Long Beach City College District Superintendent-President Dr. Reagan Romali delivers the State of the College address Friday, February 2, 2018. Photos courtesy of LBCC.
Long Beach City College saw a lot of growth in 2017. A record number of students received associate degrees, $1.5 million in scholarship money was awarded, five employees received coach of the year awards and new buildings were completed on both of the college’s campuses.
The college even hired a new superintendent-president, its second in the past 20 years, Dr. Reagan F. Romali.
On Friday, Romali lauded those accomplishments during her first state of the college address inside the Hall of Champions Gymnasium at the Liberal Arts Campus in front of a crowd of about 500 people that included local and county elected officials.
Romali, who took on the new role in May, said her first goal was to listen to what faculty, staff and other stakeholders had to say about the direction of the college and its diverse student body that doesn’t fit the traditional straight-out-of-high-school category.
“Now, I’m stepping on the gas!” she said.
Romali’s goal within the next year or so is to expand the decade-old Long Beach College Promise and provide students coming from the Long Beach Unified School District system with four free semesters at LBCC.
“We are the home of the College Promise that, as you know, now went viral nationwide,” Romali said. “So we are uniquely equipped to take it to the next level because we have so many generous donors here in Long Beach so we want to try to give them more than just a year of free education, we want to take it to the next level.”
She pointed to reaching out to donors in the cities of Long Beach, Signal Hill, Avalon and Lakewood, which are served by the Long Beach Community College District.
Romali also mentioned plans to reduce the cost of education by embracing free, online education resources so students can avoid having to purchase expensive textbooks.
During Romali’s State of the College address, the Long Beach Rotary presented a $102,670 check to the LBCC Foundation for 106 student scholarships.
But free education isn’t the only goal Romali has her sight set on. She also announced goals for the coming year that are part of LBCCD’s goals and strategies plan.
They include moving registration dates earlier to be more competitive with neighboring community colleges, improving class scheduling, adding more counselors and bettering the enrollment, registration and admissions processes. A social and emotional wellness team is also in talks “to explore best practices and provide additional support and services.”
Romali emphasized another reform the college is currently undertaking, a model called Guided Pathways, which gives students roadmaps for their majors.
“Guided pathways gives students clear direction and focus, resulting in higher success rates, greater persistence and higher graduation rates,” Romali said.
The college will also launch a more comprehensive student health and wellness center with resources for students facing homelessness and food insecurity.
“The wellness center includes mental health resources, which, we recognize, is the key to keeping many students on track in their studies,” she said.
Romali also announced two new labor agreements with the classified staff and full-time faculty employee unions, ending ongoing negotiations, and expressed optimism that the 2016 Measure LB will help finish LBCC’s voter-approved bonds in 2002 and 2008 that helped start transforming both campuses.
“Now, more than ever, education is the key,” Romali said. “Crime…racism…class and wealth inequality…homelessness. These are all problems education can—and does—solve. We welcome diversity, rather than attack it. We strengthen the middle class, rather than weaken it. We tear down walls, rather than build them. The responsibility is ours. We must do our part.”
Stephanie Rivera covers immigration and the north, west and central parts of Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter at @StephRivera88.
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