The first Latino chancellor of the California Community Colleges was appointed by a unanimous vote of the college system’s Board of Governors, it was announced Monday.
Eloy Ortiz Oakley, who had served as the superintendent-president of the Long Beach Community College District since 2007, will now head the biggest system of public colleges in the U.S.
“[He] 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,” said Gov. Jerry Brown Jr. in a statement. “California’s 113 community colleges — and the 2.1 million students they serve — are in good hands,” Brown said.
During his tenure at Long Beach, Oakley assisted in the formation of the Long Beach College Promise, a program that helps link high school staff with colleges “to create a structured path” for students from one institution to the other. The program also offers one free academic year at Long Beach Community College (LBCC) and guarantees admission to California State University Long Beach amongst other benefits, according to the program’s website.
A similar initiative proposed by President Barack Obama called “American’s College Promise” was, according to the state system’s announcement, modeled after Oakley’s program.
“In less than a decade at the helm, Eloy has transformed Long Beach City College into a world class college that serves all facets of the community,” Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said in a statement issued following the appointment. “His successful work on boosting transfer rates for underserved students and on the Long Beach College Promise program has become a model for colleges statewide.”
In his previous role, Oakley also collaborated with Goldman Sachs to launch the 10,000 Small Business Program to help small business grow. About 600 area businesses have been helped through the proagram, which among other things taught the business owners how to increase profits and operate more efficiently.
“As a California native and 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. “As chancellor, I look forward to working with our 113 colleges, public education advocates, civil rights organizations, education policy experts and leaders to better server our students and to create value or our great state.”
Previous experience also includes work with Oxnard College, the Property & Casualty Division of Keenan & Associates, the Coast Community College District and for the Environmental Technology Certificate Program at Golden West College.
Oakley served four years in the U.S. Army and attended Golden West College before transferring to University of California, Irvine. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Analysis and Design and then obtained a Master of Business Administration.
His duties as chancellor will begin in December of this year. He replaces Brice W. Harris, the former chancellor who retired in April. Interim Chancellor Erik E. Skinner will continue in that position until Oakley begins later this year.