The California Community Colleges Board of Governors unanimously selected Long Beach Community College District Superintendent-President Eloy Ortiz Oakley as Chancellor of California Community Colleges.
As the nation’s largest higher education system with 113 campuses serving over 2.1 million students, Ortiz will take over on December 16, 2016 from Interim Chancellor Erik. E. Skinner who has served as the CEO of the Board of Governors and who stepped in for former Chancellor Brice Harris who retired in April after leading the community college system for almost four years.
Oakley, who will become the first Latino to lead the California Community Colleges, is himself a community college success story. After serving four years in the U.S. Army, he enrolled at Golden West College. He then transferred to the University of California, Irvine where he received his degrees of Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Analysis and Design and Master of Business Administration.
California Governor Jerry Brown said in a statement, “Eloy Oakley knows California’s community colleges inside and out and has served at every level in the system ― from teaching in the classroom to running a campus as superintendent. California’s 113 community colleges and the 2.1 million students they serve are in good hands.”
Oakley leaves the position at Long Beach Community College District he has held since 2007. During his tenure, Oakley helped to form the nationally recognized Long Beach College Promise, which engages high school administrators and teachers from the Long Beach Unified School District to work with college faculty and staff to create pathways for student progress from high school all the way and to earning a bachelor’s degree. Long Beach College Promise students are guaranteed a tuition-free year at Long Beach City College and preferred admission status to California State University, Long Beach after completing transfer requirements.
The Long Beach Promise program served as the springboard to statewide programs in California and the America’s College Promise Program initiated by the Obama Administration to expand access and opportunity that works to provide free tuition for responsible community college students and highlight the need for two-year institutions to strengthen their student success programs.
California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White said of Oakley, “Eloy is an outstanding leader and partner in California public higher education. He has dedicated himself to building pathways for students from K-12 to a college degree, university degree and beyond. Eloy challenges and empowers all of us to think deeply about higher education’s role in our society and act accordingly. He understands the needs of California’s communities and is dedicated to our shared success.”
One of the public universities in the California State University System, California State University San Marcos, has a guaranteed admission initiative that works with community colleges such as Palomar College to ease transfer pathways for students. Since the launch of the Long Beach College Promise Program, The California State University system has initiated versions of a promise program at all of their 23 campuses.
“I am absolutely proud to have Eloy Ortiz Oakley as our first Latino Chancellor in California who will provide leadership for the CA community colleges”, said STEM Center Supervisor at Palomar College Mireya Gutierrez-Aguero. “As a Latina, I look forward following his lead since California is the home to the largest number of Latinos in the country. I trust our Latino community will be inspired to pursue post-secondary education.”
“No one is as uniquely qualified and prepared to deal with contemporary issues facing our community colleges today as Eloy Oakley,” said Walter G. Bumphus, president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). “As a member of the AACC board of directors, I have seen first-hand his passion for the mission of the community colleges as well as a great understanding of the politics and policies that govern our institutions. I look forward to working with Eloy in this new role.”
“This appointment signifies the commitment of the California Community College Board of Governors to strategic partnerships that serve to benefit student success”, said Dr. J. Luke Wood, director of the doctoral program in Community College Leadership at San Diego State University.
Jamal E. Mazyck can be reached at J.firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter at @jmbeyond7