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Three finalists named in KCCD chancellor search, including BC President Sonya Christian

Three finalists have been named by the board of the Kern Community College District in the national search to appoint the district’s next chancellor.

The short list of candidates includes current Bakersfield College President Sonya Christian.

The other two candidates are Keith Flamer, the current president/superintendent of College of the Redwoods in Eureka; and Dan Hocoy, the president and vice chancellor at Metropolitan Community College-Longview in Lee’s Summit, Mo.

One will ultimately replace Thomas Burke, who, after 24 years with KCCD, plans to retire. The next chancellor will begin July 1.

The KCCD chancellor oversees a system that serves more than 45,000 students through Bakersfield College, Porterville College and Cerro Coso Community College.

President of the board Romeo Agbalog announced in a statement that Monday, April 12 the three finalists would participate in a public forum held on Zoom from 1 to 4:20 p.m. Each candidate will be given 50 minutes to speak.

“The forum is an excellent opportunity for students, staff and community members to not only provide feedback that will be considered by the board, but to also meet and hear from the final candidates,” Agbalog said.

Burke said in a statement that he is pleased with the three finalists.

“I’m confident Kern Community College District and its member colleges will continue to enjoy much success and enrich the lives of students and our communities,” he wrote. “The district has tremendous leadership in the Board of Trustees and college presidents and has extremely talented and dedicated faculty, staff and administrators. I trust the process of selecting the next chancellor will result in an excellent leader who will continue the on-going and growing vision of the district.”

KCCD released short biographies of all of the candidates with details of their backgrounds.

Christian is the candidate most well-known locally and she comes with more than 30 years of community college experience. She has been Bakersfield College’s president since 2013, and oversees the campus that is responsible for approximately 40,000 students.

A brief bio notes that Christian helped oversee the $500 million Measure J bond funding, increased enrollment by almost 60 percent, grew the college’s budget from $80 million to more than $180 million, and more than tripled degree completion.

Flamer has more than 25 years of leadership experience in higher education, according to his biography. He has spent 15 of those at the College of the Redwoods, which has three main educational sites and several off-campus sites that serve 6,000 students. He previously served in roles as the vice president of student services and vice president of instruction and student development.

Hocoy currently oversees the educational experience of more than 4,000 students at Metropolitan Community College-Longview. He also serves as vice chancellor of strategic initiatives at Metropolitan Community College, which includes oversight of real estate, capital campaigns, advancement initiatives and expansion of the tax base.

Hocoy was an immigrant from Trinidad and Tobago to Canada and his biography said he has a longstanding commitment to diversity, inclusiveness and global perspectives.

The district retained PPL, Inc. to aid its search process. Its final interviews will be held April 15.

Those who are interested in submitting questions for next week’s forum must do so by 8 p.m. Thursday at https://forms.gle/UKs3pfTA3XxeqAow6.