“Inside Long Beach State University” is a new adventure for me — an exciting opportunity to engage our Long Beach community in an ongoing conversation about the university and its place in your lives.
In my first three years as president, I put special focus on listening to and communicating with campus constituents and active alumni. Now, I’d like to extend that communication beyond our “walls.” I’ll write once a month about topics you suggest and ones I think might interest you.
Here are a few questions that I’ve recently been asked while out and about in Long Beach: Why does the university still have a tenure system? Why do you recruit international students? What’s going on with student behavior? Why is your campus so politically liberal? Is there a campus problem with fraternities and sororities? Why is tuition going up? How are our athletic teams doing? And, inevitably, what’s the deal with parking?
Let’s start with the basics. Long Beach State University is like a small town within the city of Long Beach. If all students, faculty and staff were together at once on campus, we’d number more than 40,000 folks. That’s a lot of people on 322 acres. And, our challenges are similar to those of a small town — we’re responsible for providing affordable housing and nutritious food for students, with keeping our infrastructure (both bricks and mortar and digital) up to date, with ensuring the safety of everyone on campus, and with attracting, supporting and engaging outstanding students, faculty and staff.
As we kick off our 2018 spring semester, we welcome back upwards of 33,500 students representing a broad array of political, ethnic and religious perspectives and heritages. Our faculty, staff and students are distributed across the spectrum of gender identities and various abilities. Students come from every economic status and vary in age from 17 to 87. Our faculty members are national and international experts who are committed to research-driven teaching and developing high-impact learning practices. They prepare our students for the rapidly evolving future of innovation and employment that confronts us all. Our staff is dedicated, creative and mission-driven.
But we don’t rest on our achievements. As great as we are, we never stop thinking about how we can be more inclusive, more adaptive, and more excellent.
Our beautiful campus is a local resource — alive every week with athletic, art, and academic events that welcome community engagement and attendance. We boast some of the most unique and interesting physical spots in the region, including the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden, our renowned campus sculpture collection, and the famous Walter Pyramid. The Karen and Richard Carpenter Center for the Performing Arts not only offers world-class performances, but sponsors art and educational programs. We strive to be a positive anchor organization for Los Angeles and Orange counties, and we work diligently to add value to the great city of Long Beach in every way possible.
That said, I’ve come to realize that many residents within an eight-mile radius know little about the university, or hold beliefs about our campus, the California State University, or U.S. higher education in general that I’d like to discuss.
If you have a particular question about Long Beach State, or are interested in my perspective on higher education, email me at CSULB-President@csulb.edu. Put “Inside Long Beach State University” in the subject line. I may not have all the answers, but I’m devoted to the conversation.
Jane Close Conoley, Ph.D., President