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Oakley resigns as California Community College state chancellor to head foundation

California Community College Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley is resigning effective Aug. 1 to become CEO of the College Futures Foundation, he announced Thursday in a statement.

“Serving as chancellor of the community college system that gave me the opportunity to succeed in higher education has been the most rewarding experience of my life,” Oakley said in the statement. His resignation ends a tenure of nearly six years.

“At College Futures, we believe that securing the college success of students facing the most formidable barriers will help all of us thrive—our communities, economy, and state,” Donna Lucas, chair of the foundation’s board, said in a statement. “Our staff and board are dedicated to ensuring that more students who reflect California’s diversity can complete their postsecondary journeys and access the opportunity for a better life.

Eloy Oakley lives this mission every day,” she said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom praised Oakley, calling him in a statement “an incredible leader and champion for higher education, setting California’s community colleges on a course for transformational change.”

There was no immediate word on a successor. Deputy Chancellor Daisy Gonzales filled in for Oakley when he took a sabbatical last year to spend five months as a senior adviser to U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.

The College Futures Foundation advocates for programs and policies to especially help California students of color and low-income students to complete college. Its goal is that these graduates will reflect the state’s diversity.

In his new job, Oakley “will help state higher education leaders work to achieve bold new goals outlined in Gov. (Gavin) Newsom’s comprehensive multi-year framework that seeks to close equity gaps, reduce cost of attendance, improve transfer and time-to-degree for students,” the foundation said in a statement.

Oakley’s also a University of California regent. His  10-year UC term expires in 2024. He has not resigned from that post, Paul Feist, his spokesman as chancellor, said Thursday.

Then the president of Long Beach City College, Oakley became chancellor of the nation’s single largest higher-education system,  with 114 local colleges, in December 2016.

Oakley grew up in South Los Angeles. After serving in the Army as a member of the 82nd Airborne Division, he enrolled at Golden West Community College in Huntington Beach. He eventually transferred to UC Irvine, where he received a bachelor’s degree in environmental analysis and design and a master’s degree in business administration.