I have been a student at OLLI for 17 years. My husband was a professor at Cal State Long Beach for 30 years. During his tenure I met a number of professors and administrators, but I never had the occasion to interview a reigning president about the road to becoming the head of a university and his or her hopes to improve the education of the future generation.
Dr. Jane Conoley came out to greet me as I was waiting for her at Brotman Hall. She welcomed me as if I were an old friend and took me to her office, which was filled with lovely paintings and photographs of her family.
Dr. Conoley is an impressive woman. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the College of New Rochelle in New York and a Ph.D. in school psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. While in Texas, she met her husband, who is also a professor of psychology. They now have three beautiful children and five perfect grandchildren.
Dr. Conoley learned early on - perhaps by attending an all-girls
elementary school, a girl’s high school, and woman’s undergraduate college - that women can accomplish anything. And she was right! She served as dean of the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She also served from 2012 to 2013 as the interim chancellor of UC Riverside.
In 2014 she was appointed as the first female president of CSULB.
So what do university presidents actually do? Well, they do a lot. They are CEOs, politicians,administrators, cheerleaders, public relations representatives and professionals in the field of higher education. Dr. Conoley had a huge task ahead of her in taking this position.
One year after she became president, CSULB received 91,000 applications to the undergraduate programs from students. Years ago the state funded a high percentage of the operating costs of the university, but support dropped precipitously during the recession and has not yet recovered. This past year, the state provided only 24% of the funds necessary to run the campus. During the recession, tuition had to be increased. In addition, the university has needed to turn to the business world for additional funds and equipment for various departments. Companies such as Boeing, Long Beach Memorial Hospital, and St. Mary’s Medical Center have been instrumental in supporting CSULB to name only a few. This year CSULB completed its first comprehensive fund raising campaign, raising $238 million from alumni, philanthropists and corporate and foundation donors.
One of Dr. Conoley’s dream projects is to refurbish an existing building for the purpose of helping all students make timely progress to graduation by locating all the services they need in one place. This building would be called the Student Success Center. The renovation will cost about $40 million, but the investment in students will contribute immeasurably to the region. I have no doubt she will see her dream become a reality.
Dr. Conoley feels that OLLI plays an important role on campus. She believes students are inspired by seeing older students checking out books at the library, going to the student union, and eating lunch on campus. This reinforces that learning is a lifelong process. It is a pleasure for Dr. Conoley to see older students mingle with younger students as they walk through the quad. She remarked that when she retires she would like to attend OLLI and would take every movie class that was available and possibly start a new career in the arts.
I am so grateful to Dr. Conoley for taking her valuable time to meet with me and inform the OLLI students about her work and expectations for the future of CSULB.
Joe Murray’s vivid memoir of the human spirit enjoying a State Fair in the good-old-summertime connects us to its many alluring, thrilling attractions. Be it waiting in long lines for a roller coaster ride or meeting up with a chameleon who eventually becomes the family’s beloved pet for the summer, we happily share in his rollicking vacation adventure with his new pal Stumpy!
Soon after his retirement from his manufacturing business, Joe and his wife became members of CSULB Senior University—now known as OLLI. He signed up for the Memoir class led by Florence and Josephine almost 15 years ago. Joe became interested in memoir writing when he “recognized a need to study and develop different character perspectives, especially when reading aloud to the class.”
Today, after writing at least 100 memoirs, Joe is seriously working towards completing his first book of Short Stories for future
See the Memoir written by Joe Murray on page 7 in The SUN.