BC President Sonya Christian is the next Chancellor of the Kern Community College District

KCCD Chancellor and former Bakersfield College President Sonya Christian was named state chancellor for California Community Colleges on Feb. 23. She will begin her term on June 1, 2023.

Charr Davenport, Reporter

Bakersfield College President, Dr. Sonya Christian, has been announced to be the next Chancellor for the Kern Community College District (KCCD) on April 19. Christian will take over the Chancellor position from Thomas Burke, who announced his retirement earlier this year. Christian will be the 6th chancellor of the KCCD.
“The KCCD Board is happy to have such a qualified candidate that understands the communities that it serves, will advance our mission of student success and equity, and harness new opportunities as we transition out of the year of the pandemic. We have full confidence that Dr. Christian is exactly the person to lead us in such a time as this,” said President of the Kern Community College District Board of Trustees, Romeo Agbalog in a press released.
In an announcement event held on Bakersfield College’s official Facebook page, Agbalog gave examples of Christian’s work in the community and as the president of Bakersfield College and mentioned her love for the athletics programs and students in general. “This is the testament to the type of person we selected. Certainly, as I describe this district, we know we need talented people with the brains to keep this operation going. This time the district choose somebody with heart.”
Following the announcement from Agbalog, Christian gave an acceptance speech and thanked the KCCD, Bakersfield College staff and faculty, and the Bakersfield community, as well as a glimpse into the future of the KCCD.
“These are really unusual times,” said Christian. “We are coming out of a pandemic. There’s definitely an unpredictability in the economic forecasting. Technology seems to be changing by leaps and bounds almost every day and there are definitely stressors on the national landscape, the state landscape, and even within the community. This is the time that there is a call to higher education to really step up and step in, and the Kern Community College District has always been a beacon of hope.”
According to the Office of the President page on the Bakersfield College website, Christian started her thirty year educational career in 1991 at Bakersfield College as a faculty member in the Mathematics department. She would then go on to become department chair and later Dean of the Mathematics, Science, Engineering, and Allied Health departments. Christian then left Bakersfield College in 2003 to join Lane Community College in Eugene, OR, where she became the vice president of academic and student affairs. She then returned to Bakersfield College in 2013 after being chosen as its 10th president.
With her new position as KCCD Chancellor, Christian will be stepping down as president of Bakersfield College. As of now, it is unknown who the next president will be.
“I will be putting together a transition team comprised of individuals from BC and
district wide who have been deeply connected with the ambitious student success
agenda that we started over eight years ago,” said Christian when asked about candidates for the position. “This work has resulted in significant improvements in all student success and equity metrics set forth by our State Chancellor’s Office. I want to make sure that the trajectory of this work continues.”
She then stated that she will be working with current KCCD Chancellor Tom Burke and Bakersfield College Vice Presidents Dr. Zav Dadabhoy, Billie Jo Rice, and Mike Giacomini to find the next president and finalize a transition plan.
When asked about what she would miss about Bakersfield College, Christian said “I will miss walking over with colleagues to grab food from our food truck that is parked close to the Memorial Stadium. I love their tacos. I will definitely miss the direct interaction that I had with the people who make Bakersfield College such a special place; however, I’m looking forward to my continued engagement with the campus through my role as chancellor.” Christian also confirmed that she will continue to attend events at Bakersfield College, such as lecture series, music performances, and athletic events.
As well as giving insight to what Christian will miss about Bakersfield College, she also mentioned the future plan for the KCCD. “My plans will really be those developed with the trustees and the presidents. It will include strengthening our work on student success with equity, positioning KCCD for the Infrastructure investments post pandemic to support the recovery efforts, and daring to do mighty things,” said Christian. “I am looking forward working with our trustees to advance policies that are supportive of the communities we serve here in the Central Valley and the high desert – Tulare, Kern, Mono, Inyo, and San Bernardino. Finding those levers that have the largest impact on our students, our communities. I am looking forward to working closely with county and city agencies.”