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Thursday, Feb 09 2012 05:06 PM

Bakersfield College president stepping down to teach

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    Greg A. Chamberlain is president of Bakersfield College, which serves 15,000 students on the 153-acre main campus in northeast Bakersfield, at the Weill Institute in downtown Bakersfield, and at the Delano Center 35 miles north of Bakersfield.

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BY JORGE BARRIENTOS Californian staff writer jbarrientos@bakersfield.com

The president of Bakersfield College since 2008 is resigning at the end of his contract this summer, but he won't be going far -- he plans to return to teach in the Computer Studies Department on campus, he announced Thursday.

"I've served the Kern Community College District and Bakersfield College in many different roles, and I cannot tell you how much I look forward to returning to the role I was truly made for," President Greg Chamberlain told trustees at a district meeting.

His resignation will take effect after his contract ends June 30. At that time he will become a computer science faculty member, and district officials will name an interim president.

Chamberlain is a tenured professor. A national search for his replacement will begin.

"Being president is not easy. It takes a toll, literally," said BC spokeswoman Amber Chiang. This is the best for him, personally and professionally."

Chamberlain began teaching full-time at BC in 1989 as an assistant professor in computer studies. From 2001 to 2005, he was BC's dean of learning resources and information technology, and in 2006 he started serving as vice chancellor for educational services for KCCD.

In 2008, he was appointed Bakersfield College's 10th president, replacing retiring William Andrews.

"The loss of Dr. Chamberlain is difficult for the college. However, this loss is offset by the contribution he will make in the classroom to the students of Bakersfield College," said KCCD Chancellor Sandra Serrano in a statement.

The announcement surprised many, including Cornelio "Corny" Rodriguez, a BC political science professor and president of the BC Academic Senate, a governing group of faculty leaders.

Rodriguez, who meets with Chamberlain several times weekly, saw no indication he would resign. His commitment and passion in serving as president remained constant, Rodriguez said.

"Nobody saw it coming," he said.

Rodriguez said Chamberlain brought "courageous conversations" to the table with employee groups at BC: he was transparent, respectful and strove to resolve conflicts quickly.

As a faculty member, Chamberlain was widely respected by colleagues and students, he said.

Since 2008, when Chamberlain took over, BC has dealt with drastic state budget cuts that have forced administrators to make tough staffing and course cutting decisions. At the same time, the college has seen record enrollment, though it's dropped in recent semesters.

Other headlines for the college since 2008 include the installation of solar panels over its northeast parking lot, and the garnering of tens of millions of dollars from private donors and federal grants for scholarships and science efforts.

And the college has been looking to develop a new campus south of Bakersfield.

At the time he was applying for president of BC, Chamberlain said, "I wasn't looking anywhere else." When he was appointed, he said he was "looking forward to the opportunity to contribute and help the college move forward."

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