Tag Archives: Training

Retreat Summer 2015 – Teamwork, Accountability, Wellness, Trust and Fun!

This is my 200th blog post.  Yes!


Bakersfield College Administrators. Summer 2015.


Jennifer Marden and Sonya Christian

Summer that is considered a “downtime” for an academic institution is a time for the administrative team and classified staff to regroup and plan for the following year.  In this spirit of valuing reflection, and planning, the administrative team at BC retreated for two days.  The focus of the two days was to promote and deepen:

– our teamwork: getting to know each other and building trust

– our collective accountability to our students, our colleagues and our community

– our collective understanding of what leadership looks like in the fast-paced 21st century with the explosion of information

– our wellness individually and collectively.


Nicky Damania and Terri Goldstein

I asked Karla Young, our new Student Success Program Manager to capture this two-day event.  Let’s hear from Karla:

Part of that year-round drive for excellence includes our summer Administrative Council Retreat, a much-needed annual opportunity for some connection and reflection throughout our BC family.

Over the course of the retreat, the entire management team at BC came together to reflect on accomplishments, develop work plans for the upcoming year, reconnect, foster leadership, and enjoy a friendly lip-sync competition.

2015AdminCouncilRetreat_June8_14The first day consisted of various presentations on several topics, including the strategic direction of our campus, the importance of health and wellness, reflections on transformational leadership by Dr. Michael Wesch, the review of our past year accomplishments, brainstorming on work plans for the upcoming year, and a good old-fashioned lip-sync competition between members of our eight teams.


Todd Coston and Manny Mourtzanos

The second day was filled with great momentum from the previous day.  Everyone displayed their work plans for the upcoming year throughout the room for all to review. We broke out in groups to focus on and discuss various leadership scenarios and received a presentation on the Renegade Scorecard version 2.0.

More reflections on transformational leadership followed, and then, the conclusion of our lip sync competition with the remaining teams.

Although the performance aspect of the retreat caused a few pauses with the management team everyone jumped in and had a great time.  Here are two samples:

Team: Todd Coston and Manny Mourtzanos


Team: Odella Johnson, Liz Rozell, Ramon Puga, Danell Ward (who was ill and Manny Mourtzanos stepped in), Sonya Christian


For the photo gallery check out

Bakersfield College Hosts Inaugural “Week after graduation” Professional Development Institute

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Thank you Lesley Bonds for coordinating this institute and writing this blog.

During the week following commencement, over 100 faculty, staff and administrators gathered to attend myriad sessions designed to support both their personal and professional development. Read on for an overview of each session and to hear about the experience from those who facilitated these important seminars.

Day 1: Using Data to Inform Planning & Decisions
Jordan Horowitz, Vice President of Foundation Relations and Project Development for the Institute for Evidence-Based Change, kicked off the Institute by prompting attendees to share what inspired them to pursue work in higher education. Laughter, collective empathic nods and even a few tears littered the room as attendees shared the stories of what and – most importantly – who, inspired them to pursue their current paths. Following this activity, Mr. Horowitz shared strategies for data use that tells the stories of successes and challenges our students face. This session helped to provide a framework for the ways in which data can be used to drive institutional change to support student success.

Day 2: Assessment and Student Learning Outcomes
Michele Bresso, Associate Vice Chancellor of Governmental & External Relations, and David Neville, Professor of Spanish and Assessment Committee Co-Chair, led the second day of the Institute. Professor Neville shared that the Professional Development Summer Institute was a great success. He said, “The assessment committee appreciated the opportunity to make significant headway on the mapping as well as assessment. This lays the ground work for everything else that we will be doing this next year in our committee and as a part of Program Review.”

Following the session, Neville noticed a flood of positive comments, despite challenges when it came to accessing information from CurricUNET. “We are beginning to have the right discussions dealing with how assessment figures in both at the institutional level and at the course and program level,” he noted. He also observed discussions about how courses and programs align, as well as how assessments could be performed better with the ultimate goal of improving instruction.

“If I were to choose one phrase that permeated the institute and was evident in the comments of the participants, it was that in order to make positive change at Bakersfield College, we must participate. This is the difference between being an employee of Bakersfield College and Being BC. WE ARE BC.” -Dave Neville

Day 3, Part 1: Program Review
On Wednesday, May 20, the Program Review Committee (PRC) hosted a hands-on workshop to guide approximately 60 faculty, staff, and administrators through the Program Review process. After a brief overview, workshop attendees worked on their 2015 program review forms while PRC representatives offered 1-on-1 support and guidance. Below are their thoughts on the experience:

“I enjoyed the work-session format for Program Review. On a personal note, being able to assist on a one-to-one basis with the technology and facilities requests was a great experience. I was able to have meaningful conversations with both faculty and staff who are charged with filling out the forms. It was great!” – Kristin Rabe, PRC classified co-chair

“I was impressed with the number of people who showed up and how much work they accomplished!” Kate Pluta, past PRC faculty co-chair

“This workshop empowered attendees to begin the program review process earlier than ever in preparation for submission in the Fall 2015. Attendees reported a greater understanding and appreciation of the program review process and its impact on institutional effectiveness. Way to go, Team BC, for coming together and keeping the Program Review Train moving full-steam ahead!! A special thanks to the members of the Program Review Committee for organizing this helpful and productive workshop.” – Manny Mourtzanos, PRC admin co-chair

“It seemed as though those who attended the Summer Institute for Program Review were able see the importance of the program review process and its impact on the BC campus. They were able to see how important the work is that they do in their departments and the value of reflecting on that good work. Connecting with members of our BC family from other departments was extremely beneficial for all of us. We were able to alleviate some of the fear and dread of the program review process and answer many questions that bubbled up during the hands on portion.” – Kim Nickell, PRC faculty co-chair

Day 3, Part 2: College-Wide Equity Initiatives
Odella Johnson leads Summer InstituteOdella Johnson, Interim Director of Equity and Inclusion, and Bryan Hirayama, Professor of Communication and Faculty Co-Chair of the Equal Opportunity and Diversity Advisory Committee (EODAC), challenged attendees to center the needs of at-risk students in this dynamic, hands-on session. Johnson opened the session by sharing important updates and strategic goals outlined in the Student Equity Plan. The two facilitators then led the group through a consciousness-raising activity where small groups of faculty and staff members brainstormed how Bakersfield College can implement more equitable policies, procedures and perspectives that support students and lessen the achievement gap. Johnson interjected with tangible, concrete changes, such as a statement about equity on course syllabi, as well as faculty office hours repurposed as “student hours” in acknowledgement of the important relationship that exists between faculty and students. She charged all faculty to continue the conversation beyond the session and to focus on equity in the classroom. Hirayama closed the session by sharing a personal moment of growth in recognizing and combating unconscious biases in grading. The session provided a foundation of dialogue from which future programmatic initiatives, like those discussed during the morning session of day 3, may grow in intentional and meaningful ways.

Day 4: Rethinking and Redesigning Student Support Services
Flow chart - predictive analytics lead us to equity plans, student services success plan, achieve the dream & making it happen mentorship, habits of mind and MIH classroom intervention.Janet Fulks, Interim Dean of Student Success and Precollegiate Studies kicked off the final day of the Professional Development Summer Institute with a report-out on the Making It Happen (MIH) initiative. Her presentation, ripe with student success data, helped attendees learn more about how enhanced communication, one-on-one student contact and improved course placement through Multiple Measures is improving student success at an exponential rate. Following Dr. Fulks’ presentation, representatives from several student support services areas, including Financial Aid, Math Lab, Student Success Lab, Supplemental Instruction, the Tutoring Center and the Writing Center broadened the scope of the discussion to include the interventions in place to support students once they’re enrolled at Bakersfield College.
After lunch, all attendees ventured out to the Student Services building and Library for individualized tours and presentations of the student services areas to round out the day. Attendees reported that they were thrilled to have the opportunity to visit spaces on campus they had never been and to learn more about how they can refer students to services that will support their success both in and outside of the classroom.
BC would like to extend a special thank you to the incredible catering crew who kept our attendees well-caffeinated and well-fed throughout the Institute. The support from other on-campus departments, including Information Technology and our Maintenance and Operations crew did not go unnoticed.


Student Safety in the Forefront at Symposium

Title IX and Clery Group Oct 2014

With the planning team and keynote speakers for the Title IX and Clery Symposium in October 2014

Another Bakersfield College  Learn@BC! event was the Title IX and Clery Act Symposium in mid-October.

Chief Chris Counts and Amber Chiang started the event with a presentation on the Clery Act, particularly when it comes to crime reporting, and the college’s emergency notification process. They also discussed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which boosted the reporting requirements for crimes of a certain nature on college campuses.  New regulations under VAWA require:

  • Tracking of incidents of sexual and relationship violence
  • Well defined approaches to prevention of incidents of this nature
  • Structured educational programming that raises the awareness within the college community.
Amber and Chris Clery Symposium Oct 2014

Amber Chiang and Chris Counts


Counts and Chiang emphasized a few key points:

  • The college sends out Timely Warnings when an ongoing threat is present, or in relation to crimes of a certain nature. In the hope of protecting students and employees, Timely Warnings can be sent without good information, or before all victim/witness interviews have taken place.
  • Emergency notifications, evacuations, and drills are to be taken seriously and all students and non-essential personnel must abide the emergency orders.
  • If you see something, say something.

Chiang and Counts were followed up by two guests from the Office of Civil Rights: attorney Michael Chang and law investigator Ava DeAlmeida, who discussed Title IX in depth for our audience. They detailed sexual harassment for the crowd, explaining the differences so that attendees could better understand how “yes means yes” is treated on a college campus. Chang and DeAlmeida went on to discuss the college’s role in preventing future sexual harassment, and the efforts the college can make to keep students safe when they are on campus.

You can find the two presentations, photos, the video of the symposium and more on the Learn@BC website. If you weren’t able to join us, I encourage you to go view the materials so that you too will have a better understanding of these two laws and how they impact Bakersfield College.

SGA Students Take the Lead at Statewide Conference

20140504_105420During the weekend of May 2-4, Bakersfield College SGA students participated in the Spring 2014 General Assembly of the Student Senate for California Community Colleges (SSCCC), held in Los Angeles. This year’s theme was “Courage to Take the Lead: Inspiring the Future.” BC’s delegation included Acting SGA President, Shelby Ashton Sward, accompanied by incoming SGA 2014-2015 officers, Alex Dominguez (President-Elect),  Aeri Kim (Director of Finance-elect), and Reg Autwell (Director of Clubs and Organizations-elect), and advisor, Liz Peisner. Our students participated in a number of breakout sessions, collaborating with student leaders from community colleges up and down the state of California, on topics such as Veterans’ services, the upcoming implementation of SSSP, sustainability, and equity and diversity. Our BC students brought their Bakersfield regional experience to the table for statewide discussion, engaging in debate on matters unique to their region, such as Kern County’s priority of water conservation, and concerns over divestment of fossil fuel industries.

BmuPNxgCIAAM0U9In a move of solidarity with other California community colleges, BC delegate Shelby Sward participated in a heated debate on the GA floor, related to equity and access to academic services and student success for deaf and hard of hearing students.

Incoming SGA president Alex Dominguez reflected on his experience: “SSCCC was a great opportunity for all of us to better connect with other community colleges across the state. I saw it as a great leadership opportunity to represent and stand up for Bakersfield College and Bakersfield as a whole. Not only did I learn a lot, it was a great networking opportunity. I met countless counterparts along with many other college leaders. This also gave me an opportunity to better know my incoming SGA Board along with the existing SGA President. I strongly recommend that we attend this event again and that we bring several resolutions to the table in 2014/15. Bakersfield College has a very open opportunity to be known by establishing strong leadership and advocacy at this event.”

2014-05-02 09.31.09Informed by pre-conference feedback from our own BC faculty in the Foreign Languages and ASL department, Sward spoke up in opposition of dividing one of two resolutions, instead advocating for the importance of equity of access and services in the academic, counseling, and extracurricular environment. Following her sound leadership and advocacy, delegates immediately moved to call the question. The motion to divide failed, and the resolution passed in its entirety. The sponsoring delegation from Los Angeles Trade Tech College asked to meet with our team following the session, for pictures and discussion on best practices as implemented here at BC.

BmzgoWuCMAEkANUAutwell reflected on his experience, stating “For the most part I found this GA to be an interesting experience, as I have never been involved with student government before. I was surprised to find out how many colleges were in Region 5 and it was interesting to watch how our region works. The best experience I had was with the Spectrum Caucus. I am now Region 5’s interim representative for the caucus, and have been elected to be the representative for the new-year, starting in July. The Spectrum Caucus is very involved in providing information, not only to members of the LGBTQIA community, but also to students, about these groups. I am particularly curious on the plan to spread awareness regarding the Trans Gender population, and how they will support the Trans Gender students.”

Our newly revised constitution and restructuring of our SGA was a topic of discussion, and numerous advisors have contacted our Office of Student Life for best practices, training modules, information on the Renegade Pantry, and other opportunities for future collaboration. Our students entered General Assembly this year, with our continued promise for “Renegade Rises,” and came away with new allies in student representative government, demonstrating the best of BC, Renegade pride, and a fortified SGA.

Delano in the news: Job Fair Unites Community with Employers

Visitors at Delano Campus Job Fest

Nearly 400 people visited the Job Fest, looking for contact with employers who are hiring right now.

I received an excited email from Delano Campus director Rich McCrow last week:

The job fest is underway with an exceptional crowd. The first 45 minutes had over 150 applicants. we have 50 employers and over 900 positions to fill. Good stuff.

Now, if you know Rich, you know there’s nothing that gets him going like knowing Bakersfield College is being of service to the community. A military veteran himself, Rich’s usually calm demeanor is often replaced with a friendly smile and warm handshake when new people come to Delano Campus.

I replied to Rich’s email, letting him know his email is the making of a great blog post. After all, that’s what Bakersfield College is here for – to help the community – whether it be through education or through access to employers.

Rich was talking about Delano Campus’ second annual Job Fair. Over the course of the event, nearly 400 job seekers had the opportunity to meet with employers who had over 900 positions ready and waiting for the right person. Positions ranged from local to the Delano area to some in Alaska, and the employers were ready to hire!

ImageIn addition, Delano Campus provided a series of workshops designed to prepare attendees to meet with employers. Sessions on resume writing, dressing for success, and interview skills were offered. Bakersfield College’s own Job Placement staff provided career advice, job coaching, and resume posting assistance, and the college’s Educational Advisors and volunteers staff gave out information about education and training opportunities.

Sponsored by the Department of Human Services, Bakersfield College Delano Campus, the Delano Chamber of Commerce, and the State of California Employment Development Department, the Job Fest is planned to be an annual event benefiting the people of Delano and surrounding communities.

As one engaged job seeker said: “This is the best opportunity I’ve had to actually apply for real jobs and start working.”

Good job, Rich and Delano Campus staff! That’s Renegade pride at its finest!