At the open-air reception, Eanes moved with a sense of ease and familiarity through the large gathering, shaking hands, taking photographs and speaking with faculty, staff, students and administrators.
On stage, Interim President Leroy M. Morishita introduced Eanes as the next president of Cal State LA and playfully welcomed her back to California’s warm weather and sunshine. Eanes currently is the president of York College in the City University of New York (CUNY) system.
“What I tell people is that the CSU and CUNY have one thing in common—we are dedicated to access,” Eanes said from the podium as the crowd listened. “I know who we serve. I know the kind of students we serve. I know that education transforms lives.”
Prior to serving as president of York College, Eanes spent seven years at Cal State Fullerton where she was vice president for Student Affairs.
“I am a student-centered leader,” she said, dressed in gold and black, the colors of Cal State LA. “I’m an outcome-driven leader and somebody dedicated to student success and campus health. So if we’re not healthy, we’ll get healthy together. That means mentally, academically, physically, fiscally and in all ways.”
The reception was held on the second day of Eanes’ two-day visit. The visit is part of Eanes’ listening tour and included meetings with groups of faculty, students, staff and administrators, visits to campus centers and offices, and a fireside chat with students.
“The Cal State LA community was excited to offer a warm welcome to Incoming President Eanes to campus,” Morishita said. “She was comfortable and at home as she met staff, faculty and students. I am convinced with her leadership and dedication, she will take Cal State LA to even greater heights.”
To get to know the Golden Eagle community, Eanes plans to continue to listen and learn.
“I’m here to learn from you and I will listen and serve and lead the best I can. I’m going to be asking you all three questions over the course of my listening tour,” Eanes said during the reception, as groups stood or sat at tables nearby listening.
“Number one, everybody says Cal State LA is a hidden gem and my question is going to be why are we hidden? And how are we going to help each other be less hidden? Number two, how are we going to support each other coming out of COVID? Because it’s real and everybody has work to do coming out of COVID. And number three, and this is totally superficial, where are the best restaurants and where are we going to dance?”
The last question drew applause and smiles from the gathering.
“Just decide which question you want to answer whenever you see me and we will file it away in our memory bank,” said Eanes, who is an acclaimed and widely published scholar.
At its September meeting, the CSU Board of Trustees appointed Eanes president of Cal State LA. She will be the university’s ninth president and the first woman president. Morishita’s interim presidency is scheduled to end in January 2024, while Eanes is scheduled to begin on January 8, 2024. The visit is part of her preparation to lead the university.
“I appreciate every handshake and every wonderful, wonderful greeting,” she said. “And I hope I get to know each and every one of you as well as I can.”
Photo: Incoming President Berenecea Johnson Eanes speaks with Cal State LA students during her first visit to campus. (Credit: J. Emilio Flores/Cal State LA)
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California State University, Los Angeles is the premier comprehensive public university in the heart of Los Angeles. Cal State LA is ranked number one in the United States for the upward mobility of its students. Cal State LA is dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good, offering nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education, and the humanities. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 26,000 students and has more than 250,000 distinguished alumni.