By: Olga Jimenez, Communications Associate, Campaign for College Opportunity
On July 18th, the California Community Colleges Board of Governors selected Eloy Ortiz Oakley to become the system’s next Chancellor. Oakley will be the first Latino to serve as Chancellor of a system that serves over 2.3 million students, 42% of whom are Latino.
Eloy Ortiz Oakley is the type of leader that pushes the status quo. He is passionate, committed, and innovative in his work to ensure more students are afforded a college education and the limitless possibilities that education offers.
A product of the California Community Colleges, Ortiz Oakley has a personal stake in seeing the system prosper. After all, the system has educated three of his children both at Oxnard College and Irvine Valley Community College with a fourth on the way. Eloy recognizes the impact a community college education has had in his life and that of his family. In his first speech after the announcement of his selection as Chancellor he shared, “Community colleges run deep in my family. It is amazing to think that one generation ago there wasn’t much thought about going to college and now, there’s nothing but the thought of going to college.”
For 14 years, Ortiz Oakley has served as the Superintendent/President of Long Beach Community College District. Under his leadership, the district received state and national recognition for its efforts to improve college-going and student completion rates through ground-breaking and innovative approaches.
It comes as no surprise then that Ortiz Oakley’s plans and priorities as Chancellor of the California Community Colleges are a reflection of both his personal and professional experience with the system. He has promised a focus on building relationships, serving historically underrepresented students, and closing attainment gaps among other things. In his speech to the California Community Colleges Board of Governors, Ortiz Oakley listed the following as his top priorities:
1. A System that Inspires Vision and Change
The California Community College system serves over 2 million students across its 113 colleges, more than any other system in California and nationally. Ortiz Oakley envisions a system that inspires and serves as a model of a strong higher education system for the nation
2. Building relationships
The incoming Chancellor has promised to make relationships a priority during his first 90 days on the job. This means getting to know and understand the perspective and vision of the people he will be working with including members of the Board of Governors, faculty, staff, the legislature, civic leaders and students.
3. Addressing the needs of ALL students
A champion of closing equity gaps, Ortiz Oakley is committed to being intentional and unrelenting about addressing the needs of all students, especially Latinos and African Americans who have been historically underrepresented.
4. Improving educational attainment so Californians and the state prosper
Ortiz Oakley recognizes that a college education is directly linked to the ability to earn a higher income, have an improved quality of life, and college graduates provide a tremendous financial return to the state. He sees California’s community colleges as key to producing college opportunity for millions of students and in turn, producing the educated workforce California needs.
5. Engaging businesses
Having spearheaded a successful partnership with 600 small businesses and Goldman Sachs to stimulate the local economy and create job growth at LBCC, Ortiz Oakley sees the system playing a unique role in “pumping fuel into the workforce” as he puts it. His goal is to provide students with programs for jobs in high demand and engage industry leaders, workforce leaders, and small businesses to create jobs for these students.
6. Molding students into model citizens
At the heart of Ortiz Oakley’s efforts is a quest to help students become active citizens of society concerned with alleviating today’s problems of poverty, racism, hunger, and more. Creating a community that rallies around its students to lift them up and then bring them in is a top priority.
On the day Eloy Ortiz Oakley was announced as the new Chancellor, Geoffery Baum, Chair of the California Community Colleges Board of Governors, recalled his first impression of Eloy saying “He struck me immediately as individual with deep commitment.” We agree and stand ready to work with Ortiz Oakley in his new role on behalf of all students and our great state.
Are you excited about our new Community College Chancellor? Leave us a comment and share your thoughts on the Chancellor’s priorities.