- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 19, 2016

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Eloy Ortiz Oakley, a nationally recognized innovator in public education, will become the next chancellor of the California Community Colleges and the first Latino to hold the post.

Oakley, superintendent-president of the Long Beach Community College District since 2007, was unanimously selected Monday by the Board of Governors of the 113-college system that serves 2.1 million students in 72 districts.

During his current tenure, Oakley helped create Long Beach College Promise, a program to bring high school administrators and teachers together with college faculty and staff to create structured paths for students to follow from one educational institution to another, according to the chancellor’s office.

“In Oakley we see a change agent - someone whose relentless focus on student success will help more students obtain certificates and degrees or transfer to four-year institutions on time,” said Geoffrey L. Baum, the board president.

Oakley is a product of a community college. He enrolled at Golden West College after serving four years in the Army and then transferred to the University of California, Irvine. He received a bachelor of arts degree in environmental analysis and design and a master’s in business administration.

Oakley addressed the board about student needs in a changing economy, the Los Angeles Times reported (https://lat.ms/2a63GyP).

“We must pay particular attention to African-Americans and Latinos in this state. This is the backbone of our workforce,” he said. “Our economy no longer has a spot for those who lack skills.. We need to redouble our efforts as a system to ensure that every student in California has the opportunity to obtain a college credential.”

Oakley’s selection was praised by Gov. Jerry Brown, who appointed him to the University of California Board of Regents in 2014.

“Eloy Oakley knows California’s community colleges inside and out and has served at every level in the system - from teaching in the classroom to running a campus as superintendent,” Brown said in a statement.

Oakley succeeds Brice W. Harris, who retired in April after nearly four years as chancellor. Oakley will take over from the interim chancellor, Erik E. Skinner, on Dec. 19.

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