By Mike Uhlenkamp
On Feb. 25, California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) President Jane Close Conoley traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with federal legislators to share some of the university’s success stories and advocate on behalf of CSULB. President Conoley joined a group of other leaders from California State University campuses in support of public higher education in California.
“A top priority of our visit to Washington D.C. was to ensure policymakers understand the importance of Pell Grants for student access and achievement,” said President Conoley. “To increase opportunities for students to attain the excellent education we offer requires partnerships with our state and federal representatives. I’m happy to report that our elected officials understand the importance of increasing university access and the value of a CSULB degree.”
The Pell Grant program provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduate students. Maintaining funding of the program, and expanding the grants to cover all academic terms is essential to increasing student access and success. Pell Grants are critical to providing opportunity at CSULB – in 2014, more than half of all undergraduates (16,257) received financial aid through Pell.
Throughout the day, President Conoley and a contingent from CSULB including student leaders, met with federal legislators Janice Hahn (D-District 44), Alan Lowenthal (D-District 47) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-District 48).
Late last year, President Obama set ambitious goals for U.S. baccalaureate completion. CSULB’s ability to provide access to a high-quality education, strengthen pathways to college completion and address the evolving needs of employers in the global economy will be critical to reaching those goals.
Over the coming year, President Conoley and university leaders will join colleagues from other CSU campuses to continue advocating with federal legislators for funding to improve college access through aid to students, better prepare students for college, foster degree completion for California’s diverse population, educate tomorrow’s workforce, solve societal problems through applied research, enhance campus infrastructure, health and safety and promote state and private support for public universities.
Among the success stories shared by President Conoley include the Long Beach College Promise, the university’s acclaimed partnership with LBUSD and Long Beach City College, which has been recognized as a successful model for improving student success and completion. The initiative has increased the number and diversity of students who are coming to CSULB and earning a bachelor’s degree. Through partnerships like the Long Beach College Promise, programs such as the Highly Valued Degree Initiative and other innovations, CSULB conferred 8,865 high-quality degrees in 2014.