There’s a first for everything.
Long Beach City College’s first athletic achievement was its state title win in 1928. Just a year earlier, its student newspaper and yearbook were established in 1927– they are still in existence today.
New to the list of firsts is Reagan Romali, LBCC’s superintendent, when she delivered her inaugural State of the College address last week in a room filled with over 500 attendees.
While key civic leaders, such as members of the Signal Hill and Long Beach city councils, fixed their gaze upon her as she stood behind the podium, Romali highlighted the school’s achievements for 2017 and showcased what additional programs and campus buildings are slated to be adopted and installed in the years to come.
A key point she emphasized during the address was the mindset that education can bring communities together, and the school’s focus to lower the cost of tuition and textbooks.
College officials are looking into free online resources to reduce the number of textbooks students need to buy in order to complete their courses. Romali also said the school receives income from donors citywide. The money is then used to cover costs for students.
The Long Beach Rotary Club is one of the largest scholarship donors to the LBCC Foundation, according to a post-event press advisory. During the event Friday, members of the club presented an oversized check worth $102,670 to the foundation for student scholarships.
Romali said that educators need to provide affordable and quality education in order to better the community.
She said the school hopes to provide low-cost education for students in the upcoming year, however, an exact date wasn’t given.
“The work we do has profound economic and societal impact. It reduces crime. It lowers poverty. It provides homes and economic prosperity. It brings families together. It provides social mobility into, and beyond, the middle class,” Romali said. “Never has there been a time in history where our job has been more relevant and necessary.”
The LBCC superintendent said the world is in need of better trained workers. The economy is competitive, and employers are looking for the best equipped employees for the job.
Romali said employers need students like Eugene Sylve, whose educational journey was highlighted during the event. He attended the college in the 1960s and made a name for himself as a Viking football linebacker. He has faced challenges in life, including time spent in prison and many health issues related to diabetes. But he’s returned to LBCC at age 74 to continue his education in hopes of earning a degree in human services.
Romali said the school awarded 1,676 Associate Arts degrees, 792 Associate degrees for transfer and 366 Certificates of Achievement to students in 2017. She said now is the best moment to become a LBCC Viking.
Romali also said she was proud to announce that labor negotiations between LBCC officials and faculty had finally come to an equitable resolution. There were two labor agreements that were resolved in a “peaceful process,” according to Romali, however, there were no further details on what the negotiations were about.
“When I came in, I noticed that they were still negotiating. President Jeff Kellogg, the board and I stepped in and said, ‘May we be of assistance?’” Romali told the Signal Tribune. “In the end, if we win and the unions win, then students win. So, we were able to come to a middle ground on a variety of the topics, come up with labor agreements that were friendly to both sides and respected students first and foremost, and we made it happen.”
Aside from rebuilt staff-management labor negotiations, construction projects completed in 2017 included a newly renovated, state-of-the-art RR Building and a new QQ Building at the Pacific Coast Campus. These two buildings house the electrical program and Senior Studies Center.
The Los Angeles Regional Small Business Development Center Network, headquartered at LBCC, provided free or low-cost business consulting, coaching and training to nearly 4,100 small business owners last year.
These efforts led to the creation of nearly 325 new businesses, about 1,400 new jobs and $142 million in capital infusion to those businesses– the highest amount to date, according to a post-event press release.
Tess Rose, a classical voice major at LBCC, sang the National Anthem at the beginning of the event. She told the Signal Tribune that she is really excited about what the school has to offer to its students.
“I feel like they are doing all that they can,” she said. “It’s difficult, in general, to deal with everyone’s individual issues, and they are trying to address everything that they can.”
Romali said that when she first arrived at the college, she tried to listen to everything students and staff needed.
“Now, I’m stepping on the gas,” she said.
In 2018, the school is attempting to boost its enrollment numbers. By the spring of 2017, 24,094 students were enrolled on campus. LBCC officials also plan to move registration dates for classes earlier in order to compete with other local community colleges.
Throughout her speech, Romali pushed the notion that education is the key to solving several national problems. She said that the United States is currently divided. Republicans and Democrats are split on a number of social, economic and political issues, according to the superintendent.
Her solution to unify the nation– education.
She asked the audience to take to social media, using the hashtag #LBCCSOC, to provide useful ideas on how to improve education at LBCC, despite what political party attendees associate themselves with.
“By seeing different perspectives and reactions to those impacts, we can provide a learning opportunity for our students,” Romali said. “I believe it is critical that students understand how good policies can cut through politics for the benefit of everyone. Our country is divided on so many issues, but education brings people together.”