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9/20/2021 7:48 AMRawls, Aaron9/20/20219/20/2021 5:25 PMThree CSU alumni-teachers reflect on their journey to the classroom, virtual learning and what it means to be an educator.Teacher PreparationStory

A Teaching Moment

Three CSU alumni-teachers reflect on their journey to the classroom, virtual learning and what it means to be an educator.


 

“The duties of a teacher are neither few nor small, but they elevate the mind and give energy to the character.” —Dorothea Dix


Block by block, lesson by lesson, day by day, teachers build the foundation of students’ knowledge and character that carries them from childhood to adulthood. Now, after endeavoring to continue that work virtually during the pandemic, educators are beginning to re-enter the classroom with their students.

Preparing more of California’s teachers than any other institution, the CSU's teacher preparation program​ helps ensure those instructors are equipped to provide that strong educational foundation. As we head into the new school year, we spoke with three teachers who earned their credentials at the CSU.

ERIC CALDERON-PHANGRATH​

Seventh-Grade Teacher, Fort Miller Middle School
​Fresno State, B.A. Liberal Studies ’17, Teaching Credential ’19, M.A. Special Education ’21 ​


“I can have deep conversations with kids, and they can respond back with genuine responses—and that’s what I enjoy about middle school.”


The son of immigrants from Cambodia and Laos, Eric Calderon-Phangrath was only 16 years old when he enrolled in the liberal studies program at California State University, Fresno. “English was not my first language, I was young, I was a first-generation college student and my parents really didn't know how to help navigate the college avenue for me,” he says. “So, it was a lot of figuring it out myself.”

Despite his uncertainty, Calderon-Phangrath already knew he wanted to be a teacher because of his experience in school and the support he received from his teachers.

“[My siblings and I] had teachers who would take us after school when our parents were still on the farm,” he says. “They would read stories with us or have us staple packets and keep us busy. They would essentially give us a space to stay until our parents could get home.”

With the help of campus advisors, Calderon-Phangrath mapped out a track to complete his undergraduate degree—a journey that took him 12 years to finish as he took off semesters here and there while he and his husband fostered and adopted their children. But it was his children who ultimately led him to become a special education teacher.

“I had the realization that I needed to be a better advocate for my own kids, because they have special needs,” Calderon-Phangrath explains. “What better way to advocate for your children than being in the classroom?”

His teaching career, however, actually began before completing his credential program, when his professors encouraged him to apply for a school district job immediately. Now he’s entering his fifth year of teaching and is currently a seventh-grade teacher at Fort Miller Middle School.

Working in the same school district he grew up in, Calderon-Phangrath is serving students who live in areas like his childhood neighborhood that have high drug use, gangs and violence. This shared experience allows him to have deep conversations with his students about how they can break those cycles and “change the trajectory of their lives.” And it’s making these connections with students in person again that he was most looking forward to as this new school year began.

“I can think back to the teachers who watched us after school that I had in second grade: Ms. Murray or Ms. Brannon or Ms. Toto,” Calderon-Phangrath recalls. “They were more than just our teachers, and I want to be able to give that to my students. I can check on their well-being when they're here; I can make sure they're fed and clothed. Yes, I'm looking forward to the kids coming in so I can teach them in person and give them support and accommodations. But it's also making sure the students are OK.”

STEPHANIE ORTIZ

Fourth-Grade Teacher, Evergreen Elementary School
CSU Bakersfield, B.A. Liberal Studies ’15, Teaching Credential ’15, M.A. Curriculum and Instruction ’19


“What I missed the most is being able to support all of my kids. Once I meet those kids in person, I already know what each kid needs. I don't need a report card. I don't need a grading system. I don't need to look at their work to know where they're at.”


Throughout Stephanie Ortiz’s journey to the classroom, she has kept coming back to her first- and second-grade teacher Mrs. Salazar and Evergreen Elementary School—where she attended school and now teaches.

It was Mrs. Salazar who wrote her recommendations to receive California State University, Bakersfield scholarships, and it was Evergreen where Ortiz tutored young students as a college sophomore. It was also Mrs. Salazar’s first-grade class at Evergreen where Ortiz started her student-teaching.

“My whole experience and my journey to being a teacher always called me back to my elementary school, and I’m still there,” Ortiz says. “I've always been a [Bakersfield City School District] kid, and I knew when I was starting my journey as a teacher, I always wanted to go back to BCSD because they made me successful. They were able to put me on this path to graduate high school and then graduate college.”

Ortiz also thought she wanted to teach first grade, until her initial time student-teaching. She then began student-teaching with Evergreen’s fourth-grade teacher and realized she enjoyed the older grade. Following that experience, the fourth-grade teacher changed roles and Ortiz applied to the position and was offered the job.

She’s now entering her seventh year teaching and works with students who come from similar backgrounds as hers. As a Mexican American and a daughter of immigrants, she finds she can understand the challenges her students face coming from Spanish-speaking households.

“I'm able to relate to them because this was my journey, this was my school. I finished school here, and then I went to Sequoia and then I went to West High,” Ortiz says. “I tell them, ‘It's possible for you to end up where you want to be—if you want to become a teacher, a vet, a doctor, whatever you want to do, whatever path you want to take.' … I feel really lucky that I'm able to connect to a lot of these families, as a first-generation college student, and set that example for these kids.”

Ortiz also works as an inclusion teacher, which means she has students in her class who have individualized education programs or are classified as requiring special education. But when the district transitioned to virtual learning and then hybrid learning during COVID-19, these students were moved into a separate class.

As her district returns to in person, Ortiz was ready to have all her students together again. “I was looking forward to being back with them, having that human interaction and being able to build relationships with them,” she says. “Because not many of our kids come from good home lives, they come with challenges. We have foster kids. We have kids who don't feel like they're cared for at home or have other challenges they're facing. Building that little environment, that little safe space for them is great, and they always thrive in that kind of environment.”

NAGEL FLO​RES

First-Grade Teacher, Baldwin Stocker Elementary School
Cal State LA, M.S. Mental Health Counseling ’16; CalStateTEACH, Teaching Credential ’20 ​


“I really like going through the day, spending time with the students and interacting with each of them individually. Each of them has such a unique personality, and I really enjoy that.​”


First-year teacher Nagel Flores had spent plenty of time in the classroom before earning his teaching credential through CalStateTEACH and accepting his first full-time teaching position. After working as a school counselor to help students who needed extra behavioral support, he switched to substitute teaching in 2018, when he taught students of various grades and need levels.

“After a while I was like, ‘Hey, you know what? I want to be a teacher, too,​’” Flores says. “I looked online to see what programs would help me as a full-time substitute teacher, but also acquire the multiple subject credential. So, I found CalStateTEACH, and I really liked the program because it was all online and it allowed me to work during the day.”

Thanks to that flexibility, he continued working in a substitute capacity while completing the program, serving as a long-term substitute for a transitional kindergarten class through spring 2021 after graduation.

In addition, the program’s blend of mentorship opportunities, academic resources and student teaching prepared him to enter the classroom. “All these things coming together really made me a more equipped educator,” Flores says. “Especially because CalStateTEACH, too, is very technology heavy, where they make you do a lot of assignments that require some experience and understanding of technology—whether that be for assessing students, making resources more accessible to parents or just how to make it more transformative and integrated for the students.”

The technological skills became especially helpful as he taught both virtual and hybrid classes during the pandemic.

“Some families felt more comfortable staying at home, but that didn't mean that they were going to get left behind, because it's all about equity,” he explains. “If some students wanted to stay home and some students wanted to come back in person, it's still the same level of quality in education that you're providing to both parties.”

But with the return to the classroom this school year, Flores was particularly looking forward to opening day procedures, especially as it was his first day as a full-time teacher. “As a sub, it would be the teacher setting those foundations and the classroom management style, but now I get to be that teacher,” he says. “I'm in that position now, and I get to teach them how to walk in lines, how to play on the playground and how to interact with their peers."

“It comes down to being with the students; that's the main reason why I became a teacher in the first place. And I just want to see how I can help develop each and every one of my students.”​​

A Teaching Moment
hispanic-heritage-month-2021.aspx
  
9/15/2021 8:03 AMRawls, Aaron9/15/20219/15/2021 3:50 PMOn the occasion of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we recognize just 30 of the notable Latinx students, staff, faculty and alumni from across the CSU who have served or continue to serve their campuses and communities.DiversityStory
¡Si Se Puede!: Latinx Americans of the CSU Who Knew They Could
State-of-CSU-Address-2021.aspx
  
9/16/2021 8:46 AMKelly, Hazel9/14/20219/14/2021 12:00 PMIn his first “State of the CSU” address, Chancellor Joseph I. Castro explores how the lessons of the past 18 months have issued a calling for the CSU to be an even more vital and equitable institution.ChancellorStory

​​​​​The California State University is strong, resilient and poised to honor the voices of the pandemic, Chancellor Joseph I. Castro told the Board of Trustees during his first “State of the CSU" address​ since being appointed to lead the 23-campus university.

As the CSU emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic and one of the most challenging times in its history, Dr. Castro urged the university's trustees, employees and stakeholders to embrace the lessons of the last 18 months to illuminate a path to become a more dynamic and equitable institution.

“Let's honor the voices of the pandemic. To ignore them is to compound the tragedy. So let's be inspired by them—let's heed their lessons as we reimagine an even more vital California State University," he said.

Castro focused on four lessons, or voices, the pandemic has taught the university:

  1. To continue being flexible and bold
  2. To be even more technology focused
  3. To be more compassionate
  4. To be more inclusive and equitable

During the pandemic, the CSU transitioned 80,000 courses to virtual modalities in the span of about two weeks, and students excelled, Castro said. Recognizing that learning happens in many different settings, the CSU continues to be flexible in meeting students where they are to support their academic success. From awarding credit for prior learning through Professional and Continuing Education programs, to improving access to high-demand STEM programs through Humboldt State's pending transition to a polytechnic institution, the CSU continues to be the nation's most powerful driver of socioeconomic mobility.

Technology and support strategies employed during virtual instruction were vital to student success during the pandemic and the CSU will continue to refine and expand these tools to enrich the student learning experience moving forward, Castro said. But he also acknowledged that bridging the digital divide will be essential with the increasing focus on technology.

The new CSUCCESS initiative is one way the CSU is improving tech equity. Currently rolling out at eight campuses, the first phase of CSUCCESS offers a new iPad Air, Apple Pencil and Apple Smart Keyboard Folio to every incoming first year and transfer student.

“I am confident that it will be a game-changer in terms of student success, and I look forward future phases, and the day—coming soon—when technology will be an essential and invaluable tool, and not a barrier, for every CSU student."

Castro reflected on speaking with students during his recent campus visits​. “I've had the pleasure of spending time with students—and every time, I am reminded of just how much our students have gone through as they've continued to work toward their degrees during extraordinarily challenging circumstances," he said. “I always make a point of asking them what I, as Chancellor, can do to better serve them. Their responses have been heart-wrenching in their simplicity: They want understanding. Empathy. A little flexibility. They want compassion. We will come through for those students and their peers—because compassion is part of our DNA."

Castro pointed to several examples that highlight the CSU's compassion, from the Mental Health First Aid training program to Humboldt State's Inclusivity Project supporting Black-owned businesses to Cal State Fullerton's Gender Affirming Closet for gender non-conforming students to find free clothing in a safe space.

Compassion also means supporting students' basic needs, such as free curbside food pickup for food-insecure students at Cal State LA, to Chico State's rapid-rehousing program for students who found themselves displaced during the pandemic.

Two of Castro's highest priorities as the leader of the largest four-year higher education system are to create a more inclusive and equitable institution. “It is extraordinarily important to me that our students see themselves in our campus communities and feel a sense of belonging—that they feel seen, heard and valued in their surroundings."

It is extra-ordinarily important to me that our students see themselves in our campus communities and feel a sense of belonging—that they feel seen, heard and valued in their surroundings." 

Castro pointed to examples of successful strategies that are advancing equity for students, including increasing faculty diversity and promoting STEM access with the support of private-public partnerships. In addition, the chancellor formed an advisory committee to develop recommendations to completely eliminate equity gaps that exist in graduation rates between students of color, first-generation students and low-income students and their peers as part of the CSU's Graduation Initiative 2025.

Castro emphasized that the true meaning of initiatives to advance equity is the potential realized for each individual student. The chancellor then turned over the podium to a special guest, Cal Poly Pomona alumnus Luis Dominguez, to share his own inspirational success story as a first-generation college student who now works for NASA-JPL.

Castro closed with the following remarks:

“The state of the CSU is strong. It is resilient. It is resolute. The state of the CSU is poised to honor the voices of the pandemic. To be even more courageous and bold. More technology-focused. To show even greater compassion. And to answer the call to be an even more accessible, inclusive and equitable institution so that genius can thrive—whether in spectacular fashion like a career in aerospace, or in careers every bit as vital, as teachers, caregivers, business leaders, engineers or public servants—as we transform the lives of our current and future students. And as a global model for post-pandemic higher education, we lead our state and nation to their brightest future."


Watch Chancellor Castro's address ​from September 14, 2021:



​​​​

man in suit smiling as he delivers speech at podium
Chancellor Castro: Lessons from Pandemic Illuminate a Bold Yet Compassionate Path Forward for CSU
CSU-Trustees-to-Honor-23-Top-Student-Scholars-for-Outstanding-Achievement.aspx
  
9/13/2021 3:53 PMKelly, Hazel9/13/20219/13/2021 8:00 AMThe Trustees’ Award is the university’s highest recognition of student achievement. Awardees will be acknowledged during the Board of Trustees meeting on September 14.Student SuccessPress Release

​​​​​​​The California State University (CSU) will honor 23 students, one from each CSU campus, who have been selected to receive the 2021 Trustees' Award for Outstanding Achievement. The students will be acknowledged for their talent, determination and drive during a ceremony as part of the CSU Board of Trustees virtual meeting to be held on Tuesday, September 14.

The Trustees' Award is the university's highest recognition of student achievement. Each award provides a donor-funded scholarship to students who demonstrate superior academic performance, personal accomplishments, community service and financial need. Awardees have all demonstrated inspirational resolve along the path to college success and many are the first in their families to attend college.

“These 23 scholars wonderfully exemplify the ideals of the California State University," said CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro. “Every year, and especially this year, our Trustees' Award honorees demonstrate resilience, tenacity and resolve—together with a keen intellect—while making an indelible, positive impact on their families and their communities. They are truly an inspiration."

More than 400 students have been honored with the Trustees' Award since the scholarship program was established in 1984 by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation. In 1999, the Hearst Foundation partnered with the CSU Board of Trustees to supplement the endowment with contributions from CSU Trustees, CSU Foundation board members and private donors. Each student scholarship bears the name of a donor.

Ali C. Razi, a CSU Trustee Emeritus and CSU Foundation Board of Governor, endowed a scholarship fund to recognize the top CSU Trustees' Award recipient annually. Stanislaus State student Tonya Hensley was named this year's Trustee Emeritus Ali C. Razi Scholar and will receive a $15,000 scholarship. 

The awardees will be recognized for their superior achievements during the Committee on Institutional Advancement portion of the CSU Board of Trustees meeting.

Visit the CSU Trustees' Award for Outstanding Achievement website for bios on all 23 scholars as well as donor information.


The 2021 CSU Trustees' Scholars are:​​

  • Elaine Anne E. Araneta, Cal State Long Beach
    Steinhauser Family Scholar
  • Erika Baron, CSUN
    William Randolph Hearst Scholar
  • Jazmin Araceli Barrita Barrita, CSU Bakersfield
    Michael A. and Debe Lucki Scholar
  • Hannah Bittar, San José State
    Trustee Emeritus William Hauck and Padget Kaiser Scholar
  • Janelle Chojnacki, Humboldt State
    William Randolph Hearst Scholar
  • Doshia Dodd, Sonoma State
    Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation Scholar
  • Firozeh Farahmand, Cal Poly Pomona
    Trustee Emeritus Kenneth Fong Scholar
  • Ivan Gonzalez, CSU San Marcos
    Chancellor Emeritus Timothy P. White Scholar
  • Angelica Gurrola, Cal State East Bay
    William Randolph Hearst Scholar
  • Lawson Hardrick III, San Diego State
    Trustee Emeritus Murray L. Galinson Scholar
  • Tonya Hensley, Stanislaus State
    Trustee Emeritus Ali C. Razi Scholar
  • Vivian Hernandez, Chico State
    SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union Scholar
  • Dillon Herrick, CSU Monterey Bay
    Wells Fargo Veteran Scholar
  • Maram Kiran, Fresno State
    Trustee Emerita Claudia H. Hampton Scholar
  • Christine Lam, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
    Trustee Wenda Fong and Daniel Fetterly Scholar
  • Mauricio Gomez Lopez, Cal State Fullerton
    TELACU Scholar
  • Margaret Malmquist-West, Cal Maritime ​
    Trustee Jack McGrory Scholar
  • Alexandra Martin, Cal State LA
    Stauffer Foundation Scholar
  • Carla Cruz Medina, Sacramento State
    CSU Foundation President Emeritus Garrett P. Ashley Scholar
  • Aurelia Nahue, CSU Channel Islands
    Santé Health System Scholar
  • J Patterson, San Francisco State
    Chancellor Emeritus Charles B. and Catherine Reed Scholar
  • Berenice Rojas, CSU Dominguez Hills
    Edison International Scholar
  • Bipulanda Sraman, Cal State San Bernardino
    Ron and Mitzi Barhorst Scholar ​

​​# # #

About the California State University
The California State University is the largest system o f four-year higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, 56,000 faculty and staff and 486,000 students. Half of the CSU's 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 nearly 129,000 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.  ​


CSU Trustees to Honor 23 Top Student Scholars for Outstanding Achievement
CA-Lawmakers-Celebrate-Class-of-4-Million-2021.aspx
  
9/3/2021 2:07 PMKelly, Hazel9/2/20219/2/2021 11:00 AMThe California State Assembly and Senate each passed a resolution to honor the CSU’s milestone of 4 million living alumni and its essential impact on the state.AlumniStory

​​​With the graduation of the Class of 2021, the CSU reached the milestone of 4 million living alumni. To honor this achievement, the California State Assembly and State Senate each passed a resolution this summer to join the CSU in celebrating the Class of 4 Million, its global network and its broad impact on California. The Assembly adopted HR​ 53 on July 15 and the Senate adopted SR 44 on September 1.

“The 23-campus California State University system is the pride of California. Its 4 million graduates have been the driver of the state's economy and the nation's vitality for more than 50 years," said former CSU Trustee and current California Senator Steve Glazer (D-Contra Costa). "Students from all walks of life—first-generation, immigrants, working parents—are able to fulfill lifetime goals by attending and graduating from these high quality and affordable universities. Today, the State Senate salutes the campus and system leaders who are making a remarkable difference for their students. As a proud CSU alum [San Diego State '79], I am honored to join in recognizing this historic milestone."

While the CSU's alumni have spread out across the globe, about 84 percent of them remain in California, with one in 10 of all workers in the state holding a CSU degree. And one in every 20 Americans with a college degree earned it at the CSU, making the CSU's alumni network larger than the population of 23 individual U.S. states. Together, CSU alumni are working at all levels to serve their communities, grow the economy and lead California to a better future.

“The California State University is an educational powerhouse that propels California's culture and economy," said California Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-Marin County). “My path to the California State Assembly would not have been possible without my extraordinary California State University, Northridge education ['96]. I'm proud to be among the first 4 million graduates and cannot wait to see where the next 4 million lead California in the future."

Both the Assembly and Senate resolutions praised the CSU as an unparalleled engine of social mobility with students receiving a high-quality education that propels them into higher economic strata. They also recognized the university's critical role in the state's economy and the creation of California's workforce by awarding nearly one-half of all bachelor's degrees in the state each year. In addition, the resolutions acknowledged that the CSU's graduation rates have increased to an all-time high under Graduation Initiative 2025, helping to meet California's need for degreed workers.

 
Meet some of the four million remarkable CSU alumni making a difference in the lives of the people of California and the world. 

man wearing protective face mask standing at podium behind glass at California State Senate
California Senator Steve Glazer, a CSU alumnus (San Diego State '79) and former member of the CSU Board of Trustees, was lead author on Senate Resolution 44 honoring the CSU's Class of 4 Million.​​

man in suit with protective face covering speaking into a microphone
Assemblymember Marc Levine and CSU alumnus (CSUN '96) was lead author on House Resolution 53 honoring the CSU's Class of 4 Million.

woman with protective face mask speaking at podium 
California Senator Susan Eggman and CSU alumna (Stanisluas State) spoke on SR 44 on September 1, along with Senator Glazer, in support of the resolution.  
Man with protective face mask speaking at podium
California Senator Jim Nielsen and CSU alumnus (Fresno State) spoke on SR 44 on September 1, along with Senator Glazer, in support of the resolution.  
​​

California’s Lawmakers Celebrate the CSU’s Distinguished ‘Class of 4 Million’ Alumni
CSU-Online-Course-Exchange-Program-Increases-Access-for-Students.aspx
  
9/2/2021 10:51 AMRuble, Alisia8/31/20218/31/2021 11:30 AMIncoming transfer students can now participate in their first semester at the CSU.Online EducationStory
​​Students at California State University (CSU) campuses have the opportunity to take one course at a sister CSU campus each semester at no additional cost through CSU Fully Online. The course exchange program provides students with greater flexibility, increasing access to courses that may otherwise conflict with work and family responsibilities, and helps them stay on track to degree completion.

Last spring, faculty transformed more than 80,000 in-person course sections to virtual instruction, some of which were offered through CSU Fully Online for the first time. As campuses transition back to offering more classes in person, some of those course sections may continue to be available through CSU Fully Online as the university focuses on reaching students where they are.

Roughly 60 percent of the CSU teaching force—more than 17,000 faculty members—completed over 250,000 hours of professional development last summer to optimize courses for teaching online and ensure student engagement and equity. Campuses also supported faculty with course redesign so that faculty could reimagine their courses to be taught online more effectively.

The challenges of the last year and a half led the CSU to revisit online education’s potential to enhance instruction, expand access to certain populations of students, and promote equity and inclusion in new ways. The university plans to expand programs like CSU Fully Online in the future to continue meeting students where they are and reduce time to degree—a key component of the CSU’s Graduation Initiative 2025.

The number of courses offered through CSU Fully Online has grown since its launch, in part because of the pandemic, from

​The CSU recently expanded access to CSU Fully Online for undergraduates, especially transfer students. 

about 3,000 in fall 2016 to nearly 11,000 courses in fall 2021. A majority are undergraduate courses that fulfill General Education (GE) requirements, but some post-baccalaureate and graduate courses are available. A “fully online” course is any class that’s offered in a completely online environment with no in person or on campus meetings.

The CSU recently expanded access to CSU Fully Online for undergraduates, especially transfer students. Incoming transfer​ students are now eligible to take a CSU Fully Online course their first semester at the university, rather than waiting until they have completed at least one term at their home campus.

Upgraded search and filter options now make it easier for students to find courses that fit their academic goals. CSU Fully Online also has a new feature that alerts students when they are signing up for a synchronous course, which has predetermined dates where classes meet online. 

EJ Andrews, Jr., a recent graduate of Fresno State and former student athlete, enrolled in several CSU Fully Online courses as an undergraduate student because they enabled him to complete necessary courses while playing baseball. As a result, he graduated ahead of schedule and was recently drafted by the Colorado Rockies.

The CSU continues to expand online options through programs like CSU Fully Online, Cal State TEACH, which offers a multiple subject teaching credential program online, and Cal State Online, which offers online and hybrid degree programs.

To learn more about how the CSU is helping students meet their educational goals through online instruction, visit the CSU Fully Online website.
A college student studying alone in a library.
CSU Fully Online Expands Access for Students
CSU-Launch-HSI-Equity-Innovation-Hub-2021.aspx
  
8/31/2021 7:00 AMKelly, Hazel8/31/20218/31/2021 6:00 AMPartnership with Apple and state of California will lead to new and additional educational pathways for students in STEM.STEMPress Release

​​In partnership with Apple and California Governor Gavin Newsom, the California State University (CSU) is announcing the establishment of a Global Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) Equity Innovation Hub to be housed on the California State University, Northridge​ (CSUN) campus.

The Global HSI Equity Innovation Hub at CSUN will work to transform HSIs throughout the CSU and nation in order to increase student success and equip Latinx and other historically underserved students with skills for high-demand careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

CSUN's Global HSI Equity Innovation Hub will work in collaboration with other CSU campuses and HSIs across the nation to accelerate educational equity while ensuring students have the skills to succeed once they've earned their degrees.

“The CSU, the nation's largest four-year higher education system, has long been a leader in serving Latinx students with 21 of our 23 campuses receiving HSI designation," said CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro. “The CSU takes great pride in the work we have undertaken to provide pathways to STEM education that result in the careers that power the world's fifth-largest economy. Through bold vision from our state's leaders in Governor Newsom, Senator Padilla, Congressman Cárdenas and Assemblywoman Rivas, this is an exciting opportunity to collaborate with an outstanding partner in Apple and to leverage their cutting-edge and creative technologies with the intellectual capacities of world-class faculty to combine that work to benefit thousands of talented students in California and beyond."

CSUN President Erika D. Beck agreed.

“By reframing serving through an equity and racial-justice lens, the Global HSI Equity Innovation Hub seeks to exponentially accelerate educational equity across the CSU system and nation," CSUN President Erika D. Beck said. “The Equity Hub at CSUN is an ideal site to continue these ongoing, collaborative efforts, while also expanding the map across HSIs nationally, to capture proven strategies to the benefit of all. We aim to shift the conversation away from what students must do to be successful to what our institutions must do to successfully serve our Latinx and other diverse students."

The hub is the result of a public/private partnership, and the building was made possible through a $25 million allocation in the 2021-22 California state budget and a donation from Apple.

“This exciting initiative showcases California's commitment to create new pathways to success for all individuals, reinforcing the fact that our innovation economy continues to expand," said Governor Gavin Newsom. “Expanding equitable educational opportunities for the state's largest population has been a goal of my administration, and this $25 million allocation—along with the donation from California-based Apple—will help accelerate that goal."

In addition to the significant financial support Apple is providing for the Global HSI Equity Hub programming, it also will provide innovative Apple technology, design support and thought partnership as the project expands.

“We are focused on advancing enduring change, and our newest grant commitments will further that effort by supporting problem solvers and solution seekers in communities of color nationwide," said Lisa Jackson, Apple's vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives. “Education, economic opportunity and environmental justice are fundamental pillars to ensuring racial equity, and everyone has a role to play in this critical mission."

California State University campuses awarded more than 26,000 undergraduate and graduate degrees in the STEM Fields in 2020-21. Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) are defined under the Higher Education Act (HEA) as colleges or universities where at least 25 percent of the undergraduate, full-time enrollment is Latinx; and at least half of the institution's degree-seeking students must be low-income. Twenty-one of the CSU's 23 campuses meet these criteria, allowing them to compete for federal funding to build institutional capacity that expands and enhances educational opportunities for their students, in particular Latinx and other students from historically underserved groups.

CSUN is annually among the nation's leaders in awarding degrees to Latinx students, and more than 21,000 of the campus' approximately 39,000 students enrolled in fall 2021 identified as Latinx.

A number of federal and state legislators were also instrumental in securing funding for the Hub.

“To support a highly educated workforce, develop future leaders, and build a more inclusive democracy and economy, we must ensure Latinx students thrive. I'm proud to see this public-private partnership launch in California, home to more Hispanic Serving Institutions than any state in the nation. And there's no better location than CSUN—at the center of Southern California's creative and tech economy," said Senator Alex Padilla. “As the first Latino to represent California in the U.S. Senate and one of the few Senators with an engineering degree, I know firsthand the importance of increasing diversity in the institutions that shape our society. The Global HSI Equity Innovation Hub is a smart investment that will increase student success and equip Latinx and other diverse student groups with the skills necessary for high-demand careers in STEM." 

“Growing up in the 'barrio' of Pacoima, I was told it was too hard for people like me to go to college," said Congressman Tony Cárdenas. “Luz [Rivas], Alex and I—all kids from 'that side of town'—experienced people telling us that we could not do it. We all overcame that constant drumbeat of ignorance, all three of us became engineers and later elected leaders in the San Fernando Valley. Together we encouraged the California State University system, Apple and the State of California to create and build the Global HSI Equity Innovation Hub at California State University, Northridge, a Hispanic Serving Institution. The donation from Apple and the $25 million from the State of California will build off of CSUN's existing work to nurture and inspire our next generation of Latino leaders in science and innovation. Luz, Alex and I are first-generation college graduates; we believe in supporting our youth to overcome all obstacles and achieve every single one of their dreams."

“I am thrilled to have helped secure critical funding for the Global HSI Equity Innovation Hub in the state budget," said Assemblywoman Luz Rivas (D-San Fernando Valley). “At its core, the Global HSI Equity Innovation Hub will provide much-needed services to our students coming from communities of color. CSU Northridge is a key economic and intellectual driver of the San Fernando Valley, and this new center gives the campus an opportunity not just to serve Californians, but to also serve as a worldwide destination for equity-driven learning. Congratulations to CSUN on this achievement and a thank you to Apple, Governor Gavin Newsom, Senator Alex Padilla and Congressman Tony Cárdenas for their work to make this project a reality."


About the California State University
The California State University is the largest system o f four-year higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, 56,000 faculty and staff and 486,000 students. Half of the CSU's 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 nearly 129,000 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

​​

​Rendering of Global HSI Equity Innovation Hub building at CSUN campus.
CSU to Launch Global Hispanic Serving Institution Equity Innovation Hub
dealing-with-anxiety-of-reopening.aspx
  
9/10/2021 8:39 AMSua, Ricky8/30/20218/30/2021 1:45 PMCSU experts share how to care for your mental health while preparing for the post-COVID return to “normal.”WellnessStory
dealing with loss

Searching for Peace in Uncertainty

CSU experts share how to care for your mental health while preparing for the post-COVID return to “normal.”

 
 

In April 2020, we published “Learning to Cope, Fi​​​nding Hope" with advice from CSU faculty about how to deal with the anxiety, disappointment and loss everyone would inevitably face during the pandemic. At the time, we didn't know how long stay-at-home orders were to last and how much loss we would all face.

Now, as the state, country and world are slowly reopening—with some reservations as the Delta variant is driving another spike in cases—many people may be facing a new sense of apprehension as they reenter society. Already, stress, anxiety and depression levels have been steadily increasing year after year, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In light of these circumstances, three more CSU experts offer their guidance for navigating the pressures of returning to a post-COVID world.

Michael Stanton

ON ANXIETY

Michael Stanton, Ph.D., Cal State East Bay
Assistant Professor, ​​​​​​​​Department of Public Health

How might the pandemic's impact on mental health affect how people react to returning to post-COVID life?

For many students, it was already stressful to be in school, working hard to get good grades and graduate. But concerns around COVID-19 are going to add to overall levels of anxiety and depression. As a result, students need to check in with themselves regularly to find what they need in the moment. They might find they need more frequent breaks or to get outside and go for a walk. There are probably going to be conversations we haven't had before in the classroom among students and with professors and staff, especially about vaccination status and COVID-19 policies.

How can they manage the resulting anxiety?

Communication is critical in reducing people's anxiety—communicating about safety, safety behaviors and comfort levels with COVID-19 policies, but also communicating about what students and faculty are going through at this time and keeping people aware of how others are feeling and what they need in the moment. Developing standards and creating space for those conversations will also help, maybe by beginning classes, club or student organization meetings and faculty meetings with a discussion about COVID-19 policies.

Some of the best ways to manage personal anxiety and depression include taking care of your body, so eating a healthy diet, exercising and sleeping. The mind affects the body, and the body affects the mind. In addition, finding time for people to have positive relationships with their family and their fellow students in a safe way is going to be very important, especially after a year, for many people, of being isolated from others.


Lisa Mori

ON GRIEF AND LOSS

Lisa Mori, Ph.D., Cal State Fullerton
Professor, Department of Psychology, Clinical Supervisor at Mariposa Center

Many people are still coping with the loss experienced during the pandemic—the loss of jobs, milestones, health and loved ones. How might this loss impact an individual's mental health and ability to return to a post-COVID life?

Like any loss, COVID-related losses may affect an individual's well-being and functioning. Research is recognizing primary loss (i.e., loss due to major events, such as the death of a loved one or loss of a job) and secondary loss (i.e., loss of social support or loss of freedom to pursue normal activities) due to the pandemic. Common reactions include negative feelings like anxiety, distress, sadness and anger; problems with sleep, appetite, energy, motivation and focus; and what are known as "avoidance" behaviors like procrastination, social withdrawal, overeating or impulse online shopping/overspending.

How can they continue to cope with that loss while managing the anxiety of returning to life?

1) Recognize the loss(es) as a loss. 2) Give yourself time and space to process and mourn your loss. 3) Normalize things—you are in good company given that everyone else has also experienced COVID-related losses, and there is no one "right" way to cope. 4) Be kind to yourself, and don't waste energy criticizing yourself—this is an extraordinary situation. 5) Take care of yourself, from basic daily physical needs—sleep, exercise, eat and hydrate regularly—to psychological and spiritual needs: self-care (me time), connect with others, listen to music/read/reflect, write/paint/dance/creative expression, meditate, engage in faith/spiritual practices. 6) Establish a new "post-pandemic normal" routine and stick to it, as structure will help you transition from "COVID life" to the ever-changing, uncertain "new-normal/post-COVID-mandates life." 7) Do not hesitate to seek professional help as needed. (If all you're doing isn't giving you sufficient anxiety relief, then professional assistance may be needed).


Soeun Park

ON REENTERING SOCIETY

Soeun Park, Ph.D., CSU Bakersfield
​​Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology

With the reopening of California, individuals will be returning to in-person work or school for the first time in more than a year. How might the isolation of working/studying from home impact their ability to readjust to in-person work or school and interactions with others?

When the COVID-19 pandemic started, we had to adjust our lifestyles, work and daily routines and social relationships, while feeling uncertain and nervous about what may come next. Many of us have gone through losses—including loved ones, jobs and things we used to enjoy. It has been a tremendously stressful time for all of us. Now that we are slowly going back to what we were used to pre-pandemic, we may feel a whole range of emotions again. After more than a year of isolation, returning to in-person work or school can be stress-inducing and overwhelming—whether you waited for this moment or not. Although we have been resilient and adaptive during this unprecedented time, going back to normal may require more resilience, patience and flexibility. Have you thought about having to deal with traffic or sitting in a traffic jam again? What about racing to class/work and then having to run to a social event? How about the pressure to be productive now that we are back to “normal?" All these parts of our “normal" may induce anxiety, trepidation or frustration.

How can people care for their mental health as they prepare for increased social activity and returning to the office/classroom?

How can we take care of ourselves as we set new routines and coordinate regarding in-person school/work? Accept, acknowledge and allow. Accept your feelings. It is OK to feel excited in one moment and worried in the other moment. Remember any transition can be hard, and it can be even more so especially after you have already gone through one. Be kind to yourself as those feelings arise, whatever they might be. Acknowledge what you have gone through. The COVID-19 pandemic itself as well as associated incidents (e.g., the pandemic of racism, job losses) have shattered our sense of safety and security. The impact is worse for those from marginalized communities, including people of color and people from low-income communities. It certainly has been a tough time. Give yourself credit for what you have gone through. Allow yourself to set boundaries and keep your own pace. Some of us may be ready for increased social interactions, while others may not. Check in with yourself about how you feel and what you are comfortable with. As we readjust, remember, you don't have to change yourself in one day. Give yourself time and space.

MORE RESOURCES

If you need more mental health support as you prepare for the return to post-COVID life, you can:

Searching for Peace in Uncertainty
Chancellor-Statement-FDA-Vax-Approval-2021.aspx
  
8/23/2021 10:37 AMKelly, Hazel8/23/20218/23/2021 9:00 AMCalifornia State University Chancellor Joseph I. Castro released the following statement on the FDA's approval of the Pfizer vaccine.PolicyPress Release

​California State University Chancellor Joseph I. Castro released the following statement:

“I applaud the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's full approval of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, and urge everyone 16 years of age and older to be vaccinated in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 and its highly infectious Delta variant.

“Since vaccines became available in December 2020, their use has allowed us to begin to return to many of the activities we had missed over the past 18 months, including seeing and engaging with family and friends. To win our nation's fight against the pandemic once and for all, each of us has a role to play and it is imperative that we all do our part.

“Each of our 23 campuses currently offers on-campus vaccination options to CSU students, faculty and staff. Campus community members can also visit myturn.ca.gov to learn of other locations where they can receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

“I thank everyone who is doing their part to protect themselves – and to protect all of us – as our state and nation continue down the path of full economic recovery."

Per acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodstock: “The FDA's approval of this vaccine is a milestone as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. While this and other vaccines have met the FDA's rigorous, scientific standards for emergency use authorization, as the first FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine, the public can be very confident that this vaccine meets the high standards for safety, effectiveness, and manufacturing quality the FDA requires of an approved product. While millions of people have already safely received COVID-19 vaccines, we recognize that for some, the FDA approval of a vaccine may now instill additional confidence to get vaccinated. Today's milestone puts us one step closer to altering the course of this pandemic in the U.S." 

Regulators are still reviewing Moderna's application for full approval of its vaccine. Per news reports, that decision could take several weeks. Johnson & Johnson is expected to apply soon for full approval.

The California State University announced on July 27, 2021​ that it will require faculty, staff and students who are accessing campus facilities at any university location to be immunized against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, without waiting for any further action by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Dates by which faculty, staff and students must certify vaccination will vary by campus due to differences in academic calendars, but all certifications must be completed no later than September 30.​


About the California State University
The  California State University is the largest system o f four-year higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, 56,000 faculty and staff and 486,000 students. Half of the CSU's 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 nearly​ 129,000 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


​CSU Statement on FDA's Full Approval of Pfizer's COVID-19 Vaccine
First-in-Line.aspx
  
8/23/2021 9:58 AMSua, Ricky8/23/20218/23/2021 8:00 AMThese CSU community members transformed from first-generation students to remarkable leaders who pay it forward.Social MobilityStory
First in Line
CSU-Students-Reach-Out-to-the-Unvaccinated-.aspx
  
8/23/2021 3:40 PMBeall, Alex8/23/20218/23/2021 8:00 AMStudents are influencing community members to get past the misconceptions, fears and lack of access to get the COVID-19 vaccine.CommunityStory

​​​​As COVID-19 cases have roared back with the highly infectious Delta variant, the number of unvaccinated adults is a growing concern. In fact, 99% of California's COVID-19 infections occur among the unvaccinated. With this in mind, the CSU is requiring all students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated before accessing campus facilities this fall.

Beyond the university campuses, CSU students are also taking action to protect vulnerable communities by educating local residents—especially those in high-risk areas—on the importance of getting vaccinated.

“There are a number of reasons why many are still unvaccinated," says Diane Vines, Ph.D., adjunct lecturer at Cal State San Bernardino. “Some people fear the vaccine's efficacy and safety while others simply don't have access to the vaccines."

Through campus programs, student volunteers are serving as ambassadors in their communities by speaking to residents one-by-one, debunking myths and increasing people's confidence in the vaccine.

Influencing through built trust

Dr. Vines says gaining a person's trust is key to effectively persuading them to get vaccinated.

As the director of CSUSB's Street Medicine program, Vines has been leading nursing students to provide free healthcare services for homeless and unsheltered people in the Coachella Valley since 2018.

“Our students have gained trust from the people we've been serving, so our urging has helped convince those who are hesitant to be vaccinated. We are working with physicians, trusted leaders and community organizations to influence people," explains Vines.

The program's mobile clinic also travels around the area to provide vaccinations for those who face barriers to access. This includes elderly residents who live in senior housing and farm workers and their families, to name a few.

Dispelling myths and misconceptions

At CSUN, students are using social media to address myths associated with the vaccine and virus. Students enrolled in cinema and television arts courses created informative videos on TikTok, Instagram and Facebook intended to be shared among their fellow Matadors and the greater community.

To reach Spanish, non-English speakers, Sonoma State's Center for Community Engagement partnered with the Latino Health Forum for a series of bilingual videos addressing concerns and common misconceptions about the vaccine and Covid.

Peer outreach

With the fall semester just around the corner, the Civic Action Fellows Program at Cal State LA and San José State are ensuring students and staff are ready to come to campus. Cal State LA's AmeriCorps program partnered with the LA County Department of Public Health to develop a comprehensive outreach campaign promoting vaccination among students, staff and their families. At SJSU, Civic Action Fellows created social media threads answering community questions about Covid-19.

The CSU supports California's comprehensive efforts to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus. In addition to requiring vaccinations for students and employees, campuses are offering vaccination clinics and testing services. To learn more about how the CSU is responding to the Coronavirus pandemic, visit Calstate.edu/coronavirus.


CSU Students Reach Out to the Unvaccinated
Governor-Newsom-Appoints-4-New-Members-to-the-CSU-Board-of-Trustees.aspx
  
8/31/2021 2:17 PMRuble, Alisia8/20/20218/20/2021 2:50 PMMaria G. Linares, Julia I. Lopez, Yammilette Rodriguez and Romey Sabalius will have their first meeting at the September board meeting.Board of TrusteesStory

​Governor Gavin Newsom announced the following appointments to the California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees on August 20, 2021. The CSU Board of Trustees is the 25-member board that adopts regulations and policies governing the university.

Maria G. Linares

Linares, 36, of Tustin, has been appointed as a student trustee. Currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree at California State University, Fullerton, Linares was a member of the board of directors for the CSUF Associated Students Inc. from 2018 to 2021, serving as chair from 2020 to 2021. Linares is a m​ember of Psi Beta Honor Society in Psychology.

She joins current student trustee Krystal Raynes and will serve a two-year term. Learn more about Trustee Linares.​

Julia I. Lopez

Lopez, 73, of San Francisco, was president and CEO at the College Futures Foundation from 2008 to 2017. She held multiple positions at The Rockefeller Foundation from 1992 to 2005, including senior vice president of Working Communities. From 1988 to 1992, Lopez worked at the San Francisco Department of Social Services. She served as a consultant for the California State Legislature from 1980 to 1988 and was deputy director for legislation at the Employment Development Department in 1982. Lopez held multiple positions working for the State of New Mexico from 1970 to 1978, including director of administrative services at the Department of Criminal Justice, deputy director at the Criminal Justice Council, grants manager at the Criminal Justice Council and analyst at the State Personnel Board. 

Lopez is a member of several boards: The Bridgespan Group, One Future Coachella Valley and KQED. She is a council member of California Competes and serves as chair of The Christensen Fund, San Francisco.  She earned a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Policy. Learn more about Trustee Lopez.

Yammilette Rodriguez

Rodriguez, 45, of Fresno, has been a national trainer and consultant for the Youth Leadership Institute since 2020. She was Central Valley senior director at the Youth Leadership Institute from 2009 to 2020 and Central Valley regional director at the Latino Issues Forum from 2008 to 2009. Rodriguez was a governmental relations consultant at PG&E from 2007 to 2008. She was director of admissions at Fresno Pacific University from 2001 to 2007. Rodriguez was a district representative in the office of California State Assemblymember Sarah Reyes from 1999 to 2001. 

Rodriguez is a member of several boards: The Vesper Society, the Hispanas Organized for Political Equality and the Central Valley Latino Leaders Academy. Rodriguez earned a Master of Arts degree in leadership and organizational studies from Fresno Pacific University. Learn more about Trustee Rodriguez.

Romey Sabalius

Sabalius, 58, of San Jose, has been reappointed as faculty trustee, a role he has served since 2017. He has been a professor at San José State University since 1995. Prior to SJSU, Sabalius was an assistant professor at Utah State University from 1992 to 1995 and at Vassar College in 1992. He was a guest professor at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia in 1999 and 2000.

Sabalius earned a Master of Arts degree in German from the University of Southern California, a Master of Arts degree in German from Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in German from the University of Southern California. Learn more about Trustee Sabalius.​

A grid of four photos of people.
An auditorium full of people.
Governor Newsom Appoints 4 New Members to the CSU Board of Trustees
the-show-must-go-on.aspx
  
8/16/2021 9:09 AMBeall, Alex8/16/20218/16/2021 11:40 AMIn 2020 and 2021, the CSU’s performing arts programs set the stage for progress, healing and experimentation.Student SuccessStory

The show must go on

In 2020 and 2021, the CSU’s performing arts programs set the stage for progress, healing and experimentation.


 

The arts are an outlet, a safe place to try something new and push the limits. During the past year, performance arts programs at the CSU have provided students with that space: to wrestle with their identity, experiment with new technology and storytelling techniques or cope with life’s challenges. Here are a few examples.

A Question of Identity

“Art is so much more interesting when it's [by and about] real people," says Eric Kupers, California State University, East Bay theater and dance professor. “Every individual person is so unique and so different, and that's what's beautiful about humanity." It's that concept that led Kupers to organize the inaugural Inclusive Performance Festival at Cal State East Bay to celebrate all identities and art forms.

“By inclusion, I mean everybody's included: all bodies, abilities, disabilities, identities, ethnicities. But also all art forms and all aspects of our life," Kupers says. “Arts aren't something you do on the side as a nice thing; everything is woven into everything else: cooking and building and security and financial concerns. All of that is interwoven with the arts. And so, one side of the Inclusive Performance Festival aims to explore what is possible."

The month-long festival brought together artists from across the campus and the local community for virtual and outdoor events. It included annual shows like the Spectrum Showcase that supports autistic artists and their collaborators, lectures like a talk by dancer and author Emmaly Wiederholt on her book project “Discussing Disability in Dance," workshops like the introduction to the south Indian dance form Mohiniyattam and other performances like a drag show featuring underground drag artists.

The campus's cultural organizations were also invited to participate. As part of the festival, the Pilipinx American Student Association (PASA) put on its annual Pilipinx Consciousness Night, titled KAI, to raise awareness around the Pilipinx community.

A group of students at CSUEB perform the Muslim dance called Sua Ku Sua as part of Pilipinx Consciousness Night.

A group of students at CSUEB perform the Muslim dance called Sua Ku Sua as part of Pilipinx Consciousness Night.


“We had the chance to learn and talk about history and stories that aren't taught in school and show our communities why they are valued and important to society," says Lorenzo Miro San Diego, a CSUEB computer science senior, PCN co-director and PASA student representative. “Having an Inclusive Performance Festival is important because we can show communities and people from all walks of life that their stories can be told no matter what barriers might come their way … Especially in today's political and social climate, it is important everyone's stories are seen, respected and heard so their stories are passed on to and understood by future generations."

The schedule also featured this year's spring dance concert, “Wandering in the Wilderness."

Ensemble members Ina Gonzalez-Valenzuela and Scott Duane perform “Wandering in the Wilderness.”

Ensemble members Ina Gonzalez-Valenzuela and Scott Duane perform “Wandering in the Wilderness.”


“With everything that happened [in 2020], we needed to break free and heal, and that is what we did together," says Ina Gonzalez-Valenzuela, a CSUEB senior double-majoring in theater and dance and psychology and a “Wandering in the Wilderness" collaborator. “This is what 'Wandering in the Wilderness' is about. All of us were realizing we needed change. But how do we do that? Our first step was leaving behind old ways and saying goodbye to our past traumas and traditions that no longer serve us."

Technological Experimentation

As the curtain lifts on the opera “Gianni Schicchi," performed by the California State University, Northridge opera and orchestra, the online audience views not a typical stage, but rather a drawn 14th-century mansion.

Directed by Professor Maurice Godin, the animated opera, in which a greedy family seeks to inherit wealth after the death of a relative, grew from a months-long partnership between the CSUN opera, theatre department, CSUN Symphony Orchestra and animation department. “There was a need to keep the opera alive and find ways of performing virtually [during the pandemic]," says opera executive director, music director and professor Mercedes Juan Musotto.

Violinist Jeongah Moon rehearses a musical piece for the opera “Gianni Schicchi.”

Violinist Jeongah Moon rehearses a musical piece for the opera “Gianni Schicchi.”


Clarinetist Nancy Cristostomo ​captures her at-home setup where she practices her piece for the animated opera.

Clarinetist Nancy Cristostomo ​captures her at-home setup where she practices her piece for the animated opera.


While the musicians rehearsed and recorded their music over Zoom and the singers applied their own makeup and filmed their parts in front of green screens, the animation students designed the set. The animated scenes were then overlaid with the footage of the live performers and​ paired with the recorded music and singing.

“This decentralized, unconventional approach showed me how important it is to be flexible and self-reliant—able to be one's own makeup and tech person, and willing to dig deep to help with any aspects of a production," says Adam McCrory, Master of Music, Performance student. “It taught me the importance of preparation and learning the material thoroughly in order to be able to adapt. I also think it illustrates how the mix of drama, action, music and visuals in opera makes it an art form that's easily adapted into modern media."

Adam McCrory applied his own makeup in the German Expressionism aesthetic.

Adam McCrory applied his own makeup in the German Expressionism aesthetic.

An animated set created by the animation students that features moving portraits.

​This animated​ set, created by the animation students, features moving portraits.​

A key challenge was funding the monumental project, which the opera did through a series of fundraising concerts and campaigns.

“The students had to learn about writing for a culture grant application, about self-advertisement and technology, how to sing in front of the computer with an accompaniment track, how to adjust to having an accompaniment instead of a live pianist and so many other things," Juan Musotto says.

For the next virtual production, Juan Musotto and the opera experimented with another technology: augmented reality (AR) video filters, again designed with the help of the animation department.

“We picked an opera that was very fantastical with all these fun characters," she says. “It's called 'L'Enfant et les Sortilèges,' The Child and the Enchantments, so basically the characters are furniture and animals. It was super easy and fun for the animation students to design chairs, couches, different sorts of animals. And then if you put all those designs through Zoom together, it looks silly and fun, and [the students] didn't have to worry about costumes or makeup. Everything was designed for them, and they just had to click on it and wear it."

Gabriella Bluvband as The Child in “L’Enfant et les Sortilèges,” acts opposite fellow students using their augmented reality cha

Gabriella Bluvband as The Child in “L’Enfant et les Sortilèges,” acts opposite fellow students using their augmented reality character filters.


The students adapted the opera, directed by Professor Hugo Vera and originally about a young child being reprimanded by objects and animals he's injured, to the virtual era and recorded it using Zoom.

“The AR element allowed for so much more creativity with the production!" says Gabriella Bluvband, Master of Music, Performance student. “Since I played the character of L'enfant, I didn't get a chance to use any of the filters myself, but seeing my castmates in their filters and having the AR character analogues in front of me allowed me to get more into character." 

The Face of Resilience

In the midst of the isolation, loss and racial and political unrest experienced recently, Heather Castillo, assistant professor of performing arts, dance at California State University Channel Islands, taught dance as a means to make sense of those circumstances.

Castillo—who is also the founder of the CSU Dance Collective—took the opportunity of being virtual to create the multi-campus CSU Virtual Arts Concert with the theme, “What is resilience?" It featured student teams from six campuses who choreographed dances, wrote spoken word and composed music (all but one performance featured original music) to address that question.

Sonoma State student Terra Bransfield performs her piece for the Virtual Arts Concert performance “A Letter to You,” looking at

Sonoma State student Terra Bransfield performs her piece for the Virtual Arts Concert performance “A Letter to You,” which looks at the Earth’s resilience.


Cal State LA student Julian Xiong performs his part of the performance “Here Lies,” exploring his Hmong heritage and history.

Cal State LA st​udent Julian Xiong dances his part of the performance “Here Lies,” exploring his Hmong heritage and history.


“The arts are the most central thing that our foundation of communication and community is built upon as humans," Castillo says. “And as the arts have become commoditized in Western culture, we've lost how essential they are to who we are as people. It's essential we dance, that we watch, perform or participate in theater, whether you're going to see 'Hamilton' or you're going to see your kindergartner's play."

With a grant from Adobe and the CSU, Castillo provided each group with a GoPro camera, a microphone, costumes and props. All team members filmed and recorded their respective parts, which were then edited together.

“This is where we're headed in the performing arts," Castillo says. “There will be the moment when we work together in person, but the pre-production is going to increasingly consist of virtual communication. And even though it was a lot [of work], I think it was probably one of the most valuable life experiences the students have had in working across disciplines and working across the Cloud."

Some of the performances addressed the thematic question by centering on environmentalism, isolation during the pandemic and oppression and racial discrimination.

CSUCI student Maddy Hitchcock dancing her segment of “A Letter to You” on the beach.

CSUCI student Maddy Hitchcock dances her segment of “A Letter to You” on the beach.


“We managed to produce this show at a time when most of us had not been attending college in person, so this was our chance to actually put on a show," says Maddy Hitchcock, a CSUCI performance arts, dance junior who was a dancer and writer for a piece on the Earth's resilience titled, “A Letter to You."

“The majority of us had not been able to do that for over a year, and I, for one, missed that feeling. As contributors, we were able to demonstrate our own resilience through this production."

However, this was not the first show Castillo has produced at CSUCI to help students understand the world. For example, the annual Arts Under the Stars show takes research from across the campus and translates it into dance, music theater, graphic design, film and other art forms.

“We performed several pieces on environmental issues and research in nursing and social issues—and we've even danced math equations, trying to explain them through theatrical spectacle," she says.

A student group performs during the 2017 Arts Under the Stars.

CSUCI student Sonya Zapian and her Azteca ensemble dance t​he pie​​ce titled “We Didn’t Cross the Border, The Border Crossed Us” at the 2017 Arts Under the Stars.


A student ensemble performs during the 2018 Arts Under the Stars.

A student group performs "Authentic Souls” during the 2018 Arts Under the Stars.​


Start From Scratch

A group of theater students from across the CSU—actors, stage managers, writers, designers—are put in a room together and have two weeks to create a new performance, with the length and deadline as their only guidelines. That's what happens during the Collaboration and Devised Theatre​ session of CSU Summer Arts, a summer arts program of masterclasses and an arts festival.

“It asks the artist to have ideas and put them to work," says Jessica Hanna, theater maker and guest artist for the session. “It opens up the possibility for the artist and creator in a way that automatically takes them outside the system or gives them tools [to make work outside the system] … giving the artists more autonomy in terms of how they create work and what kind of work they're creating."

In devised theater, the ensemble generates the art without a starting script, and in this session all artists must perform. “This allows for new stories to be told and for people to understand that new stories can be told in different ways," says Amy King, California State University, Long Beach MFA Theatre Arts student and session aid.

To spark ideas for the session, the instructors asked the students to write about dreams. But they also taught skills to help the students work together, generate new ideas and experiment with technology.

The student ensemble in the CSU Summer Arts Collaboration and Devised Theater session rehearse their virtual performance.

The student ensemble in the CSU Summe​r Arts Collaboration and Devised Theater session rehearses its virtual performance.


“Within the course, there's a fantastic atmosphere that initiates the practice and application of collaborative and devised theatre," says Joy Lodico, CSULB Bachelor of Theatre Arts graduate, '21, and session participant. “We're learning to share space and creative control, and that's the first step to becoming well-rounded artists. It's inspiring to have so much freedom in creating."

Because Summer Arts is virtual this year, students are also learning how to create theater in the digital space, using technology to enhance the performance. For example, students must film their performances and can control the audience's perspective using the camera lens.

“There are skills, techniques and ways of working the students are using in this medium that are completely unique to this medium in terms of what they can do with the camera," says CSULB Theatre Arts Professor Jeff Janisheski.

Guest artist Bruce A. Lemon, Jr. adds: “There are a lot of tools we can glean from the past year and a half that we can use: devising online, workshopping online and conversing online. We can bring what we are able to generate here into the physical space. ... I think part of this workshop is reminding these artists and ourselves how complete artists we all already are, how [many skills] we already have and how we can reactivate those to stay in the practice of creating."

The six participating students collectively acted, wrote, directed, designed and filmed the final performance​, which explored the “boxes” people put themselves in—whether Zoom screens or limitations imposed by society or self—and how to break free of those constraints.

The Show Must Go On
California-State-University-to-Launch-Center-for-Transformational-Educator-Preparation-Programs.aspx
  
8/23/2021 3:34 AMFowler, Courtney8/12/20218/12/2021 1:20 PMCalifornia’s leading institution for teacher preparation continues to advance diversity in the state’s teaching workforce.ApplyPress Release

​The California State University (CSU) announced today the creation of the CSU Center for Transformational Educator Preparation Programs (CSU CTEPP). The center, scheduled to open in the fall of 2021, 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.

“The Center for Transformational Educator Preparation will ensure that CSU programs prepare quality teaching candidates who understand the importance of educational equity and are well equipped to engage in meaningful ways with their students," said Marquita Grenot-Scheyer, Ph.D., CSU assistant vice chancellor of Educator Preparation and Public School Programs. “The ability to recruit, retain and prepare culturally responsive educators is critical to the success of students and the state. CSU CTEPP will allow us to continue and broaden our critical work with even greater impact."

In the first phase, the center will open in fall 2021 with four campuses that were part of the CSU's Learning Lab to Close the Teacher Diversity Gap: Bakersfield, Humboldt, Northridge and San Luis Obispo. Additionally, in spring 2022 there will be an application period to expand the center and add six additional campuses to begin working with CTEPP in fall 2022.

The creation of the CSU CTEPP was made possible through a $3 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

CTEPP will support CSU campus and K-12 school district teams with three primary initiatives:

  1. Transformation Lab (TLab). Teams will engage in self-assessments of their preparation programs, choose goals and work toward them with the guidance of improvement coaches at CSU's Educator Quality Center.
  2. Equity and Excellence Certification. Teams will participate in professional development culminating in a certification which both improves understanding of educational equity and builds theoretical and practical capacity to engage in anti-racism and equity work.
  3. Transformative Teaching and Learning Community. Team members will network through virtual meetings, share content and be provided ​with curated resources.

Each year the CSU prepares more of California's teachers than any other institution, and approximately four percent of all teachers prepared in the nation. 

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About the California State University
The California State University is the largest system o​f four-year higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, 56,000 faculty and staff and 486,000 students. Half of the CSU's 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 nearly 129,000 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 University to Launch Center for Transformational Educator Preparation Programs
The-Power-of-Giving.aspx
  
8/9/2021 9:40 AMMcCarthy, Michelle8/9/20218/9/2021 9:00 AMThe CSU receives the largest one-time donation in the university’s 61-year history.Story

​​​​​​​​Have you ever wondered how the kangaroo got her pouch? There's an Aboriginal legend that tells the tale of a mother kangaroo who spots a blind wombat struggling to find food. After leading the wombat to grass, the kangaroo discovers the wombat is actually creator spirit Baiame. To repay the kangaroo for her kindness, Baiame grants her a pouch so she can protect her joey. But rather than thinking only of herself, the kangaroo requests that all of her kind receive the same gift. The moral of the story: When riches come into your life, share them with others.

Novelist and philanthropist MacKenzie Scott embodies the lesson of this fable. In June, she donated $2.7 billion to 286 charitable and educational organizations, citing that it “would be better if disproportionate wealth were not concentrated in a small number of hands, and that the solutions are best designed and implemented by others."

Scott gifted a combined $135 million to four CSU campuses: California State University Channel Islands ($15 million), California State University, Fullerton ($40 million), California State University, Northridge ($40 million) and California State Polytechnic University, Pomona ($40 million). Each of these gifts is the most generous ever received by the respective campus. And these are unrestricted funds, which means these campuses are free to utilize the money however they see fit to best meet the unique needs of their diverse students.

In a recent blog post, Scott wrote: “Higher education is a proven pathway to opportunity, so we looked for two- and four-year institutions successfully educating students who come from communities that have been chronically underserved."

Here, campus presidents react to Scott's donation:

CSU Channel Islands, Interim President Richard Yao
“This gift represents the largest one-time gift in the history of our institution, and it could not have come at a more critical time in our history. The generosity is a testament to the data that reflects the incredible work that our faculty, staff and administration are doing every day to eliminate equity gaps and increase the social mobility of our students by creating powerful academic and co-curricular programs that support student retention and success. We could not be more grateful for their generosity as we recognize the transformative power that this level of support has for our students and campus."

Cal State Fullerton, President Fram Virjee
“While we are still in the very early stages of allocating this gift, all decisions will be driven by our strategic plan and core mission of student success; diversity, equity and inclusion; and faculty research, support and retention. We will also be looking at possible infrastructure improvements, matching fund projects with colleges and enhancing community partnerships.

“As we celebrate this investment and begin the planning phase that will ensure its impact is eternal, please join me in expressing our profound gratitude…not just for the generosity of the gift, but also for the vision and diligence in seeking out and supporting our work and success."

CSUN, President Erika Beck
“This transformative gift provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to advance our future as leaders in equity-centered student success to provide a brighter and more equitable future for our students, their families and the communities we are so proud to serve.

“…We can, and will, use these dollars to transform our campus for generations to come… There are some clear campus priorities identified, including the elimination of equity gaps, accelerating our work in diversifying the faculty, academic excellence, holistic student support, access to actionable data and other disruptive strategies to facilitate our students' educational goals and intellectual promise. This work will further our campus's role in fostering a world that is just, inclusive and equitable."

Cal Poly Pomona, President Soraya Coley
“A gift of this magnitude represents a transformative moment for our institution. The donation comes at a time when we are actively investing in key areas that advance our Strategic Plan with special focus on student success and future paths; faculty and staff diversity, advancement and well-being; and institutional innovation and excellence. Through a newly created endowment fund, this historic contribution will provide permanent and ongoing support for future generations of Broncos.

“Ms. Scott's generosity will undoubtedly change many lives across Cal Poly Pomona, as well as within communities and families in our region and beyond."

See other ways in which alumni, faculty, staff, trustees, champions and friends have given in support of our students, values and mission.​​

The Power of Giving
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