If CSULB was a person, what would you say to them to celebrate their birthday?
Conoley: I’d say: You’re doing great at 70. You’re doing better than ever actually on so many dimensions. Most applications ever, most graduations ever, biggest combined new class. You know, we’ve been breaking records in philanthropy [and] in research dollars. We just got a renewal of an almost $20 million grant. [These are] great times. So 70 is the new 25, I suppose or something, in organizational life. Yeah, I’m really proud of all that the faculty and staff and the students have accomplished.
What do you hope to see in CSULB’s next 70 years?
Conoley: You know a number of things, I’d like us to of course solve our parking problem, but I don’t think that will take 70 years, but I’d like that. So in the next 70 years I think I want to have a university that is even better at engaging all the students. These students come from very different backgrounds; They bring different gifts and they bring different needs. I hope that we’ll have the financial resilience to really meet those needs and build on those strengths.
I also want us to really never take for granted that we have a caring and compassionate community and that we really work to meet the needs of people. But [I] also [want to] give everybody a place at the table and make sure that they know their voice is valued. We have the advantage of great diversity of every kind, but that’s not enough. It’s not enough just to have different people in the room; the people in the room have to feel that that they have some influence on what’s going on.
I also want us to be a model in 70 years from now, assuming the world is still here, that people will say, “Long Beach State was ahead of its time in its sustainability and climate mitigation efforts.” So I have a lot of hopes and dreams for what I want us to be, but the basis of it [is] I want us to be 70 years from now is a place where students really are proud to come.