KCCD holds a Chancellor Finalist forum for the three remaining candidates

Bakersfield College President Dr. Sonya Christian as she explains why she thinks she is the best candidate for the Kern Community College District Chancellor position.

Charr Davenport, Reporter

Update: Sonya Christian was named new chancellor of the KCCD on April 19. Story with more details will be posted soon. 

The Kern Community College District Chancellor Finalist Forums were held on April 12, following a nationwide search to determine the candidates for the Kern Community College District’s (KCCD) Chancellor position. The three candidates for the position are College of the Redwoods President Dr. Keith Flamer, Metropolitan Community College President Dr. Dan Hocoy, and Bakersfield College President Dr. Sonya Christian.

 Each of the finalists was given a separate Zoom panel, in which they were asked questions from community members and KCCD faculty. Each panel was moderated by Dean Callie, a member of the consultant team that chose the candidates, and allotted time for an introduction, questions from the public and faculty, and a closing statement.

The first panel of the event focused on Dr. Flamer. “I think Kern has been doing a phenomenal job on meeting your student success metrics, based on a 2019 cohort,” opened Flamer, before praising the KCCD for the climate of its campuses and the increase in student success in the math and English subjects. Flamer also addressed the negative climate between faculty and students at the Cerro Coso and Porterville community college campuses, ongoing budget issues, KCCD pulling money out of its reserve funds, the negative impact that COVID-19 has had on the KCCD, as well as his solutions to these problems.

Flamer proceeded to explain that the key to success for the district is to ask hard yet important questions about relevancy, investment, and finances. “Ultimately, the question that we have to ask is ‘what will our future students, employees, and society need from us moving forward?’”.

The second panel featured Dr. Hocoy. Hocoy started the panel by going over his twenty-four-year history of serving in higher education, his family background, and his draw to California. “I truly believe the community colleges of California embody a uniquely bold aspiration that higher education and prosperity should be available to everyone,” explained Hocoy. “As a non-native English speaker immigrant and the first of my family to go beyond high school, I certainly see myself in many of the students of the Kern Community College District and understand the daily challenges they face.”

The final panel of the event focused on Dr. Christian. Christian opened with her history of working in higher education for the past thirty years, twenty of which were spent at Bakersfield College. “It seems like the last thirty years of my life I have spent getting ready for this position of not just any chancellor, but the chancellor of the Kern Community College District,” said Christian. “I’ve been a faculty member, I’ve been a dean, a vice-president, and now the president for the past nine years at one of the colleges within the KCCD,” she explained.

Christian also brought up her knowledge of California law and regulations, her involvement with Senate Bill 850 -a bill that enabled some California community colleges to offer four-year degrees in some subjects-, as well as her experience as an immigrant coming to Bakersfield College as a teacher and her love for the community.

“One of the things that I deeply believe in is that the work we do in a community college has to be in partnership with all of the community organizations, and that’s how we leverage the resources. We can’t do this work of transforming lives, getting students to get that degree or a certificate, just by working on our own,” Christian said before giving examples of community programs to help students at Bakersfield College, such as the Renegade Pantry. “All of it takes connections with the community to really advance the educational agenda for our students.”