A record number of transfer degrees awarded and new construction projects were among the achievements of the past year Long Beach City College Acting Superintendent President Ann-Marie Gabel spoke about during this afternoon’s LBCC State of the College address.
Around 400 community members, state and local elected officials and LBCC faculty and staff attended today’s event, held at the Liberal Arts Campus Hall of Champions Gymnasium.
Currently, LBCC has a total enrollment of 24,739 students and over 1,600 part- and full-time faculty and staff, according to its website.
Gabel, who became acting superintendent president following the promotion of former LBCC president Eloy Oakley to chancellor of the California community college system in December 2016, focused the majority of her speech on student success and how LBCC is continually working to do better.
“Historically, the mission of community colleges was to provide access to those who might otherwise be denied an education,” Gabel said. “But as community colleges have evolved, we have come to realize that’s not enough. Our challenge now is to focus on student success. Making sure that students are progressing through our college and being successful in meeting their educational goals.”
Gabel thanked the communities of Long Beach, Lakewood, Signal Hill and Avalon for voting in Measure LB, which allocated $850 million for construction projects on both the Liberal Arts and Pacific Coast campuses.
Measure LB passed in the November election with 64 percent of voters in support.
The money from the measure is specifically allocated for construction and renovation, Gabel confirmed, and cannot be used for faculty and staff salaries or pensions.
Being able to renovate and construct new facilities, Gabel said, is vital to student success.
“The path to student success starts in the classroom with faculty and with the right learning facilities,” she said. “Improving and upgrading our campuses is a top priority and has been made possible thanks to the ongoing support from our community.”
Continuing with student success, Gabel announced that in 2016, the college awarded 1,307 associates degrees, a record number for LBCC.
Gabel said that a top priority for the college is to increase the number of associate degrees awarded while reducing the time it takes students to complete their degree.
However, Gabel did not disclose any specific target numbers for degrees awarded or time to complete, nor did she lay out any specific plan to achieve the college’s goal.
In May 2015, the board of trustees revealed that it takes over 30 percent of students six years to complete their associate degree for transfer.
Virginia Baxter, president of the Long Beach Community College District board of trustees, commended Gabel and Oakley for their dedication to student success, calling LBCC a “strong and stable institution because of strong and stable leadership.”
Baxter also updated attendees on the search to hire a permanent president for the college.
She said that the 22-member presidential search committee will announce its selection in the spring.
This year also marks the 90th anniversary of the college, which was originally located on the Woodrow Wilson High School campus before expanding to its two current locations.
Above, left photo: Long Beach Community College Acting Superintendent-President Ann-Marie Gabel gives the annual State of the College address Friday. She spoke about student success, construction and renovation plans and individual student achievements. Photo by Michaela Kwoka-Coleman.