CSULB president attends White House meeting with Obama

President F. King Alexander, along with a select few other college presidents, met with President Barack Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Monday as part of a roundtable discussion on making college more affordable.

Alexander said he and nine other campus presidents met with Obama and discussed how to cost-effectively produce more college graduates in order to “fuel the economy.”

Alexander believes he was invited to the policy meeting because of his university’s standing in higher education.

“Since we have among the lowest student loan debt in the nation and remain among the most affordable universities in the nation, [the Obama Administration] wanted to talk about how we have done this,” Alexander said via email.

The Cal State Long Beach president is no stranger to Washington, D.C., but the meeting, which is being called “unusual” by some, came after a Friday invitation from the White House.

That’s short notice for a meeting with the president of the United States.

“I left our great Winterfest Concert on Sunday evening,” Alexander said. “We met at the West Wing of the White House at 10:30 a.m.”

Alexander took a red-eye flight Sunday night and arrived in Washington, D.C., early Monday morning, according to CSULB officials.

The CSULB president has led lobbying efforts in the past, including a push for the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), a 2010 federal law that allowed students to apply for loans through the government’s Direct Lending Program.

“Now we can go to Washington and advocate for changes in student aid that help our students without having to worry about where the banking lobby sits and how they’re going to benefit,” Alexander said at the time. “This was a major victory for students. [The CSU] is very much engaged in these battles.”

Last year, Alexander won the California State Student Association’s President of the Year award for a president “who has assisted the CSSA in advancing its statewide policy agenda.”

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