Bakersfield College

State of the College - Fall 2019

Dr. Sonya Christian speaking to the audience.

August 22, 2019

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Section I: Data & Recognitions

Welcome to another year at Bakersfield College; another year of transforming lives, sharing knowledge, coaching, mentoring, and guiding students on a pathway toward their educational and career goals.

Next week, we will welcome over 37,000 students back to the Home of the Renegades, a place of hope, acceptance, diversity, transformation, and dreams; a campus of unlimited support and unique collaboration to rigorously support and mentor students to and through degree completion.

State of the College is Strong

My dear Colleagues, as I present my seventh State of the College to you, I am happy to report that the state of Bakersfield College has never been stronger. And having been through the most recent accreditation process, we know that we cannot make a claim without evidence. So, let me tell you why the state of Bakersfield College has never been stronger:

Annual Headcount bar chart shows 25.9% growth over 6 years, click for data table.

Our annual headcount has shown consistent growth over the past many years. Since 2013-14, we have grown 46%, reaching a headcount of 36,992 students last year in 2018-19, and last year, BC’s FTES peaked at 16,837 showing a 25.9% growth over the last 6 years. What is more remarkable is the comparison of this growth to the statewide near standstill, which shows minimal FTES growth across the state.

click for table.
FTES Comparison of BC, click for data table.

BC’s students learn in a variety of environments because of your leadership and engagement to bring college to our students in a closer and more flexible way. I am happy to report that the number of BC’s distance education students have grown by 143% over the past 6 years and I suspect more growth in the coming year.

Distance Education 10% growth over 6 years, click for data table.

To serve these students, BC has increased the number of Full-Time Equivalent Faculty in a steady and consistent way, increasing by 359 full-time faculty over the past 6 years, reaching a peak of 1,125 FTEF by 2018-2019. BC’s award winning faculty have intentionally integrated a high-tech, high-touch approach to be relentlessly clear through the Guided Pathways framework, leading students toward successful completion. Tools and systems such as the Pathways Program Mapper, a visual display of pathway curriculum, and BC’s Guided Pathways Momentum Points are proving to make a positive impact.

BC’s Momentum Points are:

  1. Attempt 15+ units by the end of the first semester
  2. Complete 30+ units by the end of first year
  3. Enrollment in college-level math and English in the first year
  4. Complete 9 core pathway units in the first year
First-time students Attempting 15+ Units, click for data table.

The momentum points are guiding our students towards success. In fact, over the past three years, the number of first-time students attempting 15+ Units in their first term has increased 51.4%. As we work to increase the number of Bachelor-degree holders in California by an additional million, we know that we will, by necessity, be reaching out to more and more first-generation college students who do not have the family history to navigate the environment of higher education. They will need us to be explicit – to provide relentless clarity.

With these supportive tools and services, more and more of BC’s students are successfully completing the Momentum Points. We have seen a rising number of Black and Latinx students successfully completing transfer-level English and math in their first year, and students in general are more successful regardless of the delivery method. From six years ago, Distance Ed student course success rates have grown 24.5% while traditional student course success rates have increased 9.6%.

Bar chart of first time students completeing transfer level math and English, click for data table.
Course Success Rate, click for data table.

Last year, Bakersfield College served 1040 inmate scholars in 10 facilities, comprised of 16 yards. This summer, we have bolstered the faculty, adding 9 full-time, tenure-track faculty exclusively dedicated to teaching in the Inmate Scholars Program. The BC team has been looking at efficient course scheduling to implement a “6-Semester Predictive Loop” scheduling system so that within any given six-semester cycle, every course an inmate student needs to graduate, will be offered. Manny, Dan and team developed the ‘predictive loop’ schedule this past summer and have already implemented it in one yard, with plans to implement on every yard. And to go one step further, by the end of 2019-20, BC will offer courses through the Inmate Scholars Program that will lead to ADT’s in both Psychology and Sociology, giving these Renegades a unique opportunity to graduate as triple-majors.

Inmate Scholar Growth in 6 yers grew to 3,056 enrollments and 1,040 headcount, click for table.

We continue to support our exponentially growing student population with your dedication and commitment. When looking at education levels in our local community compared to those statewide, we realize our work is more important today than ever before. The focus on surrounding rural communities in BC’s service area is crucial as we look to increase the number of Baccalaureate graduates in Kern County, diversify our local industry with a highly skilled workforce, and work toward greater social mobility for our students.

Our students have a diverse blend of backgrounds, ambitions, and pathway interests. The 2018-19 distribution of students by meta-major lists the most popular pathways, including:

  • Health Sciences at 18%
  • Art, Humanities and Communication at 14%
  • Business at 12%
  • STEM at 11%
  • Public Safety at 11%
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences at 10%
  • Education at 8%
  • Agriculture, Nutrition, and Culinary Arts at 7%
  • Industrial Technology & Transportation at 6%
  • Personal and Career Exploration at 4%
Pie chart of the data.
ADT chart of growth over 5 years, click for data table.

Over the past five years, we increased our Associate Degrees for Transfer by 637%. The Renegade class of 2019 was the largest in history with 2,746 graduates earning a total of 3,335 degrees, including 13 students who completed their baccalaureate degree and 94 who got their associates and high school diploma within weeks of each other.

Innovation, Leadership, and Engagement

By definition, they say Renegades are those who breaks free from conventional limitations and embrace the unknown. Renegades are innovators and trailblazers.

When considering the conditions that have facilitated Bakersfield College’s success, one must consider vision, the courage of our faculty and staff, and the commitment of our students. This trifecta – bold vision, courageous leadership, and unwavering commitment – has served as Bakersfield College’s steady guide as we navigate the uncharted waters of innovation to advance equitable outcomes for all students.

At Bakersfield College, Renegades stand unfettered by the status quo, refusing to be constrained by boundaries that were never designed to facilitate but instead to limit. It is in this spirit that BC has earned local, statewide, and national recognition for our leadership, our engagement, and our innovation.

Bakersfield College leaders spent 18 months doing the grueling and detailed work to fully map and sequence our Associate Degree for Transfer Pathways into our Kern Promise: Finish-in-4 maps through which students can complete an ADT in 2 years and earn a guaranteed spot at CSUB with junior level standing. And that’s why we earned statewide recognition from the state chancellor’s office and the Campaign for College Opportunity.

Team at the Community College League of California

Bakersfield College leaders took the high-touch mapping work to the next level, envisioning and developing twenty-first century, online roadmap for all programs of study, published and publicly available in the Program Pathways Mapper. With 30 California community colleges already using the Mapper and more in the queue, it is no surprise we have earned statewide and national recognition for this innovation:

Bakersfield College leaders know that addressing Kern County’s educational attainment rates cannot begin only when students arrive at our doors. So, BC takes college to our over 50 high schools, delivering not just a list of courses for students to take but building pathways beginning in the 9th grade so that students are on a pathway to a certificate or degree by the time they earn their high school diplomas. With 94 rural high school students walking the commencement stage in May 2019, BC earned local and national recognition for our intersegmental work.

  • Beautiful Bakersfield Award for Dual Enrollment and Early College (2019)
  • Institute for Higher Education Policy Summit Acceptance (2019)
  • Strategic Enrollment Management Project Acceptance (2019)
BC Team receiving the Rice Award.

Bakersfield College leaders have fully committed to redesigning our systems to ensure each and every student has the opportunity to succeed. Our innovative team has done the difficult work of evolving our placement practices, developing comprehensive academic support systems, and growing the programs we know work to improve student success in transfer-level English and math like Umoja and EOPS. Renegades refuse to be satisfied only with small improvements in overall student outcomes but relentlessly work to close gaps that affect our most vulnerable populations. Our results have earned us local, statewide, and national recognition.

These awards demonstrate BC’s rich history of leveraging categorical and grant dollars to seed innovations and commit boldly to using those dollars to develop and implement solutions to the pressing issues we experience day in and day out around student progression and completion.

While we have proven our skill in elevating campus-based conversations to regional and statewide arenas, we will broaden the dialogue in the coming year. Our institutional propensity for innovation and proven track-record in development and sustainability has positioned us to lead the state in creating the conditions for California community colleges to improve outcomes for all 2.1 million community college students in the state.

This funding and opportunities have been made possible by you because of your leadership and engagement, the work you do which transforms lives and makes a difference. I must take this time to also thank leaders and organizations in our community who tirelessly support Bakersfield College, champion for BC’s programs, and fight for BC’s students.

I am excited to share this past summer, BC was awarded a $500,00 grant in partnership with the California State Online Education Initiative and the California Virtual Campus to bring multiple Career and Technical Education programs fully online in the next year. This opportunity will build upon the several innovations already in process at Bakersfield College, such as the Renegade Hub, connecting our online education programs with broadly available workforce training.

Student at the Renegade Online Hub help desk.

The college anticipates bringing between five and ten programs fully online in the next year. In addition, each program will leverage Open Educational Resources to drastically reduce the cost of textbooks and course materials, increasing the availability of these programs for all students, regardless of their income. Finally, these innovative programs will leverage cutting edge innovations that allow students to easily navigate the certificate programs and even earn credit for prior learning.

One innovation that will be introduced in these online programs is the use of a new measurement of learning. Sometimes called “Badges” or “micro-credentials,” these smaller measurements of learning allow the college to match the learning goals of each course and program to the specific needs identified by employers. More importantly, these micro-credentials may be combined to build toward advanced degrees, or even to grant very precise credit for prior learning or experience.


With a focus on increasing transfer efficiency, higher regional baccalaureate attainment, and career focused education, the College has turned to exploring badging and alternative credentialing as a way to bridge the employment skills gap. This cutting-edge technology will allow us to create a very detailed record of student learning, that is both verifiable and secure.

Badging follows the tried and true achievement system popular in video games, and introduces gamification to the learning environment. By exploring the earnable badges and knowing the requirements to earn them, students respond with higher engagement, improved attitude, effective teamwork, better communication, and motivation towards completing smaller, focused goals. Students can use these micro credentials to communicate skills to prospective employers, or even to provide additional detail on courses completed to other outside institutions. As an instructional tool, badges can also be used to help students mark progress through their courses as a mechanism for student motivation.

Alternative credentials are digital, verifiable, and offer a visual way to recognize specific skills, abilities, and accomplishments while giving students, employers, and educators an incentive for giving focused attention to learning outcomes. There are both seen and unseen benefits to badging including skills beyond the degree title. We often experience crossover knowledge in local industry where badges can be utilized to fill the gap.

Badges also offer incentive for the currently employed to return to college for training in high-demand micro skills and improved employability. From the employer’s perspective, badges provide easily referenceable and verifiable information so employers can make a smart hire. Student and graduate job seekers may use a visual showcase of the skills, career readiness, previous successes, and learning outcomes profile data to supplement a traditional resume.

And what is there to say about the gamification aspect? Learning can be fun, am I right?

Ask almost any student or even some of our faculty, and they’ll praise the benefits of gaming. Badging takes the slightly competitive, invested student and transforms them into an eager collector who, as Bill Moseley tells me, wants to “catch them all.”

It’s time to embrace gamification in higher education and experience the stunning transformation it can produce in our students as they seek out learning opportunities to earn badges and achieve employable skills.

This is an exciting time to be a Renegade, my dear colleagues.