Special guest column by Jane Close Conoley
I was honored to spend an early December day in Washington D.C. at the White House College Opportunity Day of Action. President Obama and the First Lady spoke eloquently about the importance of higher education to our success as a nation and wide-ranging discussions offered food for thought. Engaging with college and university presidents from across the country sparked some ideas and some questions about how we approach learning at The Beach and how we might affirm our accomplishments and broaden our thinking.
At Cal State Long Beach, we benefit from a history of great teaching and learning as well as significant recognition for promoting student success. Receiving more than 85,000 undergraduate applicants for fall 2015 confirms our status as a university of choice. We are very good at what we do—our distinguished faculty is renowned, our academic programs noticed, our beautiful campus and location appreciated, our robust array of student services recognized, our storied athletic programs envied, our alumni admired and our current students respected.
An important focus of the College Opportunity Day of Action was building sustainable community, K-12 and higher education partnerships that improve persistence and increase college completion, especially for first generation, low-income, and underrepresented students. Here, we excel. The Long Beach College Promise—our unique partnership with Long Beach City College, Long Beach Unified School District and the City of Long Beach—offers ways for K-12 students to prepare for, enter and complete college, and is recognized as a model nationwide. On this day, I was inspired to consider what are the new elements we must build into this program to keep it fresh and cutting edge?
Students change and so does the work-world they enter. Increasingly, our learners are more diverse and more economically stressed. As jobs become automated, our region, like so many, seeks a work force with advanced skills. How we respond to these emerging realities and best prepare our students to succeed defines us as a university. We have great stories to tell and a body of evidence to share.
I’m extraordinarily proud our nation’s top leaders recognize the achievements of Long Beach’s education community—teachers, faculty and staff—and how we strengthen our nation. I’m even more proud our students are transformed by the education they receive here at The Beach.
Let’s continue to innovate together to keep what’s best about what we do and add the latest in evidence-based approaches that help promote learning in 21st century Beach students.