FAIRFAX, VA.— Diverse: Issues In Higher Education is pleased to announce that Dr. Eloy Ortiz Oakley will be the recipient of the 2021 Diverse Champions Award.
Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley embodies the impact that California Community Colleges are having in transforming lives. He grew up in the Florence-Firestone area of South Los Angeles in the mid-1970s and early 1980s, the son of an American-born father who was schooled in Mexico and a mother who was a Mexican immigrant. After serving four years in the Army, he enrolled at Golden West College and transferred to the University of California, Irvine, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in environmental analysis and design and a master’s degree in business administration.
During his expansive career in higher education, he has served in nearly every role from adjunct faculty member to chancellor. In 2007 he was appointed superintendent-president of the Long Beach Community College District, one of the most diverse community college districts in the nation, and he became increasingly well-known for providing statewide and national leadership on improving educational outcomes of historically underrepresented students. In 2015, President Obama launched the America’s College Promise initiative that was modeled in part on the Long Beach Promise.
Since 2016 he has served as chancellor for the California Community Colleges where he has established a vision for improvement with clear goals and a set of commitments needed to ensure that California student outcomes significantly improve.
Growing up in South Central Los Angeles during a time of rising crime and dwindling job opportunities, Oakley recalls that the expectations of going to college for children from a Mexican-American family like his were somewhere between slim and none. Higher education set him on a path to where he is today. And he has tirelessly dedicated his entire career to preserving this path for others.
The April 1, 2021 edition of Diverse will include a tribute to Oakley. And the Diverse Champions Award will be presented during the annual meeting of the American Association of Community Colleges.
About this Award:
The Diverse Champions Award recognizes community college leaders who have shown an unwavering commitment to equal opportunity and access for all, particularly at the community college level.
The first awardee, in 2012, was Dr. John E. Roueche, director of the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas at Austin. Other recipients have been:
2013 Dr. Walter Bumphus, executive director, American Association of Community Colleges
2014 Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton, president, Cuyahoga Community College
2015 Dr. Eduardo Padrón, president, Miami Dade Community College
2016 Dr. Terry O’Banion, former CEO & president, League for Innovation
2017 Dr. Kay McClenney, former executive director, CCCSE
2018 Dr. Suanne Roueche, former executive director, NISOD
2018 Dr. Christine McPhail, founding director, CCLP at Morgan State University
2019 Dr. Ken Atwater, president, Hillsborough Community College
2020 Dr. Curtis Ivery, chancellor, Wayne County Community College District
For more than three decades, Diverse: Issues In Higher Education has been America’s premier source of timely news, provocative commentary, insightful interviews and in-depth special reports on diversity in higher education. Savvy individuals who appreciate the crucial and ever-changing role that higher education plays in the lives of students, professionals, their families and their communities make reading Diverse a regular habit.