Campus: CSU Long Beach -- June 17, 2005

Cal State Long Beach Unveils NCLR/CSULB Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation and Leadership Training

A newly established Latino center at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), designed to develop programs to better serve the health care needs of Latino communities, officially opened its doors on Monday, June 6, unveiling its new offices in the CSULB Foundation Building before a group of political, health and campus officials.

The Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation and Leadership Training is a collaborative effort between CSULB and the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and was established with a $500,000 appropriation from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus with strong support from the Congressional Hispanic Task Force on Health.

The NCLR/CSULB center will work to develop health programs for underserved Latino communities, provide technical assistance to community-based organizations, and offer training for health professionals with a special emphasis on increasing the number of Latinos in health care leadership positions.

“We’re very excited about the potential for this center to make tangible improvements in the quality of Latino health status, access, promotion and leadership,” said Janet Murguia, president and CEO of NCLR, the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. “The creation of a health management workforce that reflects the population is imperative. The leaders in our health care system must reflect our community and understand our community. It is not just enough that we can be bilingual anymore. We have to understand the people that we serve. Latino health professionals need to be prepared to exert leadership and make decisions on behalf of the communities they reflect and serve.”

The center is co-directed by Britt Rios-Ellis, CSULB associate professor of health science, and Carlos A. Ugarte, deputy vice president for health at NCLR. In addition, Lorena Rodriguez Chandler, a graduate of the Health Care Administration Program and Latino Health Care Professional scholar at CSULB, serves as assistant director. She went on to receive her master’s of public health at UCLA.

“The need for this Latino center developed from a long-standing relationship between faculty at Cal State Long Beach and the leadership of the Institute for Hispanic Health at the National Council of La Raza,” Rios-Ellis pointed out. “These organizations have worked to develop innovative educational programs and training that positively impact the health status and issues facing Latinos nationwide.

“We truly are a community-based university, and that’s why there is no better place for the center,” added Rios-Ellis, who noted that the Latino student population at CSULB has grown from 14 percent to 28 percent since coming to the campus in 1994. “There is no other issue that hits people at their most vulnerable than health. We are very committed to making a difference and I promise…that we will carry this on and we will serve the needs of diverse Latino communities here in Southern California and throughout the nation.”

Ron Vogel, dean for the CSULB College of Health and Human Services (where the center resides academically), expressed his appreciation to NCLR for its support and, in particular, its choice of CSULB as the center’s academic home.

“It is really an honor and personally, I’m humbled,” Vogel said. “I know very, very clearly that this program, this kind of merger, could have gone anywhere else in the United States, but it came here. We’re very much aware of that, and we’re going to take very, very good care of the center.”

The center houses a number of current projects that focus on improving the health of the Latino community on the local, regional and national levels. Among those projects are the NCLR Latino Families HIV/AIDS Prevention Project and the Pfizer/NCLR “Promotoras de Salud” Sana la Rana Project, which serves to educate Latinos regarding the effects of cholesterol on heart health as well as facilitate cholesterol testing and the dietary changes needed to affect positive cardiovascular health outcomes.

Another ongoing program the center oversees is the Latino Healthcare Professionals Project (LHPP), established in 1996 to address the lack of Latino leadership in the health care industry. Funded collectively by a number of foundations and health care organizations, the scholarship/mentorship program trains first-generation educated, Spanish-speaking, bilingual/bicultural Latino students with a strong community service background in Latino health and administration issues.

“With the help of the Hispanic Caucus, we were able to put this on a priority, fast-tracked basis, and we were able to get the funding,” said U.S. Rep. Hilda Solis (D-32nd District), chair of the Congressional Hispanic Task Force on Health. “I know that once other individuals in our caucuses hear about what is happening here, they are going to want to be a part of it, whether is it the Black Caucus, the Asian Caucus or whether it is the other emerging populations across the country that have diversity. They are going to want to know the ideas that are going to be springing out of this institution. So, I’m glad to be associated with you and this project.”

U.S. Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-38th District), chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, was also on hand for the unveiling. She thanked CSULB President Robert C. Maxson and the rest of the campus community for taking on the center and the continuous efforts that go with it. She, too, thought CSULB was an ideal choice to house the center.

“We have an association with Cal State Long Beach that goes way back. So, we know where we can go to get results,” Napolitano said. “It is important for all of us to understand how we can work together (to get things done). My congratulations to NCLR and Cal State Long Beach for beginning to show others how it can be done.”

CSULB is the largest campus in the 23-campus CSU system, and it is the second largest campus in the state of California. Of the 33,478 students enrolled at the campus in Fall 2004, more than 8,000 were Mexican-American, Chicano or other Latino origin.

Recently, CSULB was recognized in two separate issues of Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education. The campus was ranked 10th in the nation in awarding bachelor’s degrees to Hispanics, and it was ranked among the publication’s “Top 25 Graduate Schools for Hispanics,” where the campus ranked 11th nationally in enrolling Hispanics in graduate programs.

“This is a great day in the life of the university. It is just another level of maturity for this young campus,” Maxson said. “This is a program that is designed to help the people who need help and who often can’t help themselves. This will be a model project for the rest of the nation, and I guarantee that you will get your money’s worth from this project. This will be a project you will be proud to lend your name to.”

Media Contacts:
Rick Gloady, 562/985-5454, rgloady@csulb.edu
Shayne Schroeder, 562/985-1727, schroede@csulb.edu


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