Blog: Interview with the Chancellor

This is a contributor post by Jenny Fasulkey, Coastline College Marketing Department.

Student journalists and college representatives were given the opportunity to interview Eloy Ortiz Oakley, Chancellor of the California Community Colleges (CCC), on October 18th via teleconference. They were eager to get answers to their questions concerning current issues in community college news.

Oakley warmly welcomed the students while reminiscing about his days as Long Beach City College’s President where he enjoyed working closely with the Viking News staff. He reaffirmed the importance and need for our student journalists and commended their choice of work.

Community College Hot Topics

The Chancellor went on to give a brief outline of what would be discussed during the teleconference including hot topics such as the 115th college, Undocumented Student Week of Action, and the perception of community colleges. First, he introduced the Board of Governor’s Vision for Success, a comprehensive document which provides guidance for all California Community Colleges, states California’s goals and outlines the seven core commitments he is currently implementing.

“Making sure the students are at the center and design of the decision-making process is key to our success,” said Oakley. “We wanted to make this a document that spoke to every Californian that has an interest in CCCs.”

Vision for Success strives to achieve the following:

  • Increasing the number of credentials a CCC student receives,
  • Increasing the percentage of CCC students transferring
  • Reducing the number of units accumulated by CCC students,
  • Ensuring all CCC graduates are seeking gainful employment, earning a living wage, and closing the achievement gap.

115th (Online) College

He transitioned into the topic of the 115th fully online college. The new online college, still unnamed, is proposed to focus on providing micro credentials to workforce members for a chance of career promotion or improve skill sets. It will create a brand new pathway for adult learners in their career without having to complete the requirements for an AA or certificate program.

“If employees gain these skills, they can advance in their careers, “It (the online college) is not for the purposes of duplicating what your college is already doing”. – Chancellor Oakley

Community College versus a 4-year

Phung Tran, Coastline Student and Marketing Department intern, attended the teleconference and had the opportunity to ask the Chancellor how a student can change the perception of a community college versus a 4-year institution to their families and amongst their peer group. He remarked that her question was really important and went onto comment:

“I am a community college graduate. I went to your sister college, Golden West, and transferred to UC Irvine. Going to community college is going to college,” Oakley said. “The only difference between a UC student and a community college student is what they feel their expectations are, both from the college and themselves.”

He went on to say that it is important for community colleges to pair high expectation with high support.

“Our colleges need to raise their expectations and hold themselves more accountable to the needs of their students,” he said. “We need to improve the amount of aid available to them. We want to give students the ability to go to school full time. All CCCs need to highlight the great successes their graduates are having, across the state, to help change any ill perception of what it means to attend community college.”

Oakley believes that the current CCCs funding model is what has led to this situation. “Enrolling students who have not been well represented in our colleges is our goal. It is about rewarding colleges for reaching into their communities to encourage students to achieve their goals. Supporting outcomes is key. So, now, 80% of the new funding model is not rewarding colleges for performance but for supporting outcomes for these students.”

In his conclusion, Oakley stated that for the overwhelming majority of enrolled students, only half the students who enroll, finish in under 6 years. He strongly believes his plans will change that.