His career in education includes serving as an adjunct faculty member teaching in and coordinating the Environmental Technology Certificate Program at Golden West College, manager of risk services at the Coast Community College District, vice president of college services at Oxnard College, and assistant superintendent/executive vice president of administrative services at the Long Beach Community College District.
Oakley in 2007 was appointed superintendent-president of the Long Beach Community College District, one of the most diverse community colleges in the nation, and he became increasingly well-known for providing statewide and national leadership on improving educational outcomes of historically underrepresented students. Partnering with the Long Beach Unified School District and Cal State Long Beach, Oakley helped form the nationally recognized Long Beach College Promise, a program creating clear, structured pathways for students to move from high school to Long Beach Community College and onto Cal State Long Beach. The James Irvine Foundation recognized him with its Leadership Award in 2014, the same year former Gov. Edmund G. “Jerry” Brown Jr. appointed Oakley to the University of California Board of Regents. In 2015, President Obama launched the America’s College Promise initiative that was modeled in part on the Long Beach Promise.
Oakley has served as chancellor for the California Community Colleges since December 2016. He is an ardent advocate of the Vision for Success, a clear-eyed, honest look at where the California Community Colleges is succeeding and where it is falling short. This document, the North Star of the California Community Colleges, establishes a vision for improvement with clear goals and a set of commitments needed to ensure student outcomes significantly improve.
Oakley’s trailblazing efforts at putting students first have been acknowledged through his appointments to the California Forward Leadership Council, the California Economic Summit, the Fair Shake Commission, the California Community College Commission on the Future and the American Association of Community Colleges 21st Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges.
When he was growing up in South Central Los Angeles during a time of rising crime and dwindling job opportunities, Oakley recalls that the expectations of going to college for children from a Mexican-American family like his were somewhere between slim and none. Oakley found his opportunity at Golden West College in Huntington Beach, setting him on a path to where he is today. And he is devoted to preserving this path for others.