Burke takes place as KCCD chancellor

Morgan Park, Editor-in-Chief

Over the winter break, the Kern Community College District appointed a new district chancellor in Tom Burke, who previously served as chief financial officer for the district since 2001.

Burke officially began his new role on Jan. 17, the first day of the Spring 2017 semester.

“I really didn’t think about [the chancellor position] until Sandra [Serrano] started getting close to retirement. I’d seen a lot of my colleagues become chancellors, superintendents, and presidents of single-college districts. So, I thought, ‘I think I’m up for the challenge.’ I’d like to help guide this district in the coming years and try to make some changes to make the district work even more effectively,” Burke said.

Describing his new job, Burke compared the experience to the executive level of a corporation.

“You become the CEO of the entire multi-college district. Single-college districts refer to [them] as superintendents or presidents, and multi-college districts refer to as chancellor,” he said.

“My job is to oversee all components of the district’s operations and ensure compliance with board policy, state regulations, and federal regulations. And to work with the presidents and vice chancellors to guide the colleges in meeting the student needs in our various communities.”

Burke comes by way of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo class of 1981, where he acquired a bachelor’s degree in Science of Business Administration.

In 1986, he earned his master’s degree from California State University, Bakersfield.

Burke began his career working as a financial analyst for the Getty Oil Company and Texaco Kern River Operations from 1981 to 1985.

He then filled several roles at Contel (an independent telephone company now owned by Verizon) until his first position in education as director of Business Services at Bakersfield College in 1997.

Four years later he began as CFO at the KCCD.

Burke is enjoying his new position, but the first month has been an adjustment.

“I’ve gone to a couple training sessions, which has been great,” he said.

“I’ve had site visits to Cerro Coso, and there’s planned site visits to Porterville and Bakersfield coming up. And we’ve had three board meetings during that period, including a board retreat, so it’s been a busy month, to say the least.”

As for his main goals as chancellor, Burke will be working with the Board of Trustees over the next few months to develop a list.

One of Burke’s biggest tasks over the next several decades will be the overseeing of Measure J’s progress, the $502.8 million bond measure passed in November that will allow for new construction and renovation across the district.