President Conoley addresses university's outlook at Convocation

Published August 24, 2018

The annual Convocation speeches Friday focused on the future of Long Beach State, specifically centering on IMAGINE Beach 2030, a two-year project that will define the university for the next decade.

In their comments, President Jane Close Conoley and Provost Brian Jersky also gave a nod to the work of past administrators and the ongoing effort of those presently involved in creating a safe, inclusive campus that continues to eliminate barriers.

They first thanked administrators who had retired after last school year and praised the President’s Scholars who attended the event before turning their attention to the future.

“We are coming up on our 70th anniversary as a university and the question I put before you is ‘Will we still be a viable university 70 years from now?’ Of course, 70 years is a long time. I know,” Conoley, 70, said.

“So, if that time frame is daunting, think about 10 to 20 years from now. How old will you be then?”

Conoley pointed to her grandchildren who were among the estimated 250 guests seated at the Carpenters Performing Arts Center, and added, “I know Declan will be 18, Nola will be 16 and they will be coming at us real soon.”

Conoley asked the others, “Where will you be living? What will you be doing. When are your hopes and dreams for what you’ll be doing?”

And asked faculty, staff, alumni and students what they thought the university would be like in the year 2030?

Will Long Beach State continue to promote and celebrate innovation, such as that displayed by the two teams of students who won first place awards in the international Biomimicry Challenge? Are there cutting edge transdisciplinary areas that need to be nurtured?

Will Long Beach State be thriving in 10 to 20 years?

Both Conoley and Jersky answered with an emphatic “yes.” But they urged the community, faculty, staff and students to help the university move forward by participating in the IMAGINE Beach 2030 event Nov. 14-15. Through the online game-like activity, participants will be able to submit ideas that others can comment on.

Jersky said throughout the two-year process, university administrators will be “listening and gathering everyone’s insights and attitudes. Based on these responses and engagement, comments may grow into actions that may shape our future.”

“We cannot simply apply a traditional model to our re-imagined future,” Jersky said. “Our new planning model allows us enough ambiguous open space to creatively turn our future into an opportunity. What I do know for certain is that we cannot go back to the way things have always been done.”

Also speaking to the future of Long Beach State was Norbert Schurer, professor in the English Department and head of the Academic Senate, and new ASI president Genesis Jara.

“With our students of greatest need in mind, I imagine a future at Long Beach State where students don’t have to worry about where to sleep at night because we have an overnight housing center,” Jara said. “I imagine a future where students don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars for their textbooks, a future where we develop a sustainable funding model for our university so we no longer have to rely on inconsistent state funding.

“I imagine a lot for our university, and I’m excited to continue this great work with my team this coming year.”