California State University, Long Beach
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Campus Team Touts Student Success In Sacramento

Published: February 1, 2016

Led by President Jane Close Conoley, a CSULB team comprised of faculty and staff visited Sacramento on Jan. 19 as part of the California State University’s systemwide advocacy day. While at the state capitol, the CSULB team met with legislators and members of the governor’s staff to share information about the gains that the university has seen in graduation and retention rates.

California faces a dire shortfall in the number of college-educated workers needed to maintain and drive the state’s economy. According to U.S. Census data, of the Long Beach population over the age of 25, nearly 80 percent have a high school degree, yet only 28.5 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Twenty percent of the population is living below the poverty level. The numbers are similar in Orange County where 83.5 percent have a high school degree, only 36.8 percent have a bachelor’s or higher and 12.4 percent of the population is living below the poverty level. By graduating even more students with high quality degrees, CSULB can help address this looming challenge.

The high-quality bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees offered at CSULB provide individuals with additional opportunities for social mobility—they are able to obtain and succeed in jobs that benefit the community, becoming the engineers, doctors, nurses and teachers that serve the greater Long Beach and Orange County region.

Through its Highly Valued Degree Initiative, the university’s six-year graduation rates reached an all-time high of 66.7 percent in 2014-15, well above the national average of 48 percent for large master’s institutions. The university has also managed to reduce the achievement gap—the difference in graduation rates between typically underrepresented students and the rest of the university. Sixty-three percent of underrepresented students graduate within six years. Retention rates are also increasing and based on early data, the trends look to continue.

CSULB was able to accomplish these significant improvements by implementing a host of strategies including:

The use of data—Benchmarks were created and progress was tracked allowing for interventions when needed and the scaling of successful projects.

Budgeting—The university fully funds the schedule of classes first in the budget every year.

Innovation—Support of innovations by both faculty and staff that bolster student achievement. Innovations such as course redesign enhance the learning experience for students resulting in better outcomes.

Advising—Use of predictive analytics among other tools to make face-to-face advising sessions more productive.

Tenure-track hiring—With additional reinvestment by the state, 58 new tenure-track faculty joined the university in 2014 and another 59 joined in 2015.

Partnerships—The Long Beach College Promise ensures a pathway for elementary school students to a bachelor’s degree and on to the workforce.

Under the direction of Conoley, CSULB is also vigorously implementing strategies to improve four-year graduation rates. Among the strategies that could bolster four-year rates include expanding capacity through Monday-Saturday class scheduling, advocating funding for year-round instruction, and advocating for the support of a summer Pell program to allow more students access to those courses.

The CSULB team met with California Department of Finance Director Michael Cohen and policymakers including Sen. Janet Nguyen (R–Garden Grove), Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D–Long Beach), Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D–Sacramento), Assembly Speaker-Elect Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood), Sen. Tony Mendoza (D-Artesia) and staff representing Assemblymember Travis Allen (R–Huntington Beach).