Oakley Named Chancellor of Calif. Community Colleges
Long Beach CC President Will Be First Latino To Head Nation’s Largest System
Eloy Ortiz Oakley, a widely praised education innovator who has headed the Long Beach (Calif.) Community College District since 2007, has been named chancellor of the California Community College System.
Oakely will become the first Latino to lead the college system, which is the nation’s largest, with 72 districts, 113 colleges and 2.1 million students.
“As a California native and a product of a California community college, I am honored and humbled to be given the opportunity to lead the largest and most diverse system of higher education in the nation,” Oakley said in a statement. “I wish to thank the Board of Governors, Governor Brown and the people of California for expressing their faith in me. I recognize that I would not have this opportunity but for the amazing faculty and staff that make up our community college system. As chancellor I look forward to working with our 113 colleges, public education advocates, civil rights organizations, education policy experts and business and civic leaders to better serve our students and to create value for our great state.
The appointment drew widespread praise.
“Today the Board of Governors continues the tradition of selecting great chancellors to lead the California Community Colleges,” said Board President Geoffrey L. Baum. “Eloy Ortiz Oakley is an innovative and tested leader who understands how to operate successfully in a large, complex system of public higher education. In Oakley we see a change agent — someone whose relentless focus on student success will help more students obtain certificates and degrees or transfer to four-year institutions on time. As a member of the UC Board of Regents and with his close ties with California State University, he is well positioned to foster greater collaboration that will benefit all students.”
In a statement, Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. said: “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.”
“The Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges has made a spectacular choice. Eloy Oakley is a proven leader of national stature. He has been a valued partner in the President’s effort to provide free Community College to qualified students. I look forward to working with him in his new role,” said Ted Mitchell, under secretary of the U.S. Department of Education.
Oakley has won renown for helping form the nationally recognized Long Beach College Promise, under which high school administrators and teachers work with college faculty and staff to create structured pathways for students to follow from high school to college.
Long Beach College Promise students are guaranteed a tuitionfree year at Long Beach City College and preferred admission status to California State University, Long Beach after completing transfer requirements.
The Long Beach College Promise has inspired similar programs across the country. America’s College Promise, an initiative introduced by President Barack Obama in 2015, was modeled in part on the Long Beach College Promise.
While at LBCCD, Oakley also spearheaded an effort to use high school grades instead of standardized tests for student placement in appropriate college classes. The Promise Pathways effort also uses improved advising and enrollment practices to help students select the right classes to maximize their success.
“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.”
Oakley is himself a community college success story. He is a graduate Golden West College. He received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of California, Irvine.
Oakley joined LBCCD in 2002, serving as the assistant superintendent/executive vice president of administrative services. “I’ve enjoyed working with Eloy on UC’s Board of Regents where he has distinguished himself by always asking the right questions and his unwavering commitment to expanding access to higher education in California,” said University of California President Janet Napolitano.
“As chancellor of the California Community Colleges, I know he’ll continue to do so. I look forward to working with him, especially on further improving the pathway to UC for California transfer students.”
Oakley will begin his duties on Dec. 19, and replaces Chancellor Brice W. Harris, who retired in April after leading the community college system for nearly four years. Erik E. Skinner will continue to serve as interim chancellor until Oakley takes office.