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Bakersfield College

State of the College - Fall 2019

Dr. Sonya Christian speaking to the audience.

August 22, 2019

Printable PDF

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 (25.9% growth) with the state (1.5% growth) over 6 years, 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
Overall Average of First-time students Attempting 15+ Units in their first term shows a 51.4% growth, 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 by Delivery Method showing an increase for Distance Education, 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.

Full audience in the indoor theater.

Section II: Innovation & Community Engagement

Innovation and Community Engagement

The state of Bakersfield College is strong, especially in the area of Strategic Direction #4, Leadership and Engagement, with a robust commitment to engage with our community. Over the past few years, BC has made a concerted effort to bring key local issues to the forefront so that, as educators, we do our part to equip and prepare generations for successful and healthy futures.

We focused energy towards supporting rural communities by eliminating barriers one by one with programs, initiatives, and support services.

By doing this, students have flourished; but we also realized that education doesn’t happen in a vortex. HealthyKern.org lists indicators which are impacting our students, their friends, family members, and our community.

They include:

  • Violence
    • Homicide rate: According to the California Department of Justice, Kern County has the highest homicide rate in the state for the second straight year – and by a long shot. There were 11.1 homicide in Kern County per 100,000 residents in 2018, far outpacing the next highest county, and the rates have increased steadily over the past 10 years.
    • Violent Crime Rate: The California Department of Justice places Kern County in the bottom quartile for violent crime, with 555.1 crimes per 100,000 people, higher than the state and national rates.
  • Health
    • Life Expectancy: County Health Rankings indicate Kern County is ranked in the bottom quartile in the state for life expectancy at 77.6 years compared to 81.5 years statewide.
    • Diabetes: According to the California Health Interview Survey, Kern County’s rate of adults with diabetes has increased steadily for nearly two decades, with 13.5% of adults living with diabetes, placing the county in the worst 25% of all California counties. National and statewide rates trail substantially.
    • Food Insecurity: While Feeding America’s report on Kern County’s rates of food insecurity indicate a decline over the past 15 years, Kern County residents have a 13.4% food insecurity rate, still higher than both the California and national rates.
    • Substance Abuse/Overdose: The California Opioid Overdose Surveillance Dashboard shows an increase in ER visit rates due to drug overdose since 2014, at 171.8 per 100,000 residents. California’s rate is just 117.3. Kern County sees 2.9 deaths per 100,000 from heroin overdose compared to 1.4 in California.
  • Poverty and Unemployment
    • Unemployment: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows Kern County’s unemployment rate stands at 8.4% compared, more than double the statewide and national rates. (April 2019)
    • Poverty Level: 18.7% of Kern County families live below the federal poverty level. This places Kern County in the bottom quartile statewide and nearly doubles the rate of the state and national poverty rates.
  • Education
    • Baccalaureate Degree Completion: By 2025, California will face a shortfall of 1 million college graduates needed to support the state’s economy with a qualified workforce.

We’ve realized education is one important component of a community’s holistic wellbeing, and we’ve realized the powerful influence education can have on the compounding community issues.

By looking at educational attainment in the Bakersfield area vs statewide, we see clearly that Kern County needs our support, needs our leadership, and needs our engagement. Our calling as we move forward is to be a leader who can construct an influential coalition for positive change.

Last year, the college experienced booming growth and participation in dual enrollment, especially with the launch of BC’s game-changing initiative that’s revolutionizing the efficiency and process of higher education. In 2015, we had just over 2,500 dual enrollment students growing to well beyond 11,000 last year. Their success rate is also surpassing the institutional set standard.

The need for Early College in our rural areas is abundantly clear with only 9% of rural residents obtaining a college degree. Providing Early College is not only facilitating educational and career dreams, it’s an equity model that’s strengthening student success. We have seen in the past that many students who do graduate from high school do not continue their education due to obligations to work and provide for their families. Of those who do begin college, they often quit before reaching their goal.

Education levels: state vs. Bakersfield Area, click for data table.

To support our high school students in beginning their college pathway as early as the 9th grade, our Early College and Outreach departments have joined forces. The team has developed a service model to assist early college students with enrollment, parent support, pathway selection, educational planning, intervention, and exposure to our Renegade college culture. Early College Renegades will make a positive impact on our degree attainment rates and employment statistics. They will also contribute to a sustainable, healthier community.

Health Equity and learning is another key area of focus which contributes to student success and community wellness. Over the past few years, BC has made a concerted effort to bring key local healthcare leaders to the planning table to lend expertise on significant elements leading to a healthier and sustainable community.

Healthy communities are a unique amalgamation of individual, community, and national issues where factors such as genetics, poverty levels, educational attainment, access to healthcare, employment, and transportation each play an important role in a community’s overall health. Our communities should and could increase access to healthy food, reduce exposure to drugs, control environmental pollution, and offer greater access to quality healthcare and sustainable living wage-paying jobs. The question is – how?

Community Wellness: Education, Health Care, Employment, Violence, Housing, Poverty.

Unfortunately, these are real issues that BC’s students and their families contend with. As educators and think tank contributors, we can do our part to support research efforts so data-informed decisions can be made, and we can take positive steps to building healthier communities.

BC has been responding to these issues for a long time now through bolstering our healthcare programs like Nursing and Radiologic Technology. Especially in the last 5 years, we have become a presence in the statewide conversation. This important and extensive collaboration has the power to foster and harness resources from agencies across the country, making a difference for lives across the nation, and starting right here in Kern County.

Teaming with local healthcare providers and organizations like Centric Health, Dignity Health, Adventist Health, Delano Regional Medical, Kern Behavioral, and the Community Action Partnership of Kern, we can make a difference. By linking Bakersfield College educational resources with those at UC Merced and Cal State Fresno, we can act powerfully and collegially to heal our communities.

As a matter of fact, we’ve turned the word HEAL into an acronym and created a collaborative of dynamic partners to engage in this important work. The HEAL collaborative deserves your support as we effect change to improve Health, (triple e) Education, Equity, Economic mobility, and Learning.

At Bakersfield College, faculty and staff have focused on growing our Nursing, Allied Health, and Public Safety Training programs to engender long-term impacts on the wellness of our communities. Educating individuals with ambitions and passions to care for and invest time in personal and community wellness is the key.

On the horizon, BC is looking to expand the imaging program to include sonography, and we will be bringing physical therapy assistants to partner with BC’s Kinesiology program.

Together with key leaders and with the power of our students, we are committed to making HEAL a reality so that each of us will thrive in a healthy community.

BC drumline marching while playing.

Section III: Student Progression & Completion

Student Progression & Completion

The state of the college is strong, especially in the area of Strategic Direction #1 and 2 – Student Learning and Student Progression and Completion. Since our Guided Pathways implementation in 2015, we have witnessed universal growth and improvement across virtually every student success metric at the college. Through our diligent focus on ensuring more students complete or transfer on time and without excess units, we have intentionally designed an innovative, formal structure through which our Completion Coaching Communities of faculty and staff are responsible for advancing four key research-based momentum points. They include:

  • Attempting 15+ units in the first term
  • Completion of transfer-level math and English in the first year
  • Attempting 30+ units in the first year
  • Completion of 9 core pathway units in the first year

Bakersfield College’s GP implementation has required a whole-college effort to redesign existing structures to advance equitable access and completion, increases in student completion of transfer-level math and English are critical in stabilizing the college in a time of transition to a new funding formula, while also greatly improving the likelihood of completion of degrees and transfer.

To be clear: in every meta-major, the number of students who successfully hit these momentum points has increased year over year.

Completion of Transfer-Level English and math in the First Year

With evolving changes in placement practices since 2015, BC has achieved significant improvements in completion of transfer-level English and transfer-level math in the first year among our largest disproportionately impacted populations: Latinx and Black students.

Since 2015, BC has increased first-time student completion of transfer-level English in the first year by 6.9 percentage points from 15.3% to 22.2%, and completion of transfer-level math by 5.1 percentage points from 4.7% to 9.8%.

The Social, Behavioral & Human services meta-major has made the most significant gains in transfer-level English and math completion for overall, followed closely by the STEM meta-major. 

Meta-Major English – Overall Math - Overall
Education +9 points; +57 students +3 points; +21 students
Health Sciences +8 points; +156 students +6 points; +77 students
ITT +2 points; +17 students +2 points; +7 students
Public Safety +6 points; +52 students +2 points; +16 students
Social, Behavioral & Human Services +14 points; +129 students +7 points; +65 students
STEM +8 points; +119 students +5 points; +84 students
Ag, Culinary Arts & Nutrition +8 points; +38 students -2 points; +3 students
Arts, Humanities & Communication +5 points; +72 students 1 point; +21 students
Business +8 points; +65 students 3 points; +27 students

We have also made major strides for our largest disproportionately impacted student populations as detailed in our Student Equity Plan.

First-time Students Completing Transfer-level Math in their first year by race, click for data table.
First-time Students Completing Transfer-level English in their first year by race, click for data table.

Latinx Student Completion of Transfer-Level English & Math:

  • English: 7.9 percentage point increase, which represents 351 more Latinx students than in 2015 – a 79% increase in successful students.
  • Math: 5.6 percentage point increase, which represents 217 more Latinx students than in 2015 – a 190% increase in successful students.

The Social, Behavioral Sciences & Human services meta-major has made the most significant gains in transfer-level English and math completion for Latinx students, followed closely by the STEM meta-major.

Meta-Major English: Latinx Math: Latinx
Education +9 points; +44 students +2 points; +14 students
Health Sciences +9 points; +106 students +6 points; +51 students
ITT +3 points; +13 students +1 point; +6 students
Public Safety +8 points; +45 students -1 point; +9 students
Social, Behavioral & Human Services +16 points; +103 students +7 points; +51 students
STEM +13 points; +98 students +4 points; +54 students
Ag, Culinary Arts & Nutrition +7 points; +25 students -1 point = +3 students
Arts, Humanities & Communication +11 points; +61 students +2 points; +15 students
Business +7 points; +45 students +2 points; +14 students

Black Student Completion of Transfer-Level English & Math:

  • English: 6.5 percentage point increase, which represents 24 more Black students than in 2015 - a 133% increase in successful students.
  • Math: 2.7 percentage point increase, which represents 10 more Black students than in 2015 - a 142% increase in successful students.

The Social, Behavioral & Human Services meta-major has made the most significant gains in transfer-level English and math completion for Latinx students, followed by the Education meta-major.

Meta-Major English: Black Math: Black
Education +13 points; +2 students +6 points; +1 student
Health Sciences +19 points; +12 students +9 points; +5 students
ITT +5 points; +1 student +/-0 points; +/-0 students
Public Safety +3 points; +1 student +/-0 points; +/-0 students
Social, Behavioral & Human Services +33 points; +11 students +15 points; +5 students
STEM +7 points; +4 students +/-0 points; +2 students
Ag, Culinary Arts & Nutrition +/- 0 points; +1 student +/-0 points; +/- 0 students
Arts, Humanities & Communication +15 points; +4 students +4 points; +1 student
Business +6 points; +3 students +5 points; +2 students

Attempting 15+ Units in the First Term and 30+ in the First Year

Since adopting the Guided Pathways framework, BC has altered our messaging to students about what it will take to complete an associate’s degree in two years, emphasizing that full-time enrollment is 15 units per term, not 12.

Since 2015, BC has increased first-time students who attempt 15+ units in their first term by 5 percentage points from 9.5% to 14.5% since 2015. We have increased first-time students who attempt 30+ units in the first year by 2 percentage points from 9.7 to 11.7% since 2015.

The STEM meta-major has made the most significant gains in full-time unit attempts overall, followed by the Social, Behavioral & Human Services meta-major.

Meta-Major 15+: Overall 30+: Overall
Education +4 points; +31 students +2 points; +22 students
Health Sciences +2 points; +60 students -1 point; +31 students
ITT +6 points; +30 students +1 point; +11 students
Public Safety +5 points; +60 students +2 points = +30 students
Social, Behavioral & Human Services +4 points; +60 students +7 points; +68 students
STEM +7 points; +88 students +/-0 points; +53 students
Ag, Culinary Arts & Nutrition +3 points; +28 students +2 points; +19 students
Arts, Humanities & Communication +4 points; +42 students +3 points; +39 students
Business +2 points; +35 students +3 points; +35 students

Bakersfield College is moving the dial in full-time unit attempts.

First-time students attempting 15+ Units in their first term by race, click for data table.
First-time students attempting 15+ Units in their first term by race, click for data table.

Latinx Student Full-Time Unit Attempts

  • 15+ Units: 5.9 percentage point increase, which represents 252 more Latinx students than in 2015 – a 95% increase in successful students.
  • 30+ Units: 2.7 percentage point increase, which represents 138 more Latinx students than in 2015 – a 51% increase in successful students.

The Arts, Humanities & Communication meta-major has made the most significant gains in full-time unit attempts for Latinx students, followed by the Education meta-major.

Meta-Major 15+: Latinx 30+: Latinx
Education +5 points; +26 students +3 points; +19 students
Health Sciences +1 point; +29 students -1 point; +22 students
ITT +7 points; +24 students +1 point; +8 students
Public Safety +7 points; +45 students +2 points; +20 students
Social, Behavioral & Human Services +3 points; +49 students +7 points; +56 students
STEM +7 points; +59 students -1 point; +35 students
Ag, Culinary Arts & Nutrition +5 points; +21 students +1 point; +12 students
Arts, Humanities & Communication +8 points; +24 students +3 points; +25 students
Business +3 points; +30 students +3 points; +24 students

Black Student Full-Time Unit Attempts

  • 15+ Units: a 0.3 percentage point increase, which represents 9 more Black students than in 2015 – a 33% increase in successful students.
  • 30+ Units: First time Black students have remained steady in this metric. In 2018-19, four more Black students attempted 30+ units in the first year than in 2015 - a 17% increase in successful students.

The Arts, Humanities & Communication meta-major has made the most significant gains in full-time unit attempts for Black students, followed by the Social, Behavioral & Human Services meta-major.

Meta-Major 15+: Black 30+: Black
Education +/-0 points; +/- 0 students -6 points; -1 student
Health Sciences +8 points; +8 students -7 points; +1 student
ITT +5 points; +1 student -8 points; -1 student
Public Safety -2 points; +2 students +3 points; +3 students
Social, Behavioral & Human Services +12 points; +4 students +15 points; +5 students
STEM +14 points; +4 students +0 points; +2 students
Ag, Culinary Arts & Nutrition -7 points; +/- 0 students +6 points; +1 student
Arts, Humanities & Communication +19 points; +5 students +11 points; +3 students
Business -10 points; -1 student -4 points; +/- 0 students

While these improvements are promising, Bakersfield College has identified several populations as disproportionately impacted and for which the Office of Institutional Effectiveness has established target outcomes as detailed in the BC 2019-22 Student Equity Plan.

Through the guided pathways framework, BC seeks to advance equitable student outcomes as summarized in the table below.

Metric High Priority DI Population for 2019-2022
Access: Successful Enrollment
  • African American (men and women)
  • Foster Youth (men and women)
  • LGBT (men and women)
Retention: Fall to Spring
  • African American (men and women)
  • LGBT (men and women)
  • Foster Youth (men and women)
Completion of Transfer-Level math and English
  • African American (men and women)
  • Disabled (men and women)
  • Foster Youth (women)
  • Hispanic/Latinx (men and women)*
Completion: Attained the Vision for Success Goal
  • African American (men and women)
  • Foster Youth (men and women)
  • LGBT (men and women)
  • Hispanic/Latinx (men and women)*
  • Hispanic/Latinx (men)
  • Disabled (men and women)
  • Foster Youth (men)
*BC local priority defined in “other” category in Equity Plan within NOVA

This upcoming year, BC will deepen its Completion Coaching Community work with a laser focus on equity while we also commit our work to increasing baccalaureate attainment within Kern County. The Community College system plays an important role in preparing people for the future that we collectively want and need. In the United States, higher education is more a necessity than ever before. Since 1983, among workers between the ages of 25 and 54:

  • Earnings of high school dropouts have fallen by 2 percent
  • Earnings of high school graduates have increased by 13 percent
  • Earnings of people with some college or an Associate’s degree have increased by 15 percent
  • Earnings of people with Bachelor’s degrees have increased by 34 percent
  • Earnings of people with graduate degrees have increased by 55 percent.

As of May 2018, individuals with at least some post-secondary education held 37.8% of jobs in California, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS has also noted a long-term trend in which jobs requiring education beyond high school increased by 5.3 million from 2007 to 2016 while over that same time period occupations that typically require a high school diploma or the equivalent for entry lost 1.3 million jobs. Reinforcing the importance of this trend in California, the Georgetown Center for Education in the Workforce estimates that 60% of new jobs created in California will require at least some education beyond high school.

To meet these workforce demands and prepare future generations for well-paying jobs, Bakersfield College is utilizing multiple intersegmental initiatives to make a positive impact, including our work in rural communities, which span educational tiers through Early College, collaboration with California State University Bakersfield and co-location of the BC SouthWest Center, and our Industrial Automation Baccalaureate program.

BC SouthWest:

Bakersfield College’s SouthWest location is on the move as we foster and continue to strengthen a collaborative relationship with CSUB. Together, we share a common goal of positioning Kern County students for future economic success through education and skilled employment. This new and innovative co-location has encouraged a unique approach to aligning curriculum, joint classroom strategies, and shared facilities to further strengthen student progression and completion. Transfer agreements are a major component that both BC and CSUB have tackled together to design seamless pathways for Renegade-Roadrunners on the same campus to Finish in 4.

Bakersfield College and CSUB logo.

By analyzing the number of transfer degrees awarded in recent years, we know this alignment and support system is making a difference for students. Compounding upon this success is that ADT transfer students also complete their Bachelor’s degree more efficiently.

ADT's increased from 173 to 1,276 over 5years, click for data table.
Bachelor degree completion rate by associate degree type, click for data table.

Bakersfield College has offered courses in the Southwest area for over 10 years, taking seriously our commitment to serve students by reducing barriers to quality education. Initially, BC rented classrooms month-to-month at high school campuses to offer late afternoon and evening courses. This practice continued with Fresno Pacific University in the location on Stockdale Highway in 2015. In these environments, BC was unable to provide any permanent student support services such as financial aid advisement, counseling, supplemental instruction or tutoring due to the restricted facility use. From a Guided Pathways lens, BC urgently needed to address this need to support students on their path to degree completion.

BC’s commitment to provide quality education in an effective way by reducing barriers is one of our strengths and I am proud to say the state of the college has never been stronger because of your leadership, engagement, and support to our students.

BC SouthWest Growth Fall 2019

At BC SouthWest, we have seen substantial growth in the number of students served. In 2017-18, BC SouthWest garnered 216 FTES, growing to 550 in just one year. I expect even more growth as we increase options and support for students at the new permanent home of BC SouthWest on Camino Media co-located at CSUB.


With an educational capacity of over 2.3 million students, the California Community College system is the sleeping giant in our midst, and we must awake it and direct it to the task. For the California Community College system to continue upholding the California Master Plan for Higher Education, while rising to meet the demands of a growing student population, we must understand that local communities will rely more heavily on community colleges to offer more.

I am pleased to report that a few weeks ago in July, the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI) recommended to the U.S. Department of Education to allow ACCJC to accredit community colleges for more than one baccalaureate degree without limitation.

You may recall that in 2014 with the passing of Senate Bill 850 (SB85), California became the 22nd state to pilot community college baccalaureate programs. After completing the state's rigorous application process, Bakersfield College earned a spot as one of the 15 California community colleges to pilot a baccalaureate program. BC’s faculty and staff selected a Baccalaureate degree in Industrial Automation because of its high employability and importance in local job markets.

13 graduates of 2019 in full regalia.

For Bakersfield College, the allowance to offer multiple baccalaureate programs would empower not only the college and our students, but the entire region. We know a strong need for baccalaureate programs exists in Kern County; a recent WalletHub study ranked Bakersfield 149th in bachelor’s degree attainment out of 150 major U.S. cities. With the high level of collaboration happening between BC and CSUB to increase transfer students, the ability to supplement existing programs with new, complementary, and noncompetitive baccalaureate programs that fill the existing gaps for our region would catalyze economic growth and create opportunities for the community.

This potential is only possible due to the success of the original 15 pilot programs. I am proud to say the state of BC’s Industrial Automation baccalaureate program is strong. In May 2018, BC conferred its first Baccalaureate degrees in Industrial Automation to the inaugural class of seven graduates. By 2019, the graduating class at BC almost doubled in size to thirteen graduates.

As BC Renegade, Pepper the Industrial Automation Robot says, “Automation is the future” and so is affordable higher education. The tuition cost of the upper division baccalaureate courses at Bakersfield College is approximately $6,000. Program Manager, Aubrey Priest recently shared with me the tuition comparison.

  • CSU: $5,742 per year or $22,968 for 4 years
  • UC: $13,900 per year or $55,600 for 4 years
  • BC: $10,400 for the entire 4-year program!

With BC’s baccalaureate program, students are saving thousands of dollars. Through the power of community colleges, we can significantly reduce student debt while rising to meet the state’s need for an additional 1 million skilled workers by 2025.

Faculty and staff walking down stairs.

Section IV: Facilities, Infrastructure, & Budget


The state of Bakersfield College is strong, especially in the areas of Strategic Direction #3. The College is financially healthy and being fiscally responsible. Bakersfield College and Kern Community College District have been well positioned to respond to the new Student Centered Funding Formula, and we’ve been fiscally prudent during the transition.

While our budget and finances remain strong, we’re not receiving all that our district needs to continue the great work we are doing for our underserved population. We aren’t receiving what we, as a district, should have received under this new formula. This is primarily due to the state’s need to stabilize other districts throughout California.

To supplement, BC continues to excel at earning grant awards and increased allocations for many restricted programs. This remains a foundation of our efforts to move our work forward and continue to improve our processes, systems, and support structure for our students.

Experts are predicting a recession is in our near future. Whether it be a small dip or larger one, we at BC are already preparing for that inevitability. In fact, Chancellor Burke and the Board of Trustees had us execute 2% and 3% reduction plans to bring thoughtfulness to the potential of having the do more with less in the year ahead.

I’m especially proud of the committed work to increase reserves over the last 5 years, significantly above the district’s 5% minimum reserve requirement. Our Board has been agile and prudent in creating a reserve to carry us through a rainy day, so the playbook we’ve been asked to use this year is one that is fiscally smart and practices restraint.

Fiscal Period 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20 (Published Tentative)
Total GU Budget (Published Adopted) 74,983,068 83,600,477 92,452,895 102,220,602 120,486,762 124,606,315
Adopted Reserve (7910) GU 4,108,342 5,849,905 8,442,523 8,911,162 13,007,883 11,947,421

Along with the reserve growth, the general fund budget has also grown, which is primarily due to increases in salaries and benefits both at the college and through district chargebacks. The PERS and STERS retirement systems continue to increase in cost, and the new labor contracts also resulted in salary increases, which are reflected in the FY19-20 tentative budget. Although the FY19-20 tentative budget adopted by the Board in June reflects a decrease from FY18-19, the final adopted budget going to Board in September will be balanced without dipping into reserves.


It’s an exciting time at the Home of the Renegades! In 2016, our greater Kern County community supported BC by voting YES on Measure J to update our campus to meet the needs of the next 50 years. Last year, we started on the first project our students asked for… repaving the parking lots. And this year, we’ve really shaken things up!

Construction has visibly changed the campus. The Vernon Valenzuela Veterans Resource Center is near completion, so mark your calendars for the unveiling on December 10th! The new artificial turf and track at Memorial Stadium will be complete in time for the first Renegade home football game of the season, and we are beyond excited to share this with not just BC Renegades, but with all of Bakersfield for community centered events.

It can often be difficult to fully imagine and visualize what a building is going to look like. To help us with that, Bakersfield, Ordiz-Melby Architects, Inc. in Bakersfield has made a virtual tour of the new Campus Center available to us.

Drawing of the future campus center.
Sonya singing with choir on stage.

Section V: Find Your Epic Thing To Do

2019-2020 is going to be yet another great year for BC. The external environment will bring its challenges and distractions. We anticipate a recession in California in the near future, we anticipate the national political climate to be charged and divisive, and more.

BC hedge and Administration Building.

We, on the other hand, are blessed to be here as caretakers of BC in a time of great need and greater opportunity. We have so much happening, so many initiatives awaiting your engagement, opportunities for you to bring your ideas, to step up, to lean in, and to take off. You will find that it is quite natural to do so at BC: “Innovation leading to institutional excellence” is alive and well at the Home of the Renegades.

This summer, I took time off to immerse myself in other parts of life, outside of BC, as I hope you did as well. During the semester, our work here serving students dominates every waking thought and action. Doesn’t it?

Sonya with daughter and mother.

Several poignant moments defined summer 2019 for me. My brief trip to India for the interment of my mom’s ashes; various books that I read and am still wrapping up: Edmund Morris’ Rise of Theodore Roosevelt; Muriel Barberry’s The Elegance of a Hedgehog; movies like: the Avenger series that came out, and then there is Jean Grey Summers whose x gene gave her the omega-level telepathic and telekinetic superpowers of Phoenix; if you’re not a current fan of the X-men movies, omega-level is the most powerful class of superpowers with vast control over matter and energy.

Then, there was the devastating tragedy in the news, marked notably by a divisiveness plaguing our words and actions in response, including the shootings in Gilroy, El Paso, and Dayton, which I will address at the very end of my comments.

There was work this summer, of course, but there was the spaciousness for work of a more reflective kind. We had a small team from BC attend a presentation by Greg Jesson, hosted by Kern Citizens for Sustainable Government. Greg is a philosophy faculty member who talks about truth and kindness. He concluded his talk by asking us to find our “epic work” and do it with integrity and truth.

Sonay, Nan, Nicky, Tom Burke, Bill Thomas and 3 faculty with Greg Jesson
BC Team with Greg Jesson

That word “epic” used to mean something grand, something heroic; in social media these days it means something closer to “like, totally awesome.” I found myself savoring Jenson’s language; the emphasis of his message was not only on the “epic work” but also on how one realizes that work.

Our work at BC of transforming lives is epic no matter which scale you use. Our core values of Learning, Community, Diversity, and Integrity guide our work, and each one of us plays a role in this. BC’s epic-ness can be defined two-fold:

  1. the act of transforming human lives from despair to hope through education is epic and
  2. our collective passion and intensity rivaling that of the Phoenix is epic.

Neil Pasricha (author of The Happiness Equation) shares that Okinawans have no word for retirement or stopping working. Instead, they have 'ikigai,' which translates roughly as the purpose in life, the reason you get out of bed in the morning.


It seems to me that the Okinawan ikigai and Jesson’s epic work are symbiotic. The day-to-day routine, done with discipline and satisfaction (ikigai) is necessary to realize our epic vision and our epic work. It was through Michaelangelo’s day-to-day ikigai of chiseling out the marble that freed the angel within. It was Van Goh’s day-to-day ikigai of bold brush strokes – one after the other, with swirling blues, greys, yellows, and browns – that delicately crafted the ethereal Starry Night – one of the most recognizable paintings of all time. An epic work.

In 1991 as an immigrant to the US and a grad student at USC, I was introduced to the phenomenon of a community college. A place that everyone, anyone could walk in and get an education. A place where talented faculty and staff skillfully navigate the complexities of serving students with varying skills and backgrounds, dedicating countless hours to unlocking each student’s potential.

At BC, we are fully engaged as a part of something bigger than ourselves – bigger than any of us. We are doing something we could not do alone. And in that collective, we have an unrivaled passion and remarkable power.

Even as Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the co-writers of the Phoenix, created Jean Grey with tremendous powers, they carefully crafted the yin and yang of life as we know it, both constructive and destructive as we see in the dark Phoenix – a mythic reminder that power can be life-destroying or life-giving. It calls on us to be vigilant when deploying our passions so that we don’t unconsciously diminish our collective work.

We can’t deny the numerous and intense provocations that bombard us each day and incite our passion. Our responsibility, however, is to intentionally and skillfully channel those passions into furthering the collective good, rather than reflexively finding an outlet without due consideration of the ramifications.

So, in this context, what are we to make of Greg Jesson’s language of doing epic work with integrity and truth?

From an institutional perspective, we are epically advancing our numbers, both student success numbers as well as our budget numbers, and receiving awards for this work. And yet, as I sit in my back yard and take time to reflect, it is the small daily things, not the epic big things that bring me the most joy… the small moments that at first glance appear to be little nothings that turn out to be significant somethings. It is the students who come to us strangers, and leave as friends. It is Samantha Pulido’s radiant smile when she, along with Steve Watkin, spoke on behalf of BC, when they accepted the John W. Rice Award.

And in this realization, I am particularly struck by the recent mass shootings that took the lives of 34 across the states of California, Texas, and Ohio.

Little Stephen Romero who had just celebrated his 6th birthday at Legoland, was at a festival with his mother and grandmother. Angelina Englisbee, the oldest at 86, living her final years in peace was inexplicably shot down to die as if at war. This is now a part of our story, too. We must create the security we need to do our work, and that students deserve as they do their studies.

2 public safety cadets in front of Memorial Stadium.

Our Campus Safety Office working with our students of concern team have done a good job training all of us to be vigilant. To report a student in distress, an odd backpack, or something that appears not to belong. If you see something, say something, do something has been our motto.

BPD has partnered with us. Chief Lyle Martin is a Renegade and he is committed to the safety of our students. We have engaged in the discussion to strengthen the partnership between BC and BPD and ideas brought to the table include:

  • an increased presence at BC from his officers who assigned to patrol in this neighborhood.
  • In late fall/early spring BPD will partner with BC to conduct a community wide active shooter simulation.
  • armed police officers on our campus by Fall 2020 and
  • a substation on the BC campus by Spring 2021

I am so thankful that Chief Lyle Martin is the head of the Bakersfield Police department during these difficult times. He is a tough, he is smart and has a big heart for our community and for our students. I am grateful for his leadership and partnership with Bakersfield College.

The LA Times quoted the singer at the funeral services for many of the victims in El Paso: “We are a very loving people,” she said. “How can he do this? He doesn’t know us.”

That, my dear colleagues, is where we come in. Education opens us up to differing worldviews and provides the space needed for us to coexist and thrive. We teach our student “to see the other,” “to know the other,” “to love the other.”

Sonya at the BC Convocation.

While we prepare for the worst, we will channel our passion and our power into developing the next generation to be bridge builders, whose capacity for compassion is what defines them, whose capacity to love is far greater than any we have experienced in the past, a generation who believes that I am my brother’s keeper …that I am my sister’s keeper.

On August 6th, Our Academic Senate President wrote to the campus:

Empathy and tolerance are life skills taught in every BC classroom where students explore their own values and ideas. In listening to others’ ideas and cultures, sometimes these ideas may clash.
… Preparing students for life and the sometimes violent conflict which emerges, means being better prepared ourselves… Your every meeting with students is an opportunity to model the understanding we hope students will exhibit.

Steven Holmes
President, Academic Senate

Our core values are real; they are not merely institutional formalities. They have consequence. We don’t merely tolerate diversity but embrace it. We don’t grudgingly accept the other; we breathe acceptance. We take students without judging who they are or how they found us, and in helping them learn we teach them to value the other. As we live our core values, we teach our core values. For each other, for our students, and for our community. That is our collective “Ikigai.” This is how we tell our epic stories with integrity and truth.

We are BC!