News @ the Beach

President Conoley Goes to Washington

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.

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Meeting with federal legislators in Washington D.C. were (l-r) CSULB Associate Vice President for Legislative and External Relations Terri Carbaugh, CSULB Associated Students Vice President Nayiri Baghdassarian, California representative Alan Lowenthal and CSULB President Jane Close Conoley.

“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.

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War on Poverty Expert to Speak

Kathleen McGarry, a professor and chair of the department of economics at UCLA, will visit CSULB on Tuesday, March 10, to give a lecture titled “50 Years of the War on Poverty: What it Meant for the Elderly.” The lecture is scheduled for 4 p.m. in the Beach Auditorium and will be followed by a question and answer session and a reception.

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Kathleen McGarry

“The Rho Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and CSULB in general are very excited about Dr. McGarry’s upcoming visit and talk,” said Steve Yamarik, a professor of economics at CSULB and president of the Rho Chapter. “She is a leading expert on the economic well-being of the elderly and the role played by public policy on these outcomes.”

The lecture will focus on the impact of various social insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid on the decline in elderly poverty rates.

On Jan. 8, 1964 when then President Lyndon B. Johnson announced his War on Poverty, the poverty rate for the elderly was approximately 35 percent. In the 50 years since, the poverty rate for the elderly has fallen to 10 percent, below that of any other age group and less than one-half of that for children.

McGarry’s research focuses on the well-being of the elderly with particular attention paid to public and private transfers, including the Medicare and SSI programs and the transfer of resources within families.

Her research combines work on the financial aspects of aging with issues related to health economics to examine insurance coverage among the elderly. She has studied the long term care, health and life insurance markets, as well as the role played by families in providing insurance for their least well-off members. McGarry’s current work analyzes the importance of end-of-life medical expenses, particularly expenses associated with nursing homes and home health care, and differences in spending by disability status.

McGarry has authored more than 30 academic publications in many of the leading economics peer-reviewed journals. The recipient of numerous distinguished teaching awards, she was the Joel Z. and Susan Hyatt 1972 Professor of Economics at Dartmouth College from 2007-09 and a senior economist at the White House Council of Economic Advisers from 2000-01.

In addition to her March 10 lecture, McGarry will be at CSULB from March 9-11 as a Visiting Scholar of Phi Beta Kappa. During that time, she will participate in undergraduate courses in the departments of economics, political science and family and consumer sciences, and gerontology. She will also take part in a political science colloquium on Wednesday, March 11, at noon. In addition, she will be have lunch with undergraduate students who are interested in graduate work at UCLA in general and in economics in particular.

The event is being hosted by the departments of economics, political science and family and consumer sciences, gerontology and the Rho Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

For additional information, contact Yamarik by e-mail or call 562/985-4634.

 

 

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CSULB Students Serving Community, Gaining Hands-on Experience with Free Tax Return Preparation Including for Veterans

See here for video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAXgW9Yzj9E&feature=youtu.be

Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) students are gaining hands-on experience and serving the community with free tax return preparation for low- and moderate-income individuals as well as students, the elderly (65 and older), non-residents, the disabled and individuals with limited English proficiency. The service is provided through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. For the first time this year the program will also assist veterans.

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The VITA site is located in the College of Business Administration  (CBA) computer lab, Room 237. IRS-certified tax preparers there can assist in preparing both a federal and state tax return – all for free. The program runs through Friday, March 27 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Fridays. Metered parking in Lot 15 adjacent to the CBA building is available for $2 per hour.

“Our VITA site is available to qualifying taxpayers with an income level of $53,000 or less,” explained Professor of Accountancy Sudha Krishnan. “IRS-certified volunteers provide free basic income tax return preparation with electronic filing for federal and state tax returns.”

Offering free e-filing for federal and state tax returns, VITA is a cooperative effort by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This year’s program has about 60 volunteers who have been trained and certified by the IRS to prepare and e-file basic income tax and foreign student tax returns. VITA program volunteers do not prepare business tax returns, and only assist for those individuals who made less than $53,000.  The VITA program is a four-unit accounting course.

“As volunteers, their duty is to simply help these individuals in preparing their tax returns and answering their questions,” Krishnan said. “Volunteers are asked to put in at least one to four hours a week in two shifts based on enrollment.”

Training is offered in four parts: Federal tax I and II, TaxWise software, foreign students and hands-on experience. The students learn how to prepare basic returns and talk to clients. The students take online exams the week before the program begins. This year VITA volunteers will file returns for veterans and learn to deal with the issues that veterans have which other clients do not.

Those interested in having their 2014 tax returns prepared through the CSULB VITA program should bring the following items: proof of identification such as Social Security cards, including a spouse’s and dependent’s (or a Social Security number verification letter issued by the Social Security Administration), birth dates, including a spouse’s and dependent’s, a current year’s tax package, wage and earnings statements (such as the W-2, W-2G, the 1099-R from all employers), government identification (such as a driver’s license) as well as interest and dividend statements from banks (1099 forms.)  When filing a joint tax return, both spouses must be present to sign the required forms.

Student feedback has been positive. “It has been working out great,” Krishnan said. “We filed 930 returns in 2014. Our aim is student success through jobs and this kind of experience is what does that. Student volunteers have gone on to jobs in the profession. It goes on their resume that they volunteered and coordinated VITA. This project is vibrant and going forward. We’ve been doing it for 20 years and it’s not going away.”

Walk-ins are welcome but an appointment can be made by contacting Vita.Csulb@gmail.com or http://www.csulbbap.org/vita.html.

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High School Students from the 47th Congressional District Discover the Importance of “Linking Learning to Life”

By Susan C. Mills

Nearly 200 female high school students from California’s 47th Congressional District gathered in California State University Long Beach’s (CSULB) University Student Union on Saturday, Feb. 21 to attend the 2015 Young Women’s Empowerment Conference. The event was presented by Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.) and featured CSULB President Jane Close Conoley, who delivered the keynote address on the day’s theme, “Linking Learning to Life.”

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Rep. Alan Lowenthal (l) and CSULB President Jane Close Conoley.

“I think this is a very significant conference. It is the sixth time we’ve done this in collaboration with Congressman Lowenthal,” said President Conoley. “Young women today need constant reminders that they have the brains, they have the motivation and they have the opportunities to do whatever they want to contribute to their world as it unfolds before them.”

The event featured workshops and panel discussions for young women, including sessions on preparing for college, exploring non-traditional careers, running for office and developing healthy relationships. There were also opportunities to speak with successful women who are role models in various professions.

Women presenting at the conference included: Long Beach Councilmembers Suzie Price and Lena Gonzalez, who discussed leadership and engaging in the community; Kimmy Maniquis, associate executive director, California Conference for Equality and Justice, who talked about exploring your identity; Leticia Mata, assistant vice president, Orange County Credit Union, who spoke on financial literacy; and Christine Whitcraft, CSULB Biological Sciences professor, who encouraged students to consider a “green” career.

“This is a great time for students who have never felt that they had a chance to really make the decisions and control their own destiny,” said Congressman Lowenthal. “I think you will see that out of this conference will come a number of young women who will now believe in their own capabilities and begin charting a course for their future.”

The day also included a slam poetry performance during lunch and booths set up by local non-profits and area colleges and universities so attendees could get more information about community engagement and college applications. There was also a “selfie” station on hand so young women could take photos and share them over social media and with their friends.

For more information, visit the 2015 Young Women’s Empowerment Conference Facebook page. You may also view videos at the CSULB News Hub.

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