Charles Toombs, Ph.D.

Charles Toombs, Ph.D.

Outstanding Faculty Service

Charles Toombs, Ph.D.

San Diego State University
Professor, Africana Studies

Doing work that helps to create opportunities and success for students and faculty often means the status quo must be challenged, including institutional barriers that prevent equity, access, and inclusion. Working to eradicate institutional and systemic racism and inequity guides my service and professional work.”​

Dr. Charles Toombs is widely known and regarded for his scholarship, his service to the university and his deep commitment to creating just and equitable futures for Black communities.

Over his nearly 30 years at San Diego State, he has chaired the Department of Africana Studies twice and served on and chaired committees relating to personnel, tenure and promotion, curriculum, scholarship, and academic planning for both the department and college. His university-level engagement has included service on general education and student success committees, and various task forces and initiatives dedicated to underrepresented faculty.

Toombs’ career is equally distinguished by his many years of service to faculty in the California State University system and beyond. He currently serves as president of the California Faculty Association (CFA), the largest higher education faculty union in the United States, and as a vice president of SEIU California. Previously, he served at the chapter level as San Diego State’s CFA president, and then as associate vice president and vice president for the statewide union. When Toombs took on these leadership roles, the CFA underwent a meaningful transition by establishing a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion as central to the union’s cause.

He has also taken on multiple international and national roles, including serving on the Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP); as advisor to the board for the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education; as chair of Service Employees International Union’s Higher Education Council ’s Racial Equity Group; as a member of the CSU Council on Ethnic Studies; as a member of the State Council of the California Teachers Association; and as an elected delegate to the National Education Association’s national meetings for three terms.

Toombs supports students’ understanding of the world through a cultural and social justice lens, while engaging directly with underrepresented communities throughout California. He has earned praise for his ability to connect theoretical material to a practical understanding of the community and the issues that students and faculty face. For Toombs, realizing a just and equitable future is not an abstract concept; it is a goal that he strives to carry out every day.

Toombs received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English as well as a master’s degree in industrial relations, and a doctorate in English/American literature; all from Purdue University.