By Jazzminn Morecraft
*Article Updated 11/24/2020
On, Thursday, Oct. 29, a Campus Global from President Erika D. Beck was sent out that surprised the CI community. This email announced that starting Jan. 11, 2021, President Beck would no longer be the president of CI. “It is with mixed emotions that I write this message. The CSU Board of Trustees nominated and recruited me to serve as the next President of California State University, Northridge and this morning I was appointed to that role starting January 2021.”
President Beck is the third president to serve CI, after the first president charged with overseeing the planning of the University, Handel Evans, and the founding president, Richard. R. Rush. She joined the CI community just before fall 2016, which will put her just over four years with CI.
While at her time at CI, President Beck has learned just how determined the dolphin community is. “The thing that I’ve learned the most, and this is especially true right now during COVID, is the unbelievable resilience and grit of our students,” stated President Beck. “It seems like no matter what kinds of challenges get thrown your way, you all just stick with it. I mean it is really inspiring.”
And challenges we have had. In the four years that President Beck has been at CI we have faced everything from multiple fires and evacuations to the incident at Borderline Bar and Grill. Even now, students continue to persevere despite the current pandemic we find ourselves in. “We have just had enormous challenges and every time, the students have gotten back up, dusted themselves off and stayed connected to the dolphin pod,” stated President Beck. “And that’s something I will never forget.”
However, students have will not only be leaving an impression with President Beck, but the University as a whole has thrived under her leadership. Reflecting on her time spent at CI, President Beck picks a few of the things she is most proud of. “I’m most proud of our increases in graduation rates.” President Beck went on to inform us that just this year the graduation rates for the freshman cohort have increased by 7%.
Additionally, “we have steadily climbed up to be one of the biggest facilitators of social mobility in the nation,” stated President Beck. According to 2020 Social Mobility Index Rankings by CollegeNET, CI is ranked 20 in the nation.
Lastly, President Beck mentioned how proud she was when our University received the Seal of Excelencia. According to the Excelencia in Education website, universities are awarded “for intentionally SERVING Latino students and for demonstrating positive student outcomes.” This is what CI has accomplished.
As President Beck prepares to depart from CI, she knows that our University will continue to thrive. “I know that the work will continue because it exists far beyond me. It is the large group of leaders at every level of the institution that is committed to being the University of the future and to really re-imagining the ways in which we support our students.”
“It has been such an honor,” remarked President Beck. “I’m so very proud and am forever a fan of Cal State Channel Islands … and I know (the students) will go on to do extraordinary things”
To President Beck’s future students at CSUN, she says, “I’m a very present leader and I’m a very engaged leader. I spend a lot of time with students and I’m not at all worried that once we have time to spend together, you will know that I am a leader rooted in values and principles that are shared.”
And, to Dr. Richard Yao, who will be taking over as Interim President when President Beck departs, she said, “enjoy the ride, it’s really worthwhile.”