Eloy Oakley, former head of LBCC, to resign as head of state community colleges

Eloy Oakley, the former longtime head of Long Beach City College, will leave his position as chancellor of the California Community College system, officials announced Thursday.

Oakley, who has served as chancellor for the state system for six years, will step down Aug. 1 to assume a new position at the College Futures Foundation, whose mission is to help students finish college and to close equity gaps.

Oakley left Long Beach in 2016 to head the system for the state’s 116 colleges. He served as president-superintendent of the Long Beach Community College District for nine years prior to that.

Oakley is perhaps best known locally for his involvement in the Long Beach College Promise, a partnership between Long Beach Unified, Cal State Long Beach and LBCC that created a path for local students to get a free year of college and entry to a four-year university. The program has since been expanded locally and has been replicated statewide.

The program has received wide praise since its conception in 2008.

During his tenure with the state, he is credited with increasing the number of students earning a college credential by 32% and doubling the number of students earning an associate’s degree or transferring to a four-year college. The college system “has become a national leader in dismantling barriers to student access and success,” officials said in a statement.

Under Oakley’s tenure, the California Community Colleges also ended the “flawed, high stakes student-placement testing and became the largest college system to end required remedial education,” the statement said.

During a five-month leave as chancellor in 2021, Oakley also served as a senior advisor to the current education secretary, Miguel Cardona.

As part of his work at the College Futures Foundation, Oakley said he will help state higher education leaders work to achieve the goals outlined in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s multi-year plan to close equity gaps, reduce the cost of attendance, improve transfer rates and time-to-degree for students.

“Chancellor Oakley has been an incredible leader and champion for higher education, setting California’s community colleges on a course for transformational change,” Newsom said in a statement Thursday. “As we execute on the vision for a more equitable, affordable, and student-centered system of higher education, I look forward to continuing to work with Chancellor Oakley in his new role, along with the strong leadership in the Chancellor’s Office and at campuses throughout the state.”

California Community Colleges Board of Governors President Pamela Haynes said the board will meet in July to appoint an interim chancellor and begin a search for Oakley’s replacement.

“We are indebted to Chancellor Oakley for his vision, his unwavering commitment to our colleges and most importantly our students,” she said in a statement.

Eloy Oakley, former LBCC superintendent, to advise Biden Administration on higher education

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