Tom Burke, chancellor of the Kern Community College District, to retire before next fall


Photo courtesy of Sonya Christian

Chancellor Burke, Sandi Taylor, Sonya Christian, and Jeff Chudy posing outside the BC stadium.

Amaya Lawton, News Editor

Tom Burke, the chancellor of the Kern Community College District (KCCD),will retire in July.
The KCCD board has set out to look for a new hire to fill the position of district chancellor. Burke explained that he plans on helping his successor get settled and hopefully fully positioned before July so that he may retire early. As for the future of the KCCD, Burke explained that he is very optimistic. The staff and administrators are good for the district to continue to grow stronger, and financially, KCCD is the strongest in California, he stated.
According to the KCCD website: “The Chancellor’s Office oversees all operations of the Kern Community College District. Subdivisions within the Chancellor’s Office include Office of the General Counsel, Office of Research and Reporting, and Governmental and External Relations. The Chancellor’s Office also serves as Kern Community College District’s liaison with the KCCD Board of Trustees.”
Throughout Burke’s career, he has witnessed some events that have made him proud to be the chancellor of KCCD, including attending the graduation of some incarcerated students around Kern County.
“To see these students and what they have achieved, I was just awed by it,” Burke said.
He also stated that he was honored to be able to work for the community and help students throughout his career. Burke explained how he was proud of the way the district has navigated the funds for the Student Center and creating a new way to budget without having a negative fallout.
Burke has been working full-time since he graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1981 (he also has a master’s degree in Business Administration from CSUB) and plans to retire to spend more time with his wife.
Burke served as a budget and business services director for BC beginning in 1997. In 2001, he became the Chief Financial Officer for KCCD.
“He served for many years as an influential member of many statewide budget committees during a time when the state’s community college system was shifting its budget allocation and funding models,” BC President Sonya Christian explained.
He has plans set out for his retirement, which include travel (when it is allowed again), as well as catching up on the fishing and hunting trips he missed out on while working. He said that he will miss the people and students that he has met throughout his career at KCCD.
“I am so thankful for BC and KCCD,” Burke said. Both have helped him achieve the career goals that he set for himself.
Christian stated, “ During his time as chancellor of the district, which started in 2017, Tom Burke has maintained a laser focus on ensuring that all three colleges in the district are fiscally sustainable and that we all have the funding in place to help students.”
Christian emphasized that Burke’s knowledge, integrity, and sociability are well noticed and respected by committee members on the Student Centered Funding Formula Oversight.
“Tom Burke has worked tirelessly to keep a fiscally-sound budget at the district, which has enabled BC to expand to more than 40,000 students,” Christian said. “Thanks to Tom’s financial foresight at the district level, BC has been well-positioned to support students during the shift to virtual instruction brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Burke explained that the district has started to research and develop a program in order to create a standardized IT system for the colleges across the district. A pilot will be launched in the near future.