Former Bakersfield College professor and dean Jack Hernandez dies at 84

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Jack Hernandez, more recently know as the ‘Dagny’s Coffee Shop Poet’ and longtime employee of Bakersfield College, died Wednesday. He was 84.

Hernandez spent his entire professional career serving Bakersfield College in one way or another under five different titles. He was hired in 1961 as an English teacher and Resident Assistant back when the College had dorms, where he also lived. He described his dorm room as a cell that was only missing a few rodents.

“I was stunned: it was smaller than a monk’s cell, with a bed the size of a cot, a 60 watt bulb dangling from the ceiling, and a small stained sink in the corner. All that was missing was a dead mouse or two,” Hernandez described.

Other jobs Hernandez held were philosophy professor, Dean of Students, Vice Chancellor of Kern Community College District, the founding Director of the Levan Center and also held the title as BC’s resident philosopher. Not counting his time with KCCD and as Director of the Levan Center he tallied up 41 years at Bakersfield College.

Jerry Ludeke described Hernandez as honest, moral, a clear thinker and a great writer.

“You always knew what you were getting with Jack…..clear thinking (maybe a bit esoteric or humorously a bit sarcastic), clear writing (going from essays to plays to academic papers and most recently free flowing poetry), morally principled action (which sometimes appeared in Community Voices in The Californian),  and open hearted honesty (speaking of hard times in his life and injustices witnessed today,)” said Ludeke.

Bakersfield College’s Dean of Students Nicky Damania said Hernandez understood how people think and how to bring people together and how to engage in important conversation.

“He definitely had a poet’s heart, he had a critical mind, he understood the different ways people think and how to collaborate and really engage with each other. No matter what the diversity of thought was, he was always there to really engage with the conversation,” Damania said.

Damania said BC was hit hard by the passing of Hernandez, but the legacy he created will always live on.

“The passing of Jack has hit our family very hard and we will miss him, but the legacy he has put out will always be a part of our family. All our faculty and staff send our condolences to his family and loved ones. As we always say, once a Renegade always a Renegade,” Damania said.

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