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A resilient Beach will forge ahead in these challenging times

Published August 21, 2020

Cal State Long Beach’s commitment to resilience, diversity and student-ready learning has been longstanding trademarks of the university. And those efforts won’t change despite the obstacles the university faces as a new school year begins, President Jane Close Conoley said Friday in her annual Convocation speech

Saying it’s “our time in history,” Conoley outlined her goals in a virtual speech for the upcoming academic year that mirrored the aim of Beach 2030, the university’s long-range plans. 

“As I reviewed what we debated, wrote and rewrote and made plans to do through Beach 2030, I’m struck by how prescient we were,” she said. 

She said the university has shown a strong resiliency through the coronavirus pandemic and a shift to online learning, the civil unrest and a call for social reform. She said she expects that same type of attitude in 2020-21. 

“I see that we were amazingly resilient in pivoting from a primarily in-person learning environment to an entirely and still mostly remote reality,” Conoley said. “This not only illustrated resilience but proved the point that we are a compassionate and student-ready university. 

“Our students, faculty and staff could not safely be on campus, but yet, we persisted in carrying out what we do best: transformational teaching and learning.” 

In the upcoming year, Conoley said The Beach will not only rise above these challenges but strengthen its partnerships within the business community through the Beach Grand Challenge Infrastructure. It is a program designed to “leverage our intellectual capital to benefit our community and serve as a catalyst in L.A. and Orange counties,” she added. 

Conoley also addressed growing revenue streams and the need for students to continue their education. She also wants faculty and staff to evolve and diversify to better support a diverse student population and she hopes to create a new communication process with the University Police to ensure transparency and accountability. 

“We can do better. We will do better. We must do better,” she said. 

Conoley said it’s too early to tell whether the adversity the country is facing will make Cal State Long Beach stronger, but it’s what she will be working toward this year. 

“I think we’re smarter, more focused and more mission-driven than ever before,” she said. “I know we can be equitable, innovative, compassionate and creative. I know we can continue our leadership in building student-ready learning experiences whatever the modality of teaching. 

“We’ll be tested, and we’ll make mistakes. But I would rather be with all of you right now than anywhere in the galaxy.” 

Also speaking were Chair of the Academic Senate Jessica Pandya, ASI President Omar Prudencio Gonzalez and Chair of Staff Council Kristin Bonetati. Convocation also included a performance from the CSULB University Choir and a video presentation about the Photovoice project.