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Jan 30, 2014 05:33 AM EST

CSULB Gets First Woman President

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Jane Close Conoley becomes the first woman to lead California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) in the school's 65-year history.

Conoley, the current dean of the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education at University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), will replace F. King Alexander.

Alexander stepped down from the top administrative job to serve as president of the Louisiana State University system and chancellor of Louisiana State University A&M. Conoley is expected o take up the new job in July

Conoley from New York City praised CSULB for its quality, diversity, academic offerings and athletic heritage.

"This is such a great opportunity for me," Conoley said. "I'll learn a lot from the success of the school. I just do my best. I'm not sure how the gender might play into it," LA Times reports.

As the seventh president in CSULB history, Conoley hopes to build on the success established by her predecessors, to increase graduation rates and admit more students from low-income backgrounds.

"This is an exciting time in the life of this university, and we look forward to working with President Conoley to move the university forward," Dan O'Connor, chair of CSULB's Academic Senate, said in a statement. "President Conoley brings an outstanding record of accomplishments and a vision for the future of this university, and we are looking forward to building that future together."

Conoley served as the dean at UCSB and as a professor of counseling, clinical and school psychology since 2006. She also held the position of acting chancellor of UC Riverside for about seven months, working with lawmakers in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., to fund its new School of Medicine

Prior to UCSB, she was the dean and professor of educational psychology at Texas A&M University from 1996 to 2005; associate dean for research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Teachers College from 1989 to 1994 and served in various faculty positions at Texas Woman's University and Syracuse University.

Conoley holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from the College of New Rochelle and a doctorate in school psychology from the University of Texas at Austin.

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