Resignation hits colleagues by surprise

Patricia Rocha, Copy Editor

Bakersfield College president Greg Chamberlain surprised many with his recent announcement to resign as president after June 30 to return to his teaching career.

His colleagues Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg, the Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs, and Academic Senate President Cornelio Rodriguez described their overall reaction to the announcement.

“I was very surprised. There was no indication, no indicators that that might be even happening,” said Rodriguez.

Gomez-Heitzeberg believed he did a good job in his role as president because he was an analytical and genuine person who focused on students to shape his decisions at BC.

“I had mixed emotions. My first response was remembering how innovative and effective he was as a faculty member,” said Gomez-Heitzeberg. “Second was a personal response, which was disappointment because from a personal perspective, he’s the kind of person you want to work for and work with.”

Rodriguez said aside from being surprised, he was saddened to lose a president that had built a strong relationship of trust with his administration through his integrity and mutual respect.

“Those things mean a lot to a lot people, but they really mean a lot to me,” he said.

Though they’re surprised he’s leaving the position, they both said Chamberlain will no doubt continue to do great things for BC students as he returns to teaching.

“Who wouldn’t want to have Greg Chamberlain as their instructor in a classroom?” said Gomez-Heitzeberg.

“I think one thing I do remember when he was in the classroom was that I always, always, always heard nothing but positive things from students about him as a teacher,” Rodriguez said. “Students that have taken his class, the faculty that had maybe taken one of his workshops on computers, [they’re] always nothing but positive.”

Gomez-Heitzeberg said she feels Chamberlain’s career is now coming full circle.

“One of my first experiences of seeing Greg in a leadership role was at a presentation for people across the district on the innovative use of technology in the classroom, “ she said. “There’s a certain symmetry to this isn’t there? Now he’s going back to the classroom, I’m sure he’ll be doing the same thing.

“I think his curiosity about what’s new out there will be demonstrated in finding different ways to present materials and use technology.”

She said that she hopes the new leader will recognize that BC has many strengths but needs to change based on the environment for the students while Rodriguez said he hopes the role will be filled by someone who can have what he and Chamberlain call “couragous conversations.”

“We can talk about the issues without taking it personally, that’s important,” he said.

“He and I have had several courageous conversations, and at the same time we can walk out and say ‘let’s go get a cup of coffee.’”

Rodriguez said he couldn’t think of someone specifically to replace Chamberlain, but hopes that he or she shares Chamberlain’s passion for the role as an effective president for the success of all of BC’s student population.