By Sylvana Uribe / Staff Writer
President Eloy Oakley said he intends to stay with the college despite conflict with the Board of Trustees, according to articles released by the Long Beach Press-Telegram in late February.
On Feb. 26, the Press-Telegram reported that it had obtained a memo sent to the Board on Feb. 17 in which Oakley wrote the college was losing focus as attention was being diverted to addressing problems within the school’s governing body.
Oakley said the college’s accreditation was complicated when issues were raised about low morale and communication that needed to improve between the president and the Board.
Oakley wrote, “These disruptions have led to several key executive team members, including myself, to consider other professional opportunities.”
Oakley was in talks to become chancellor of the Coast Community College District in Orange County and oversee its three schools, but said he intends to stay with LBCC and found himself not wanting to leave Long Beach.
Area 5 Trustee Virginia Baxter said, “I personally am pleased President Oakley is staying at LBCC. His vision of student success and the commitment to help our students graduate in a more timely manner are goals I can support.”
On Feb. 6, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges notified the college that its accreditation was reaffirmed. The accreditation committee is made up of officials representing 11 Community Colleges and visited LBCC on Oct. 6-9.
In its report, the commission recommended that actions be taken to “address communication problems and increase transparency and trust.”
In an interview Tuesday, March 3, Area 3 Trustee Sunny Zia said she is looking forward to working closely with the student body and the district’s employees to gather their input on issues of importance to them.
Zia said, “The accreditation team raised a number of important issues to us, like low morale. I look forward to working with the superintendent and my colleagues on the Board to focus on these issues and see what we can do to improve things. At the end of the day, we want to be effective and make sure we are doing whatever is necessary to assure the educational and career success of our students.”
The college is expected to submit a follow-up report addressing the committee’s recommendations by March 15, 2016.
At the Board meeting Feb. 24, Vice President Lou Anne Bynum discussed how the college has taken steps to create a three- to five-year plan that would improve communication and track how the school is perceived by the public.
More than 1,200 phone surveys were given to the community in English and Spanish and focus groups were conducted between students and employees. Employees also were sent online surveys, which received a 30 percent response rate. Recommendations based on the research will be presented to the Board in April.