Eloy Ortiz Oakley is best known throughout California and the nation for implementing innovative programs and policies that help students succeed in college. Oakley strongly believes that California’s emerging economies demand a workforce with certificates and degrees and that the state’s 112 community colleges play a pivotal role in moving California forward. Under Oakley’s leadership, the Long Beach Community College District has received numerous awards for its efforts to improve student completion rates and for teaching small business owners throughout the greater Los Angeles area how to succeed and grow their businesses.
Oakley was appointed as the Superintendent-President of the Long Beach Community College District (LBCCD) in 2007. Since his appointment, he has fostered strong relationships with members of the community, his Board of Trustees and members of the faculty senate, faculty unions and classified staff. Partnering with the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) and CSU Long Beach (CSULB), Oakley helped form the Long Beach College Promise. Through the College Promise, LBUSD administrators and high school teachers work with college faculty and staff to create clear pathways for students to follow as they move from one education institution to another. These pathways prepare LBUSD high school graduates to succeed in college and College Promise students are guaranteed a tuition-free semester at LBCCD and preferred admission status to CSULB after completing the transfer requirements.
Preliminary reports suggest the College Promise measurably reduces demand for college level remediation, increases student persistence rates and creates financial efficiencies so LBCCD can educate more students for less money. The College Promise has been replicated by numerous colleges and universities throughout California and is cited as a model education partnership by several education organizations and foundations, including the Washington DC based Business Higher Education Forum and the White House Initiative on Education Excellence for Hispanics. To jumpstart the local economy, Oakley partnered with Goldman Sachs to launch the 10,000 Small Businesses Program to help small businesses grow and create jobs. This successful endeavor has taught more than 90 local business owners how to expand operations, increase profits and create more jobs in the region.
Under Oakley’s leadership LBCCD increased the economic impact of the Los Angeles Regional Small Business Development Center Network by focusing on metrics that drive business development and job growth. Undeterred by the stagnant state budget, Oakley offsets costs associated with his college based reforms by leveraging private funding granted by local business leaders, philanthropists and foundations. Most recently, LBCCD was awarded the Lumina Foundation Latino Student Success Grant to increase Latino and underrepresented student completion rates. Along with his efforts at the local level, Oakley works closely with high ranking presidential officials, federal education experts and other higher education opinion leaders to shape national thought about the need for community colleges to not only serve as open access institutions, but to also produce a greater number of graduates. Oakley considers today’s low completion rates a fundamental challenge for policymakers and community college leaders throughout the country.
He argues that when students drop out, the taxpayer loses out on its investment in human capital and the economy suffers. Oakley’s trailblazing efforts have been acknowledged through his appointments to both the California Community College Commission on the Future and the National American Association of Community Colleges 21st Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges. He is frequently invited to speak to education, philanthropic and business organizations throughout the nation. In his remarks, Oakley stresses that if America is to remain competitive, it must adopt innovative reforms to ensure its citizens are provided a realistic opportunity to succeed in college, regardless of their socioeconomic or ethnic background. Oakley himself is a community college success story.
After serving four years in the US 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. He joined LBCCD in 2002, serving as the assistant superintendent/executive vice president of administrative services. In this capacity, Oakley undertook supervision of the Measure E Bond construction program for the district and oversaw the finances and operations of the district’s two campuses. Before that, he served as the vice president of college services at Oxnard College; the assistant vice president of the Property & Casualty Division of Keenan & Associates and the manager of risk services at the Coast Community College District.
Oakley also served as an adjunct faculty member teaching in and coordinating the Environmental Technology Certificate Program at Golden West College. Oakley is the proud father of four children and two grandchildren. He serves on the boards and committees of the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, the Campaign for College Opportunity, the St. Mary’s Medical Center, the YMCA of Greater Long Beach and the Long Beach Rotary Club. He sits on the advisory board for the CSULB Ed.D. Program in Educational Leadership and the University of Texas, Austin Community College Leadership Program.
He is a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the Association of California Community Colleges Administrators (ACCCA), the Presidents for Entrepreneurship Forum and a founding member of the President’s Alliance for Student Learning and Accountability.