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CSU-Reaches-Tentative-Agreements-on-Successor-Contracts-with-Labor-Unions.aspx
  
6/30/2022 9:06 AMThropay, Janessa6/30/20226/30/2022 8:50 AMThe California State University (CSU) has reached tentative agreements on successor collective bargaining agreements with the California State University Employees Union (CSUEU) and the Statewide University Police Association (SUPA).Bargaining UpdatesPress Release

The California State University (CSU) has reached tentative agreements on successor collective bargaining agreements with the California State University Employees Union (CSUEU) and the Statewide University Police Association (SUPA).

Both tentative agreements will be brought forth to the CSU Board of Trustees to vote on ratification at the upcoming board meeting taking place on July 12 and 13, 2022. Membership of both unions will vote on ratification in the coming weeks.

Details from both agreements, including compensation increases for members of both unions, will be made available in the near future.

CSUEU represents approximately 16,000 support staff covering academics and operations of the CSU, including information technology, healthcare, clerical, administrative and academic support, campus operations, grounds and custodial.

SUPA represents the police officers, corporals and sergeants of the California State University police system.

About the California State University

The California State University is the largest system of four-year higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, 477,000 students and 56,000 faculty and staff. Nearly 40 percent of the CSU's undergraduate students transfer from California Community Colleges. Created in 1960, the mission of the CSU is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of California. With its commitment to quality, opportunity and student success, the CSU is renowned for superb teaching, innovative research and for producing job-ready graduates. Each year, the CSU awards more than 132,000 degrees. One in every 20 Americans holding a college degree is a graduate of the CSU and our alumni are 4 million strong. Connect with and learn more about the CSU in the CSU NewsCenter.​​

Student walking to class on campus
CSU Reaches Tentative Agreements on Successor Contracts with Labor Unions
CSU-Hill-Day-2022.aspx
  
6/28/2022 8:41 AMRuble, Alisia6/28/20226/28/2022 8:30 AMStudents, employees and CSU leadership came together to advocate for doubling the maximum Pell Grant and providing federal support for undocumented students, among other priorities.ImpactStory

​California State University students, faculty, staff, trustees and leadership met virtually with federal legislators last week to advance top CSU federal priorities, including doubling the maximum Pell Grant and providing support and stability for undocumented students, as part of the university's annual Hill Day events.

Among those who met with CSU delegates were United States Department of Education Under Secretary James Kvaal and U.S. Representatives Judy Chu, Jim Costa, Mark DeSaulnier, Zoe Lofgren, Adam Schiff, Bobby Scott, Mark Takano and Mike Thompson.

During the Hill Day kick-off event June 21, CSU Chancellor Jolene Koester led a discussion with Under Secretary Kvaal in which he applauded the university's efforts to help students earn bachelor's degrees in a timely manner as well as its impact on social mobility in the U.S.

“What I appreciate about the Cal State is the extent to which it has embraced its mission of upward mobility and creating equitable opportunity," said Under Secretary Kvaal.

“Cal State is a national leader not only in collecting student data, but how to use it to change cultures and build a consensus around the path forward. The work they are doing is important because a couple of percentage points across half a million students could change a lot of lives, but also because of the power of its example across the country."

Established in 1972, the Pell Grant is the largest financial aid grant program offered by the U.S. Department of Education to help undergraduate students from low-income households pay for college and has benefitted 81 million students across the country. Over time, though, the purchasing power of the Pell Grant has eroded from covering about three-quarters of the cost of a public four-year university, including living expenses, to covering only about a quarter of the cost.

“We are trying with a great deal of systematic effort to increase graduation and retention rates and reduce equity gaps [through Graduation Initiative 2025]," Chancellor Koester said. “Pell Grants are a particularly powerful tool in that effort as nearly half of all CSU students are Pell-eligible."

CSU campuses also held events recognizing the 50th anniversary of the implementation of the Pell Grant. San José State, for example, held a rally​ on campus June 22, during which students shared personal stories about how the program has positively impacted their lives and campus leaders called on lawmakers to double the maximum award.

“We've seen throughout the decades that Pell Grants boost college enrollment and retention, reduce student borrowing and improve overall student outcomes, making it one of the greatest federal investments ever made in higher education," said SJSU Interim President Steve Perez. “An increase in Pell Grants is a must if we are to continue down the path of equity, student success and opportunity for our students while working towards a better society."

In meetings with legislators, CSU delegates also championed for a permanent solution for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the DACA program, which has enabled undocumented students to work and go to school in the U.S. and make significant contributions to the country.

As the nation's most ethnically diverse public four-year university, the CSU is deeply committed to ensuring academic opportunities are available to all the state's students, regardless of citizenship status. In fall 2021, the CSU enrolled nearly 10,000 AB 540 and undocumented students. Each of the university's 23 campuses provides resources for undocumented students and employees​.

Additionally, delegates urged legislators to provide more support for minority-serving institutions like the CSU, of which 21 of 23 campuses are designated Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) and 14 campuses are designated Asian American Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs). These designations enable campuses to apply for federal and private grants that help strengthen their efforts to assist underserved communities.

 

Learn more about CSU federal priorities and see social media coverage of Hill Day​ 2022.

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CSU Community Shows Out for Annual Hill Day
CSU-Statement-on-CA-2022-23-Budget-Agreement-.aspx
  
6/28/2022 10:02 AMRuble, Alisia6/27/20226/27/2022 12:55 PMCalifornia Governor Gavin Newsom and the state Legislature’s Democratic leaders unveiled their $300 billion spending plan for 2022-23. BudgetPress Release

California Governor Gavin Newsom and the state Legislature's Democratic leaders unveiled their $300 billion spending plan for 2022-23. Their agreement includes a total increase in ongoing funding of $365 millionincluding $211 million in unallocated funding and $81 million for enrollment growth​and $1.1 billion in one-time funding for the California State University (CSU).

The following statement can be attributed to CSU Interim Chancellor Jolene Koester:

“The California State University (CSU) is grateful for the significant investment in the CSU. Receiving ongoing funding totaling $365 million and one-time funding totaling $1.1 billion in the state budget agreement will enable us to address some mission-critical priorities, including increasing compensation for our valued employees and paying mandatory costs.

“The CSU continues to be one of California's best investments, but there is challenging work ahead to ensure that the CSU's deserving students continue to thrive. Closing equity gaps will create an even more diverse and talented workforce benefiting all Californians, but this priority requires significant investment for years to come. Moreover, staff compensation and critical deferred maintenance and facility needs still remain. Considering the state's unprecedented funding surplus, it is disappointing that additional support to address these important priorities was not allocated. Doing so would have provided extra benefit to students, faculty and staff to ensure their health and safety, as well as continued educational excellence through state-of-the-art learning environments on our 23 campuses.

“Governor Newsom's multi-year budget compact pledges to propose predictable and reliable levels of funding in the future, as well as protection against economic uncertainty. For that, we are appreciative. We look forward to ongoing partnership with our state's leadership as we continue to elevate lives, families and communities through the transformative power of higher education."​

The budget agreement includes ongoing funding totaling $365 million. Highlights include:

  • $211 million unallocated increase to the CSU
  • $35 million for Graduation Initiative 2025
  • $81 million for resident enrollment growth of 9,434 full-time equivalent students
  • $10 million for student basic needs

The budget agreement also includes one-time funding totaling $1.1 billion. Highlights include:

  • $497 million for student housing projects on nine CSU campuses
  • $125 million for deferred maintenance
  • $67.5 million for a portion of California State University, Fullerton's Engineering and Computer Science Complex Expansion.
  • $80 million for a new science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) facility at San Diego State University's Imperial Valley campus.
  • $79 million for a student center at California State University, San Bernardino's Palm Desert campus
  • $75 million for equipment and infrastructure improvements at CSU university farms
  • $83 million for the Energy Innovation Center at California State University, Bakersfield
  • $30 million for legislative priorities on eight CSU campuses

About the California State University

The California State University is the largest system of four-year higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, 477,000 students and 56,000 faculty and staff. Nearly 40 percent of the CSU's undergraduate students transfer from California Community Colleges. Created in 1960, the mission of the CSU is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of California. With its commitment to quality, opportunity and student success, the CSU is renowned for superb teaching, innovative research and for producing job-ready graduates. Each year, the CSU awards more than 132,000 degrees. One in every 20 Americans holding a college degree is a graduate of the CSU and our alumni are 4 million strong. Connect with and learn more about the CSU in the CSU NewsCenter.

California State Capitol
CSU Statement on California Governor and Legislative Leaders 2022-23 Budget Agreement
action-for-equity-digital-degree-planners.aspx
  
6/27/2022 8:18 AMRawls, Aaron6/27/20226/27/2022 10:00 AMHow CSU digital degree planners enable underserved students to confidently map out their path to graduation.Graduation InitiativeStory

Action for Equity: Digital Degree Planners

How CSU digital degree planners enable underserved students to confidently map out their path to graduation.

 

In an effort to not only increase graduation rates, but eliminate persisting equity gaps that affect underrepresented students, the California State University adopted five Graduation Initiative 2025 equity priorities in fall 2021:

  • Reengage and reenroll underserved students
  • Expand credit opportunities with summer/intersession
  • Ensure equitable access to digital degree planners
  • Eliminate administrative barriers to graduation
  • Promote equitable learning practices and reduce DFW (D-F-Withdraw) rates

As part of a series looking at the GI2025 priorities, this second installment delves into how digital degree planners and roadmaps help students plan their course loads and ensure they’re on schedule for an on-time graduation.

“The digital degree planners give students confidence that they're on the right track to graduation as they start their courses of study, whether they're incoming first-time, first-year students or transfer students,” says Kerry Johnson, Ph.D., associate vice president for Undergraduate Studies at California State University, Long Beach. “They fill in gaps and provide extra support that students can access easily without having to necessarily make an appointment with an advisor. Students can answer some of their own questions with it: Am I on track? Is this class the right one? Is this in the right order? Am I taking this in the correct semester? Did I take the prerequisites when I was supposed to? It certainly isn't a substitute for advising, but it's an important and useful supplement.”

‘What-If’ Scenario

Jose Campos Ramos "As a transfer student, the planner made me feel reassured that I can plan out my schedule and know​ the definitive classes I need​ to take." —Jose Campos Ramos​

When senior Jose Campos Ramos transferred to Cal State Long Beach as a computer engineering major in spring 2020, he was coming from a community college experience where he needed to meet with advisors—who often changed—multiple times a semester to make sure he was enrolling in the correct courses. Even then, he ended up taking extra courses he didn’t need, extending his time at the school. Having access to Cal State Long Beach’s digital degree planner helped smooth his transition and determine his plan of action.

“As an incoming student, you're overwhelmed with what classes to take,” Campos Ramos says. “Having the degree planner when I got here relieved a lot of stress about the classes and the extracurriculars I'm going to take, and [allowed me to] not have to see an advisor so often.”

Cal State Long Beach first adopted its digital degree planner platform in 2014. Currently, about 95 percent of CSULB students use the planners in tandem with the academic requirements report (degree audit) to ensure they are on track to complete all requirements needed for graduation.

“It's a dynamic tool that presents four-year plans for first-time, first-year students, as well as two-year plans for our transfer students,” says Meghan Griffith, CSULB university registrar. “The idea is, from early on, they're seeing that roadmap to graduation, so that—combined with other eAdvising tools, sessions with their advisors, all things needed for that success—ideally it's going to help prepare students to be on track to meet their graduation needs.”

“Students are coming in with all sorts of levels of literacy when it comes to navigating higher education,” Griffith continues. “In no way does the planner replace an advisor … but it demystifies some of those different things in navigating that pathway to graduation. The student can interact with it, and it hopefully helps them feel a little bit more prepared when they meet with their advisor.”

When students access the planner, they will see the classes they need to fulfill their general education and major requirements organized into semesters based on factors like class availability, prerequisites needed, transfer credits and classes completed. The classes will reshuffle across semesters if students don’t get into a certain class or take fewer or more credits.

“I liked the ‘what-if’ scenario the degree planner has, if I were to take a class later, shorten my [number of] semesters or allow more credits,” says Campos Ramos, who is planning to graduate in fall 2022. “The biggest benefit was to see how my career at Long Beach could be shortened or lengthened by being part-time or full-time.”

The dynamic planners exist for all the campus’s undergraduate majors, pre-majors, minors and certificates—as well as some graduate and postgraduate programs.

Steps to Enrollment

At California State University San Marcos, which began testing its platform in 2015, the “Degree Set Go” campaign relies on the campus’s digital degree planner to guide students through a three-step enrollment process. The campus has the planner built out for all undergraduate programs based on four-year roadmaps, and 98 percent of students use it.

“The planner is a better way to illustrate to students what their path to graduation might look like,” says David McMartin, director of the CSUSM Office of Academic Advising. “They have access to the degree planner 24/7. It's an important part of how students get ready for the coming semester as well as future semesters. They're using it as their guide to know what courses to take and when to take them, and it's also their way to proceed forward in the enrollment process.”

“Because the planner is associated with those four-year roadmaps, it automatically shuffles a student’s future plan once they've registered for their classes after the semester begins,” McMartin continues. “This means that if the student doesn’t get into the classes the degree planner suggested, they take more units than originally planned or they take fewer, the degree planner is going to account for that student’s actual enrollment. The degree planner is always going to pay attention to what priority the next semester courses have for them, especially taking into account prerequisites. This ensures the courses cannot be taken out of order.”

Here’s how CSUSM’s “Degree Set Go” works for students:

Degree: First, students log into the degree planner and indicate the number of units they plan to take the following semester. Many students leave the default setting of 15 credits per semester, but others can opt to take fewer or more courses. The tool will automatically arrange their classes based on their responses.

Set: Once the semester’s class schedule is available, students will return to the degree planner to make course selections. The planner indicates which classes are mandatory and features a select line for requirements that can be met by multiple courses from which students choose a qualifying class to take. Students will use the schedule assistant tool that works in tandem with the digital degree planner to pre-load their courses into their ‘shopping cart.’ The tool allows students to add times and days they are not available to take classes, and the planner generates personalized potential schedules based on their choices.

Go: Finally, students go to their ‘shopping cart’ to complete the enrollment process on their scheduled enrollment date.

Tyrone Totten "​I’m in my senior year now and I don’t have any worries about what I’m going to be taking ... because I already have it all figured out," —Tyrone Totten​

“The planner helped me because I was able to see a visual of my plan, what courses I was going to be able to take during each semester, what requirements I was going to take, and it helped me organize myself,” says Tyrone Totten, CSUSM child and adolescent development senior. “It allows students to understand their academic journey, helps students graduate on time and keeps them on track.”

For Totten, who returned to CSU San Marcos in fall 2021 and plans to graduate in spring 2023, the planner was particularly helpful in notifying him when his course requirements changed and reducing the number of classes he needed to complete.

“When I was able to see different classes that double counted for requirements, it decreased the time I needed to be at school,” Totten says. “For example, I was going to take four or five classes for my last semester in spring 2023. But after going over my degree planner and seeing what requirements each class covers, I only have to take two classes my last semester. So, it helps you be more efficient as a student.”​

Highly Trained​

Part of ensuring such high use rates among students is getting them acquainted with the technology through communications efforts, advisors, online resources and various training opportunities.

“We always have a new crop of students, so we've created an enrollment tutorial in which students always have access to the training they need,” McMartin says. “This is a way of making sure students, when they first start at the university, have access to understanding how to use the tools—so that we start everybody in the same place in terms of what it's about, what the advantages are and how to make good use of these kinds of tools.”

In addition to these resources, student peer advisors like Totten who serve in the CSUSM advising office can answer questions around registration and enrollment, including questions on the digital degree planner.

“When you call the academic advisory office, we're the first people you interact with,” Totten says. “We get questions about the degree planner or what classes students should be taking. So, as a peer advisor we help students go through the degree planner … and see what courses they're able to take for each requirement.”

Jose Campos Ramos walks across the CSULB campus. "The school did a great job with the advisors sharing their opinion with us on the planner and how to navigate through it because it does take a while to get used to it." —Jose Campos Ramos​​​

Equipped and Ready

For the campuses, the planners also provide a plethora of data to drive decision-making and better serve the student body.

“It increases accessibility to actionable data, from timely graduation to student support activities, placing a lot of tangible, informative data in advisors’ hands and higher leadership's hands,” Griffith says. “We do so much work to extrapolate that data … and leverage it as much as possible to help facilitate with future scheduling and strategic initiatives.”

Both Cal State Long Beach and CSU San Marcos use students’ choices in the digital degree planner to determine the course schedule for the upcoming semester, including which courses and how many sections to offer to meet students’ needs.

“It's a very important piece of the puzzle as we try to plan courses for our students in the most appropriate way possible,” McMartin says.

Additionally, advisors access students’ degree planners to better equip themselves to guide students on choosing and enrolling in classes.

“It helps the advisor because they can be on the same page [as the student] much more quickly,” McMartin continues. “We can start our advising sessions at a much earlier stage without having to research a lot of information concerning their requirements.”

Looking Ahead

“We're always looking for ways to work with the colleges and Enrollment Services to improve the digital degree planner and to make sure it's as accurate as possible,” CSULB’s Dr. Johnson says. “That's an ongoing process.”

Beyond ironing out challenges with the technology, that process involves updating the planners on an annual basis with changes to major curricula, new general education requirements and new programs.

A number of CSU campuses, like California State University, East Bay, however, are still working to procure the digital degree planner platform. Since switching to a semester system in 2018, though, Cal State East Bay has offered degree roadmaps​, available for all undergraduate programs, that students can access online and use to plan their path to graduation.

“It was important that each of our students had a roadmap, so they could see how they could complete their degree in four years for our first-time freshmen—as well as a roadmap for our transfer students, so they can finish in two years,” says Maureen Scharberg, Ph.D., CSUEB dean of Academic Programs and Services. “It's like their GPS device. It tells them what we as a campus see as important in terms of the sequencing of courses.”

lipsum "The roadmaps are used as a tool for advising. Our advisors can work with a student by bringing up the roadmap and looking at a specific major. ..​. The goal is to provide students with that pathway so they can complete their degree." —Dr. ​Maureen Scharberg, CSUEB dean of Academic Programs and Services

The campus continues to update the roadmaps each year with new degree requirements and majors. While currently used largely as an advising tool, these roadmaps will provide the basis for the digital degree planners when CSUEB implements them.

"Since technology has advanced since 2014, the CSU Chancellor's Office is actively working on procuring a modernized, accurate and mobile-friendly digital planner toolset that works for all students," says Liz Reed, assistant director of Enrollment Management Technology at the CSU Office of the Chancellor.


Read the Action for Equity series’ first installment on campuses’ reenrollment efforts.

Action for Equity: Digital Degree Planners
Lee-Appointed-Interim-President-of-SSU-2022.aspx
  
6/27/2022 10:02 AMKelly, Hazel6/27/20226/27/2022 10:00 AMCalifornia State University (CSU) Interim Chancellor Jolene Koester has appointed Ming-Tung “Mike” Lee, Ph.D., to serve as interim president of Sonoma State University (SSU). LeadershipPress Release

California State University (CSU) Interim Chancellor Jolene Koester has appointed Ming-Tung “Mike" Lee, Ph.D., to serve as interim president of Sonoma State University (SSU). Over a career that spanned 28 years at Sacramento State, Lee held a number of leadership roles including vice president for Administration and Business Affairs/chief financial officer as well as interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs prior to retiring in 2018. Since then, Lee has held emeritus status on the campus as a professor of Business Administration. Lee will assume the leadership of SSU on August 1, 2022, after the departure of current president Dr. Judy K. Sakaki, who is resigning from the presidency effective July 31, 2022.

“Throughout his decades of service to Sacramento State, Dr. Lee has a demonstrated history of collaboration and innovation leading to improved levels of student achievement," said Koester. “He has served as a faculty member and led two divisions within the university, and these experiences give him unique and thorough insight into the operations of a university campus."

Lee will join SSU after a long and distinguished career at Sacramento State where he led university divisions on different occasions. From 2010 to 2018, he served as the vice president for Administration and Business Affairs/chief financial officer. He also led the Academic Affairs division while serving as the interim provost and vice president in 2016-17. His other experience in that division includes service as the associate vice president and dean/vice provost for academic programs from 2005-10. Lee initially joined Sacramento State as an associate professor of marketing in 1990 before being promoted to professor in 1997. He has served as a member of the faculty since then in addition to his administrative appointments.

“Sonoma State offers world-class educational opportunities to the North Bay," said Lee. “As the first member of my family to earn a college degree, I understand the profound impact it can make on the life of a student and their family. I look forward to working with SSU's dedicated faculty, staff, administrators and student leaders to offer transformative opportunities to the students of the North Bay."

Lee earned a bachelor's degree in literature from Tunghai University in Taichung, Taiwan, and a master's degree in international commerce and a Ph.D. in business administration from the University of Kentucky.

Lee's interim appointment will span the duration of the 2022-23 academic year. CSU Trustees will soon begin a national search for a regularly appointed president to lead the campus. Lee's annual salary as president of SSU is the same as that of the outgoing president and will be brought forth to the CSU Trustees for approval at their July board meeting. 

 

About the California State University

The California State University is the largest system of four-year higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, 477,000 students and 56,000 faculty and staff. Nearly 40 percent of the CSU's undergraduate students transfer from California Community Colleges. Created in 1960, the mission of the CSU is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of California. With its commitment to quality, opportunity and student success, the CSU is renowned for superb teaching, innovative research and for producing job-ready graduates. Each year, the CSU awards more than 132,000 degrees. One in every 20 Americans holding a college degree is a graduate of the CSU and our alumni are 4 million strong. Connect with and learn more about the CSU in the CSU NewsCenter.

man smiling
man smiling
Ming-Tung “Mike” Lee Appointed Interim President of Sonoma State University
Statement-from-CSU-Chancellor-Jolene-Koester-Regarding-Roe-V-Wade-Supreme-Court-Decision.aspx
  
6/27/2022 3:49 PMRuble, Alisia6/24/20226/24/2022 5:35 PMRead California State University Interim Chancellor Jolene Koester's statement on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.LeadershipStory

The f​ollowing statement can be attributed to California State University (CSU) Interim Chancellor Jolene Koester:

"Today's Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade strips away the hard-earned protection of an inherent fundamental human right that has been guaranteed for 50 years.​

"I am profoundly saddened and deeply concerned about the impact this decision will have, not only on people's ability to make informed decisions about their personal health, but on their agency to pursue educational and occupational opportunities. I am equally distressed by the broader implications of today's decision that threaten other fundamental freedoms we hold dear—including additional privacy rights and marriage equality—with particularly ominous potential impacts to the LGBTQIA+ community.

"Freedom—at its foundation—​is about the removal of barriers. The CSU exists to remove barriers to knowledge, understanding, prosperity and the fulfillment of one's potential. Today's decision is indeed antithetical to the CSU's ideals. Our mission is to empower students from all backgrounds to freely pursue their personal and professional dreams as part of a fair and just society. The California State University community remains steadfast to that mission, and will strengthen our collective commitment to our core values."

college students walking on a campus with the words chancellor statement over it
CSU Statement on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization Decision
Letter-From-Chancellor-Koester-June-23-2022.aspx
  
6/28/2022 10:02 AMRuble, Alisia6/23/20226/23/2022 11:30 AMInterim Chancellor Koester sent a message to the California State University community with regard to efforts to ensure that campuses are safe and welcoming environments.LeadershipStory

​​The following message was sent to the California State University community June 23, 2022:​


As you likely know and as recent media reports have made painfully clear, the California State University has fallen short in our effort to ensure that our campuses are safe and welcoming environments where students, faculty and staff can thrive personally, professionally and intellectually, free of discrimination, harassment and sexual misconduct.

The CSU's Board of Trustees and its senior leadership—like the entire Cal State community—hold our institution's core values dear and have acted quickly, calling for a systemwide assessment of our Title IX policies and practices. While I am pleased with the Board's fast action, I also want to communicate more clearly to the CSU's stakeholders regarding what that assessment will look like—and about the principles and values that will inform and guide our efforts.

So today, on the 50th anniversary of the enactment of Title IX, please allow me to do so. I'll begin with a few words about what I bring to this effort.

When I assumed the presidency at CSUN in 2000, I inherited a number of Title IX issues, but they were all related to gender equity in intercollegiate athletics. We were out of compliance with regard to participation, scholarships and overall funding. Equity in sports is what Title IX meant to me. While there have been cases extending Title IX to sexual harassment since the late 1970s, it really wasn't until the Obama administration and the United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights issued its landmark “Dear Colleague Letter" of 2011—as I was retiring from the CSUN presidency—that universities' responsibilities around sexual harassment and misconduct under Title IX were made clear.

So, I am not a Title IX expert. I am a 74-year-old white woman who has had many privileges in life. But while I have not experienced what could be described as sexual violence, I certainly have faced gender-based discrimination, and I have experienced sexually inappropriate behavior and physical intimidation. And I know unequivocally that how people are treated—how we treat people, as universities and a university system—matters. In fact, it reflects all that we stand for.

The CSU is at an inflection point, with a unique opportunity to fundamentally change the way we treat people: our diverse and talented students, our world-class faculty and staff, our partners and friends. To approach the systemwide Title IX assessment as some sort of bureaucratic check-the-box exercise would be to squander that opportunity.

That will not happen.

This assessment is not a mere checklist audit of our Title IX offices, ensuring that we do a better job dotting our i's and crossing our t's as we investigate and adjudicate cases. Meaningful change is much bigger. It is more comprehensive. Indeed, it is cultural.

The firm we have hired to conduct our assessment—Cozen O'Connor—understands this. They understand that, on our campuses and systemwide, we must build and sustain two separate yet related cultures: a culture of compliance and a culture of care.

Beginning with Fresno State, teams from Cozen O'Connor will move from campus to campus and to the Chancellor's Office, conducting methodical and comprehensive analyses of our systems of compliance and systems of care.

We will act upon their recommendations to tighten up our culture of compliance—developing, communicating and implementing clear policies related to misconduct, investigations, adjudications and sanctions. We will work to remove barriers to reporting, better educate constituents regarding their Title IX obligations, address instances of retaliation and ensure access to survivor advocates, effective employee assistance programs and physical and mental health care services—both on campus and off.

But simultaneously, we will strengthen our culture of care. That means ongoing prevention programs, awareness campaigns and bystander education. And it means striving to dismantle rape and sexual violence myths and seeking to address the underlying social issues that contribute to the persistence of sexual violence: sexism, harmful gender norms and stereotypes, heterosexism and ignorance around LGBTQIA+ issues.

It's easy to see how the cultures of compliance and care are complementary and interrelated. Students and employees who see positive outcomes and accountability and who understand that they will be supported by their community if they come forward—and not be marginalized—are more likely to report. And a more educated and enlightened campus community is less likely to engage in sexual misconduct, and more likely to intervene when they see it.

As the nation's largest, most diverse and most consequential university system, we have a great obligation and opportunity. If we get this right—and we will—we can serve as a model for higher education as we live out our core values. And as we immerse California's future leaders in an authentic culture of care, our graduates will carry the impact of our work far beyond our campus borders—into every business sector and community in our great state.

I'm not naive. I am fully aware that this work is hard and that it seeks to address longstanding systemic problems as well as deeply rooted attitudes and behaviors. It will take time, requiring diligence and persistence and continuous self-assessment and improvement.

But we have been called to action—and we will answer that call. We must. Our students, faculty and staff—indeed, all our constituents—demand it. And our mission and core values require it.


Sincerely,

Jolene Koester

Interim Chancellor


If any member of the CSU community has experienced sexual discrimination or sexual violence—or knows anyone who has—​we encourage them to contact their campus Title IX office​.

A photo of a large steel and glass building with the words chancellor statement over it
An Important Message from CSU Interim Chancellor Jolene Koester
CSU-Juneteenth-Symposium-2022.aspx
  
6/27/2022 9:18 AMKelly, Hazel6/22/20226/22/2022 8:00 AMUniversity leaders call for systemic change to improve outcomes for Black and African American students at the inaugural symposium.DiversityStory

​The California State University convened its inaugural biennial Juneteenth Symposium June 15-16, hosted by CSU Dominguez Hills, to celebrate African American history and achievement and promote and sustain the anti-racism work underway across the CSU's 23 campuses.​​​​

The hybrid in-person/virtual symposium featured keynotes from nationally renowned speakers including philosopher, author and activist Cornel West, Ph.D., California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, Ph.D., and San Diego State Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus Diversity/Chief Diversity Officer J. Luke Wood, Ph.D.

Breakout session topics included how to leverage CSU data to improve outcomes for Black students, the importance of innovative and culturally competent teaching and instruction and examining the trajectory of Black male students through an ethos of care, hope and healing.

In conjunction with the symposium, the university launched its CSU ACTs​ (Acknowledges, Commits and Transforms) initiative, which tasks campuses with developing a preliminary set of goals, measurable objectives and action steps to advance Black and African American student access and success. 

“Beyond providing academic and co-curricular spaces for students to cultivate their intellectual potential, our roles in the CSU system are to prevent wings from breaking, and mend those that do," said CSUDH President Thomas Parham. “I encourage all of us to collectively provoke, instigate and inspire change; develop new, substantive programs that demonstrate our commitment to the true needs of students, staff, faculty and administrators of African descent; and examine and transform the policies and practices that inhibit rather than facilitate Black excellence."

Juneteenth marks the moment on June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers marched into Galveston, Texas, to free the last enslaved people of the state—more than ​two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. It is recognized as a consequential day of reflection and is​ commemorated in communities across California and the nation.

CSU campuses have celebrated Juneteenth with performances, displays, lectures and more that recognize the history and achievements of Black students, faculty and staff, but the symposium marked the first time the university came together as a system to evoke systemic change.

The idea for the symposium came after national civil unrest shed light on the inequities that exist for Black and African American people in the United States. It was championed by Student Trustee Emerita Maryana Khames in March 2021 during her time serving on the Committee on Educational Policy and advanced by the full CSU Board of Trustees in May 2021.

“This is no time for complacency," CSU Chancellor Jolene Koester said during the symposium. “To improve the experience for Black students and faculty on CSU campuses, the university must aggregate the data, look at pedagogy in the classroom, talk about racism and examine policies and practices in place."


​​a man speaking from behind a podium

​​​​CSUDH President Thomas Parham urges symposium attendees to collectively provoke, instigate and inspire change.

​Building on Prior Work

Black and African American students, faculty, staff and alumni have made and continue to make vast, meaningful and lasting contributions to the CSU and the state of California, but they continue to experience disproportionately greater inequities in college preparation, educational access and attainment.

As the nation's largest and most racially and ethnically diverse university, the CSU continues to promote the principles of inclusive excellence and embrace its role as a transformative institution that advances the upward mobility of millions of students and their families.

The CSU has made significant progress to increase graduation rates for all students while working to eliminate opportunity and achievement gaps through its Graduation Initiative 2025 (GI2025). In fall 2021, the university doubled down on eliminating equity gaps, announcing five equity goals to prioritize success for students, especially those from underserved communities and who have been historically underrepresented in higher education.

An integral effort to reach GI2025 goals is the CSU Certificate Program in Student Success Analytics, a professional development program that empowers faculty, staff and administrators to work collaboratively on understanding and addressing the factors that perpetuate equity gaps in higher education. The program fosters equity-minded and data-informed action to close equity gaps and support students on their way to a college degree.

The CSU serves more than 19,000 students who identify as Black or African American, and it awarded more than 4,300 undergraduate degrees and more than 800 graduate degrees to Black and African American students in 2020-21.


​​two men and a young woman pose with a framed document

​​​​CSUDH President Thomas Parham, Student Trustee Emerita Maryana Khames and CSUDH Vice President for Student Affairs and Master of Ceremonies Dr. William Franklin, from left to right, pose with a framed copy of the resolution that established the symposium.

Increasing Enrollment and Belonging

CSU trustees recently voted to make amendments to Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations to remove SAT and ACT standardized tests from the undergraduate admissions process in a continued effort to level the playing field and provide greater access to a high-quality college degree.

Additionally, the CSU partners with churches, PK-12 schools, community organizations and non-profit organizations to increase preparation, enrollment and graduation rates for students from underserved communities through programs such as Super Sunday.

Once students are enrolled at the CSU, campuses provide a variety of culturally-specific resources to Black communities to increase students' sense of belonging and improve persistence rates. These resources are in addition to myriad cultural fraternities and sororities, clubs, living-learning communities and more.

CSU campuses also empower men of color through 'brotherhood' programs, which are funded in part by GI2025 and campus Student Success Fees. These programs place male students of color in cohorts as they go through its powerful mix of academic support, mentoring, community service and professional development.

In 2019, the CSU Young Males of Color Consortium launched a two-year plan designed to improve outcomes for men of color in the CSU. The plan was centered on four pillars intended to help build capacity among CSU campuses and improve programs designed to support the matriculation and development of men of color.


​​four people sitting in chairs on a stage engaging in a panel discussion

A panel discussion with University of California, Los Angeles Professor of Education Dr. Tyrone Howard, University of California Office of the President Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs ​Dr. Michael Brown, CSUDH Director of the Toro Reengagement Program Dr. Sabrina Sanders and Cosumnes River College President Dr. Edward Bush.

​Developing Culturally Sensitive Faculty

The CSU promotes the highest standards of university teaching and fosters faculty professional growth and collaboration through CSU Innovative Teaching and Learning Programs (ITLP). Many of its initiatives are focused on improving equity in the classroom through culturally responsive pedagogy.

Additionally, the CSU announced the Creating Responsive, Equitable, Active Teaching and Engagement (CREATE) Awards​ program in June 2022, which aims to reinvigorate faculty commitment to the system's GI2025 efforts by increasing their sense of responsibility to each student's progress toward graduation.

CSU trustees also approved an ethnic studies and social justice general education requirement, which will go into effect for the 2023-24 academic year to allow time for faculty to develop plans and coursework that best meet the unique needs of their students and communities. CSU leaders say this amendment will help students become leaders in creating a more just and equitable society.

The CSU Chancellor's Doctoral Incentive Program prepares future faculty who are needed to teach the university's diverse student population. The program aims to recruit future faculty, mostly from among the university's own undergraduate and graduate programs and increase the representation of faculty of color. 

Another way in which the CSU can improve equity on campuses is hiring more faculty, staff and administrators of color, and establishing support on campus to improve retention of those employees. San Diego State, for example, recently did a cluster hiring of people who demonstrate a focus on supporting specific student populations, such as Black students or Indigenous students, to promote a more inclusive, culturally competent faculty and staff who will better support the diverse students and communities served by SDSU. The campus is also home to 16 employee resource groups that serve 900 employees and are available to meet with prospective employees during the hiring process.


​​A smiling man standing behind a podium

​​​​SDSU Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus D​iversity/Chief Diversity Officer Dr. J. Luke Wood presents a keynote on "Racelighting," which Dr. Wood says occurs when a person of color begins to question their own reality because they are manipulated by others.

​Improving the Pipeline

Research has found that students perform better when they can identify with their teachers and that teachers of color can play a key role in students' self-image of success. To that end, campuses are building a diverse educator workforce to increase representation in PK-12 education, especially in STEM fields. As the state's largest preparer of PK-12 teachers, the CSU can make a significant impact on equity in those classrooms by training more teachers of color.

The CSU also announced the creation of the CSU Center for Transformational Educator Preparation Programs (CSU CTEPP), which will leverage the successes of the New Generation of Educators Initiative (NGEI) with a focus on recruiting, preparing and retaining Black, Indigenous and other teachers of color to serve California's diverse students and families.


​​a woman talking into a speaker at a podium

​​​​CSU Chancellor Koester closes out the symposium by underscoring the crucial need for systemic change to improve outcomes for Black and African American students.

Doubling Down

Despite these efforts, inequities continue to exist for Black and African American students in higher education, and Chancellor Koester leads the charge in committing to do more.

“Together we can—we must—​summon the full power of education to ensure that every member of the Black and African American community has the abundant opportunity to live their dreams," Koester said. “We must start by ensuring that every CSU campus is a place of growth, support and belonging—a place that feels as natural as home."


Learn more about CSU campus efforts to improve educational equity for Black and African American students and see social media coverage of the symposium. 

Three people sitting in chairs on a stage engaging in a panel discussion
CSU Juneteenth Symposium Reinvigorates Efforts to Improve Black Student Success
CSU-CREATE-Awards-2022.aspx
  
6/21/2022 2:17 PMKelly, Hazel6/21/20226/21/2022 8:00 AMFive proposals chosen to receive funding for the upcoming 2022-2023 academic year.Student SuccessStory

​In a continued effort to accomplish the CSU Graduation Initiative 2025 goals, the CSU Chancellor's Office issued a call for proposals in March 2022 for the Creating Responsive, Equitable, Active Teaching and Engagement (CREATE) Awards program. The inaugural program aims to reinvigorate faculty commitment to the system's student success efforts by increasing their sense of responsibility to each student's progress toward graduation. By recognizing the vitally important role faculty play in providing high-quality instruction and highlighting those transforming the student experience, the CREATE Awards program offers an opportunity for CSU faculty to make a sustainable change in student success for years to come.

In June 2022, the CREATE Awards Program Selection Committee chose five proposals to receive funding for the upcoming 2022-23 academic year. Funded by the College Futures Foundation, the five winning proposals will receive awards ranging from $48,000 to $222,000. Selected based on the creativity and innovation of their proposals, these programs showcase teaching practices and research-backed interventions capable of increasing the number of bachelor's degrees awarded, while also reducing equity gaps.

CSU Director of Research & Student Success Initiatives, Chenoa Woods, Ph.D., touches on the benefits of the program, not only for students, but also faculty. "The CREATE Awards Program allows faculty to think differently about student success and have a large-scale impact while drawing from their areas of expertise. It highlights the importance of using research-based practices in innovative ways to close equity gaps and impact student success." 

Although each proposal illustrates a different approach, they collectively promise the improvement of overall student success and a reduction of equity gaps across the CSU system.

THE WINNING PROPOSALS

Decreasing Equity Gaps in Degree Completion by Empowering CSU Students, Faculty, and Staff through Action Projects informed by Intergroup Dialogue

The two-semester online program will include training in intergroup dialogue (IGD) at the 10 Southern California CSU campuses. Participants trained in IGD will affect many other constituents at their campuses by carrying out action projects to tackle Graduation Initiative 2025.


Dr. Manpreet Dhillon Brar | Principal Investigator
Assistant Professor
Department of Child Development
Cal State San Bernardino

Dr. Stacy Morris | Co-Principal Investigator
Assistant Professor
Department of Child Development
Cal State San Bernardino

Dr. Jessica Morales-Chicas | Co-Principal Investigator
Associate Professor
Child and Family Studies Department
Cal State LA​


​​Developing Culturally Relevant Activities to Support Undergraduate Persistence: A Pilot Study with Supplemental Instruction & Grad-to-Undergraduate Peer Mentoring

This project aims to improve persistence rates and reduce equity gaps among underrepresented students enrolled in Cal Poly Pomona's Apparel and Merchandising Management program (AMM). It will address innovation in teaching and learning and build on existing departmental and university efforts from the Fearless Classroom initiative through the development of pilot Culturally Relevant Supplemental Instruction (CRSI) activities, and graduate-to-undergraduate peer mentoring. The program will be available for all AMM faculty to participate in and can reach all students enrolled during the program implementation in Spring 2023.


Dr. Helen Trejo| Principal Investigator
Assistant Professor
Apparel Merchandising and Management
Cal Poly Pomona

Dr. JC Cañedo | Co-Principal Investigator
Lecturer
Apparel Merchandising and Management
Cal Poly Pomona

Dr. Claire Whang | Co-Principal Investigator
Assistant Professor
Apparel Merchandising and Management
Cal Poly Pomona​


Agents of Change: Faculty-Learning Assistant Partnerships Supporting Active, Engaging, Equitable Learning Environments

This project builds on the faculty learning assistants (LAs) model by adding support, such as participating in a faculty retreat or academy where inclusive, equitable, engaging and active learning strategies will be discussed. The project will immediately impact undergraduate students, learning assistants and faculty in physics, astronomy, chemistry, biology, math and computer science across three CSU campuses: San José, San Francisco, and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, as well as help chart productive, equitable pathways forward in implementing sustainable LA models at other CSU campuses.


Dr. Cassandra Paul | Principal Investigator
Associate Professor, Physics & Astronomy | Science Education
San José State University

Dr. Resa Kelly | Co-Principal Investigator
Professor, Chemistry & Science Education
Director, Science Education Program
San José State University

Dr. Kim Coble | Co-Principal Investigator
Professor
Department of Physics and Astronomy
San Francisco State University

Dr. Gina Quan | Co-Principal Investigator
Assistant Professor
Department of Physics and Astronomy
San José State University

Dr. Jennifer Avena | Co-Principal Investigator
Assistant Professor Department of Biological Sciences
Science Education Program
San José State University

Dr. Laura Ríos | Co-Principal Investigator
Assistant Professor
Department of Physics
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo​


​Developing Instructional Cultures that Support Student Motivation in Math

This project will deliver and evaluate the impacts of a professional learning course, called the Motivating Learners Course (MLC), to mathematics instructors at two CSU campuses: San Diego State and Cal Poly Pomona. By applying research and equipping instructors with the knowledge and tools for how to frame messages and adapt learning materials that support students' motivation and learning mindsets, this program will make progress toward the GI2025 goals of improving students' outcomes and closing equity gaps within foundational math courses.


Dr. Dustin Thoman | Principal Investigator

Associate Professor, Department of Psychology and the Center of Research in Mathematics and Science Education
San Diego State University 

Dr. Paul Beardsley | Co-Principal Investigator
Professor, Department of Biological Sciences Director of the Center for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching
Cal Poly Pomona 

Dr. Allison Vaughn | Co-Principal Investigator
Professor
Department of Psychology Associate Director, Center for Teaching and Learning
San Diego State University


 The AHRC/MM Project: Supporting Black Students Through Research and Mentoring​

This project aims to improve the retention and advancement of Black students at CSU Monterey Bay by addressing student re-engagement and promoting equitable learning environments, which are key GI2025 priorities. By bringing together the African Heritage Research Collaborative (AHRC) and the Mandla Mentoring (MM) program, students will engage in collaborative faculty-led research projects that examine inequities and differential experiences of Black students, while also providing a supportive network of engaged faculty and staff to promote student retention, well-being and academic success.

 

Dr. Vanessa Lopez-Littleton | Principal Investigator
Associate Professor of Public Administration and Nonprofit Management and Chair of the Department of Health, Human Services, and Public Policy Chief Assistant to the Dean of the College of Health Sciences and Human Services
CSU Monterey Bay

Dr. Dennis Kombe | Co-Principal Investigator
Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education and the Secondary Education Program Coordinator, Department of Education and Leadership
CSU Monterey Bay

 

To learn more, please visit the CREATE Awards website.​​

Pictures of faculty award winners
Professor and student
CSU CREATE Awards Support Faculty in Advancing Student Success
turn-your-tassels-class-of-2022.aspx
  
6/27/2022 2:20 PMGonzaga, Miko6/20/20226/20/2022 2:45 PMAfter two years of navigating campus life amidst a global pandemic, the 2022 graduating classes of all 23 CSU campuses were able to toss their caps at traditional commencement ceremonies surrounded by family and friends.CommencementStory

Turn Your Tassels, Class of 2022!

After two years of navigating campus life amidst a global pandemic, the 2022 graduating classes of all 23 CSU campuses were able to toss their caps at traditional commencement ceremonies surrounded by family and friends.

Photos courtesy of: Juan Rodriguez/CSU Bakersfield, Jason Halley/Chico State, Sean DuFrene/Cal State Long Beach, Joe Johnston/Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

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Turn Your Tassels, Class of 2022!
How-the-CSU-Transformed-Them.aspx
  
6/14/2022 9:48 AMRuble, Alisia6/14/20226/14/2022 9:45 AMRead about a few CSU student leaders from the people who know them best.CommencementStory
How-the-CSU-Transformed-Them

How the CSU Transformed Them

Read about a few CSU student leaders from the people who know them best.


jump to main content  

The California State University conferred an estimated 134,000 degrees on graduates from the Class of 2022 this spring, welcoming them into an alumni family that is already more than four million strong. These graduates are California's next leaders—in policy, philanthropy, science, social justice and moreand behind every one of them is a parent, mentor or friend who cheered them on and stood in awe of their achievements.

Learn how the CSU transformed these student leaders from those who helped them on the path to graduation.

KRYSTAL RAYNES

Krystal Raynes
CSU Student Trustee Emerita

Campus: CSU Bakersfield
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Computer Science

From her early days at CSU Bakersfield, Krystal Raynes showed signs of becoming a strong leader and student advocate, eventually being appointed the first student from CSUB ever to sit on the CSU Board of Trustees. In that role Raynes had a powerful impact on policies that will impact students for generations to come.

“When we talk about a transformative education and how the CSU provides a launching pad for success, Krystal is the face of that," says her mentor Ilaria Pesco, CSUB Assistant Vice President for Student Success & Student Affairs and Executive Director of Associated Students, Inc. (ASI).

Lacking family support, Raynes experienced food and housing insecurity that caused her to consider leaving school, but she leaned on CSUB support services, as well as the support of her mentor. Pesco worked with financial aid to classify Raynes as an independent student and helped her secure emergency housing and food benefits through the Basic Needs Initiative and CSUB Food Pantry.

“She is the perfect student leader because she has a deep understanding of the struggles many college students experience, especially as a first-generation student of color, and she uses her story to advocate for more support for future students," says Pesco.

Raynes served several positions in CSUB's Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) before representing CSU students systemwide as a Cal State Student Association Social Justice and Equity Officer. This role gave her the opportunity to meet with legislators in Sacramento and advocate for more funding for the CSU, and eventually led to her appointment as a student trustee.

Pesco says Raynes'​ success is a combination of her skills and tenacity, campus mentorship and leadership opportunities presented by the CSU, all of which helped to build her self-confidence.

“Krystal is incredible—a fierce leader—and I truly think she will transform California."

Building on her experience, Raynes will take part in the Jesse M. Unruh Assembly Fellowship Program, where she will serve as staff member to an Assembly member or legislative committee, before attending Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to pursue a master's degree in public policy and management.


ISAAC ALFEROS

Isaac Alferos
2021-22 Cal State Student Association President

Campus: Cal State Fullerton
Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration

As Cal State Student Association president, Isaac Alferos represented the needs of nearly half a million CSU students. But in addition to advocating for additional resources for those students, he also inspired many of them to take up the torch.

One of Alferos's key strengths is bringing people together and uplifting them, according to long-time friend and classmate Dixie Samaniego, who was recently elected CSSA Vice President of Systemwide Affairs for 2022-23. “Isaac is the reason I went to Cal State Fullerton, and why so many of my peers and I decided to join student government," she says. "He makes people see their value."

As a freshman, Alferos became involved with CSUF's Male Success Initiative, which empowers men of color to achieve their potential. He says he found the program provided the support he needed to pursue his passion for social justice in higher education. "The CSU brought me an education unlike any other, one in which mentors invested in me and faculty and staff worked tirelessly to see me succeed," Alferos says.

He was later appointed to the California Student Aid Commission by Governor Gavin Newsom, where he advocated for affordable higher education for all Californians. He found his calling and encouraged his fellow students to do the same.

“Isaac is amazing at organizing and building communities to make real change, and he single-handedly encouraged and mentored the next two years of student leaders at CSUF," says Samaniego. "He made us believe we could enact change and helped many of us overcome Imposter Syndrome."

Alferos also served as a research assistant and project lead for CSUF's Center for Research on Educational Access and Leadership (CREAL), a Panetta Congressional intern and a CSSA social justice and equity committee member. He was later elected CSSA president, which exposed him to systemwide, state and federal higher education policymaking.

“If you have the absolute privilege of meeting and speaking with Isaac, there's this warmth you can just feel," says Samaniego. "I am most proud of him for his courage—to be authentic; to be genuine; and to love."

Alferos plans to continue working on higher education policy and wants to eventually earn a Ph.D. in social policy. He recently published his first book, "Prayer Song: Love, Healing, and Ancestry."


Firozeh Farahmand 

Firozeh Farahmand
2021 CSU Trustee Scholar

Campus: Cal Poly Pomona
Degree: Master of Science in Biological Sciences

Firozeh Farahmand began attending Cal Poly Pomona as a freshman with a passion for science, but she felt a little lost pursuing a pre-med degree.

"My mom got her master's degree when I was in fifth grade and I loved to go to the lab with her and just sit in the corner and watch her work. That's where I found out I wanted to study science," says Farahmand. "But CPP really helped me become ready for my major and prepared me to work in a lab."

As an undergraduate student, Farahmand became heavily involved in campus activities. She joined several clubs, including Alpha Xi Delta and the Biotechnology Club, served as president of the Greek Council and competed in track and field. But it was while conducting research at CPP's Steele Lab under Andrew Steele, Ph.D., an assistant professor of biological sciences, that Farahmand found her direction and changed career paths.

“Firozeh loves being a leader, and CPP gave her opportunities to develop her leadership skills even more," says her mother Mina Fakhary, principal scientist for Pharmavite, a company that makes vitamins, minerals and supplements.

Undergraduate research opportunities helped Farahmand build her skills and believe in her own ability to be a successful woman in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). While completing her master's program in fall 2021, she was nominated for a CSU Trustees' Award for Outstanding Achievement, the university's highest honor reserved for a student.

“Receiving that award showed her another angle of herself and proved to her she was on the right pathway," Fakhary says. “It built her confidence and inspired her to go even further than she thought she could."

Though commencement was a few short weeks ago, Farahmand has already secured a job working for a biotechnology company called SD Medical System, Inc. She would like to eventually earn a Ph.D. and become an adjunct faculty member to teach and mentor the next generation of students pursuing careers in biological sciences.

Her family could not be more proud, Fakhary says. "I see her as an accomplished young lady who is definitely ready to fly to her next journey."


Fabiola Moreno Ruelas

Fabiola Moreno Ruelas
2021-22 Cal State Student Association Vice President of Systemwide Affairs

Campus: San Diego State
Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Political Science

Resilient and selfless. That's the best way to describe Fabiola Moreno Ruelas, according to mentor Randi McKenzie, Emerita Assistant Dean for Student Affairs at San Diego State.

“Fabiola is a very powerful young woman who is, in some ways, driven for success, but also in giving back," says Mckenzie.

Moreno Ruelas learned about San Diego State through the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) in high school and eventually graduated from mentee to peer mentor as she pursued her bachelor's degree. During her time at SDSU, McKenzie watched with pride as Moreno Ruelas found ways to help support her fellow students, from serving on the California Governor's Council for Post-Secondary Education Intersegmental Working Group on Student Basic Needs to being elected CSSA VP of Systemwide Affairs.

“The CSU provided Fabiola, who has a deep passion for helping people, the platform to mentor students like herself who come from underserved backgrounds," says McKenzie. “Her position with CSSA enabled her to advocate on behalf of CSU students systemwide, within the university itself and in the legislature."

“SDSU and the CSU have transformed my life," says Moreno Ruelas. “Being a first-generation, low-income student was not easy, but knowing the CSU community was there to support me along my journey allowed me to reach my fullest potential. I am proud to be a product of the CSU."

And Moreno Ruelas is paying it forward, not only through mentorship, but by helping students pay for college. As a teen, she was awarded a small settlement following a car accident, money she used to start the Ruelas Fulfillment Foundation. The foundation has awarded scholarships to more than a dozen graduating high school seniors from Moreno Ruelas' hometown of Gonzales, California.

“Fabiola is a person who has always sought ways of giving back to other people," says McKenzie​. “There's never any self-centeredness about her."

Up next: Moreno Ruelas will participate in the Jesse M. Unruh Assembly Fellowship Program beginning in September, which she says will allow her to continue to serve others throughout the state.


Read about more inspiring graduates from the Class of 2022.

How the CSU Transformed Them
Inspiring-Grads-From-The-Class-of-2022.aspx
  
6/9/2022 1:07 PMGonzaga, Miko6/7/20226/7/2022 1:00 PMMeet a few inspiring graduates from the CSU's Class of 2022 who let nothing stop them from earning a degree.CommencementStory

Each spring, thousands of California State University students celebrate the remarkable achievement of earning a college degree, reflecting on the journey and all they have accomplished along the way. The road was tougher for some of those students, though, who came to the university with a heavier load to bear and needed a little extra push to make it to the end.

With the support of CSU programs and opportunities to get involved on campus, these students soared above the clouds, and now stand ready to guide those who come after them.

Meet just a few of the CSU's outstanding graduates from the Class of 2022 and discover how the university helped put them on the path to success.

​Name: Roda​isha James
Campus: Chico​ State
​​Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Asian Studies and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration

Though Chico State graduate Rodaisha James was orphaned at the age of 15, she never lost sight of the goal her mother set for her long before her death: Go to college. Through College Track, aRodaisha James smiling for a photo program to help Bay Area underserved youth earn a bachelor’s degree, Rodaisha was introduced to the university’s Promoting Achievement Through Hope (PATH) Scholars program for current and former foster youth, which she says is the reason she chose to be a Wildcat.

With the support of PATH Scholars, Rodaisha excelled in college, taking advantage of travel abroad opportunities, becoming involved in student organizations like Just Unity Sistas; the Association for Women in Business; and First Generation and Proud, and holding leadership positions for Chico State’s chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers for three years.

Rodaisha earned not one, but two degrees this spring, and has already secured a job as a project manager for ServiceNow, a software company that helps manage digital workflows for enterprise operations. She says she looks forward to helping pave the way for other African American women in a traditionally male-dominated space.

Read more about Rodaisha James at Chico State Today.


​Name: Lukas Daniels

Campus: CSU Dominguez Hills
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Anthropology

​The transition from in-person to remote learning during the pandemic was difficult for many students, but for CSU Dominguez Hills graduate Lukas Daniels, who had just transferred to theLukas Daniels smiling for a photo university in 2020, it was just one more complication. He lives with Hyper Mobile Joint Disorder, which causes chronic pain in his joints, fingers and limbs, as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which can impact his speaking, writing and research.

Despite these limitations, Daniels quickly became a standout scholar, working with CSUDH associate professor of anthropology Sarah Lacy, Ph.D., to conduct research focused on the queer community as underserved or marginalized communities, which he says is informed by his status as a trans man. He credits his success at CSUDH to his mentors and his extra-curricular activities. Daniels served as president of the Anthropology Club, as editor-in-chief of the anthropology student journal and as a student leader in the Queer Culture & Resource Center (QCRC).

Daniels will begin a master’s/Ph.D. program at Washington University this fall, focusing on biological anthropology research.

Read more about Lukas Daniels at the CSUDH Campus News Center.


​​Name: Steven Hensley

Campus: Fresno State
Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, Pre-Law Option and Bachelor of Arts in Political Science

Before he was even old enough to vote, Fresno State graduate Steven Hensley’s future looked bleak. He was incarcerated at age 17, but it was during his time behind bars that he set his sights onSteven Hensley smiling for a photo attending Fresno State. Hensley became involved with the university's Project Rebound program, which helps incarcerated and formerly incarcerated students navigate college, and even completed credits while serving his time.

Once at Fresno State, Hensley became a student coordinator for Bulldogs for Recovery, a Student Health and Counseling Center program concerned with recovery from addiction, co-founded a nonprofit to help at-risk and formerly incarcerated youth called Youngsters for a Change, and serves as co-chair of the Fresno County chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and on the board of directors for the ACLU of Northern California.

The 2022 Fresno State Undergraduate Deans' Medalist plans to attend the University of California, Berkeley for law school this fall with the goal of helping incarcerated youth like him, those in the LGBTQ community and those who grew up in poverty.

Read more about Steven Hensley at Fresno State News.


Name: Scott Azevedo

Campus: Sacramento State​
​Degree: Bachelor of Arts in History and Painting

Sacramento State graduate Scott Azevedo says his childhood was filled with rejection by his parents. His father suffered from alcoholism, and his mother eventually kicked him out of her home when he was aScott Azevedo smiling for a photo teenager for wanting to live as openly gay.

Over the next few years, Azevedo experienced homelessness, homophobia and ageism as he tried to find his footing at several universities. He enrolled at Sacramento State in 2020 where he says he found professors who exhibited great passion for their work and supported him as both an artist and a person.

His art tackles issues such as racism and colonialism, challenges that, as a gay Latinx man, he has experienced directly as part of a culture in which, he says, homophobia and colorism are common.

Azevedo earned two bachelor’s degrees, in art history and painting, and received the Dean’s Award for the College of Arts and Letters, an honor reserved for the college’s top graduating student. He will soon have one of his pieces displayed in the University Union Gallery and plans to pursue his Master of Fine Arts.

Read more about Scott Azevedo at the Sacramento State Newsroom.


Name: Carmen Wardwell

Campus: Cal State San Bernardino
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology

Being a mother of four and a full-time student is anything but easy, but Cal State San Bernardino graduate Carmen Wardwell counts her children as her biggest inspiration for returning to school. In fact,Carmen Wardwell smiling for a photo she chose her field of study, exercise and fitness, after dealing with significant weight gain and postpartum depression following the birth of her firstborn.

While at CSUSB, Wardwell served on a research team led by CSUSB assistant professor of kinesiology Sang Ouk Wee, Ph.D., working on various studies including one in collaboration with Casa Colina Healthcare Centers.

Wardwell was named CSUSB’s College of Natural Sciences Outstanding Undergraduate and will attend California Baptist University in the fall for its kinesiology/exercise science master’s program. She then hopes to pursue a doctoral degree in clinical exercise physiology, a new doctoral program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and wants to eventually pay it forward to future generations of kinesiology practitioners as an adjunct professor.

Read more about Carmen Wardwell at Inside CSUSB.


Name: Krystal Alvarez-Hernandez

Campus: CSU San Marcos
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Psychology

CSU San Marcos graduate Krystal Alvarez-Hernandez’s parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico to offer their children a better life and the chance to earn a higher education. Those dreamsKrystal Alvarez Hernandez smiling for a photo were almost derailed when Alvarez-Hernandez found herself pregnant as a junior in high school, but her son’s birth—far from causing her to drop out—resulted in her becoming laser-focused on education.

During her time at CSUSM, Alvarez-Hernandez became an undergraduate research assistant under the mentorship of psychology professor Kimberly D’Anna Hernandez, Ph.D., where she says she found a home amongst other Latinx researchers like herself. She also became connected with the U-RISE (Undergraduate Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement) program, which provides professional development and research opportunities to students from underrepresented groups, and participated in the UCLA Brain Research Institute summer undergraduate research experience (BRI-SURE).

Seven years after telling her parents of her unexpected pregnancy, Alvarez-Hernandez got to tell them she was the most decorated graduate in the entire CSUSM Class of 2022, out of almost 4,500 students. And she’s not stopping at earning a bachelor's degree. In August, Alvarez-Hernandez will move with her husband, Alfonso, and their 7-year-old son, Santiago, to Chicago so she can begin a Ph.D. program at Northwestern University.

Read more about Krystal Alvarez-Hernandez at the CSUSM NewsCenter.


Meet many more inspiring graduates from the CSU’s Class of 2022.

Special thanks to CSU campus writers and photographers: Nick Bulum, Nathan Brown, Jason Halley, Brian Hiro, Blair Houk, BoNhia Lee, Jonathon Morales, Sean Murphy, Andrea Price and Robert A. Whitehead.

A smiling person wearing a graduation cap and gown
No Mountain Too High
Dr-Judy-Sakaki-Resigns-as-President-of-SSU.aspx
  
6/17/2022 10:42 AMRuble, Alisia6/6/20226/6/2022 3:00 PM​Judy K. Sakaki, Ph.D. announced that she will resign as president of Sonoma State University effective July 31, 2022.LeadershipPress Release
​Judy K. Sakaki, Ph.D., announced today that she will resign as president of Sonoma State University (SSU) effective July 31, 2022. The CSU Board of Trustees will thereafter begin a national search for the eighth president of SSU. An interim president will be announced shortly. 

“Serving as Sonoma State President has truly been an honor. After thoughtful reflection and discussions with my family, I made the decision to step away as president of this wonderful campus,” stated President Sakaki. 

“I care deeply about Sonoma State and believe this choice will allow the campus community to move forward in a timely manner. I am incredibly grateful to the entire SSU and the North Bay communities for the opportunity to serve during such a challenging and transformative time at Sonoma State. Our students, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners have been exceptional, and I will forever treasure my time serving as SSU President. I am humbled and honored to have led this campus for the past six years.” 

Sakaki leaves a legacy of accomplishments at SSU. She became the seventh president and the second woman to have served as president in its 62 years. She is also the first Japanese American woman to serve as a university president in the United States. During her tenure, she transformed Sonoma State into a student success focused campus. First year student graduation rates have steadily improved, and the 2-year transfer graduation rate is the highest in the California State University. In her first year, SSU gained federal recognition as an Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) and secured a Department of Education $2.75 million grant to Prepare Underrepresented Educators to Realize their Teaching Ambitions (PUERTA). She led the campus in the aftermath of the destructive Tubbs wildfire where 80 faculty, staff and students lost their homes. President Sakaki lost her home, possessions and nearly her life. After the fires, the campus re-opened with a Gratitude Gathering and she is proud of the culture of care that enabled all affected by the fires to resume their studies and work at the campus. 

During her tenure, Dr. Sakaki strengthened community engagement at the university, including at the Green Music Center. She opened the Wine Spectator Learning Center and championed the Wine Industry Scholars Program (WISP) where family members of vineyard workers are encouraged to attend college and are provided with 4-year scholarships. President Sakaki developed a partnership with the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria Tribal Council that enabled the expansion of the Summer Bridge Program and other initiatives. She created the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and prioritized diversity and inclusion efforts on campus. Under President Sakaki’s leadership the Center for Transfer and Transition Programs, Dream Center, Lobo’s Pantry, Military and Veteran Resource Center, Seawolf Service Center and the Center for Academic Access and Student Enrichment (CAASE) were all created to better serve students. Additionally, philanthropy and grant funding support all have grown during her tenure.

Dr. Sakaki has dedicated her distinguished career to service and leadership in public higher education. She has served for over 40 years in various administrative positions in the California State University (East Bay, Fresno, Chancellor’s Office) and in the University of California (Davis, Office of the President). At her Presidential Investiture, then Ohio State President and now UC President Michael Drake, a mentor of Dr. Sakaki’s, praised her as “one of the bright stars of the education galaxy.” In 2017, President Sakaki was named “President of the Year” by the California State Student Association (CSSA). CSSA President David Lopez said, “Dr. Sakaki’s compassion and human touch, along with her stellar leadership, set her apart.” She was also honored as a National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) “Pillar of the Profession” in 2017, an award given to exemplary individuals who have served as leaders, teachers and scholars in student affairs and higher education. Additionally, Dr. Sakaki was a founding board member of Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education (APAHE), received the NASPA Region VI President’s Award in 2018, and was the Asian Pacific Islander (API) Legislative Caucus honoree for Excellence in Education in 2020.

Dr. Sakaki is a double alumna of the CSU, having earned both a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and master’s degree in Educational Psychology from CSU East Bay. She holds a Ph.D. in Education from the University of California, Berkeley.

“As someone who grew up in East Oakland, who was a first-generation college student, whose parents and grandparents were forced into internment camps because of their Japanese ancestry and who later earned the opportunity to become the first Japanese American woman to lead an American university, I am living proof of the power of higher education. I look forward to my continued involvement in opening doors and transforming the lives of individuals, families and communities through education,” said Dr. Sakaki.

“Throughout her career in higher education, President Sakaki has demonstrated a steadfast passion for the transformative power of a college degree,” stated Chancellor Jolene Koester. “We are grateful for her many years of service in higher learning including at Sonoma State and Fresno State.” 

Wenda Fong, Chair of the CSU Board of Trustees stated, “President Sakaki broke the leadership glass ceiling in academia by being the first Japanese American woman to serve as a university president in the United States. We thank her for the contributions she has made to student success at Sonoma State University and wish her the very best with her coming endeavors.”

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About the California State University
The California State University is the largest system of four-year higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, 477,000 students and 56,000 faculty and staff. Nearly 40 percent of the CSU's undergraduate students transfer from California community colleges. Created in 1960, the mission of the CSU is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of California. With its commitment to quality, opportunity and student success, the CSU is renowned for superb teaching, innovative research and for producing job-ready graduates. Each year, the CSU awards more than 132,000 degrees. One in every 20 Americans holding a college degree is a graduate of the CSU and our alumni are 4 million strong. Connect with and learn more about the CSU in the CSU NewsCenter.
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Dr. Judy K. Sakaki Resigns as 7th President of Sonoma State University
Diana-Aguilar-Appointed-CSU-Student-Trustee-2022.aspx
  
6/4/2022 7:38 PMRuble, Alisia6/3/20226/3/2022 9:00 AMGovernor Gavin Newsom appointed Diana Aguilar-Cruz to the CSU Board of Trustees on June 1, 2022. Board of TrusteesStory

Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Diana Aguilar-Cruz to the California State University Board of Trustees on June 1, 2022. 

Aguilar-Cruz, 20, is a resident of Baldwin Park and is a third-year student at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona majoring in biology with a career goal of obtaining an MD in pediatric neurosurgery and a Ph.D. in organic chemistry. She has served as the officer of academic affairs for Associated Students Inc., Cal Poly Pomona, and as a member of the CPP Pre-Medical Student Association, the Mexican-American Student Association and Delta Epsilon Mu, and was a participant in the Cal Poly Pomona Achieve Scholars Program. She is currently conducting research on gestational diabetes in underrepresented communities, as well as Alzheimer's disease.

A first-generation college student, Aguilar-Cruz was born and raised in Mexico City and immigrated to the United States in 2015 as a non-English speaker. She is the co-founder of Nezahualcoyotl, a volunteer-based organization, has served as a recruitment and social media coordinator for the COPE Health Scholars program, and as a student advisor for Hermanas Unidas Inc.

“As a future physician, I want to save minds and hearts one patient at a time, and the same applies for our students," Aguilar-Cruz said. “I hope that every student has the privilege to hear their first and last name as they walk in their graduation ceremony, and to tell their loved ones, 'We did it! Sí se pudo!'"

Beginning on July 1, 2022, Aguilar-Cruz will serve a two-year term on the CSU Board of Trustees – the 25-member board that adopts regulations and policies governing the CSU system. As a student trustee, she will represent the CSU's 477,000 students.​

Cal Poly Pomona Student Appointed to the CSU Board of Trustees
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6/20/2022 3:44 PMGonzaga, Miko5/31/20225/31/2022 11:10 AMThe 36th Annual CSU Student Research Competition showcased the CSU’s innovative scholars.ResearchStory

Bright Minds of the Future

The 36th Annual CSU Student Research Competition showcased t​he CSU’s innovative scholars.


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On April 29-30, 2022, student researchers from across the CSU presented their work at the 36th Annual CSU Student Research Competition, hosted virtually by San Francisco State University.

“Many of our students work closely with faculty mentors to explore topics ranging the arts, humanities, behavioral sciences, and science and engineering,” says Ganesh Raman, Ph.D., assistant vice chancellor of Research at the CSU Office of the Chancellor. “The event, which showcased both undergraduate and graduate research, scholarship and creative activity, was truly a delight to watch and exemplified the CSU’s 'learn by doing' approach to learning.”

Meet a few of the competition’s first-place winners.

Madison Stewart

​Madison Stewart

Campus: CSU San Marcos
Major/Program: Biotechnology, Senior
Project: Defining the Relationship Between the Soil Microbiome and Crop Nutritional Content

Working with Biological Sciences Professor Matthew Escobar, Ph.D., and research partner Sheyenne Black, Madison Stewart studied if a soil’s microbiome—its ecosystem of bacteria, fungi and other organisms—affects nutritional content in crops, specifically tomatoes.

“The larger goal of this project is to figure out if there is a relationship where we can alter the nutritional content of these tomatoes using a process called biofortification—which is biotechnology, agricultural practices or selective breeding to increase crop nutrition—because a lot of people are nutrient-deficient in the U.S.,” Stewart says.

For the project, Dr. Escobar gathered five soil samples from across Southern and Central California, which were then split in half. The first half kept its live microbiome, while the other half was steam-sterilized to kill the microbiome. The team then grew micro tomato plants in each, as well as in a steam-sterilized potting mix. The resulting tomatoes were then freeze dried, ground into a powder and analyzed for nutrient content.

The study confirmed the team’s hypothesis that a relationship exists between the soil microbiome and the crops’ nutritional content—and earned Stewart first place in the Biological and Agricultural Sciences (Undergraduate #1) category. Since then, the team has conducted further analysis and found high levels of ectoine—a compound plants do not produce, but may increase their drought resilience—in tomatoes grown in soil with live microbiomes. Future research would investigate how the microbiome changes the tomatoes’ nutritional content.

“This ectoine content might be beneficial in times of drought, and if we knew [the relationship], we could pass on [the knowledge to] farmers,” Stewart says. “As for human consumption, it's a little bit further in the future, but if we can figure out which specific bacteria cause specific nutrient changes, you might be able to engineer a soil microbiome to get a desired crop.”

Following graduation, she’ll begin a Ph.D. program at University of California, Davis to study stem cells and regenerative medicine.

Madison Stewart watering the micro tomato plants.

Nikita Mishra

Nikita Mishra

Campus: Cal State Los Angeles
Major/Program: Biochemistry, Computation Biology and Bioinformatics minor, Senior
Project: Computational Characterizations of Binding Affinity in SARS‐CoV‐2 Variants to the Human ACE2 Receptor

Nikita Mishra earned the top spot in the Engineering and Computer Science (Mixed) category for her research with Assistant Professor of Computer Science Negin Forouzesh, Ph.D., modeling mutations of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19.

“In the past year, we've been hearing a lot about [COVID-19] mutations—Omicron, Delta, Gamma—but what we are struggling with right now is that the variants are hard to predict,” Mishra says. “My research is trying to build a tool that can analyze these different mutations of the virus to see how damaging a given mutation will be should it occur in the virus and then infect the human body.”

Using a computer model of the virus protein, Mishra manipulates the amino acids (protein’s component parts) that bind to the human ACE2 receptor. The strength of this binding affects how quickly the virus spreads between people and how severe it is. These models help predict the effects of potential variants and how to defend against them.

“The virus continues to evolve as time goes on; it's not stopping and it's not going away for the foreseeable future,” Mishra says. “Having this tool to understand what mutations could be next should help scientists in terms of vaccine development and booster development.”

Mishra will continue working with Dr. Forouzesh during the summer to automate the mutation prediction tool before beginning her master’s in bioengineering at Stanford University.

Diagram of the SARS-CoV-2 virus binding with the human ACE2 receptor

Justise Wattree

Justise Wattree

Campus: San José State
Major/Program: Humanities, African American Studies and Public Health minors, Senior
Project: The Two‐Front War: Self‐Help, and Black Health Activism during The Spanish Flu, HIV/AIDS, and COVID‐19

“The COVID-19 pandemic exposed health disparities or health inequities [by race and ethnicity] a lot more than what we've seen before,” Wattree says. “I saw the attempts to counter these disparities in the Black community within the Black church and within activist groups … and I was wondering if the community mobilized itself the same way during past pandemics—during HIV/AIDS and during the Spanish flu.”

For this project that won Wattree first place in the Humanities, Arts and Letters (Undergraduate #1) category, he compared the Black health activism carried out during the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic, the HIV/AIDS epidemic beginning in the 1980s and the COVID-19 pandemic. The research involved archival work, reviewing Black newspapers from 1918 and newspapers and photographs from the 1980s and 1990s. He then conducted an interview with a public health official and obtained resources from local activist groups in the Bay Area about the current pandemic.

One interesting finding included a fashion campaign in the Black community during the 1918 pandemic to encourage women to wear masks, in hopes they’d influence their families. In addition, Wattree found that the Black church—while usually a strong agent of public health activism—did not respond as quickly to the HIV/AIDs epidemic due to the taboos associated with its transmission. The latter leads into his next research project on how the Black church’s connection to local activist groups impacts its response to pandemics, namely the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

“It's important to investigate health activism as an avenue for addressing health disparities because health activists may have access to resources or connections with the people that the public health infrastructure wouldn’t have,” Wattree says. “Some of it has been in community groups, but it’s also Black churches. I think Black churches or religious organizations in the Black community should be mobilized to the fullest capacity to counter health disparities.”


Mauricio Gomez Lopez

Mauricio Gomez Lopez

Campus: Cal State Fullerton
Major/Program: Physics, Mathematics, Senior
Project: Studying the Material Properties of an Active Suspension of Swimming Bacteria

There is a phenomenon known as a starling swarm, or starling murmuration, when a flock of hundreds to millions of these birds form changing shapes and patterns as they fly. Scientists have noticed such motion patterns reflected at the microscopic level.

“You see those same dynamics, that same kind of motion from the microscopic scale with E. coli all the way up through birds,” says Mauricio Gomez Lopez. “So that makes us think that there might be some physical laws determining these sorts of motions.”

Taking first place in the Physical and Mathematical Sciences (Undergraduate) category, Gomez Lopez studied how E. coli particles move in response to force, seeing if and how they follow these movement patterns. Working in the SLAM Lab with Assistant Professor of Physics Wylie Ahmed, Ph.D., Gomez Lopez programmed an infrared laser, called optical tweezers, to direct force on the particles, documenting the resulting motion. In the videos taken under the microscope, “it almost looks like this dense crowd, and someone trying to get through.”

The hope is understanding the particles’ reaction will help scientists figure out how to harness the energy generated by the moving particles to produce power.

“When we think about renewable sources of energy, we can see bacteria and E. coli being a possible new energy source,” Gomez Lopez says. “We were able to show that there is this transfer of energy, so the idea now is how can we engineer something to extract that energy and use it to power stuff we use on a daily basis.”

Gomez Lopez will continue his research as he works towards his master’s in physics at Cal State Fullerton.

Mauricio Gomez Lopez looks through a microscope in the lab.​​​

See the complete list of this year’s CSU Student Research Competition winners, and view more coverage from CSU campuses.

Bright Minds of the Future
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