The Renegade Rip

Retirement not on the horizon for longtime BC professor

Coumba Tamboura

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When Dr. Ronald Allsman moved here to teach biology at Bakersfield College in 1962, he only planned to stay one year.

Almost 42 years later, he is still here.

“I love teaching and I have a lot of joy inside of a classroom,” said Allsman.

Allsman is a native of Randsburg in Kern County, who attended the University of California at Berkeley where he obtained his bachelor’s degree.

He then went on to UC San Francisco’s Medical Center for his doctorate in pharmacy and got the position at BC while visiting.

Teaching science, which Allsman describes as a “field on the leading edge of discovery,” was an obvious choice for him.

“I was interested in the body, in chemistry, and it was a great opportunity for employment,” he said.

The 66-year-old instructor is very passionate about his occupation and teaching elsewhere even for a higher salary is not an option for him.

“I know I can get a job elsewhere. I came here because I like this work and I’ll miss it when I don’t do it anymore,” said Allsman.

However, it would take awhile for Allsman to stop teaching because retirement is not exactly what he is planning.

“I have always taken it a year at a time,” said Allsman about departing the profession.

“I have a laboratory license, I could do that, and I may do that in retirement. But I am not there yet, and there is no point in crossing the bridge before you get to it.”

In fact, Allsman also has certifications in three other departments he has taught at BC: the Physical Science, Chemistry and Business departments.

“I am constantly updating my information,” said Allsman.

For him, it is the key to keeping up with changes.

Allsman spent a year in 1972 and again in 1992 visiting UCSF Medical Center and pharmaceutical industries all around the world. These were his only two absences from teaching.

Allsman said that all these years, teaching allowed him to have a better judgement now when it comes to what is important.

The major difference between then and now, Allsman noted, is the readjustments students and instructors have to go through in order to give students skills they can use for their career.

“We have a lot more information now, so you have to direct your teaching and your learning toward audio-processing information as opposed to memorizing,” Allsman said.

Born during the Depression era, Allsman said that today’s issues are not insurmountable.

“If you understand that, you don’t look at today’s time with too much morbidity because those were tough times for people.”

That also is the reason why he believes that the financial crisis BC is going through will eventually be solved.

“We have some problems at BC but we have to look at it in the long run, and we have to be open to adaptable change,” said Allsman who witnessed a similar crisis 25 years ago.

“I have seen that happen before and everything is being done that can be done because a lot of these forces are outside of our control.”

Two years ago, Allsman received the Shirley Trembley Award for outstanding teacher.

He credited Clark Kerr, former president of the University of California system, for making his career choice after attending a conference at which Kerr talked about the expenses of the community colleges.

“I think that was a defining moment because I saw the opportunity in community colleges.”

That is why, for Allsman, community colleges are the best places to teach since the UCs are more committed to researching.

Allsman added that realizing the joy he has explaining what he learned was another factor that lead him into teaching.

Allsman, who humbly affirms that he had “too many good memories” at BC to specifically choose one, defines himself as a “Socratic teacher.”

He even admits that he is demanding but also forgiving.

“I think I would say that I can determine how students learn more by the question they ask than the answer they give,” he said.

Allsman, who has been married for 45 years, has two sons whom both went to BC where they were associated student body president like their father in 1960 at UCSF.

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Retirement not on the horizon for longtime BC professor