Eloy Ortiz Oakley is an American educator and a leading voice on improving equity in higher education. He is the first person in his family to attend and complete college. Growing up in the Mexican American neighborhoods of South East Los Angeles, Oakley’s experiences would shape his belief that quality education opportunities are a critical ingredient in achieving social and economic mobility. After high school he became a member of the armed services serving in the U.S. Army 82nd Airborne Division and as a member of the U.S. Army Chemical Corps while stationed on Johnston Island. Oakley is a product of the California community colleges and the University of California.
Oakley was appointed Chancellor of the California Community Colleges in December, 2016. He leads the nation’s largest and most diverse system of higher education consisting of 116 colleges which serve more than 2.1-million students. Under his leadership the California community colleges are positioned as a vital source for maintaining global competitiveness of the California workforce. Through the implementation of innovative practices and policies the California Community Colleges have begun to close education attainment gaps and have prepared more Californians for the 21st Century economy. Oakley’s work includes the establishment of the California College Promise, the design and implementation of the systems’ strategic vision, the Vision for Success, the elimination of standardized testing, the reform of remedial education, the adoption of a student-centered funding formula and the launch of California’s first public fully online competency-based education college.
In 2014, Governor Jerry Brown appointed Oakley to the University of California Board of Regents. In this role he serves as a fiduciary for the nation’s top public research university and a champion for opening up greater access to more underrepresented and low-income students. He also takes a leadership role in dismantling policies and practices that perpetuate inequality in higher education and create barriers for students.
Before becoming chancellor, Oakley served as the Superintendent & President of the Long Beach Community College District. While in Long Beach he co-founded the nationally recognized Long Beach College Promise. He worked closely with the Obama Administration to promote and support the College Promise movement across the nation. He also led early efforts to replace standardized placement exams with a multiple measures placement model that led to a measurable increase in the number of Black and Latinx students placed directly into transfer level math and English. Under his leadership Long Beach City College partnered with the GoldmanSachs Foundation to launch the second in the nation 10,000 Small Businesses Program which provided education and support to thousands of small businesses in the Greater Los Angeles area. Oakley also led two successful local bond campaigns which added more than $1-billion of constructions funds to Long Beach City College.
For his leadership, Oakley has been recognized with the 2014 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award, as a 2016 President Barack Obama White House Champion of Change, and with the 2018 Roybal Foundation Medal of Courage in Education Award. He currently serves on the boards of the American Council on Education, the UC Board of Regents, the College Futures Foundation, and the CalChamber. He is also a member of Governor Gavin Newsom’s Council for Post-Secondary Education, the Markle Foundation Rework America Taskforce, the Bill & Melinda Gates Post-Secondary Value Commission and the Public Policy Institute of California Higher Education Institute.
Oakley is a proud father of four, grandfather to two boys and lives in Orange County with his fiancée’ Terri.