President search aided by hired firm

Patricia Rocha, Editor in Chief

Though the search is under way for Bakersfield College’s new president, the position left vacant by Greg Chamberlain will not be filled until at least December.

Chamberlain resigned from office in February of this year and was replaced by interim president Robert Jensen for the following three months.

Current interim president Nan Gomez-Heitzeberg described the on-going process to fill the vacant position, which includes help from a hired firm.

“We’re working with an agency,” said Gomez-Heitzeberg. “That’s not unusual. In fact, we’ve done that in the past when we’ve done a presidential search.”

She said the firm is especially important in the search right now because there are so many presidential positions available at the community college level.

“In order to have a focused search, we do national and state advertising and we develop a brochure,” she said. “Then the company we’re working with, which is specific to community college administration, they also contact and do some recruitment for us, so our pool is a large pool of qualified individuals, and also a diverse pool.”

From there, she said the candidates are invited to the first level of interviews, which will take place on Sept. 5-7.

“Out of that process, finalists will be identified,” she said. “Traditionally, we have had a public forum held on campus that anyone can attend.

“We have a process for our asking applicants questions and then they respond in the public forum.”

The final steps to this process have applicants approved by the chancellor and the board, and then a final successful candidate is named.

Though she could not speak about any front-runners in the search, she did speak on her role as interim president.

“I have primary responsibility for all functions of the college, so while ‘interim’ is in front of my name, it doesn’t feel like interim,” she said. “I’ve been here a long time so I know about our process.

“We’re moving ahead on our plans for budget reductions, our plans to increase student success, and to promote our programs and accreditation,” she said. “All of those things have been moving forward.

“There hasn’t been a delay in any of those things.”

She hopes the new president will continue this progress, as well as make the difficult decisions that will arise in the future.

“I hope we choose wisely, and I believe that we will,” she said. “I believe they’ll bring a fresh pair of eyes to look at what we do so that we can make improvements.

“We need someone at the helm who has the skills that I mentioned and has the best interest of our students and our campus community at heart.”