News @ the Beach

Cal State Long Beach Dream Success Center Opens, Will Provide Support for AB540, Undocumented Students

With the recent opening of the Dream Success Center at Cal State Long Beach (CSULB), undocumented and AB540 students now have a place to call their own. The center, located in newly dedicated Room 309 of the University Student Union (USU), will provide support and services that help meet some of their unique needs.

Ribbon Cutting

Participating in the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Dream Success Center were (l-r) center director Rafael Topete, President Jane Close Conoley, and students Elizabeth Zambrano and Joseph Phillips.

The grand opening and ribbon-cutting event which took place on the terrace of the USU, was attended by approximately 200 individuals, including representatives from Rep. Alan Lowenthal’s (D-47th District) and Sen. Ricardo Lara’s (D-33rd District) offices, who presented officials with certificates of recognition in honor of the day.

“These students face unique challenges both in and out of higher education, and it is crucial for us to provide institutional support in their educational endeavors,” said CSULB’s Dream Success Center Coordinator Edgar Romo, who was hired last fall. “A center serves as not only a physical space dedicated to their needs as students, but as a commitment from the university to prioritize student success.”

The CSULB center is the fourth such one to open within the California State University (CSU) system’s 23 campuses to go along with those at Cal State Northridge, Cal State Fullerton and Cal State L.A.

“We have to be always watchful of insuring that every group in our university get the support they need to be successful,” said CSULB President Jane Close Conoley while speaking at the event. “The task, of course, is ahead of us. We’ve opened the center and now it’s for us to make it real, to make it a strong support for each student who takes advantage of having a place of their own and where they can connect with one another.”

It is estimated that there are some 650 AB540 and/or undocumented students at CSULB. The Dream Success Center will offer them referrals to financial assistance, information on programs and services designed to improve retention and graduation rates and a place where students can connect with one another. The center also will provide computers, career development and other academic services.

Last March, CSULB’s Associated Students, Inc. passed a resolution in support of creating a resource center for undocumented students. In April 2014, undocumented student leaders met with then Interim CSULB President Donald Para and recently appointed President Conoley to discuss steps to be taken to address undocumented student concerns.

In November, CSULB officials hired Romo as the Dream student success coordinator and later that month, the University Student Union Board of Trustees voted in favor of dedicating a room in the student union to serve as the Dream Success Center, which led to today’s event.

“As a student it’s so hard to navigate through the myriad of resources that are available on campus,” said Jorge Sandoval Ocampo, an undocumented student, who transferred to CSULB from Santa Ana College. “When I saw the Dream Success Center I thought to myself, ‘Every time I go into that center I’m going to be one step closer to success.’ What is being done right now is working, it’s helping me succeed and this center is another step in the right direction.”

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Keck Grant Focuses on STEM Education

Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) will lead a two-year project to ease the transition of future teachers into the classroom thanks to a $200,000 grant awarded to the California State University (CSU) system by the W.M. Keck Foundation.  The project, “Developing Engaging and Effective Practice: Advancing STEM Education via University-Community Collaborations” will strengthen STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) teaching and learning by fostering partnerships between local after-school programs and informal science education institutions.

Keck logo final 2006

“There is still a need for good, passionate science teachers, but we need to give them more authentic and more positive experiences before they walk into a classroom for the first time,” said CSULB science education associate professor James Kisiel, who serves as the lead for the grant.

Along with the CSU Chancellor’s Office, CSULB will be collaborating with Cal State L.A. (CSULA) and working with four community partners—the Boys and Girls Club of Long Beach, the Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD) Beyond the Bell after-school program, the California Science Center in Los Angeles and the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach.

“We want to help new teachers, both elementary and secondary level, to feel more confident when they get to the classroom,” said Kisiel. “This is an extraordinary supplemental experience that we hope not only makes them feel more confident as a future teacher, but also helps them to become more confident and comfortable teaching science.”

Three collaborative models will be implemented and studied to determine benefits that come from providing future teachers with out-of-classroom science experiences used to develop their hands-on science teaching expertise. The evaluation will also examine challenges to such cross-institutional partnerships and how to overcome them.

The first model, an early field experience, will be in partnership with the Beyond the Bell program and aligned with a science course for STEM undergraduates. The experience will not only help undergraduate students learn the science well-enough to share the ideas with local youth, but will also expose them to teaching as a viable STEM career.

The second model, a teaching practicum experience, will be conducted with the Boys and Girls Club and will involve elementary and secondary teacher candidates. It will be incorporated into the pedagogical methods course that is a central part of teacher preparation.

The California Science Center and the Aquarium of the Pacific will help develop the third model, a paid informal science internship for new teachers before they get into a classroom. In this model, recently credentialed teachers will be provided 15-week internships as they work with youth and families while gaining experience in active learner engagement in science.

The CSU hopes to implement all three models on an expanded basis throughout its 23 campuses, which prepare the majority of California’s new teachers.

Co-leaders of the project are science education professor/chair Lisa Martin-Hansen and educational technology professor Stephen Adams, both from CSULB; and Paul Narguizian, a biology education professor at CSULA.

Overall, Kisiel estimates that as many as 150 future teachers and thousands of young students involved in after-school programs and visits to the local science center or aquarium will interact with this program.

The gift is part of the $225 million Campaign for California State University, Long Beach is the first comprehensive fundraising campaign in the history of the university and one of the largest in the California State University system. It also represents a cultural shift that encourages all community members to pro-actively participate in achieving the university’s mission: to provide highly-valued educational opportunities through superior teaching, research, creative activity and service.

Based in Los Angeles, the W. M. Keck Foundation was established in 1954 by the late W. M. Keck, founder of the Superior Oil Company.  The Foundation’s grant making is focused primarily on pioneering efforts in the areas of medical, science and engineering research.  The Foundation also maintains an undergraduate education program that promotes distinctive learning and research experiences for students in the sciences and in the liberal arts, and a Southern California Grant Program that provides support for the Los Angeles community in the areas of health care, civic and community services, education and the arts, with a special emphasis on children and youth from low-income families.  For more information, visit www.

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President Conoley Goes to Washington

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.


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 the program.

Throughout the day, President Conoley and a contingent from CSULB including student leaders, met with federal legislators Janice Hahn (D-44th District), Alan Lowenthal (D-47th District) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-48th District).

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.

McGarry, Kathleen Photo

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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