Case Studies

Marcos A. Rodriguez – Bakersfield College

Sowing the seeds for a field of academic success

Education is multifaceted. For instance, one can learn how to install an irrigation system by working on a farm or by sitting behind a college desk. Marcos Rodriguez did both.

Between 1996 and 2004, he worked as an irrigation manager for Wonderful Orchards, a pistachio, almond and pomegranate farm covering 22,000 acres. In 1999, he obtained his bachelor’s in environmental resource management from California State University, Bakersfield.

Then, in 2001, he earned his master’s in industrial and technical studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. In 2012, he received an M.B.A. from CSUB again.

Marcos A. Rodriguez | Executive Director for Facilities and Operations | Bakersfield College

Marcos A. Rodriguez | Executive Director for Facilities and Operations | Bakersfield College

Now, Rodriguez is helping agricultural students have a similar immersive experience at Bakersfield College, a community college serving nearly 28,000 students on a 153-acre main campus, as well as three smaller, nearby auxiliary campuses. In April 2021, he became the college’s executive director for facilities and operations.

That year, he also began working on plans for the expansion of the campus agricultural farm, Edible School Yard and the Regenerative Farm project at the Timmons campus located in Delano.

A new $26.8 million three-story agricultural sciences building will replace the current single-story general agriculture one and add several greenhouses, a horticulture shop and a mechanized agriculture shop. The additions match the evolving curriculum and will allow it to expand.

“This was right up my alley,” says Rodriguez, who worked closely with designers and instructors to understand their needs and make more functional workspaces in the new buildings and in existing ones.

Growing from grants and planting roots  

When Rodriguez began at Bakersfield two years ago, the facilities and operation team was deep in the planning of the Delano campus Learning Resource Center, a $31 million project to replace modular overflow classrooms with a 40,000-square-foot building.

It’s funded through a general obligation bond passed by voters in 2016, of which Bakersfield College received $415 million.

“The funds are helping us transform our beloved community college campuses into a learning environment that caters to the current needs of 21st century students while anticipating future needs,” Rodriguez says.

He worked on the design process with his construction and facilities team, the board of trustees, faculty and administrative staff and senior leadership. He also helped submit the project to the Division of the State Architect, which approves all construction projects on K-8, high school and community college campus sites in California.

Marcos A. Rodriguez | Executive Director for Facilities and Operations | Bakersfield College

Slated to be ready by fall 2023, the new building will house classrooms, a library and offices.

“The eradication of all the modular, temporary classrooms on campus means students will now have an expansive building where they can learn, live, relax and have fun,” Rodriguez says.

He and his team have also recently worked on a project he describes as “unique to us.” They volunteered with staff and community members to plant over 200 trees across all Bakersfield College campuses, with funding provided by a local philanthropy group. The Arbor Day Foundation recognized Bakersfield College with a Tree Campus Higher Education certification, making it the only community college in California to receive this honor in 2021.

In February 2023, Rodriguez, who’s a certified arborist through the International Society of Arboriculture, transplanted 30 cherry trees from a commercial farm 64 miles away to the Delano campus. He’s also saving already planted trees through a process called spading, using a machine to dig up trees scheduled to be removed for new construction projects. He replants them at a different location on the same Bakersfield College campus or at a satellite location.

“I really love trees and have repurposed around 40 since April 2021 via spading or craning in,” Rodriguez says. “I’m delighted that I’ve been able to bring that passion to my work for the benefit of the campus, students as well as faculty and staff.”

A nurturing—and fun—place to learn

Rodriguez is currently leading several construction projects, including a one-stop shop welcome center, an athletics complex and the $28.9 million, 27,300-square-foot Arvin General Education Center. Located in the Arvin community satellite campus, it will house five classrooms, tutoring and writing centers, computer labs, a library and a bookstore as well as a dedicated space for student government.

Meanwhile, in August of 2022, the new 73,000-square-foot three-story Science and Engineering Building opened.

“These changes are coming at the perfect time,” he says, explaining that enrollment has increased 17 percent since summer 2021 and is continuing to climb despite dipping during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marcos A. Rodriguez | Executive Director for Facilities and Operations | Bakersfield College

Of course, not all projects are multi-million-dollar endeavors. Rodriguez says maintenance and smaller upgrades can make a huge difference to buildings. For these, he says working with vendors on plumbing, electrical and landscape projects is key. One such vendor was Johnson Controls, which provides building automation controls, fire detection systems and door card readers.

“We’re excited for those returning to any of our campuses and those coming here for the first time,” Rodriguez says. “We’re making some wonderful upgrades to create the best educational environment for anyone who steps on our campuses.”

The past, present and future of academia

The seeds of academia and its importance are sown deeply in Rodriguez.

When he was ready for a career change in 2004, he became the director of maintenance, operations and transportation at Delano Union School District, which he attended until eighth grade. He also began teaching at his alma mater, Bakersfield College, where he earned his associate degree in science and liberal studies in 1989.

Marcos A. Rodriguez | Executive Director for Facilities and Operations | Bakersfield College

Although he stopped teaching in 2009 and left Delano in 2010, he remained in academia, working at California State University, Bakersfield while earning his M.B.A.

His last stop before returning to Bakersfield College was as a director of facilities for Bakersfield City School District from October 2010 to April 2021.

“I’ve been in education for 19 years,” Rodriguez says. “To come home to Bakersfield College is indescribable. In this position, I can create a wonderful, nurturing and supportive environment for students just as I was—an even more exciting prospect given the projects we have in the works.”

View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. II 2023 Edition here.

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