and Jerry section of the piece. It also spotted Trustee Kay Meek, Karen Goh and Bob Allison, and briefly connected with Steve Schilling, and John Fallgatter.  We do have a great community in Bakersfield.

The picture with Tom and Pauline was from March 31, 2016 at the Sterling Silver Dinner.

john-boydstun-sep-15-2016Remembering John Boydstun:

 

Just like on September 11th the community came out to support Tom Larwood, on September 15th, they came out to support John Boydstun.  At the football game against Riverside at Riverside, Leonard Cravens, an avid BC football fan, mentioned that he had traveled from his home in Indigo to Bakersfield just to attend Boydstun’s funeral. Becki Whitson and the BC Cheer Team were to show their respect to a longtime Renegade fan.

 

I searched my blog site for previous blogs where I mention John Boydstun and found the following:

April 23, 2016 blog: http://tinyurl.com/hfcpe8g

December 19th blog:  http://tinyurl.com/hozrypd

 

John Boydstun and BC Cheer team Aug 2016

September 15th: Renegade Football at Rotary

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Jeff Chudy, Sonya Christian, Garro Ellis at Rotary. Sep 15, 2016

It was wonderful having Coach Jeff Chudy at Rotary this Thursday, Sep 15th.  This is an annual event where coach shares the “state of Renegade Football” with the club.  He talked about a new approach he took with his student athletes by having them read together “The Training Camp” by Jon Gordon and do a book report.

 

The book is about an un-drafted rookie trying to make it in the NFL, trying to prove that a small guy with a big heart can make it.  “The life lessons in this book are invaluable in teaching our students how to become better students, better teammates and better men.”

Stig Jantz, BC’s advisor to our student athletes led a team discussion with  coaches and players and asked the hard questions of each. Relationship are being built to make us better.

Just wonderful!

The meeting as a whole was great.  Jay Rosenlieb led the song and at the cost of being fined $30 promoted Measure J among club members.

We are BC!

Follow BC Wrestling

BC Wrestling is off to a strong start. The newest blog post by Brett Clark says,

Well it was a good weekend for the guys on the mat. Bakersfield College went 3-1 this weekend with strong performances against East Los Angeles College, Victor Valley College, and Santa Ana College, the lone loss came against a very good Cerritos College Team. Top performers this weekend were Pedro Sarabia going 3-1, and Julio Fuentes who went 2-1 along with Andrew Binger going 2-1. Overall this young group has a lot of work but the future is bright for them as a team. Next home match is October 26, 2016 Wednesday night at 7pm we will be wrestling Cuesta College in a conference dual come out and support.

To stay up-to-date on BC Wrestling, follow the BC Wrestling Blog at https://bakersfieldcollegewrestling.wordpress.com/.  Well done Brett!

Generations of Leaders at BC!

Don’t you love this picture?  I do!

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SGA Prez Clayton Fowler, Dr. Nicky Damania, SGA Prez Matthew Frazer, SGA Prez Alex Dominguez

Last week, the current Bakersfield College Students Government Association (BCGSA) president, Matthew Frazer, rallied together with two former BCSGA presidents to chat over some delicious breakfast at Pappy’s Cafe down on Rosedale along with the BCSGA Advisor, Dr. Nicky Damania.

During the meal, they wished Clayton Fowler, president FY16, happy journeys as he begins a new journey at UC Davis to start this Bachelor’s degree in Political Science next week. Clayton started as an EMT student at BC, but found his passion for civic leadership through this career with BCSGA. You can follow Clayton’s blog at https://claytonjfowler.wordpress.com/

Alex Dominguez, BCSGA President FY15, is now the President of the Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) at CSUB and this guy is one to watch out for as he’s already a great community leader within the city of Bakersfield.

Matthew Frazer, our current SGA prez, is putting BC on the map with all of his efforts.  I suspect 2016-2017 will be a historic year for SGA under his leadership.

Of course, these four men couldn’t help but talk about their love for Bakersfield College. Dr. Damania shared with me they were discussing and developing strategies on how to engage their peers on the need of better facilities and technologies at Bakersfield College for the years to come. Alex invited current officers to CSUB this week to chat with their ASI Officers on how the two groups would be able to educate their peers at CSUB regarding Measure J.

If you haven’t already seen, Matthew Frazer, current BCSGA Present, stars in this week’s Renegade Reveal. The Renegade Reveal is a weekly webisode published by the Office of Student Life every Monday at Noon in efforts to increase and encapsulate student life at Bakersfield College. Check it out at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZXJUQqb9hk

September 14th: AACU Event

 

I was invited to speak at the AAC&U Leap State Summit this week at Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I enjoy opportunities to engage in conversations about learning, quality, and equity.  And this was definitely one of those.

The AACU is the leading national association concerned with the quality, vitality, and public standing of undergraduate liberal education. Founded in 1915, AAC&U now comprises more than 1,350 member institutions—including accredited public and private colleges, community colleges, research universities, and comprehensive universities of every type and size.

It was a lot of fun presenting with Michael Crafton from the University System of Georgia and Joe DeFilippo from Higher Education for Virginia.  Debra Humphrey moderated the panel.  Here is an excerpt from my remarks from the section on “Learning.”  I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it the night before the presentation.

Biologically speaking, learning is making new neural pathways, physically creating new networks that make meaning, and pruning the pathways and networks that are not meaningful. As they say, neurons that “fire together wire together”. Thinking reinforces thinking. I was thinking how the academy can become distracted by the profusion of information, but not enough thinking. This is a fundamental shift in education. Our brains evolved to nurture, gather, mine, imagine, and make meaning, based on environmental clues and scant information – now we must learn to cope with and prune a flood of “information”.

That shift is visible in the transition of learning from oral tradition, to literacy, to digital literacy, to the re-merging oral digital literacy of Siri and Watson, to the promise of Kurzweil’s artificial intelligence singularity. The wonder of it all is that our brains are able to adapt to this changing landscape, that our ancient evolutionary skills to learn are up to the task.

In fact, Randy Bass and Bret Eynon in “Open and Integrative, discuss how can and must use this new digital ecosystem as a tremendous opportunity to recast, they call it “design” Liberal Education.  I was inspired by Carol Geary Snider’s comment in her Foreword to Open and Integrative: Designing Liberal Education for the new Digital Ecosystem.

“Within the digital learning ecosystem, higher education is ideally a site focused around engagement, community and mentorship, and integration, in which the disparate and “unbundled” learning opportunities endemic to our constantly networked modern life can be “rebundled” to support an integrative vision of learning.”

Thank you to Ken O’Donnell and Debra Humphrey for inviting and welcoming me.

Check out my selfie with Lynn Pascarella, President of AAC&U.

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Sonya Christian, Lynn Pascarella

Movie Night in the AM!

img_7036-x2If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I’m a great fan of movies – so when I heard the film “McFarland, USA” would be shown on campus, I was immediately excited. What made this event even better was that we’d have the chance to welcome young people from rural migrant program high schools on the BC campus and into our beautiful Indoor Theater.

On Friday, September 16, approximately 300 students from the Kern High School District’s Migrant Education program gathered at Bakersfield College’s Indoor Performing Arts Theater to watch a screening of the movie McFarland, USA. Participating high schools included Arvin, Golden Valley, McFarland, Taft, Wasco, South, East, Shafter, Foothill, Mira Monte, Ridgeview, and Highland.

img_7028The film chronicles the achievements of the McFarland cross-country team in the 1980s. Led by coach Jim White, McFarland’s runners overcame tremendous obstacles in order to succeed in athletics, education, and ultimately life. The story is significant because it symbolizes the challenges faced by our rural migrant student population in Kern County and how hard work and discipline, both within and beyond the classroom, so clearly evident in the lives of the runners, can uplift entire communities.

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Kate Pluta

Bakersfield College alumni Vanessa Renteria, currently Assistant Vice Principal at McFarland High School and former employee of the BC Delano Campus, moderated the event. Following the film, a panel discussion with some of the main characters portrayed in the film, including Coach Jim White, as well as former runners Danny Diaz, David Diaz, Johnny Samaniego, Thomas Valles, and Victor Puentes addressed a variety of important issues raised in the film including the importance of perseverance and education.

Dean of Instruction Kate Pluta also honored Danny Diaz as a BC alumni and for his longtime service at the McFarland campus. Here’s an excerpt of Kate’s comments:

“Danny Diaz has been a pillar of the McFarland community for two decades. Following his achievements as a McFarland runner Danny went on to graduate Bakersfield College and work as a counselor at McFarland high school, guiding and impacting the lives of countless students.

He is incredibly humble, modest, and is committed to advancing opportunities for our rural youth, particularly those most at risk and vulnerable. Bakersfield College is proud to recognize him for his accomplishments, not only for his life story being highlighted in the movie McFarland, USA, but for his continued work for our students. Bakersfield College is proud to donate $1,000.00 to McFarland high school’s cross-country team in honor of Danny Diaz. Thank you Danny for your service in making Kern County a better place for us all.”

Following the panel discussion, the students took a brief campus tour with SGA officers, student volunteers from the Office of Student Life and the Delano Campus WECOMM club. From there, a special lunch was served by the wonderful Eric Sabella and BC Campus Food Services.

img_7057Thank you so much to Oliver Rosales, Steve Watkin, Nicky Damania, Kristen Rabe, Mary Jo Pasek, Ramon Puga, Shannon Musser, Jennifer Marden, Arisve Pimentel, Anhelica Perez, Alexa Rivera, and the many volunteers from BCSGA, Office of Student Life, and the WECOMM club who volunteered their Friday morning to spend time with these wonderful students and make them feel welcomed. A huge thank you also to the good folks over at PacWest for running our lighting and soundboard. Finally, a very special thanks to Sal Avalos and Jose Morales from the Kern High School District Migrant Education Office for co-sponsoring this event.

Thank you Oliver Rosales for leading this effort.  Thank you Kate Pluta for recognizing Danny Diaz.  And thank you Arnoldo Avalos, member of the Board of Governors, for giving me the idea.  Sorry you were not able to make it.

THANK YOU!!

You can catch more photos from this event at https://bakersfieldcollege.smugmug.com/McFarland-Movie-Panel.

Fall’s First Gadfly Cafe

gadfly01.jpgBakersfield College students debated the importance and root causes of terrorism at the first Gadfly Café of the fall semester.

A discussion forum hosted three times per semester at the Levan Center for the Humanities, the Gadfly Café encourages anyone in the community to come in and offer their opinions on a different controversial social issue every month. With the presidential election around the corner in November, moderator Reggie Williams tailored this semester’s topics toward hot-button issues on the campaign trail.

gadfly03Wednesday’s topic was titled “Terrorism, Cars and Other Threats to Americans”, and Williams opened the discussion with a few statistics for context. While there are approximately 30,000 car-related deaths every year and 20 veteran suicides every day, only 58 people have been killed by terrorism in the United States since 2002, said Williams, a philosophy professor at Bakersfield College. In light of those numbers, Williams asked the group why they believe terrorism is such a crucial issue in our political discourse.

After some spirited discussion, Gadfly participants concluded that the threat of terrorism is omnipresent enough to justify spending significant time legislating to prevent it, regardless of the amount of people it actually affects. The debate then turned to distinguishing what separates terrorist attacks like September 11th and the Oklahoma City bombing from hate crimes or other acts of violence. Some argued that it was religious zealotry, but a consensus formed that the defining element of terrorism is any attempt at using violence as a tool of political coercion.

While the debate might get confrontational, Gadfly Café participants are expected to be respectful, kind and avoid personal attacks. Next month’s forum on Oct. 12 is titled “Undocumented Immigrants: Boon, Bane or Political Ruse?” and the last Gadfly Café of the semester on Nov. 9 will be about “Healthcare: A Right, Privilege or Practical Necessity?”

Celebrating Dia de la Indepencia

14322243_10153973754444352_4757304245717391097_n.jpgThe Bakersfield College chapter of M.E.Ch.A celebrated Mexican Independence Day Thursday with a fleet of classic hydraulic cars parked in front of the gym.

M.E.Ch.A, a Chicano student organization founded in the 1960s, honored the Dia de Independencia by inviting the owners of a few “lowriders”, antique muscle cars modified with hydraulics that can lower the chassis all the way down to the floor or make the front end of the car bounce. BC’s M.E.Ch.A chapter also sold horchata and pan dulce at a table in front of the gym.

On September 16th, 1810, Catholic priest and revolutionary Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla uttered the famous Cry of Dolores, symbolizing the start of the Mexican War of Independence. Many Americans falsely believe that Mexican Independence Day takes place on Cinco de Mayo, which commemorates the Mexican Army’s unlikely victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.

University Transfer Day

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Photo by Cara Jackson

On September  12, over 32 colleges were in attendance to meet with prospective BC transfer students.

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Photo by Cara Jackson

This gave all in attendance a chance to inform and be informed on transcripts, advice on what each college offers and other information. The event was carefully organized by the Transfer Days College Night Intersegment Coordinating Committee. The committee has created a Northern and Southern Region California Community College circuit for Universities and Colleges throughout the country, led by Mr. Michael Burton.

 

Mr. Burton then connects with all California Community College Transfer Directors in this assigned region such as Marisa Marquez, Transfer Counselor and the Center for Student Success Office Supervisor, Bernadette Martinez to further organize the event. Mary Jo Pasek, Office of Student Life Director Dr. Nicky Damania and his energetic and always professional Student Life staff are also part of this event.

The promotions are made by team effort such as creating posters, made by Dylan Wang and Mr. Steve Watkin and his hard-working office of Outreach and School Relations also contribute. Food is catered by the sensational Chef Eric Sabella and his team , and at the end of the day students have knowledge to make a great decision about transferring.

For more information see: http://www.certicc.org/transferDayscollegeNights.aspx

BC featured on CSPAN’s “Lectures in History” Program

Bakersfield College got some national attention when Dr. Oliver Rosales, Professor of History at our Delano Campus, was featured on CSPAN’s Lectures in History series on September 3.  The program visits college and university classrooms to highlight professors lecturing on topics related to their research expertise.  Oliver’s lecture focused on “Latinos and the Civil Rights Movement.”  Here’s a synopsis of his lecture from the CSPAN website:

Latinos and the Civil Rights Movement: Professor Oliver Rosales talked about Latinos, the Delano grape strike of the mid-1960s, and their place in the larger Civil Rights movement of the period. Professor Rosales shared his personal family history and other oral histories about the National Farm Workers Association, the labor union led by Ceasar Chavez and Delores Huerta which eventually became the United Farm Workers. He also described the connection between the local history of Bakersfield, California, and the national Civil Rights movement.

You can watch the program on CSPAN’s website here: https://www.c-span.org/video/?407964-1/latinos-civil-rights-movement

Congratulations to Jack Hernandez

zolbrod_4.jpgI often sign off by saying I’m the luckiest college president in the world, and a huge part of that is all due to the fantastic faculty and staff who work with me at BC. I’m proud every time I’m able to announce something and congratulate someone, but I’m even proud silently walking the halls of our facilities because our classrooms and offices are filled with faculty and staff who take their work to heart. Jack Hernandez is one of our star faculty, now retired and still contributing, who I’m proud to spotlight today.

On Friday, I was filled in via email that Jack’s paper, “Suicide: A Personal and Philosophical Reflection” has been selected for presentation at the Central Valley Philosophy Associations annual conference. I look forward to sharing the pictures and recap from the event to come in November!

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That’s all for now.  

Until next week.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya 

(in my airplane travel attire heading to the AACU conference)

Launching Fall 2016 to Build A Better BC!

Good morning Bakersfield.  Today is Saturday, August 20th, the day after my grandmother Hilda Sparrow’s b’day and two days after BC’s Opening Day.  Hilda Sparrow, Nana as I called her, was born in 1908 — that would make her a 5-year-old in 1913 when leaders here is Bakersfield launched the first community college in Kern County, Bakersfield College.  Last night when mom and I were out for our evening walk, rather late yesterday because of going to the new release of the 1959 epic movie Ben Hur, we enjoyed the fabulous moon and talked about Hilda Sparrow. Nana, this blog is for you!

Back to Ben-Hur, the music done by Hungarian composer and pianist Miklós Rózsa is just wonderful.  Here it is on Youtube.  See if you enjoy it as much as I do.

 

 

Opening Day 2016

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It’s been an eventful, exciting, and super-hot Bakersfield summer leading up to one of my favorite times of the year – Fall.   And this week at BC, we gathered to celebrate Opening Day kicking off our monumental fall semester of 2016.

Our faculty, staff, and administration look forward to seeing the halls filled with students and our campus brimming with activity. Our campus comes alive when the students are present – after all, they are the center and the inspiration for all we do.

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Chef Eric Sabella and his team prepared a bountiful, delicious, and healthy lunch of fresh salads and a selection of different wraps. It’s always a treat when we gather together as the whole BC staff to enjoy lunch (or any kind of food, really) together.

In a special way, I’d like to recognize folks who spent the last several weeks preparing for opening day.

 

Our fantastic team of ushers –  Chris Glaser (lead) –  Somaly Boles – June Charles
Heather Barajas – Isbael Casteneda – Bernadette Martinez – Jacki O’Bannon Strong
Felicia Scott – our wonderful students

Contributors to the content of the program – Kate Pluta – Nan Gomez-Heitzberg – Zav Dadabhoy –  Bill Potter – Lesley Bonds –  Steve Waller –  Nicky Damania

The M&O team – Ramon Puga – Rachell Morehouse – Jason Brown

Our video, media and technical team – Manuel De La Santos –  Kristin Rabe – Kevin Ganger

Our graphics and printing – Dylan Wang

My creative writing partner – Monika Scott

And the two women who are complete rockstars – Shannon Musser and Jennifer Marden

 The program followed lunch and almost every seat in the Indoor Theater was filled. The sea of familiar faces and red Renegade pride gets me every time. It’s an incredible sight to see and I hope you’ll check out some of the photos if you couldn’t be there in person.

Our BCSGA President, Matthew Frazer took the stage introducing himself and welcoming everyone to the celebration. He spoke as a true leader of our next generation:

IMG_6313Knowing how my life has been impacted, I felt a calling to serve for the greater good. Last spring, impacted me in two life altering ways that I am grateful for… finally be wedded to my girlfriend of three years, and to announce my candidacy for BCSGA President.  I am happy to report I survived both this summer, so far. I’m still married and expecting, and I am standing before you as the 2016-2017 Bakersfield College Student Government Association (BCSGA) President. I am Matthew Frazer.

This year, my goal is for us to be more visible and vocal on campus. We hope to achieve this goal by hosting an array of events all year long and by doing so we wish to inspire others to be just as equally impactful.”

I can’t wait to see what our incredible student body has in store this year – it is a great time to be a Renegade.

This fall, we will see the great work of our excellent departments come to life. Enrollment is booming, students are excelling, and we have our first set of history making juniors in the industrial automation baccalaureate program at BC!

As of today, Saturday August 20th, there are exactly 80 days till our community decides on the investment and outcome of Measure J so it was fitting that during Opening Day, we revisited the innovative history and evolution of BC’s ground breaking past.  Together let’s build…A Better BC.  We will have the State of the College posted next week.

Our story began in 1913 and took a gigantic leap in the 50’s as we claimed a campus of our own, moving to Panorama Drive. Today, 50 years later, we continue to dream big because BC’s tale isn’t over. Our campus gives life to the endless opportunities for future generations and along with our students. We’re writing the next chapter and it’s up to us to direct the story.

Here is the conclusion from the State of the College:

We live in an era of viral soundbites and tweets rather than one of comprehensive and detailed discussion. But let us not be reluctant to tell our story, openly and honestly; boldly in all its detail; and in all its glory.

Let’s joyfully shout out the BC story from the roof tops for the next 82 days and beyond.

Let us use Twitter….Facebook… Instagram and Snapchat.

Can we get 82 pieces of writing in the community voices section of the Californian? Every day from now until November 8th. We are BC and we are a Jewel of Kern County.

 We will continue to balance bold new directions with elegance and poise. We will continue to encourage punctual completion with gentle compassion and strong support. We see the face, heart, and brilliant mind of each individual student in the crowd of thousands and our mission is as important as it’s ever been.

I’m proud to say the state of Bakersfield College has never been stronger

Just like in 1913 – Just like in the 50s –

Now, in 2016, we stand together to write the next chapter of BC’s story….

Together, let’s build…A Better BC

WE are BC!

We had great presenters during the 4-hour plenary including the stretch breaks to support our Wellness core value.  Here are some pictures:

 

Our day continued with presentations by employee groups and a community panel. Thank you to Mike Turnipseed, Olivia Garcia, Karen Goh, and JP Lake – your words, voice, and wisdom will resonate with us this fall semester. Thank you for your involvement and for being a voice of the community!

Community Panel Opening Day Aug 18 2016

 

Community Panel 2We welcomed all the new faculty to our roster and concluded our indoor presentation with faculty awards and recognition. Congratulations to Shirley Trembley Distinguished Teaching Award recipient, Kenward Vaughn, Margaret Levinson Faculty Leadership Award recipient, Jennifer Johnson, and recipient of this year’s Norm Levan Faculty Colloquium, Anna Poetker.

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What makes this year one for the history books, besides our record setting enrollments and student success accomplishments, is our upcoming date of November 8th.  But what makes this year one that I’m so proud to be a part of right now – right here – today, and in the present – is the fantastic people who make up Bakersfield College. Your energy, your smiles, your laughter, your involvement in our Opening Day stretch breaks, your willingness to stand and be recognized makes a lasting impact on me – and encourages me as President of BC each and every day.  Thank you colleagues.  We Are BC!

 

 New Student Convocation

What an amazingly spirited experience, right after Opening Day on Thursday night introducing new student Renegades and their families to the BC community!

As soon as students walked towards the Outdoor Theatre they were greeted by the Bakersfield College Student Government Association, received welcome packets and enjoyed food and refreshments before the start of the event.

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Chef Eric Sabella and the food services team are just phenomenal!

Chef Eric kicked off the ceremonies with a wonderfully delicious chili & cornbread meal with the perfect blend of spices. His team set the stage for the evening of excellence as the cheerleaders, faculty, and staff paraded down the stairs with the accompaniment of the BC Drumline, in celebration and commitment to the incoming freshmen.

The BC Chamber Singers, directed by Dr. Jennifer Garrett, performed a breathtaking piece by Scott Farthing entitled “Come Travel with Me.” With references to Walt Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road”, the piece encourages the young spirit to explore the journey of life. Jen, you are the best!

Our drumline and cheer leaders were just awesome!  Prof Becky Whitson was in great form….loved her energy and style.  And she did not lose it when she was introduced as a sociology faculty rather than a psychology faculty 🙂  And thank you Tom Moran for these wonderful photos!

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Renegade students, their families, faculty, staff, and administration all joined in taking oaths to support the incoming student renegades in their commitment to academic success as we all join together to make BC a better place of higher learning.

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Student Life Director Nicky Damania was very busy putting on such a wonderful event.

In talking with the students and their families at the event, I met a family that traveled a few hours to meet the staff, faculty, and students. They have an incoming freshman starting on Monday that was not able to attend the event; however, they wanted to meet the school community that would help cultivate their son’s educational experience. They expressed comfort in knowing that the entire campus community is invested in the success of their son. Even though he will have to leave home to pursue his academic goals, they are confident that he will be looked after and supported. That is the core of our work!

I want to thank CJ for teaching me how to sign We Are BC and Nan for prompting it.

Was very proud of all the Convocation Speakers — Steven Holmes, Academic Senate President; Mathew Frazer, SGA President; Manny Mourtzanos, Dean of Instruction; Corny Rodriguez, Dean of Instruction; Chief Chris Counts, Director of Public Safety. And of course the emcee for the evening.  The fabulous Nicky Damania.

Sonya_CaraThis shows how the faculty and staff  are important in helping our students excel at BC and in life and demonstrating what it means to be student and what it means to be a Renegade. Thank you everyone who showed up for this event, even in the heat, and helping make this tradition a meaningful experience for our students.

I also got a chance to take a selfie our student Cara Jackson, who does fabulous work taking photos for my blog! I’m so glad to share a photo of the young woman behind the camera with all of you.

Matthew Garrett’s Making Lamanites

MakingLamanites.pngI’m excited to share that Matthew Garrett’s award winning book Making Lamanites will be released next month. It is the winner of the Juanita Brooks Prize in Mormon Studies for it “traces student experiences within contested cultural landscapes to reveal how and why many of these Native youth adopted a notion of Indianness.”

Donald L. Fixico from Arizona State University says, “Using historical themes of colonization, assimilation, and identity, Matthew Garrett presents an extraordinary revelation of indigenous resilience among 50,000 native students during the second half of the twentieth century. This brilliant exposé advances our understanding of Indian-white relations and it is truly an award-winning book!”

How lucky are we to have such dedicated, interesting, and accomplished professors like Matthew Garrett at BC. Make sure to keep an eye out for details on where you can get this book! We Are BC!
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International Students

Welcoming  F-1 visa students to our college and community is not a new concept; in fact, the arrival  of international students at Bakersfield College has been since the 1970’s, upon the arrival of Filipinos and Cambodians to Kern County.

International students are a vital part of our campus and community. Their attendance at our colleges bring diversity and enrich the college experience for our domestic students who may not otherwise have a chance to travel abroad or experience other cultures.  International students expose both the student body as well as the faculty and staff to different cultures and ideas.

Since 2013, there has been an approximate 30% increase in the enrollment of F-1 visa studentsIMG_7873 every year.  In fact, in Spring 2016, 88 F-1 Visa students representing 26 different countries, joined Bakersfield College. Students from Saudi Arabia are the largest group at 30%; the other 70% come from India, Mexico, Vietnam, Yemen, and Nigeria.

An increase in the number of international students can boost our local economies, create a worldly and diverse student population, and prepare our future generations for a globalized workplace. All international students pay for their American education with personal or family funds.

Thank you Shohreh Rahman for leading this work for the college.

Share Memories:

Loy Salada’s post on the Ice Bucket Challenge from two years ago just popped up on Facebook.  So fun!  Here it is

 

sonya virginia 2015 cropped

 

That’s all for now.  

Until next Saturday…..

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya  

The luckiest and happiest college president

Providing pathways to the future and building a better BC

Good morning Bakersfield.  It is Saturday, July 23rd and I woke up to a wonderful piece by Jeff Evans in The Bakersfield Californian above the fold.  Indeed, a wonderful day to be a Renegade.

Here is an fuzzy image of the article taken on my iphone.  For the entire web version check out http://tinyurl.com/h2f79wy.  There is also a 15-minute video segment of Louis Amestoy interviewing Jeff Evans on the gymnasium and other athletics facilities that are on the BC facilities needs list.  Note this is a “needs list” not a “wish list”.  I particularly appreciated the comment that these facilities serve all of our students and not just our student athletes.

Jeff Evans Californian July 23 2016

 

The “Athletics facilities” is only one project of the numerous facilities needs on this 60 year old campus on 153 acres with over 30 buildings.  80% of the projects are capital improvements focusing on buildings where we have instruction in Math, Science, Agriculture, Humanities, etc. For the entire project list check out www.abetterbc.com.

The college faculty and staff have been focused on student success for over a century, and in the last three years have particularly focused on connecting with students when they are still in high school and gearing them up for college and the workforce.  Approximately 80% of BC’s students are first in their families to go to college, so the faculty and staff take the time to be their guides and their coaches as these first-time students learn to navigate college and learn how to be learners and gain the skills to enter the workforce.  Nick Strobel describes it well in about 500 words in his Community Voices piece on Wednesday, July 20th in The Bakersfield Californian.

Nick compared our new pathways initiative to the GPS in a car. Just as a GPS will help you get back on track if you make a wrong turn, the pathways we are creating can help guide students through life events that may “knock them off the college path.”

Nick Strobel July 20 2016

This is such an exciting initiative, and I am so happy that BC was one of just 30 colleges chosen to be part of the AACC Pathways Project.

Nick’s piece is online at http://www.bakersfield.com/news/opinion/2016/07/20/a-road-for-community-college-students-bc-s-gps.html.

So you see dear community members, BC meets students where they are and provides incredible opportunities for them to find their calling, whether in athletics, the arts and humanities, social sciences or in math and science.  What our faculty do for our students is nothing short of incredible.

Eisenhower Fellowship

Here’s a note I received from a talented Bakersfield College student:

My name is Rey Fernandez, a mechanical engineering major. From Fall 2015 to early Spring 2016, I had the opportunity to be one of the Dwight Eisenhower recipients because of the MESA program. This research opportunity exposed me to the transportation field, and taught me the role of engineers in the Transportation Research Board. Attending this TRB Conference in Washington D.C. gave me a lot of professional experiences.

I just want to thank you for bringing this research opportunity to MESA students last year, and again, for this upcoming year.

Washington DC.jpg

 

Former BC student featured on SiriusXM

Brandon McNaughton—who is from Bakersfield, attended BC, and received his BS in Physics from CSUB—was featured on SiriusXM in February.

He was interviewed for 30 minutes by Steve Blank on “Entrepreneurs Are Everywhere” about his biotech company, and the importance of understanding customer needs when developing a product or solution. The episode can be heard via SiriusXM on Demand.  Here is a link http://tinyurl.com/jyvzg9l

His company, Akadeum Life Sciences, is based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and has developed a new method to separate individual cells from biological samples, such as blood. He is also one of the 100 stars of Bakersfield College. A proud Renegade!

Here are some previous blog posts highlighting our faculty and staff and what they do to create a wonderful learning environment for our students.

April 3, 2015: Levan Center: St. John’s Lecture. Greg Schneider and The Brothers Karamazov

https://bcpresidentblog.com/2015/04/03/levan-center-st-johns-lecture-greg-schneider-and-the-brothers-karamazov/

September 1, 2014: Arts and Humanities:

https://bcpresidentblog.com/2014/09/01/arts-and-humanities/

June 22, 2015: BC faculty and staff are rock stars

https://bcpresidentblog.com/2015/06/22/middle-schoolers-lead-the-way/

Speaking of our amazing faculty and staff,  let me tell you about a project that has surfaced this summer among a small group.  The idea is to get students to do their homework at the college in a structured environment so that they develop the habits of learning.  Being disciplined, persevering with their school work etc.  Just amazing dedication and commitment from the faculty!  I got to hang out with some of them.  Here are photos to prove it 🙂

 

Thank you all for your work.  A special shout out to Eileen Pierce, Kim Arbolante, Maria Wright, Kate Pluta, Stephen Waller, and Isabel Castaneda as well as Kimberly Bligh and Erica Menchacha who piloted Ac Dev 72 in the spring.

Political Leaders and their connections to BC.

kevin-mccarthy-sonya-christian-art-gentry-may-6-2016Regardless of your political views and affiliation, it is truly inspirational to consider what leadership and strength blossoms from our own backyard – Bakersfield, Kern County, and of course, at Bakersfield College. House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, took the stand on Tuesday evening to address the convention attendees and the nation, but Mr. McCarthy’s road to becoming the successful and influential political figure he is today, is one that began in our hometown.

He enrolled at BC after high school, opened a little local sandwich shop named Kevin O’s Deli, and earned a degree from CSUB. As his interest in politics peaked, he volunteered to clip newspapers in the office of Rep. Bill Thomas, to gain insight and learn from a fantastic role model.

Congressman Bill Thomas also has roots at BC – from beginnings as a political science faculty at BC to chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, there is so much to say about Bill that’s inspirational. We are so fortunate to have him as the senior advisor to our Blue Ribbon Committee and as a friend and supporter of Bakersfield College.

Mayor Harvey Hall is not shy to share his love of BC and he details his relationship in an article published on Bakersfield.com regarding the recent bond measure announcement.

Senator Jean Fuller, another political leader, earned her AA degree at Bakersfield College in 1970. After more than 30 years as an educator and Superintendent of Bakersfield City School District, sh e was elected in 2006 and “immediately recognized as a leader by her colleagues and has used her administrative experience to make impactful decisions that focus on increased efficiency and accountability.” (Source)

Our first female mayor, Mary K. Shell, also attended BC and continues to support Bakersfield College today. During the time of her retirement, the Bakersfield Californian even referred to her as “the most popular politician in Kern County history.” We are so lucky to have insightful and influential political leaders likes these and many others, including Rudy Salas, Andy Vidak, and Shannon Grove.

The people of Bakersfield and BC students, past and present, continue to make a difference in our community, state, and nation. I can’t wait to see what our current students have in store for the future of our country.

Latina Leaders

Last Saturday, July 16th, BC was present in full force at the Latina Leaders banquet.

This is my second year attending the event and I am even more impressed by the work they do. For more information check out their website at http://kernlatinas.com/.  Congratulations to ISABEL BRAVO, LOURDES VARGAS NILON, and GABRIELA MELLO on their recognition.

 

Norma Rojas Mora the president of Latina Leaders is a remarkable woman who in on our Bakersfield College Foundation Board of Directors and she is also the co-chair of the Community Connections group and the Blue Ribbon Committee on the Bakersfield College bond measure.

Here are the Bakersfield College folks who attended: Isabel Casteneda, Evette Lara, Janet Tarjan, Maria Wright, Paul Beckworth.  Thank you Karen Goh for the photos.  You are a good friend of Bakersfield College.

Check out my post from last year’s Latina Leaders banquet when Lisa Kent and Camilla Chavez were among the recipients of the leadership award.
https://bcpresidentblog.com/2015/07/12/somos-el-colegio-de-bakersfield/ 

 

Staff Retreats

IMG_2082

Summers at Bakersfield College involve less instructional time, which gives the staff and administrators an opportunity to meet for one-day on-campus retreats. These provide a foundation for fostering positive connections, critical planning, and preparing our teams to better support the needs of the faculty and students.

Entertaining themes for these retreats keep everyone refreshed as group activities, informational talks, and fun competitions re-energize and re-focus everyone for a new academic year.

Check out more photos from our summer retreats at https://bakersfieldcollege.smugmug.com/2016-Retreats/.

It’s hard to believe – we are beginning to count down the days until opening day of Fall 2016!

Here is a picture of my Cabinet during our retreat in June.

Cabinet June 2016 1.jpg

Sonya and Maggie July 23 2016

 

That’s all for now.  

Until next Saturday.

With much Renegade Pride and Collegiality.  

sonya ….. with Maggie who is visiting for two days.

Eloquent and graceful speakers at a recent meeting

The Kern Community College District Board of Trustees met at Bakersfield College on April 10, and our BC family, faculty, staff, administration, and students attended in numbers to provide insight and information to our leaders. The two important topics that the audience addressed were: (1) Community Colleges offering a baccalaureate degree and (2) the proposal for an increased budget reserve.

The reason for this blog is not to discuss the merits or demerits of the arguments since those of you reading it may have differing perspectives, but rather to make visible to you what I saw that afternoon in those speakers who boldly and sensitively addressed the topics.  There were many speakers–Cindy Collier, SGA leadership, Klint Rigby just to name a few.  Each and every speaker addressed the Board with respect, clarity of thought, and a passion for what we do for our students and community. I asked three of them to share with me the written remarks that they addressed to the Board so that you, like me, could take a moment to enjoy the community that we work with.  All true Renegades! All of whom I am proud to work with.

Let’s now hear from three of the speakers:

Liz Rozell

Liz Rozell 3

 

Last week I saw a presentation by Milken Institute and KEDC concerning economic planning for Kern County. Milken representatives gave an example of strategic growth for a community in central Florida that wanted to build a research hospital. The state was not in favor because there were research hospitals to the north and south of this area and did not see the need. Community leaders argued for this hospital because they wanted their community to be known as a medical research resource. They now have 3 of the leading medical research hospitals in the country and have boosted the economics of their area. These community leaders had a vision for what their community could look like.

I think we have that same opportunity. We can provide educational services in reaction to workforce data or we can be strategic in what we want education to look like in Kern County. It may very well play a part in driving the workforce development in our area. We need to be visionary rather than reactionary.

One of the strengths of Bakersfield College is our existing Industrial Technology program – automotive, welding, electronics, industrial drawing, etc. We have stellar facilities and an existing infrastructure that can support the development of a bachelor’s program in Industrial Technology. Currently, CSUB does not offer an Industrial Technology bachelor’s degree – a degree that would support technical management, industrial safety, quality assurance, and other industry positions requiring more than an Associate’s degree or two-year Certificate of Achievement. Typically there are over 200 annual openings for these types of positions with a median income of $85,000.

A baccalaureate degree in Industrial Technology will also provide a unique educational opportunity for first generation students who may not have the resources to transfer to four-year universities outside our area. Providing a broad based four-year program in a technical area will build capacity for meeting the educational needs of our rural service areas.

I ask that you support Bakersfield College’s educational vision for our community by offering baccalaureate degrees.

Kate Pluta

Kate Pluta April 18 2013Ladies and gentlemen of the board, friends, and colleagues:

My name is Kate Pluta, and it’s a pleasure to address the board on behalf of Bakersfield College and its students. I have been a part of this college for almost 35 years (over a third of this college’s existence!), both part-time and full-time, as a librarian and as an English teacher, and as a student.

I consider it a right, an honor, and a responsibility to be able to address you directly.

I have served as Bakersfield College Academic Senate President, District Faculty Association President, and Modern Languages Division Chair for English, ESL, and Foreign Languages.

I am currently faculty co-chair of the Bakersfield College Program Review Committee and the Accreditation Steering Committee, which “steered” the college through this last accreditation process of the Self Evaluation and the Follow up Reports.

I have served on eight accreditation site visit teams, visiting colleges here in California, in Hawaii, and in the Federated States of Micronesia.

I believe in what I do. I believe in what our college does. I believe in my students.

I imagine most of you serve on this board because, like me, you believe in the work you do—in supporting the colleges to provide excellent educational and life opportunities for our students.

When the most recent budget crisis hit us, I spoke out in support of the prudence of the board in maintaining a reserve that allowed us to weather the storms without borrowing additional funds or laying off employees.

I appreciated the flexibility that prudence gave us. That flexibility is a characteristic of the community college role in the master plan of higher education—to be flexible enough to respond to and meet our communities’ needs as they change.

But now I am puzzled and concerned.

Requiring a reserve of 15% in board policy does not allow for flexibility. It ties our hands.

Instead of being able to respond effectively to our students’ and our communities’ needs and the ever growing number of state and federal mandates, requiring a reserve of 15% in board policy limits our ability to respond.

Now, when the economy is improving and the state budget is more stable, why would you vote to codify a reserve of 15% when the state requires 5% and when your own goal of 10% has been sufficient during difficult times?

Just this week Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee cited a Census Report for state tax collections in 2013: California’s tax collections jumped by $18.2 billion last year. http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2014/04/californias-tax-collections-jumped-by-182-percent-in-2013.html (handouts to board).

As accreditation training points out, the college mission guides planning. It guides everything we do. The mission of this district is not to accumulate and guard the taxpayers’ funds. The mission of this district is to allocate those funds wisely, supporting its colleges in the programs and services they offer our communities and our students.

Why would you tie up the money we taxpayers pay to support our colleges and communities?

When does prudence cross the line into inflexibility?

When does it cripple the colleges?

You are the Trustees not of the reserves but of the district and its colleges—and its students.

I urge you to maintain your past practice that carried us through recent budget storms.

Steer the ship.

Don’t sink it.

Thank you.

Nancy Guidry

ntgHello, I am Nancy Guidry, a reference librarian at Bakersfield College, and I am here today as both a faculty member and concerned citizen of the State of California.

As you can see by the turnout today, the issue of increased reserves is a matter of interest to a great many of us.

KCCD was able to weather the recent economic downturn by keeping reserve levels as high as 20 per cent plus. It did not take a Board policy mandate to do this. Now, that the economic climate has taken a more positive turn, the move to increase the district reserves to a 15% minimum, along with 3% mandated college reserves, is puzzling.

All over campus, I hear of faculty and classified positions that have been lost and not replaced, of technology and other components of basic infrastructure that need to be budgeted for or upgraded, of classes that students cannot get into because they fill up quickly or are offered only occasionally. In my department, two librarians are retiring–one position is slated not to be replaced, and the other position is in question. This means we are losing 40% of our faculty at a time when the number of students lacking in college level research skills is surging and campus-wide research demands are increasing due to the transfer model curriculum requirement of 10 pages of writing in the social and behavioral sciences. This is just one example. Across our campus, we need to address the service, program, and staffing needs that were lost or underfunded during the recent economic crisis, but are crucial to student success.

In addition, we need to look to the future and explore the many new opportunities and incentives that have the potential to enhance student success and equity. Here at BC we are being asked to participate in and support: The Student Success Initiative; Transfer Model Curriculum; Achieving the Dream; the potential for a Title V grant for Hispanic Serving Institutions; Habits of Mind; the Basic Skills Initiative, C-Six, STEM and more. While many of these are currently funded through grants, those funds will eventually go away, and sustainability requires a financial commitment on the part of the colleges and the District.
Goal number one of the District as listed in the Trustees’ policy manual is to “become an exemplary model of student success,” but this cannot be accomplished without a concerted effort to invest in student success. Our front-line personnel—the faculty and classified staff who help students succeed because they are there to help them one-on-one, advise them, teach them and mentor them–are being asked to take on more and as a consequence have less time to spend with students, not because they don’t want to, but because departments are under staffed, resources are stretched too thin, and the classes students need aren’t there. It seems to me like the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing. In light of the new emphasis on performance-based funding, I do not understand how a 15% plus reserve can help our colleges accomplish our core mission of education and student success when we are not fully addressing past losses, present needs, and possibly spinning our wheels on new programs that may disappear for lack of sustainable investment.

The money we receive from the state of California was given to us for the purpose of education, not to be held in an interest earning account for a rainy day—especially, while many of the current needs of our students go unmet. I understand the need for fiscal responsibility; I think this can easily be dealt with using the state mandated 5% minimum reserve which can be adjusted upward as necessary; what is at stake here is flexibility, and an investment in the students we have right now. Please do not tie the hands of our District and our three colleges.