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Super Sunday Blog

Yielding Real Results
President Mohammad H. Qayoumi of Cal State East Bay
CSU Trustee Margaret Fortune.

What exciting and inspiring times we live in. Today, an African American is president of the United States. Young men and women in our communities can look to the highest office in the nation – some may say the most powerful position in the world – and see a role-model.

I have long held high expectations for what our nation could achieve. Every child has the ability to succeed and should be afforded the opportunity to do so.

President Obama has shown the heights that can be reached; it is for us to realize those heights. I can tell you that the California State University (CSU), as the largest university system in the country, is committed to delivering on the promise of higher education.

Four years ago, the leaders of CSU saw an opportunity to welcome African American students in a new way. The chancellor and campus presidents listened to religious, business and civic leaders when they told us to speak directly to African Americans about college opportunity at the CSU.

As a result, CSU created Super Sunday, a program that brings CSU executives to the church pulpit with a message of early preparation for college. African American churches have long promoted the virtues of learning and inspired a passion to succeed; it was only natural that the CSU would go to these congregations.

In 2009, the Super Sunday message will reach thousands of students and families in 68 churches stretching across California. This year, for the first time, churches in southern California’s Inland Empire will host a CSU president bringing the Super Sunday message.

CSU efforts have yielded real results. Between 2004 and 2007, undergraduate enrollment by African American students increased nearly 20 percent from 18,429 to 22,079, an addition of 3,650 more African American students to our campuses. This increase has led to campus communities that better reflect the diversity of California.

Inclusion and diversity in higher education are increasingly understood to be vital to the long-term survival of our economy. For some, there was a time when a high school diploma was sufficient for high-demand professions. That time has passed.

The economy of today and of the future demands a college degree. It demands that a workforce be educated in science, technology, engineering and math. It demands that we support high-growth industries.

The CSU has answered the call of industry with initiatives and partnerships in agriculture, biotechnology, engineering, entertainment and tourism. We continue to be the state’s leader in preparing educators and we’re taking the lead in preparing engineers, nurses, business professionals and artists.

It is important that African American students share in these CSU initiatives and claim their place in fields leading the economy. It is important for the sake of individuals and for the community around them. It’s important for our country.

Similarly, African-American families are a part of the fabric of every major city in California. The success of African Americans contributes to the success of California as a whole. I know that the leaders of CSU believe that inclusion is a key to California’s brighter future.

It is a profound statement that African American students who are often the least well-served by the K-12 system are so clearly welcomed by the CSU. It is a message of hope and a commitment to access that is embodied in Super Sunday.

This Super Sunday message is reminiscent of the message of hope and national healing carried by President Obama. And as the president has called on us to do, we must all serve, work, and inspire others to the cause of building a brighter future.

See previous blog entries in the archive.