Long Beach State Campus

Students on the Long Beach State campus with the iconic Walter Pyramid in the background.

Last Friday, Dr. Jane Close Conoley delivered a convocation to talk about what the next decade might hold for Cal State Long Beach.

Long Beach's university starts classes Monday, Aug. 26, as the third largest campus in the California State University system. There were more than 103,000 applications to attend CSULB this fall, the most of any campus in the CSU system.

As of Monday this week, 11,862 new students are on their way to campus; move-in day for new student residents was Wednesday, Aug. 21. About 2,700 new students will use campus housing, including three residential "colleges" — Parkside, Hillside and Beachside. Another 500 returning students will join them there Friday.

“This is always an exhilarating time of year," Conoley said. "I think everyone who works here is especially excited to witness the start of this very special journey for our new students. This is our biggest and best new undergraduate class, which includes over 4,700 transfers and dozens of new Long Beach Promise students. Although our official census is weeks away, as of today our total enrollment is outpacing Fall 2018.”

Part of the growth Conoley, president of Cal State Long Beach for the last five years, likely will talk about Friday includes a new residence hall, a new alumni center and ongoing updates to buildings, classrooms and facilities on campus. There also will be a push to establish a CSULB presence in downtown Long Beach in partnership with the city. An agreement has been reached to open 16 classrooms next year, with continued expansion planned there.

Cal State Long Beach offers 151 different degrees, including multiple graduate degrees. It is ranked third in the nation for degrees conferred on minority students, and 71 percent of students receive some form of financial aid (49 percent get Pell grants). The university apparently is doing something right — 90 percent of freshmen return the following year.

Part of the attraction may be the personal attention students receive. The average student-to-faculty ratio is 26 to one, and last academic year started with 2,309 faculty members on campus.

Conoley has emphasized the university's involvement in the community, and co-chaired a task force last year about homelessness in Long Beach. The university has begun addressing the issue of homeless or struggling students, with a food pantry that had 6,408 visits last year and other services.

She also has encouraged faculty and students both to become involved in the community through charities and educational opportunities, including the nationally recognized and popular Shark Lab. It isn't all altruism, either.

"Our campus is inextricably tied to its surrounding areas — far beyond its educational mission," she wrote in a recent column in the Grunion. "Many of us live here; we study, teach and work here. And because of the special relationship among our communities, we all thrive here."

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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