News
Go

Content is routinely updated to reflect additional information.​

Page Content
Page Image
Rollup Image
alumni-at-play.aspx
  
5/16/2022 7:44 AMRawls, Aaron5/16/20225/16/2022 8:10 AMHow CSU alumni shape California’s parks and recreation industryAlumniStory

Alumni At Play

How CSU alumni shape California’s parks and recreation industry

Scroll down button  

With one in 10 employees in California holding a CSU degree, alumni have made their mark across the state’s industries—with many entering the vital parks and recreation space for conservation work, parks management, communications and beyond.

During the COVID-19 pandemic when people had nowhere to go but outside, outdoor spaces became more important than ever. A report from the Outdoor Foundation found that 7.1 million more Americans participated in outdoor activities in 2020 than the year before.

Meet five CSU alumni who have used their expertise to serve these important natural retreats.


Nancy Fernandez
Stanislaus State (2015)

As a park ranger with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nancy Fernandez serves in a communications role for the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Through the organization’s online presence, Fernandez helps the local community connect with the four nature preserves in the complex: the Tijuana Slough, San Diego, San Diego Bay and Seal Beach National Wildlife Refuges.

“If we're not physically out there in person, the local community can see what we're doing through social media and our websites.” Fernandez says. “It's another way for us to stay connected, share with the public what's happening around the refuge and keep the dialogue going with people.”

Fernandez graduated from California State University, Stanislaus in 2015 with an anthropology degree, interested in studying how different cultures live harmoniously with nature. She originally thought she would need to live in other countries to work in the field, until she completed a training at Grand Teton National Park through the Student Conservation Association’s (SCA) National Park Service Academy.

“I realized I can do something here in the States,” Fernandez says. “I don't have to go that far, and it's still going to be a meaningful change in people's lives and in wildlife conservation.”

Her current work also takes Fernandez into the field to run events, teach school groups about land conservation and participate in wildlife surveys—such as a survey of San Diego County’s butterfly population in April 2022.

“I did not graduate with a biology or a zoology-type background; this is stuff I've been learning through work,” she says. “The job I do connects me with people who are experts in the field. It's fun being around these people who are always teaching me things, and then I can also share that with others.”


David Annis
Fresno State (2008); CSUN (2012)

David Annis grew up just outside Yosemite National Park and the Sierra National Forest, where his family would hike, ski and take part in other outdoor activities. This early love for the great outdoors set him on a path to a career in the U.S. Forest Service.

“I’ve always been vested in public lands and maintaining them to be open and accessible, and that led me to follow the path of geology,” Annis says.

His first step was to join the Navy as a land surveyor. After leaving the Navy, he became the first in his family to earn a college degree, completing a bachelor's in geology at California State University, Fresno. While in school, Annis met an adjunct professor who had spent 40 years with the U.S. Forest Service. “He was that bridge who got me into the Forest Service and helped me understand what geologists do,” Annis says.

Annis then began his master’s in microstructural geology at Fresno State, but transferred to California State University, Northridge when he got a job as a forest geologist in the Angeles National Forest. He served in several other geology-related forestry positions before his current role as a regional geologist and certified mineral examiner for the U.S. Forest Service. In addition to studying forests’ landscapes as a geologist, Annis reviews large mine reclamation plans and performs geological and economical assessments of mines that predate protected wilderness areas.

Much of his work also focuses on reviewing the after-effects of wildfires as part of the burn area emergency response team. That includes assessing the risks of flooding, debris flows, landslides and rock falls, as well as monitoring abandoned mines and understanding the stability of the land if structures need to be rebuilt.

“We're the science team that comes in behind the firefighters and looks at how the fire impacted the landscape and watershed—with the goal of guarding the safety of Forest visitors and employees and protecting federal property, water quality and critical natural or cultural resources from further damage after the fire is out,” Annis says.


Bethany Szczepanski
CSUN (2016)

Though Bethany Szczepanski has long appreciated the national parks since visiting them as a child with her family, it was a meandering road to her current role at Channel Islands National Park. After she completed an undergraduate degree in theater, she worked as a costume designer, makeup artist and cake decorator before starting a master’s in recreation and tourism management at CSUN.

“In one of my courses, we were talking about national parks, and I always really liked them,” Szczepanski says. “I'm outdoorsy, I love hiking and then I started going down that path from there.”

During her master’s program, she interned in the education department of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, becoming an early participant in the National Park Service’s Every Kid Outdoors internship program (previously Every Kid in a Park). “They have a great program, and now I'm hiring interns in my position and one of them is currently an Every Kid Outdoors intern with the Santa Monica Mountains.”

The position prepared her for life as a park ranger, which started upon graduation in 2016 with her first six-month seasonal job at Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site in Montana. Returning to California, she bounced between seasonal positions as an education park ranger at the Santa Monica Mountains and a park guide at Channel Islands National Park until becoming a permanent park guide for the latter in 2020.

Since beginning as an educational technician in 2021, she’s worked to provide the Channel Islands National Park’s education programming for students between third and 12th grade, including field trips to the islands or the visitor center in Ventura, the junior ranger program, ranger visits to local schools and online distance learning programs for classrooms.

“It's so important to connect the next generation of stewards of these public lands to their national parks, because most of the children who we bring in have never been to the beach, have never been on a boat or have never been to a national park before,” Szczepanski says. “Giving them those opportunities is what inspires me to do what I do. … We emphasize that national parks belong to you, they belong to everyone, and it's our job to take care of the special places so they can remain for another 100, 200, 300 years.”


Deanne Dedmon
CSU Dominguez Hills (1996)

Perhaps most surprising about Deanne Dedmon’s role as a superintendent for the City of Los Angeles’s Department of Recreation and Parks is that her responsibilities stretch well beyond the city’s neighborhood green spaces. Dedmon oversees the budget, staffing and programming for the facilities in the Pacific region—one of four regions in the city—which include sports fields, gymnasiums, classrooms, senior centers, summer camps, museums, swimming pools, a cemetery and a beach.

“With this pandemic, you saw the difference made by what we do and the spaces we provide, the extracurricular activities, that getting outdoors is not only good for mental health, but for your physical health as well,” Dedmon says. “Working in recreation, it's something we're always challenged to try to prove, that parks, open space and activity in general is wonderful for society.”

In college, Dedmon decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps, majoring in recreation administration at California State University, Dominguez Hills and working part-time as a recreation leader for the city of Torrance developing after-school drop-in programs.

“My mom worked for the city of LA and then also the city of Torrance when I was young, so I grew up in the system and enjoyed it,” she says. “I always wanted to find something that was fun to do. You're looking for a career you want to be able to do it for the rest of your life. Then when I got to college, I was like, ‘Wow, there's actually a major!’”

After graduation, Dedmon accepted a full-time position for the City of Los Angeles, where she’s steadily grown her career—though her favorite part is still teaching preschoolers.

“Especially in the morning, I can still sit in a classroom, hang out with little kids, listen and be a part of that, but it's rare,” Dedmon says. “That's something I definitely miss being in the position I am now. But as you move forward, you get to that point when you need to be the one helping make the decisions: Which direction are we going? How are we going to fund it? What should we start? … You're mentoring and you're teaching other people. Because if you're the only one who does the work and there's no one else behind you, then what's going to happen when you leave?”



James Newland
San Diego State (1988, 1991)

A double alumnus of San Diego State University—with a B.A. in social sciences and an M.A. in public history—James Newland has spent 26 years as a historian for California State Parks with his hands in myriad projects, from developing educational resources to historic​ preservation to community engagement.

“I've always figured if you can get people to care about their history, they'll care about their community,” Newland says. “[It’s about] trying to help people understand every place has history and sometimes the history is tough history.”

Newland’s California State Parks career began as a state historian focused on cultural resource management, working on preserving historic resources and creating exhibits in visitor centers. In the years since, he’s served as a supervisor and manager of cultural and natural resources, interpretation and sensitive park planning staff and projects—as well as superintendent of Crystal Cove State Park in Orange County. He’s also written four books on local history.

In addition, he’s preserved and restored about a dozen national registered properties for State Parks, including the Crystal Cove Historic District Cottages and Will Rogers State Historic Park in Pacific Palisades​.

“I get to be the historian who digs in the archives and helps others dig in the archives to do research, but then [we figure out] how we apply that into better interpretation (education), better exhibits and better engagement with communities,” Newland says.

He’s also dedicated to ensuring all peoples’ perspectives are represented in the historical narrative. About 17 years ago, Newland helped write his department’s policy for Native American consultation before such policies were required by law. “We need to have their voice, concerns and cultural imprint on how we help preserve and interpret their resources and culture.”

Now working with the Department’s Innovation Unit, Newland has piloted and expanded the agency’s Relevancy and History Project to better collaborate with academic partners—particularly the CSUs and the UCs—in order to bring in the next generation of experts, research and education techniques as well as engage the community for their perspectives and participation in these efforts.

“It's allowing us to address some of the concerns State Parks have in outreach to underserved and underrepresented communities who may have never come to a state park, don’t think their history is included or relevant or feel unwelcome due to barriers, whether cultural, social or financial​,” he says.


Learn more about the impact of the CSU’s four million-strong alumni network.

Alumni At Play
Governors-May-Revision-Maintains-Increase-in-Recurring-Funding-for-CSU.aspx
  
5/13/2022 11:41 AMRuble, Alisia5/13/20225/13/2022 11:00 AMGovernor Gavin Newsom shared his May Budget Revision including proposed funding for the CSU.BudgetPress Release

California Governor Gavin Newsom shared his May Budget Revision including proposed funding for the California State University (CSU). The May Revision maintains the same level of unallocated, recurring funding for the CSU—or $211.1 million—​that the governor had proposed in January while providing additional one-time funds for campus-specific initiatives.

"While predictable levels of funding in the future are welcome and appreciated, in light of the unprecedented surplus of state funding next year, it is disheartening to learn that the May Revision proposes no additional recurring funding for the CSU above the January budget proposal," said CSU Interim Chancellor Jolene Koester. "Time and again the CSU has proven to be one of the state’s best investments. With many economic challenges such as inflation impacting every dollar earned by our talented and dedicated faculty and staff, it is imperative that we receive additional funding to better support them and their families by providing appropriate compensation while they work to fulfill the university mission. As the budget process moves into the final stages, we will intensify efforts to work alongside our partners to ensure that our elected leaders are apprised of the university’s critical needs to ensure student achievement."​

The May Revision includes the following one-time funding proposals for the CSU:

  • $67.5 million for CSU Fullerton’s Engineering and Computer Science Innovation Hub. 
  • $80 million for a new Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) facility for the San Diego State University Imperial Valley campus.
  • $25 million for equipment and infrastructure improvements at the university farms located on the Chico, Fresno, Pomona and San Luis Obispo campuses.
  • $1.5 million for First Star Foster Youth Cohorts at the East Bay and Northridge campuses.  

​# # #

the California capitol building with the words budget news over it
Governor’s May Revision Maintains Increase in Recurring Funding for CSU
CSU-Flexible-Courses-Equitable-Learning-2022.aspx
  
5/11/2022 11:15 AMKelly, Hazel5/11/20225/11/2022 8:35 AMDedicated CSU faculty and staff continue to employ flexible pedagogy and leverage technology to support more equitable learning, both online and in person. Student SuccessStory

​Online learning. In-person classwork. Hybrid and multimodal courses. Wherever students are learning today, the California State University is making strides to meet them where they are. Across the CSU's 23 campuses, faculty and staff are learning new ways to embed equitable learning practices into their teaching and course design to address students' diverse learning needs.

During the summer of 2021, the CSU Chancellor's Office Academic Technology Services and Innovative Teaching & Learning Programs engaged consultant, author and long-time San Francisco State faculty lecturer Kevin Kelly, Ed.D., to develop and facilitate the Flexible Course Experience Institute for CSU faculty and staff to learn strategies for increasing flexibility in course structure, managing multiple technology platforms and workloads, and creating equivalent learning experiences for students engaging at different times and places.

“Flexible courses support teaching and learning across multiple delivery methods, and the combinations of methods differ by campus and instructor," says Dr. Kelly. Various flexible course delivery combinations can now be found throughout the university.

Kelly created the Flexible Course Experience curriculum on Canvas Commons for all CSU campuses, who may adopt or adapt it for their own trainings. Kelly also helped launch the Flexible Course Delivery website, designed to support faculty and staff as they explore flexible, multimodal courses. 

​What Makes a Course Flexible?

Instructors can make courses more flexible by combining two or more delivery methods at once, such as in-person, real-time remote, or online on your own time. But the delivery method is just the starting point of flexible teaching and learning, Kelly says.

“We can consider the course delivery method as a start, and we can build on that by creating flexible ways of teaching and learning within the course elements, activities and assessment," he says.



“The course delivery method is a start, and we can build on that by creating flexible ways of teaching and learning within the course elements and activities.”
—Dr. Kevin Kelly​, San Francisco State


​Kelly explains that beyond the modality of a course there are other fundamental values to consider, including the need to create equivalent experiences for students, no matter which modality they are using. “How do we change the way we deliver content to students, so that it's just as easy for a 35-year-old parent who's got two kids and is working full time and needs to learn asynchronously—not by choice, but because that's the only way to continue on their academic path to support their social mobility goals."

It should be noted that creating and facilitating flexible courses requires real effort by faculty and campus staff alike.​

​Flexible Learning Anywhere

The beauty of flexible learning pedagogy is that many of the principles can benefit all learners, whether in a traditional face-to-face class or learning asynchronously on their own time, or somewhere in between.

As an example, Kelly points to the use of social annotation/reading tools as a flexible practice that can take place in any learning modality. Social annotation enables students and teachers to have conversations in the margins of digital texts, fostering a deeper understanding of readings while building a sense of community in the classroom—whether online or in-person.

Social reading tools allow instructors to provide prompts for the students so they understand why they are reading a particular text, what they are supposed to take away from the reading and how they might get there with a set of inquiry-based questions, he says.

“It's providing structure around activities that are pretty status quo and extending them by making them collaborative instead of individual," Kelly says.  

Collaboration and building community are key facets of flexible course pedagogy. In fact, Kelly says one of the top questions instructors have is how to create opportunities for students to connect with students who may be in a different place or a different time—or both.

“You have to create reasons for students to make these connections," he says. “If you're going to have small group activities, make sure that you're allowing for the fact that some students are parents or fully employed and aren't going to be able to participate in synchronous activity, so there should be an asynchronous pathway for students to contribute."

​Preparing Flexible Learners

Can we prepare students to be better online/flexible learners? Kelly says we should be supporting students to become better learners—period—regardless of the modality.

Kelly teaches a course at SF State called “How to Learn with Your Mobile Device," which helps students use technology to enable metacognitive strategies—such as using an app to master the Pomodoro Technique.



“When we are teaching in flexible methods, we need to prepare students by letting them know what to expect, how to be successful and then supporting them.”
—Dr. Kevin Kelly, San Francisco State


​To set students up for success, Kelly recommends that instructors are upfront about the modalities they'll be using, and then give students strategies that will help them be successful. “When we are teaching in flexible methods, we need to prepare students by letting them know what to expect, how to be successful and then supporting them."

CSU Campuses Flex

Many CSU campuses are also creating their own campus-specific professional development programming to expand flexible course options. In 2021, Chico State launched a pilot program called ChicoFlex, in which faculty taught students in person (roomers) and students online (Zoomers) at the same time. ChicoFlex classes are offered in special classrooms configured with cameras that follow the instructor around the room, microphones for Zoomers to hear voices in the classroom and speakers so roomers can hear Zoomers when they speak. ChicoFlex instructors are encouraged to attend GoFlex, a five-day professional development session that provides hands-on practice teaching in a specially equipped classroom to both in-person and online participants.

Several Chico State instructors have shared their experiences after attending GoFlex and posted videos with their takeaways. Katie Mercurio, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Chico State College of Business, shared her reflections in an August 2021 video: “The value of GoFlex is that it forces you to think more deeply about achieving learning objectives—not only for the people who are in room, but also for the people who are attending on Zoom. I need to create an equitable learning environment and I need to create equitable assignments for the students."



“It forces you to think more deeply about achieving learning objectives—not only for the people who are in room, but also for the people who are attending on Zoom.”
—Dr. Kate Mercurio, Chico State


​“I feel incredibly fortunate that I have this opportunity to use the flex technology because I truly believe this is going to become the dominant teaching modality of the classroom as we move into the future," Mercurio said.

“This new flexibility that we're all evolving into is going to allow me to better serve my students," said Chico State lecturer Adrienne Edwards in her GoFlex learning recap video. “It will offer them greater flexibility, more learning options, modes of instruction, and skills that can carry into the future, not just in the field of teaching, but also for skills that the students are going to take away from college as well."

With a focus on student success, more flexible course options provide new learning pathways for students who have competing obligations like going to work or caring for children. The CSU remains committed to providing more equitable access to high-quality education for all students.

 

Learn more about Flexible Course Delivery at the CSU.

 

​Opening the Door for Innovation

During the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, faculty and staff across the CSU heroically converted more than 70,000 course sections over a two-week period. “This really opened the door for future innovation," says Emily Magruder, Ph.D., director of CSU Innovative Teaching & Learning Programs. “We now have a deeper understanding of what can be accomplished when flexible courses are thoughtfully designed ahead of time, and a broader understanding of learning design for all modalities."​



students sit in an innovative classroom setting
The Future is Flexible
Student-Success-Analytics-Certificate-Program-Open-Fall22-Enrollment.aspx
  
5/11/2022 10:01 AMKelly, Hazel5/10/20225/10/2022 10:50 AMHigher education professional development program shifts to semi-annual schedule due to unprecedented demandStudent SuccessPress Release

With its Spring 2022 cohort serving over 500 participants from campuses across the California State University and the nation, the demand for access to the CSU Certificate Program in Student Success Analytics has never been higher. In keeping with its commitment to support university faculty, staff and administrators in their efforts to close equity gaps for historically underserved students, the program will open its doors again to a new round of participants this fall. 

Many higher education institutions are seeking ways to deploy data-informed and innovative solutions that promote equal educational outcomes for their students. With its equity-focused and evidence-based curriculum, the CSU Analytics Certificate Program has empowered countless campus teams over the last five years to turn these insights into action.

“Our team was stimulated to consider how analytics could impact student success and the dashboards provided varied perspectives for the data we may need," said Dr. Doris Hill, dean at Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Dr. Bonnie D. Irwin, chancellor of University of Hawai'i at Hilo, added, “The combination of the data exercises and hearing from student success professionals in both academic and student affairs inspired and energized our team to improve the culture of data on our campus. Our students will benefit from all we learned!"

In addition to enrolling cross-divisional teams of university faculty, staff and administrators, the program also encourages intersegmental collaborations, which promote seamless transitions for students in pursuit of a college degree and can help institutions become more student-ready.

Recent successful partnerships include California State University Channel Islands and their local community college feeder school, Oxnard College. As a result of their joint efforts, the two campuses drafted educational partnership and data-sharing agreements that would cement their continued work together.

“CSU Channel Islands' participation in this program with our community college partner engendered a sense of shared purpose and familiarity with one another and our data. This intersegmental partnership allowed campus leaders to strengthen cross-institutional communication and learn together," said Dr. Jessica L. Lavariega Monforti, vice provost, CSU Channel Islands.

To learn more about this professional development program at the intersection of equity and evidence, please contact AnalyticsCertificateProgram@calstate.edu. The 2022 Fall cohort begins on August 26, 2022, and runs through November 18, 2022. A certificate is awarded to all participants who successfully complete the program. Registration for CSU and non-CSU course participation is now open and closes on July 29, 2022.

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.

woman typing on laptop computer
CSU Student Success Analytics Certificate Program Now Open for National Fall Enrollment
Celebrating-the-CSUs-APIDA-Presidents.aspx
  
5/16/2022 3:29 PMGonzaga, Miko5/4/20225/4/2022 2:00 PMIn celebration of Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month, some of the CSU's campus leaders reflect on their journey and inspiration.LeadershipStory

The California State University is comprised of some of the most academically, economically and ethnically diverse students, faculty and staff in the nation. Its 23 campus presidents not only reflect the unique identities of community members, but they also work to promote equity and inclusion, acting as servant leaders to empower those who come after them.

While Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) individuals account for less than 5 percent of four-year college and university presidents in the United States, APIDA leaders make up about 17 percent of the CSU’s campus presidents. To mark the occasion of Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month, we asked the CSU’s APIDA campus presidents to share their journey and what inspires their work.

Read thoughts from Stanislaus State President Ellen N. Junn, Sonoma State President Judy K. Sakaki, Cal State Fullerton President Framroze Virjee and CSU Channel Islands President Richard Yao.

Ellen Junn smiling for a profile picture Ellen N.​ Junn, Stanislaus State President
First Korean Ame​​​rican Wo​man in the U.S. to Lead a Four-Year University

As one of a small number of APIDA university presidents in the U.S., what motivated you​ to keep pursuing new and higher roles when you didn’t see people like yourself in leadership positions?

In all candor, I must admit that I never realized that there were so few APIDA individuals represented at the top levels of higher education administration until I became a university president. I had not contemplated this fact because I had never imagined or set a goal of becoming a top-level administrator in academia—possibly due to a range of cultural, societal and demographic factors.

In terms of cultural influences, among several Asian countries such as Japan, Korea and China, educators are accorded very high societal respect and the pursuit of and respect for education is a cultural norm. In my case, my father was the first in his family to go to college from his remote, poor South Korean island farming community because my grandfather made it a priority.

As a result of my father’s passion for higher education and fervent desire to live in a truly democratic society, he emigrated from South Korea to America after the Korean War to seek and obtain his master’s and doctorate degrees in the U.S. He eventually became a tenured university professor of political science. I absolutely loved learning, and after completing my bachelor’s degree in cognitive psychology, I moved onto a doctoral program to delve more deeply into human cognition and development.

It never dawned on me that there were not many APIDA in higher education leadership positions because APIDA faculty represent the largest proportion of minority faculty in the professoriate in universities, relative to other groups such as African American, Hispanic or other traditionally underrepresented faculty. For example, I have strong memories of having had one or two APIDA faculty who were my professors when I was an undergraduate at the University of Michigan. I also remember seeing other APIDA faculty across campus, and many were concentrated in the sciences, engineering and sometimes business.

I was successful and happy in my role as a tenured professor but, over time, I started getting nominated for progressively higher academic leadership positions. I found it rewarding and exciting to be able to work in these positions that enabled me to enact greater policy and infrastructure changes and to have control over resources that could improve student and faculty success. I did not feel alone or unusual because I loved the work I was doing as an administrator.

After I was appointed president of Stanislaus State, I was startled to realize that I was the first Korean American woman president appointed at a four-year college or university in the U.S. Even more surprising to me was that this is especially the case for APIDA women. To my knowledge thus far, it appears that there have been only 13 APIDA women presidents appointed to lead four-year comprehensive colleges or universities in the U.S. since 1998. ​Furthermore, this APIDA leadership gap, sometimes referred to as the “bamboo ceiling,” is not limited to academia, since there are similar gaps in other professions. This “bamboo ceiling gap” persists ​to this day.


How does your unique APIDA heritage and your lived experiences shape your leadership style?

The other interesting fact is that many Americans see APIDA as a homogenous group of Asians. The truth is that this APIDA group, while sharing many underlying similarities, come from completely different and separate countries with entirely different languages, religious affiliations and political, societal and historical trajectories. On top of these differences among Asian countries of origin, once Asians emigrated to the U.S. and were assimilated in varying degrees to become “Asian American,” the heritage and lived experiences become even more complicated and nuanced. Therefore, each of us has a unique cultural, historical and generational background that is often hard to explain in predictable ways.

My lived experiences growing up in America as an APIDA in the “melting pot” assimilation ethos of the Midwest, with a brief stint in the deep South shortly after the era of civil rights and during the emergence of women’s rights, all had a profound and transformative effect on my perspectives and view of the world. Not surprisingly, my parents fully embraced assimilating to the American way of life by naturalizing as American citizens, changing their names to Bob and Sue to sound more American and giving their children American first names. They were proud to let go of their prior Asian traditions and raised us to become American. So, in many ways, while I am very proud to be APIDA, I do not have strong identification to my country of origin. Where I grew up, we were the only APIDA family in our entire town, and we were proud to call ourselves “American.”

Nonetheless, I can say that some enduring APIDA cultural values continue to be core values for me today. These values include honoring family and family relationships, demonstrating respect for elders and community, showing respect for the value of higher education and valuing the importance of hard work, perseverance, humility, integrity and deference. Many of these values are reflected in my leadership style. In contrast, however, there are other more traditional Asian attitudes that often favor a more authoritarian style of communication or governance and many Asian cultures still have a strong tendency to favor a male-centric approach. As a woman APIDA leader, I have consciously worked to use a much more gender-neutral, proactive, open, collaborative and consultative style in my interactions, communications and relationships, which I believe have been very beneficial skills as an APIDA leader in higher education.


How do you use your leadership platform to inspire and empower students, faculty and staff to dream big and pursue their goals? What inspires you to do this important work, day in and day out?

I have an enduring and deep commitment to upholding and supporting a culture grounded in diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice (DEISJ) philosophy and action steps. I am inspired to support and build an inclusive, just and welcoming environment for the community at Stanislaus State and every CSU campus where I had the good fortune to work.

As an example, after coming to my campus, my staff and I worked with members of our APIDA faculty and staff to establish our first Asian Pacific Islander Faculty & Staff Association (AAPIFSA), and other ethnic organizations like the​ Chicanx/Latinx Faculty and Staff Association (CLFSA) and the Black Faculty and Staff Association (BFSA). We also provide funds from the President’s Office and the President’s Commission for Diversity and Inclusion (PCDI) to fund Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month events, cultural commencement receptions and other ethnic social events and activities. I am also fortunate that my cabinet and campus community have supported efforts to combat anti-Asian hate, as I have publicly commented on this t​roubling trend in recognition of our APIDA students, faculty and staff.


Judy Sakaki smiling for a profile picture Judy K. ​Sakaki, Sonoma State President
First Japanese American Woman in the U.S. to Lead a Four-Year University

As one of a small number of APIDA university presidents in the U.S., what motivated you to keep pursuing new and higher roles when you didn’t see people like yourself in leadership positions?

The lack of people who looked like me was and continues to be a strong motivation for my career trajectory, but it did not come without sacrifice. When so many of my colleagues were men, and I was a single mother raising two boys, I had to make sure I was in my office early enough for meetings that were scheduled without concern for parental duties. And I had to work to find common areas of discussion with men who came into the office ready to discuss the latest basketball or football game. In the early days, I really had to adapt to the existing culture to move up within it.

​Now, things have changed some, and for the better, but women, who comprise approximately 50 percent or more of college students, are represented by about a third of presidents in higher education. And digging down into those statistics, among Minority Serving Institutions (MSI), only 12 percent have female presidents. APIDA presidents constitute a very small percentage of all higher education executive leaders, and that is not even broken down by gender.

When I was appointed president of Sonoma State in 2016, I was the first Japanese American woman in the U.S. to head up a four-year public university. Had I not lived the life I did, I would have found that flabbergasting. This was before the publicity of the anti-Asian hate was fomented by the pandemic. Although even back in 2016, I and the university received several hateful comments directed at me as a female APIDA president.

All of this keeps me going and keeps me faithful to opening as many doors as I can to talented individuals of color, especially women, who are not moving rapidly enough or painlessly enough through the leadership pipeline. I know there are many who believe that it is not the responsibility of people of color to get that pipeline working more efficiently, but until I see enough allies who are really acting on behalf of talented staff, faculty and executive leaders of color, I will do what I can, in whatever way I can, to help.


How does your unique APIDA heritage and your lived experiences shape your leadership style?

Both my parents and grandparents were interned in camps during World War II, something that they never talked about, but which shaped all of our experiences in the years that followed. I only knew that my parents worked extremely hard, that they were concerned about their children’s ability to support themselves, and that we maintained a kind of resilience that I compare to stalks of bamboo, which can bend almost to the ground without breaking or losing integrity.

I was a first-generation college student, despite being told by my high school counselor that I would be well-suited to retail sales. The evolution of my thinking and experience was due in large part to mentors—often women who encouraged me to push the boundaries of what I was expected to do and what I could do. And, I always had those values from my parents that I should not give up, so I continued along my career path, working to understand and negotiate the professional cultures along the way.

Some may see that as stereotypical of Asian cultures, but we need to remember that different groups have adapted to discrimination, racism and racist violence in ways that help ensure their survival. I don’t think of my personality or background as stereotypically anything, but I do recognize that the conditions in which I grew up helped shape me, and necessitated methods of managing that aligned with values and ideals from my family, community and experience.

In terms of my leadership style, the cumulation of those experiences and values is that I tend to be very consultative in my decisions. I solicit input from key stakeholders, and I truly enjoy talking to students, staff and faculty about what their experiences are like and what we can learn from each other.

After the 2017 [Tubbs] fire, in which I lost my home and almost lost my life, a strong sense of community on campus really kept me going. My focus on resilience became important in a new way. And there was just so much shared empathy because so many had suffered loss during that time. That experience taught me an invaluable lesson about the importance of engagement as both a formal and informal ideal.


How do you use your leadership platform to inspire and empower students, faculty and staff to dream big and pursue their goals? What inspires you to do this important work, day in and day out?

Because I am a product of public education and grew up in East Oakland, I try to give back to the organizations that helped me on my way. I speak at events, work directly with student groups both on campus and in the community and am passionate about recruiting and retaining more diverse faculty, staff and students to Sonoma State.

I have contributed some family items to an exhibit, “From Suffrage to #MeToo,” at the Museum of Sonoma County, hosted fellows from the American Council on Education (ACE)—a program that was incredibly helpful for me—​and currently serve on the ACE Women’s Network Executive Council. I was a founding board member of APAHE (Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education) and have consulted with myriad universities, including Yale, on how to strengthen their support for students, especially students from historically marginalized groups. And I take to heart Ella Baker’s admonition to “lift as you climb.”

It is such a pleasure to see diversity become more and more institutionalized on our campuses, because the richness of everyone’s experience is so much deeper. And to see our students and colleagues of color dream big is central to my professional satisfaction. ​I believe in the Japanese saying: “Tsumoreba Yama to Naru.” It means that even the finest particles of dust, when gathered together, can allow those that come behind you to climb higher and see further than they dreamed possible.


Framroze Virjee smiling for a profile picture Framroze Virjee, Cal State Fullerton President
First Indian American Person to Lead CSUF

​As one of a small number of APIDA university presidents in the U.S., what motivated you to keep pursuing new and higher roles when you didn’t see people like your​self in leadership positions?

As a first-generation student and an immigrant to this country, I have always been inspired by the ideas and ideals that we, as Americans, espouse around equity, inclusion, opportunity and social justice. Though they did not experience higher education, my parents clearly understood its value; the trajectory it provides for social mobility and equity. That meant, in our home, there was no space for "I can’t" or "It's not fair." Roadblocks were viewed as made for removal, systemic barriers were viewed as obstacles to navigate and actualizing your dreams was viewed as a window to success.

As someone who is half Indian and who identifies as such, but who easily presents as white, I did not face the same barriers Mom and Dad did, or that we did together as a family.  Instead, the further I traveled from the wonderful home they provided, the easier it was for me to access the privilege that is inherent in our society for some, but at the expense of others. That was a motivator to take on new and more advanced roles in my career—to pursue leadership opportunities, but to do so with a mindset of a wedge to open the door, a catalyst to make change and a leader to insist on equity, inclusion and social justice.


How does your unique APIDA heritage and your lived experiences shape your leadership style?

My dad was a Merchant Marine Sea captain, so I grew up on a ship. I had seen half the world by the time I was six and moved to the U.S., which included not only the experience of many cultures, but the enriching traditions of family and faith that were shared with me deeply and regularly by my Zoroastrian fa​mily. Religious and calendar celebrations, prayers and rites of passage, food and family; these all shaped me, teaching me values, the beauty of faith, the joy of service and the strength of tradition.

As I rose to adulthood, the concepts of social justice, equality, unalienable human rights, care and compassion that were shared with me by my parents informed who I would become as a leade​r, as did their historical and cultural perspectives and their experiences in our new home. It was this exposure to my heritage and my lived experiences that drove me to the law, and to all it can and might do to further these values. Within the law, these same cultural and lived experiences worked as a magnet to attract me to the concepts of non-discrimination, freedom from harassment and the exercise of basic rights that find root in constitutional and labor and employment laws. And as I came to represent educational institutions, and then to teach within higher education, I found that the voice of these lessons could be magnified, multiplied and melded through education to further the very aims they represent.

Today, as a leader in higher education, my lived experiences implicate my leadership in everything I do. Building consensus rather than directing; seeking common ground rather than slipping into the chasms that can divide us; running the marathon of leadership and legacy, rather than the sprint of quick fix and fabrication; and always knitting into the moral imperative of what is right, what is just and what will provide the opportunity for all to find not just a seat, but a voice at the table.


How do you use your leadership platform to inspire and empower students, faculty and staff to dream big and pursue their goals? What inspires you to do this important work, day in and day out?

Most of the time I enjoy the privilege of forgetting my personal identity and focusing on the leadership of CSUF. I work, play, participate and wade into the Titan community focused on the future we seek and charting a path that will assure that we reach that destination. And then the signposts come: I catch a glimpse of my hands on the keyboard and realize they are as brown as Dad’s. I speak with a student who is intent on and demanding equity and opportunity for their community and I see my heart reflected in their eyes. I watch the first-generation student crossing the quad, backpack filled not only with books and computer, but also with Mom and Dad, sisters and brothers, and I can sense the palpable yearning to belong. These signposts and markers implicate and vindicate. They move and motivate. And with that motivation, with that sense of urgency and purpose, I renew my attempt to lead and empower all in our community—faculty, staff and students—to not only dream big, but actualize those dreams.

Members of the Titan community regularly ask me about my job: What is it you actually do? I tell them that with infrastructure, housing, energy, retail, construction, contracts, transportation, law enforcement, marketing, communications, etcetera, I run a medium-sized city of almost 50,000 people. And then there is our business, our calling of education. But really, amongst all the administration, finance, philanthropy, enrollment management and more, the real job is to inspire. To inspire all in our community to personal success, sure.  But just as important, to inspire us to cultivate and build the success for all in our community. To not only be the best that we each can be, but to ensure that all members of our community have that same opportunity. For me, that is both the definition and definer of successful leadership for our university and, as such, for me as its presi​dent.


Richard Yao smiling for a profile pictureRichard Yao, CSU Channel Islands President
First Person of Color to Lead CSUCI

A​s one of a small number of APIDA university presidents in the U.S., what motivated you to keep pursuing new and higher roles when you didn’t see people like yourself in leadership positions?

The students have been my motivation since the beginning of my career. I was motivated by and pursued positions that served underrepresented students, including our APIDA students and our first-generation students. As I came into leadership roles in higher education, I began to better understand the magnitude of being an APIDA-identifying leader. I recognize now that I stand on the shoulders of those who came before me, who carved the path to allow me to be in this position. I recognize the responsibility I have to represent our APIDA community, and that recognition starts with our students. Representation matters and engaging with our APIDA community reminds me of how we can further support and serve our APIDA students.


How does your unique APIDA heritage and your lived experiences shape your leadership style?

While growing up, my family didn’t talk about what it means to be APIDA, and we didn't discuss race and ethnicity and the impact it had on our individual life experiences. Then growing up in settings that were not diverse, and not having those developmental conversations about identity, I experienced so much turmoil. It wasn't until recently that I recognized how much of my struggle stemmed from a lack of understanding and clarity of what being APIDA meant to me.

I recognize how everyone has their own path to learning to appreciate their racial identities, and now that I have a better understanding of the necessity of talking about our narratives, experiences and intersecting identities, I hope to help facilitate those discussions on our campus. Knowing that we all must challenge ourselves to take that journey, and that a leader's responsibility is to facilitate movement on that journey—fulfilling diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (DEIA) goals along the way—influences my leadership style. Individual actions help us advance toward our DEIA goals, which in turn facilitates the systemic and policy level changes that are required for long-term change. Everyone must be willing to take the journey to better understand themselves and others through DEIA work.


How do you use your leadership platform to inspire and empower students, faculty and staff to dream big and pursue their goals? What inspires you to do this important work, day in and day out?

I recognize how important it is to model behavior for our students. How I navigate and cope with adversity, continue to learn and grow as a leader and communicate with others are all part of that process of facilitating others on their leadership journey. I need to be right there with them, taking that extra step to offer support and empathy with all members of our campus community and beyond. This also leads to discussing how not everyone is going to agree when a decision is made, but if we can have an open conversation about the rationale, context and thoughtfulness behind these difficult decisions, we can come to a respectful resolution that builds those partnerships and makes us stronger.

The students inspire me every day, and their success is at the forefront of my mind. I am deeply aware of the magnitude of this position and how my leadership impacts our students' success. Our campus partners' hard work and dedication inspires my work, and these opportunities for collaboration across divisions maintain that inspiration. The ability for our students to feel a sense of belonging and pride in our university, and that their identities are valued and embraced, is the greatest inspiration as president.


The CSU partners with APIDA communities to increase the college preparation, enrollment and graduation rates of those students across the state of California. Learn more about these efforts.​


A college graduation cap with the words future education leader on it
A Conversation with the CSU's APIDA Presidents
Commencement-Season-2022-is-Here.aspx
  
5/2/2022 10:25 AMBeall, Alex5/2/20225/2/2022 11:45 AMSee how CSU campuses are honoring their graduates.CommencementStory

With the close of another school year, CSU graduates have more than one reason to rejoice. Not only will commencement mark the end of their ​college journey and the triumph of earning a degree, but with the return to traditional ceremonies across the campuses, students will be able to celebrate the occasion surrounded by family and friends.

"Unlike any other graduating class, your university experience has been shaped in extraordinary ways by more than two years of a global pandemic," says Interim CSU Chancellor Jolene Koester. "During those years, you have developed and honed attributes that will benefit you for a lifetime. Your resilience and adaptability will become career strengths. Your creativity and resourcefulness will define you. Your courage and determination are, in my eyes, already legendary. While it might have been different than the college experience you envisioned when you started your journey, these years have made you sharper, tougher, brighter and more purpose-driven than ever before."


Check each campus​’s​ website for commencement dat​es, locations and mor​e.​

Commencement 2022 is Here!
Second-Gentleman-Doug-Emhoff-Alumni-Event-2022.aspx
  
4/29/2022 4:33 PMKelly, Hazel4/29/20224/29/2022 2:05 PMHusband of Vice President Kamala Harris and CSUN alumnus reflects on his Cal State experience during virtual alumni event.AlumniStory

​With a network of four million​ California State University alumni across the world, there are almost 50,000 CSU alumni living in the New York tri-state and DC Metro areas alone. On April 28, alumni from the region joined university leadership for an evening of virtual networking, hosted by the CSU Chancellor's Office and CSU campus alumni associations.

The event kicked off with California State University, Northridge's President Erika Beck introducing a distinguished surprise alumni guest: Mr. Douglas Emhoff, Second Gentleman of the United States (CSUN '87, Communication Studies).

Mr. Emhoff reflected on his experience attending a CSU and how a degree from the nation's largest four-year public university influenced his life and contributed to his professional success.

“If I did not have the opportunity to go to CSUN, I don't think I could have gone to college. And if I had not gone to college, I wouldn't have been able to go to law school and build the career that I built," Emhoff said. “So thank God for the Cal State system and CSUN and all the millions of students who are able to have access to higher education in our great state."

Emhoff is the proud husband of Vice President Kamala Harris and a devoted father. He was a prominent entertainment lawyer for nearly 30 years, building off his undergrad degree in communication studies from CSUN in 1987. As the first Second Gentleman of the United States, Emhoff has devoted his time to the causes of justice, equality, human rights and promoting interreligious understanding. “CSUN is exceptionally proud of our Matador and his enduring support in matters of common cause," said President Beck.

​​

​Emhoff remarked that the lessons he learned while at CSUN instilled in him a work ethic and a passion for entertainment, media and communications, which then led to his career as an entertainment lawyer, and now as a part-time entertainment professor of law at Georgetown University.

During a Q&A session with attendees, Emhoff emphasized the importance of alumni and students to stay engaged with the university and their communities.

“Some of the major issues that we have—climate, voting—will impact younger people and they need to get and stay engaged right now. And I do everything I can to encourage that," he said. “I would encourage everyone to be involved, stay involved, mentor and give back."

In closing, Emhoff said, “My world has changed, but I'm just still a kid from the Valley who went to CSUN."

President Beck responded: “You are such a powerful example of the transformative nature of a CSU education."


CSU alumni make up a global network that is over four million strong. As ambassadors to the nation and world, our alumni demonstrate the power of possibility that comes with a CSU degree. Learn more about the impact of the remarkable alumni of the CSU's 23 campuses.


CSU Leaders Panel: Alumni Engagement is Key

​​


CSU leaders shared remarks on the importance of alumni engagement in student success during a virtual event for CSU alumni in the New York tri-state and DC Metro areas on April 28.

Dia S. Poole, past president of the CSU Alumni Council and Cal State San Bernardino alumna ('90), served as moderator for the three panelists: Cal State Student Association (CSSA) President Isaac Alferos, Academic Senate CSU Chair Robert Keith Collins, Ph.D., and CSU Alumni Council President Jeremy Addis-Mills (CSU San Marcos '07).

Alferos, Dr. Collins and Addis Mills all emphasized that some of the most important things CSU alumni can do to support the success of current students is to connect with faculty in the classroom, serve as student mentors and engage with their campus alumni associations to build community.

“What makes the system great is the community that we build here," Alferos said. “And so continuing that community makes a huge difference for students like myself, who may have struggled to go through college and are dealing with issues for the first time, not just for themselves, but many for their community."

Alferos, who will graduate from Cal State Fullerton with his bachelor's degree this May, called on CSU alumni to “collectively go and shout from the rooftops that we're proud of where we come from."

“We are four million people doing incredible work coming from an incredible institution. And if that were to be even louder and even more present, to be proud of where we come from, it one hundred percent changes how our students perceive their degrees."


We are four million people doing incredible work coming from an incredible institution.”
—Isaac Alferos, CSSA President​



​​

U.S. Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff: CSU Education Foundational to his Professional Success
CalNAGPRA-CSu-project-manager-appointed-2022.aspx
  
5/12/2022 3:26 PMWong, Brenda4/28/20224/28/2022 10:00 AMCalifornia State University has named Adriane Tafoya as its new project manager for the California Native American Graves and Repatriation Act (CalNAGPRA).CaliforniaPress Release

California State University, the nation's largest four-year public university, has named Adriane Tafoya as its new project manager for the California Native American Graves Protection​ and Repatriation Act (CalNAGPRA). In this role, she will work with culturally affiliated tribes throughout the state to identify and repatriate the remains of their ancestors and other cultural items.

Tafoya will assist all 23 campuses within the CSU system in complying with CalNAGPRA and with the requirements of Assembly Bill 275, especially in regard to producing new inventories of all of the Native American collections held by each campus. 

CalNAGPRA, which was passed in 2001, requires all agencies and museums that receive state funding and have possession or control over collections of California Native American human remains, cultural items, and funerary objects to inventory those remains and objects for repatriation to the appropriate California Indian Tribe. AB 275, a bill passed in 2020, further defined and clarified the repatriation process and also required state agencies to designate a liaison to engage and consult with California Native American tribes.  

Woman with glasses

Adriane Tafoya, a member of the Tejon Indian Tribe,
will assist with the CSU's CalNAGPRA compliance.

Tafoya will work out of the Chico State Office of Tribal Relations and​​​ report to University President Gayle Hutchinson, who serves as the CSU's Presidential Advisor for its Native American Initiative. 

Tafoya is currently the senior collections manager at the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and serves on UT's NAGPRA Committee. She is a California native and member of the Tejon Indian Tribe (Kitanemuk). Her experience includes NAGPRA duties in California and Tennessee. She has been working in the museum collections field for more than 20 years and has held collections manager positions in art and history museums, university museums, and private collections. 

“The CSU has thousands of collections to inventory. Adriane's strong experience in project management and museum studies education, and her passion for the important work of CalNAGPRA make her a great fit to take on this work," said Rachel McBride-Praetorius, the director of Tribal Relations at Chico State.  

Tafoya earned a Bachelor of Arts in art from Chico State and a Master of Arts in museum studies from John F. Kennedy University. She is currently working with students to finish museum curation projects at the University of Tennessee and will start with the CSU on June 1.​ 

​ 

About California State University, Chico

California State University, Chico is the second-oldest institution in the 23-campus CSU system, the nation's largest public university system. Founded in 1887, Chico State enrolls approximately 17,000 students and serves as the comprehensive university of the North State, the 12-county region where the campus is located. The campus is consistently ranked as one of the best regional public universities in the Western United States and recognized for its quality of education, affordability, value, and alumni success. Its mission includes enduring commitments to academic distinction, transformative student experiences, prominent scholarship and innovation, and a culture of excellence and accountability. With strategic priorities of equity, diversity, and inclusion; civic and global engagement; and resilient and sustainable systems, Chico State is working to solve the unprecedented global challenges of the 21st century.

​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​.​

college campus grounds
CSU Appoints Collections Manager to Support the Preservation of Native American Peoples’ Heritage, Artifacts and Tribal Culture
Action-for-Equity-Re-Enrollment.aspx
  
5/4/2022 3:05 PMBeall, Alex4/25/20224/25/2022 11:40 AMHow CSU reengagement efforts help underserved students return to school and persist to graduation.Graduation InitiativeStory

Action for Equity: ReEnrollment

How CSU reengagement efforts help underserved students return to school and persist to graduation.​

 

Since the CSU launched Graduation Initiative 2025 (GI2025) in 2015, the university has successfully increased graduation rates for both first-time freshmen and transfer students. Now the CSU is redoubling efforts to ensure all students, regardless of background, economic circumstance, race or ethnicity, have the equal opportunity to earn their degrees on time.

​In early 2021, the CSU formed the GI2025 Advisory Committee to determine how best to reach the initiative’s goals and eliminate stubborn equity gaps that i​mpact underrepresented ​students and students of color. University leadership has since adopted five priorities:

  • Reengage and re​​enroll 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

In this series, we’ll explore how CSU campuses have taken action to address each of these priorities, beginning with student reenrollment campaigns. During the pandemic, the CSU—like universities across the nation—saw a heightened attrition rate, especially for students of color. In response, campuses are carrying out reenrollment strategies to help these students get back on track to graduation.

“There’s no doubt that our students, especially those from historically underserved communities, faced a range of challenges through the pandemic,” says Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs Sylvia A. Alva, Ph.D. “But our entire Cal State family is committed to reaching out, breaking down barriers and reassuring our students that their dreams of a CSU degree are within reach.”

Warm Welcome

In fall 2021, San Francisco State University piloted an effort to contact 309 students from the fall 2019 cohort who’d left in good academic standing. This included Marissa Ledesma, who left SFSU at the end of her first year in spring 2020 when she struggled to find her place on campus and classes shifted to online. The next school year, she attended a community college in her hometown of Bakersfield, where she completed her general education requirements. As Ledesma began thinking of returning to a four-year, she picked up a call from SFSU that helped her connect with advising.

“It was very welcoming, and it made me feel like I was valued, that there was somewhere that wanted my attendance,” Ledesma says.

Marissa Ledesma with SFSU penant "Returning this time and being able to connect with professors and other students who understand the types of things I want to talk about, like racial justice or equity, makes me feel very complete." ​—Marissa Ledesma, SFSU student​

The campus waived associated fees and gave her priority registration, while the advising team helped her re-apply for fall 2021, change her major to sociology and plan a virtual schedule so she could remain at home another year. Ledesma will return to campus in-person this fall for her senior year to complete her major requirements with a plan to graduate in spring 2023.

“I've struggled this long and I can continue through the rest, but I'm coming back with a new mindset,” Ledesma says. “As I return back, I do feel more acceptance, because I feel like the quality of education here and the type of content they teach us aligns with what I want to learn.”

SFSU’s reenrollment efforts have been expanded to other students who didn’t enroll in fall 2021 or spring 2022, and the campus has contacted more than 1,500 students.

California State University, Bakersfield launched its own strategy in early 2022 to quickly reenroll students who left in good academic standing after being enrolled in the fall 2019 or 2020 terms. The call center individually contacted 448 students, offering a $1,000 grant for students who reenrolled full-time for spring or fall 2022. The grant was prorated according to units for students who enrolled part-time.

“Information flies at this generation at a wild pace, and we think you can just send an email or text message. But when a phone call comes in and a human voice says, ‘We want you, we're thinking about you, we miss you, how can we help you get back,’ that means a lot,” says Dwayne Cantrell, Ed.D., CSUB associate vice president of Enrollment Management and chief enrollment officer. “We have to be more intrusive in our engagements with our students for reenrollment, retention and graduation.”

The campus is also hiring an individual to help students reenroll, track their progress throughout the semester and connect them with resources like the 24-hour tutoring service—and the CSUB Student Affairs team created a program to pair reenrolling students with campus mentors. In addition, for students who left while not in good standing, the campus will offer scholarships covering their extended education courses needed to reenroll.

Campus Check-Up​

These efforts to help students reenroll are particularly important in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. At California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, the student success team began monitoring enrollment daily once spring 2022 registration opened in October 2021 and saw the largest enrollment drop-offs among the “COVID cohorts,” students who started in the fall 2019, 2020 and 2021 terms.

“There is a disparate impact on our underrepresented students,” says S. Terri Gomez, Ph.D., CPP associate provost of Student Success, Equity and Innovation. “When we look at the data, we see higher percentages of minoritized, underserved students, particularly Latinx and African Americans, who did not enroll. That has potentially a very serious impact on equity gaps and graduation rates.”

In November 2021, the team employed an artificial intelligence chatbot—Billy Chat—to ask students why they weren’t registering for courses. Some didn’t see the urgency in registering for classes, and some faced barriers with regards to campus policies or finances. Others just didn’t realize they hadn’t completed registration and had courses in their online “shopping carts.” To address this challenge, the team identified these students and made their “shopping carts” visible to advisors so they could contact students directly and help them complete the process.

Later, the team opened an additional registration period for these students and hosted a virtual queue on a Saturday morning when students could Zoom in with questions about registration.

“We want to encourage students to develop help-seeking behaviors, but I think it’s important we reach out to them so they don't feel like they're lost amid 27,000 students,” says Cecilia Santiago-González, Ed.D., CPP assistant vice president of Strategic Initiatives for Student Success.

CPP, though, is building on campus reenrollment efforts already in place before the CSU introduced its plan to eliminate equity gaps.

Monica Say walks across Cal Poly Pomona's campus. "All the obstacles I faced during college—failing, coming back, failing, coming back—has helped me to be where I am today." —Monica Say, CPP student

The work helped Monica Say, who began her first year at CPP in 2013, reach the finish line. The computer science major dropped out the first time following the spring 2016 term when both her parents lost their jobs, and she couldn’t afford tuition. But upon receiving a campus email to students who hadn’t enrolled for that fall, she decided to respond and share her story.

“Everything started for me replying to that one email,” Say says. “I got all my courses for that following fall, so I did not have to miss any quarters. I got all my classes I needed. I was on track to finishing school. I also got a job on campus so I could earn some money to pay for school.”

Say walked at commencement in 2018, only to learn she’d failed her final two math classes. She retook both classes and failed them again, at which point she wanted to give up.

“A lot of faculty and staff messaged me, and they told me, ‘You are two classes away. You can do this, and we're here to help you succeed,’” she recounts. “I needed that motivation, and I went back to school and finished my degree. … The reenrollment effort is very important for students to see there is help from faculty, staff and the CSU.”

After passing those courses in 2021, Say began a master’s program in computer science at CPP.

Good Guidance

After helping students reenroll, campuses are then ensuring they have the academic guidance they need going forward. California State University, Stanislaus provides targeted support for returning students as they go through the onboarding process and continue on the path to graduation.

Stanislaus State communications major Victoria Castro-Chavez knows the importance of good advising. She took a gap semester in spring 2021 after struggling with health complications, losing several family members, working full-time, caring for her family and failing to pass most of her previous semester credits while a full-time student.

With support from the campus, Castro-Chavez reenrolled in fall 2021 as a part-time student, though still on academic probation. Her advisor helped her connect with resources to access financial aid and improve her academic standing. The two meet three times a semester to plan a schedule that aligns with her work calendar and ensure she’s on track to graduate in spring 2023.

Victoria Castro-Chavez snaps a selfie on Stanislaus State's campus. "[Earning my degree is] the end goal for me, because everybody is continuing their education for something they care about or something that inspires them, and I'm going to school to be a high school teacher." —Victoria Castro-Chavez, Stanislaus State student

“The four-year plan is not realistic for all current, modern-day college students because people have to work, have kids or have other aspects in their lives they have to take care of,” Castro-Chavez says. “I’m a prime example. … The resources from the Academic Success Center help me to continue to be part-time, and my academic advisor helped me with things, like my appeals for financial aid, to stay in school.”

Similarly, CPP has early support specialists who check in with students who faculty identify as needing support to pass the course.

“Our expectation is every one of our students will have a person who will notice they didn't enroll, who will notice they didn't pass that class, who will make that connection,” Dr. Gomez says. “We have to be in a position to serve students better.”

Breaking​ Barriers

While addressing administrative barriers to graduation is its own GI2025 priority, campuses took steps as pa​rt of their reenrollment efforts to address barriers that specifically prevented students’ return. These included removing registration holds on students with outstanding debt, using the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF) to pay off debts and streamlining the reenrollment process.

F​or example, Stanislaus State increased the amount of money students could owe without being dropped, used HEERF to provide additional financial aid and extended the number of terms a student could not enroll and still receive a registration date. In addition, the campus introduced a form for students who had been absent for up to three years to request to reenroll without having to reapply.

“In the beginning of the pandemic, before we had these reenrollment initiatives well established, we saw significant drops in persistence in higher education statewide, particularly among traditionally underrepresented minority (URM) students,” says Brandon Price, Ed.D., Stanislaus State interim associate vice president of student success. “Reversing the decline in persistence among URM students was a priority systemwide, but was particularly critical at an institution like ours where the majority of the students are traditionally underrepresented minority students whose education was much more likely than their peers to be disrupted by COVID-19.”

CPP instituted a temporary lift on financial holds blocking registration and provided debt relief using HEERF funds. The campus also extended students’ formal leaves of absence by one term and increased the number of terms, from one to two, that students could not enroll without losing their spot.

“As an institution, we have to be more intentional about serving and intervening in real time with students who have fallen off track or are facing serious challenges,” Gomez says. “Despite everything they have been facing, they are still clawing their way to a degree.”

HEERF funding proved helpful in removing other administrative barriers, too. After all she went through to finally complete her bachelor’s, Say couldn’t receive her diploma due to her outstanding tuition balances. She had even started her company, Code with Nano, teaching children to code to pay off the amount, but hadn’t been able to do so. Then in March 2022, CPP used HEERF funding to pay off the last of her debt, so she could receive her diploma.

Monica Say with her diploma. "A lot of [returning] for me was mostly fear. I was scared to be a part of this, I was scared to look for help or I was scared to not get that answer that I wanted. But the emails, coming back and that support helped a lot." —Monica Say, CPP student​

“How amazing it is that these scholarships are given to us students to help us pay for this debt!” Say says. “I just felt so blessed. … Cal Poly has been such an amazing school to me and has helped me out, not once, but twice. They really help their students succeed.”


Check out the GI2025 2021 Progress Report to learn more about the five priorities, and look out for the next installments in the series​.

Action for Equity: Reenrollment
SJSU-Presidential-Search-Committee-Open-Forum-2022.aspx
  
4/22/2022 4:33 PMBarrie, Matthew4/22/20224/22/2022 12:00 PMThe California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees is beginning the search for the next president of San José State University (SJSU) to succeed Mary Papazian, Ph.D., who resigned from the campus presidency on December 21, 2021.LeadershipPress Release

​The California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees is beginning the search for the next president of San José State University (SJSU) to succeed Mary Papazian, Ph.D., who resigned from the campus presidency on December 21, 2021.

The first meeting of the Trustees' Committee for the Selection of the President will be held in a hybrid in-person/virtual open forum from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 4 in the Student Union Ballrooms on the SJSU campus. During this time, the committee will outline the search process and the community will be invited to share their preferred attributes of the next president of SJSU. Please note that campus and community members wishing to address the committee virtually are required to register in advance. The deadline to register to speak during the open forum is Tuesday, May 3 at noon. Confirmed registrants will receive details about how to participate virtually. Advanced registration is not required for individuals wishing to address the committee in person.

CSU Trustee Christopher Steinhauser will chair the committee. The other trustee members include Anna Ortiz-Morfit, Yammilette Rodriguez and Romey Sabalius, as well as Trustee Chair Lillian Kimbell and CSU Interim Chancellor Jolene Koester.

In addition to the opportunity to attend in person, the open forum will also be web-streamed live and archived on the Presidential Search website,​ where individuals may also provide their input via written submission.

​Board policy requires the chair of the CSU trustees to appoint an Advisory Committee to the Trustees' Committee. The Advisory Committee is composed of representatives from the faculty, staff, students and alumni, as well as a member of a campus advisory board, all of whom are selected by the campus's constituency groups. Also on the Advisory Committee is a vice president or academic dean from the campus, and a president of another CSU campus—both selected by the chancellor. Both committees function as one unified group.


Members of the Advisory Committee for the Selection of the President include:

  • Stefan Frazier, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Department of Linguistics and Language Development, and Nidhi Mahendra, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences (faculty representatives)
  • ​Alison L. McKee, Ph.D., chair, SJSU Academic Senate
  • Angee Ortega McGhee, associate resource analyst (staff representative)
  • Sharanya Kumar and Khoi-Nguyen Nguyen (student representatives)
  • Chrissy Chang (alumni representative)
  • Edward A. Oates (campus advisory board representative)
  • Sheryl H. Ehrman, Ph.D., Don Beall Dean, Davidson College of Engineering (administration representative)
  • Maya Esparza and Angel Rios, Jr. (community representatives)
  • Cathy A. Sandeen, Ph.D., president, California State University, East Bay
Over the next several months, the committee will review candidates and conduct interviews.

 

​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​.​



historic building on college campus grounds
San José State University Presidential Search Committee to Hold Open Forum
Explained-Admissions-Without-the-SAT-or-ACT.aspx
  
5/12/2022 4:11 PMGonzaga, Miko4/18/20224/18/2022 10:20 AMThe CSU will no longer use SAT and ACT scores in admissions. But what does that mean for applicants?AdmissionStory

In March 2022, the CSU Board of Trustees approved the removal of the SAT and ACT standardized tests from undergraduate admissions processes. The decision followed the nearly two years during the COVID-19 pandemic when submitting those test scores was not required for CSU applicants.

“The decision by the Board of Trustees aligns with the California State University’s mission of access and our efforts to provide high-quality college degrees for students of all backgrounds,” says April Grommo, Ed.D., assistant vice chancellor for Enrollment Management Services. “We are eliminating a high-stakes test that can cause great stress on students and their families and does not add any additional predictive value over high school GPA. The CSU being test-free will better meet the needs of our future students.”

The CSU's Admission Advisory Council (AAC) is now developing final recommendations for how to reconfigure the university’s minimum eligibility index used for admissions, with a final decision expected later in the spring.

Before the pandemic, the CSU admissions process relied on a minimum eligibility index that calculated a score based on applicants’ high school “a-g” GPA (minimum of 2.0 for California high school graduates, 2.45 for non-California residents) and SAT/ACT test scores. California high school graduates who earned a 2.0-2.49 GPA (2.45-2.99 for non-California residents) would be eligible with high test scores.

Beginning in fall 2020 after the onset of COVID-19, the CSU moved to test-free admissions for the incoming class of fall 2021, with eligibility being based on GPA alone (minimum 2.5 for California high school graduates, 3.0 for non-California residents). Campuses could then choose to individually review applicants with a 2.0-2.49 GPA, or 2.47 to 2.99 respectively, using multi-factor admissions criteria—a combination of 21 additional factors like first-generation status or employment that differed by campus.​ In addition, impacted campuses or programs could conduct a further review with the supplemental factors. The CSU application was adjusted to support multi-factor admissions.

T​he new index will continue to use applicants’ high school GPA as the primary factor in the formula, but will incorporate secondary factors to replace the test scores. These may include completion of college preparatory coursework beyond the minimum requirements; school context, such as the percentage of students receiving free/reduced-prices meals; and other student attributes or activities like extracurriculars, community engagement or first-generation status.

In addition to reworking the index, the final changes to the admissions process will refine the supplemental factors impacted campuses and programs use in multi-factor admissions.

Future Applications

Prospective students will not see any change in applying to the CSU with this decision. There will still be a section on the application where they can submit SAT and ACT scores, alongside AP and IB scores, but the test results will only be used for college level math and English course placement for admitted students.

However, students will again be expected to have graded “a-g” courses. The CSU accepted “credit” or “pass” grades for classes completed from the spring 2020 term to the summer 2021 term.

Rolling Out the Change

Following a final decision, use of the new minimum eligibility index will be phased in over the next few years.

Current high school juniors: Nothing will change for the incoming class of fall 2023, applying in fall 2022. The index will still be based on the applicants’ high school GPA, with the option of submitting ACT and SAT scores.

Current high school sophomores: For the incoming class of fall 2024, the admissions office will calculate the results of both indices—the old using GPA and optional test scores, and the new index still being developed. If a student qualifies for admission under either index, they will be admitted.

Current high school freshmen: The incoming class of fall 2025 will only be considered under the new CSU minimum eligibility index.


Check back for updates when a final decision on the minimum eligibility index is made. Until then, explore the proposals, research and FAQs regarding the discontinued use of the ACT and SAT in admissions, or review admission requirements at Cal State Apply.

​​

Explained: Admissions Without the SAT or ACT
CSU-Summer-arts-applications-2022.aspx
  
4/13/2022 8:42 AMKelly, Hazel4/13/20224/13/2022 10:35 AMApplication deadlines are May 27 for immersive on-campus summer arts experience at Fresno State, or April 22 for study abroad programsCommunityStory

The California State University (CSU) is now accepting applications for the 2022 Summer Arts program taking place at Fresno State from June 27 to July 24, as well as a four international courses beginning in July. 

Undergraduates, graduate students and advanced practitioners are invited to apply to live and study on campus with world-renowned artists and distinguished CSU faculty in the fields of art, creative writing, dance, media, music, theatre, visual arts and design.

The CSU has offered this prestigious multidisciplinary program since 1985, and this summer 15 intensive courses will be available at Fresno State, with the first session taking place June 27 through July 10, and the and the second from July 11 through July 24. Four international courses will be offered abroad, beginning in July:  Acting Irish Theatre in Ireland, La Guitarra Española in Spain, Romantic Lied in Germany, and Contemporary Art in Berlin.

“CSU Summer Arts is truly unique and the professional opportunities are simply unmatched during the two-week intensive courses," said Ray Smith, director of CSU Summer Arts. “Many of the resident artists and faculty also live on campus, so they are sharing meals and conversations with students that are transformative. Something magical happens when you eat, breathe, create and live the arts up to 14 hours a day, working with an artist or instructor who also happens to be one of the best in their discipline."

Students accepted to the program at Fresno State have access to on-campus housing and work side-by-side with arts professionals in apprentice-like study.

At the end of the course, local communities surrounding the campus are invited to an open-to-the-public arts festival, where Summer Arts students proudly showcase their artistic talent and guest artists in-residence also perform each evening.

International course applications are due April 22 and all other course applications are due May 27.

Students from the CSU, University of California campuses, private colleges, or members of the community with the desire to master their craft are encouraged to apply.

Students admitted to the program can earn up to six units of transferrable credit, and scholarships are available.

To learn more about CSU Summer Arts courses, registration, artists or available scholarships visit the CSU Summer Arts website.


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.

young men and women dancing in a stage production
Calling All Student Artists: CSU Now Accepting Applications for 2022 Summer Arts
University-Police-Building-Trust-and-Strengthening-Community-.aspx
  
5/4/2022 10:01 AMRuble, Alisia4/11/20224/11/2022 8:00 AMUniversity Police Departments implement strategies to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors.CommunityStory

In June 2020, the CSU Council of Chiefs of Police pledged to implement recommendations from President Obama's Task Force on 21st Century Policing in response to a public outcry for police reform and accountability. Recommendations from the 21st Century Policing report are designed to help communities and law enforcement agencies build trust and collaboration while continuing to reduce crime, and are organized around six key pillars:

  • Building Trust and Legitimacy

  • Policy and Oversight

  • Technology and Social Media

  • Community Policing and Crime Reduction

  • Officer Training and Education

  • Officer Safety and Wellness

​CSU police chiefs, officers and University Police Department (UPD) staff at each of the CSU's 23 campuses are committed to implementing a progressive and thoughtful approach to 21st century policing and have established six working groups to develop, execute and track actions that move departments toward that goal.

The overarching goal: Ensure CSU campuses are places where students and employees feel safe, welcome and valued. Some strategies to achieve this include improving cultural education for officers, enforcing accountability, collaborating with community leaders and engaging in the lives of campus community members beyond emergency situations.

“University police departments have a guardian philosophy," said Stanislaus State University UPD Chief and CSU Chief of Chiefs Clint Strode in a campus announcement for the University Policing Advisory Board (UPAB) in January 2021. “Our goal is to have students, faculty and staff come here and be safe."

Renewing Trust

In an effort to increase transparency and rebuild trust with campus communities, the CSU has created a 21st Century Policing website as part of the CSU's Transparency and Accountability sites.

Campus Police and Safety Advisory Committees have also been established at each campus to review police and safety matters that affect students, faculty, staff and visitors, and to help implement community policing principles. These committees examine campuswide UPD policies and procedures in a more holistic way and recommend ways to enhance campus policing.

Police chiefs work with their campus Academic Senate, the campus' President's Office and student-led organizations to select members for the council who represent a diverse group of voices from across the university and local community.

At California State University, Bakersfield, the Police Advisory Council is comprised of the Chief Diversity Officer, two Academic Senate representatives, four student repr​esentatives, two staff members, a community member chosen by CSU Bakersfield President Lynnette Zelezny, rotating UPD members and one facilitator, CSUB UPD​ Chief Marty Williamson.

“We're working to reinforce community policing strategies, and the advisory council is helping us identify ways to promote this," said Williamson.​

Increasing Visibility

The CSUB council is focused on gaining a deeper understanding of the role of UPD on campus to provide informed recommendations. Council meetings shed light on officer hiring processes, training, policies and equipment. Chief​​ Williamson even created a virtual reality experience to demonstrate what it's like to handle emergency situations.

It's our job to reach out and build that bridge and make our campus community members feel included and valued​.

"I was most impressed to learn just how well-qualified these officers are; the number of trainings they regularly​ participate in and the hiring process they go through just to have the opportunity to serve in the positi​on," said Police Advisory Council member and CSUB mental health counselor Michael Harville, Ph.D. “I would say I have a great deal more respect for them than I did before joining the council."

At the end of 2021, the council developed a handful of suggestions to improve relations between UPD and the campus community, beginning with the need for better communication of UPD actions and resources. Council members say a deeper understanding of everything UPD does will improve public perception and make students feel more welcome.

In response, CSUB police​ are updating their communications plans, beefing up social media outreach and working with Associated Students, Inc. (ASI) to conduct student surveys about the awareness of UPD programs and various communications. The council has also identified areas where UPD can get involved in students' lives in a positive way, like participating in events hosted by student organizations and arranging informal meet and greets.

“It's our job to reach out and build that bridge—build that trust—and make our campus community members feel included and valued​," said Williamson.

Chief Williamson said he is also requiring officers to spend more of their time on foot or bike patrol, rather than in a marked car, making a concerted effort to greet students and employees and familiarize themselves with the campus community. 

“Many of our students have had negative experiences with police officers in their communities, but when they come to CSUB, they have opportunities to engage with somebody in a uniform in a positive, helpful way—and maybe do some healing," said Dr. Harville.

The CSUB council continues to meet monthly and will make additional recommendations in the coming year.​​

Building on Prior Work

Even before C​ampus Police and Safety Advisory Committees were established across the system, many of these strategies already existed, with several campuses having preexisting task forces.

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, for example, formed the Police Advisory Task Force (PATF) at the request of President Soraya Coley, in early 2020 and released a report last spring that outlined three key themes: Increasing officers' visibility on campus, reducing police response time and building rapport between officers and the students they serve. In fall 2021, Cal Poly Pomona held a Campus Conversation webinar to address the themes listed in the report and announce the formation of a standing Police Advisory Board.

“This is a pivotal moment for policing, not only on our campus, but in the nation, with law enforcement agencies looking to forge stronger connections to the communities they serve and rebuild trust," President Coley said in a message to the campus community.

Learn more about how the CSU is instituting meaningful change and improvements across the university by visiting the 21st Century Policing website.​

A police officer on a college campus talking a student
University Police: Building Trust and Strengthening Community
what-you-can-do-to-combat-climate-change.aspx
  
5/11/2022 3:11 PMGonzaga, Miko4/6/20224/6/2022 11:50 AMThis Earth Month, CSU experts share practical ways to make a difference.SustainabilityStory

What You Can Do to Combat Climate Change

This Earth Month, CSU experts share practical ways to make a difference.

 

While caring for our planet should be a year-round endeavor, Earth Month presents an opportunity to recommit to that goal. The CSU is dedicated to working toward a more sustainable future across its campuses, with a systemwide Sustainability Policy and sustainability goals first adopted in 2014 and recently updated in March 2022. Faculty members also engage in research and advocacy work to raise awareness around clim​ate change and combat its effects—from reducing the carbon in our atmosphere to curtailing environmental pollution to building resilient communities.

Hear from a few CSU faculty members on how we can do our part to protect Mother Earth, and learn about their climate change work​.

The CSU’s Carbon Goals

On March 23, 2022, the CSU Board of Trustees approved revisions to the university’s Sustainability Policy, which seeks to reduce its carbon emissions through on-site renewable energy generation, water and waste management, sustainable energy procurement and more. The revisions modernize the language in the policy, formalize the use of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS) benchmarking tool and introduce components related to diversity, equity and inclusion. Finally, the carbon emissions goals were updated to align with state law, namely those with 2020 deadlines. These include reducing carbon emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and by 80 percent below by 2040, as well as achieving carbon neutrality by 2045.


Outside this policy, the CSU seeks other ways to find climate solutions that will benefit the state, nation and world. The new CSU Journal of Sustainability and Climate Change—an open source, peer-reviewed journal dedicated to climate change research—recently published its inaugural issue. In addition, the annual, student-led This Way to Sustainability Conference at California State University, Chico highlights the challenges and solutions to the climate crisis, while a new Systemwide Faculty Learning Community for Climate and Justice Education between CSU faculty and the nonprofit Strategic Energy Innovations will develop climate literacy material to incorporate into coursework. 



Discover more ways CSU experts are working to mitigate climate change.

What You Can Do to Combat Climate Change
the-healing-power-of-the-arts.aspx
  
5/13/2022 1:38 PMGonzaga, Miko3/28/20223/28/2022 9:05 AMPrison Arts Collective seeks to transform the lives of incarcerated individuals through the arts.CommunityStory

The Healing Power of the A​rts

Prison Arts Collective seeks to transform the lives of incarcerated individuals through the arts.

 

“Creative writing is the cheapest form of therapy.”

That’s what one Prison Arts Collective (PAC) alumnus said during a spring 2022 PAC panel and exhibition at Santa Monica College’s Barrett Art Gallery. The panel included four artists and teachers who are formerly incarcerated and completed PAC training courses on facilitating workshops for their peers while in prison. They reflected on PAC’s impact on their lives, the power of art to bring healing and reconciliation and the drive to give back​.

Their stories are reflective of the hundreds of currently and formerly incarcerated individuals who have been transformed by PAC and its mission of encouraging “self-expression, reflection, communication and empathy” through the arts.

“The people who we work with are part of our community, whether they're inside the prison or whether they're people coming out,” says Annie Buckley, PAC founder and executive director and director of the Institute for the Arts, Humanities, and Social Justice at San Diego State University. “We want to help support them to see themselves as artists, writers, colleagues, friends, peers, students, teachers and mentors. It offers them an opportunity to reconnect or to even connect for the first time to more positive aspects of themselves that can help them grow as humans and then grow in community.”

Buckley—who has focused much of her teaching career on the intersection of art and social justice—launched PAC in 2013 while a visual studies professor at California State University, San Bernardino to expand community access to the arts at a time when arts funding was being slashed. The program proved most successful in the prisons she had partnered with, leading her to primarily focus on arts education for incarcerated individuals.

She took PAC with her when she moved to SDSU, where the program is now headquartered, and proceeded to expand to more campuses and prisons. Currently, there are active chapters at San Diego State, Cal State San Bernardino, California State University, Fullerton and California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt working in 13 prisons across the state.

“I've seen how often the arts and the idea of creativity is cut out from communities that have many strengths, but also suffer from higher levels of poverty, struggles with systemic racism and more income inequality,” Buckley says. “Our program is based on the idea of art as a human right, and it's dedicated to expanding access to the arts more broadly, but specifically to people experiencing incarceration. We brought art to other community sites, but the prison is where it seemed to be most needed, where my students wanted to grow the work and what was calling for my attention the most.”

The program features arts courses, from creative writing to music to painting, led inside the prisons by CSU faculty, students, volunteers and peer facilitators. They seek to blend their expertise and life experiences to develop workshops that resonate with participants.

In addition, PAC offers an arts facilitator training, which teaches incarcerated individuals—like those who participated in the panel—to lead the workshops and requires them to develop their own curriculum. For example, another panelist developed a creative writing curriculum that asks incarcerated students to write about a time they hurt someone from the victim’s perspective. This curriculum is now being implemented in several partner prisons.

“I have seen for the past nine years how incredibly powerful the arts can be for people who are incarcerated,” Buckley says. “In general, the arts can provide a sense of healing, a sense of identity and a sense of power and freedom. But I've never seen art to be quite so powerful as inside the prisons. I think it's because the participants are in a context where they have so little access to freedom of choice.”

During COVID-19, however, the workshops switched to a distance learning format, with facilitators and participants communicating via mail correspondence. PAC created lesson packets and Outside:Inside Productions, which includes instructional videos and a podcast, that could be used while facilitators were barred from entering the prisons. PAC is currently working to re-launch the in-person workshops.

The program also continues to expand in other ways through new partnerships, public events and symposiums and research to bring arts education and spaces to all people affected by the justice system. Recently, it has gained global reach with volunteers in other countries like the United Kingdom, Ireland and Australia implementing partner programs in their own communities.

“We are dedicated to maintaining our community-based model and working with other campuses and participants to create local chapters that support additional correctional institutions so we can grow intentionally and maintain our focus,” Buckley says. “PAC is also grateful to have volunteers and partners reach out from across the nation and the world to learn from what we do and to join the team as collaborators and partners.”

PAC is supported by Arts in Corrections, an initiative from the California Arts Council and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), as well as CDCR Innovative Programming grants. It has also received Art Projects grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.

But it is the students giving their time to the program who most make PAC’s work possible, says Buckley. Students in the CSU system are “particularly dedicated, mature and motivated to give back to their communities. Often this is motivated by their own life experiences, ranging from working full-time while earning a degree or being first generation college students to having family members who are incarcerated or otherwise system-impacted. This makes them especially equipped for the unique project of facilitating programming in local prisons.”

Meet a few individuals who give of themselves to bring the transformative power of the Prison Arts Collective to their communities.

Mark Taylor

Cal Poly Humboldt | PAC alumnus and class facilitator, social work bachelor’s student

After serving 21 years incarcerated in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, Mark Taylor (pictured on the left) enrolled in the PAC program that played a role in redirecting his life’s course. He later completed the facilitator training course while still incarcerated and became a volunteer upon release, accepting an award for PAC on the California Senate floor and heading up an art exhibition.

“The Prison Arts Collective played a significant role in my successful reintegration into society,” Taylor says. “A healthy support network is a critical component of successful reentry. An expansion of this program will enhance public safety by reducing recidivism.”

Now earning his bachelor’s in social work at Cal Poly Humboldt, he has spearheaded PAC’s expansion to the campus and facilitates classes at Pelican Bay State Prison.

Mary Anna Pomonis

Cal State Fullerton | PAC CSUF chapter director, assistant professor of art education

Since joining the faculty at Cal State Fullerton and launching the campus’s PAC chapter in 2019, Mary Anna Pomonis has incorporated the program into the service-learning course she teaches, Art and Social Justice. Students in the class volunteer as teaching interns, bringing arts education to the California Institution for Women.

“The focus on social justice, meditation, non-violent conflict resolution, deep visual exploration and establishing a safe space and a space of empathy all are elements of teaching and learning that are vital to art students in this historic time,” Pomonis says. “CSUF students are dealing with death and isolation, and the participants inside are dealing with similar issues. When the two groups meet, the shared recognition is healing and cathartic for everyone involved.”

Alexander Masushige

Cal State San Bernardino | PAC Advisory Board member, former PAC teaching artist and student intern, CSUSB alumnus

As a CSUSB student intern, a teaching artist at the California Institution for Men, a program coordinator for the facilitator training course and now a PAC Advisory Board member, Alexander Masushige has embraced many opportunities to support PAC’s mission over the years.

“Getting involved with PAC was a way to support individuals who were in similar situations as my family members struggling with recidivism by using my skill set as an artist and educator,” he says. “My experience with PAC showed me how important and healing art can be to those who just need a space to breathe, reflect and have a moment of creativity without the limitations of something being right or wrong.”

In his current role, Masushige supports programming, curriculum development and chapter expansion, all while also working as a high school art and animation teacher.

Jamie Pelusi

San Diego State | PAC Program/Research Assistant, master’s in studio arts student

“I am interested in the ways art can be used as a tool for healing and liberation,” Jamie Pelusi says. “I am interested in the ways artists can leverage their resources and privilege to create access points for other members in their communities.”

Currently working towards her master’s in studio arts at SDSU, Pelusi joined PAC’s team to support research projects and coordinate the distance learning packets used during the pandemic. In addition, she is co-teaching an Art and Restorative Justice course with Buckley.

“Our society has a practice of incarcerating and separating some of our community members in a way that discourages those of us on the outside from creating or maintaining connections,” she says. “I believe this is destructive to all of us. PAC’s work helps to reestablish some of those connections through the arts.”


For more on how the CSU supports incarcerated or formerly incarcerated individuals, read “From Incarceration to Graduation.”

The Healing Power of the Arts
1 - 15Next
  
  
  
  
  
  
Page Heading
Page Image
Rollup Image
  
  
  
Governors-May-Revision-Maintains-Increase-in-Recurring-Funding-for-CSU.aspx
  
5/13/20225/13/2022 11:00 AMGovernor Gavin Newsom shared his May Budget Revision including proposed funding for the CSU.
the California capitol building with the words budget news over it
Governor’s May Revision Maintains Increase in Recurring Funding for CSUBudgetPress Release
Student-Success-Analytics-Certificate-Program-Open-Fall22-Enrollment.aspx
  
5/10/20225/10/2022 10:50 AMHigher education professional development program shifts to semi-annual schedule due to unprecedented demandHigher education professional development program shifts to semi-annual schedule due to unprecedented demand
woman typing on laptop computer
CSU Student Success Analytics Certificate Program Now Open for National Fall EnrollmentStudent SuccessPress Release
CalNAGPRA-CSu-project-manager-appointed-2022.aspx
  
4/28/20224/28/2022 10:00 AMCalifornia State University has named Adriane Tafoya as its new project manager for the California Native American Graves and Repatriation Act (CalNAGPRA).
college campus grounds
CSU Appoints Collections Manager to Support the Preservation of Native American Peoples’ Heritage, Artifacts and Tribal Culture CaliforniaPress Release
SJSU-Presidential-Search-Committee-Open-Forum-2022.aspx
  
4/22/20224/22/2022 12:00 PMThe California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees is beginning the search for the next president of San José State University (SJSU) to succeed Mary Papazian, Ph.D., who resigned from the campus presidency on December 21, 2021.
historic building on college campus grounds
San José State University Presidential Search Committee to Hold Open ForumLeadershipPress Release
Interim-CSU-Chancellor-Appointed.aspx
  
3/23/20223/23/2022 9:05 AMCalifornia State University, Northridge president emerita assumed university leadership on May 1, 2022California State University, Northridge president emerita assumed university leadership on May 1, 2022
A smiling woman wearing a suit jacket standing outdoors
Jolene Koester Appointed Interim Chancellor of the CSUPress Release
trustees-vote-remove-SAT-ACT-standardized-tests-2022.aspx
  
3/22/20223/22/2022 4:05 PMThe board has approved the changes to the Code of Regulations, which eliminates the use of the standardized tests in admissionsThe board has approved the changes to the Code of Regulations, which eliminates the use of the standardized tests.
students walking on a college campus outside
CSU Trustees Vote to Amend Title 5 to Remove SAT and ACT Tests from Undergraduate AdmissionsPolicyPress Release
Trustees-Investigations-and-Systemwide-Policy-Assessment-Mar-2022.aspx
  
3/22/20223/22/2022 1:50 PMBoard action formally launches Fresno State investigation and Title IX assessment, as well as review of retreat rights, letters of recommendation and executive transition programBoard action formally launches Fresno State investigation and Title IX assessment, as well as review of retreat rights, letters of recommendation and executive transition program
CSU News Update - Building in background
CSU Trustees Pass Resolution to Strengthen Institutional CulturePolicyPress Release
CSU-action-strengthen-title-ix.aspx
  
3/1/20223/1/2022 2:35 PMCSU to Launch Fresno State Investigation, Systemwide Title IX Assessment and Reform of Retreat Right PoliciesCSU to Launch Fresno State Investigation, Systemwide Title IX Assessment and Reform of Retreat Right Policies.
CSU Takes Action to Strengthen Title IX Procedures and Reform Retreat RightsPolicyPress Release
CSU-Super-Sunday-2022.aspx
  
2/24/20222/24/2022 8:35 AMAll-time high number of African American students earned a degree from the CSU in 2020-21. The California State University has partnered with more than 100 predominantly African American churches throughout California to present the 17th annual CSU Super Sunday on February 27.
three new college graduates dressed in commencement attire
CSU’s Statewide Super Sunday to Highlight the Transformative Power of Higher EducationDiversityPress Release
Dr-Joseph-I-Castro-Resigns-As-CSU-Chancellor.aspx
  
2/17/20222/17/2022 7:05 PMUniversity to Launch Systemwide Title IX Assessment
A glass and steel building
Dr. Joseph I. Castro Resigns as CSU ChancellorBoard of TrusteesPress Release
California-State-University-Monterey-Bay-Presidential-Search-Committee-to-Hold-Virtual-Open-Forum.aspx
  
1/28/20221/28/2022 1:30 PMThe CSU Board of Trustees is beginning the search for a new president of California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) to succeed Eduardo M.  Ochoa, Ph.D., who will retire as campus president on June 30, 2022.
California State University, Monterey Bay Presidential Search Committee to Hold Virtual Open ForumLeadershipPress Release
Richard-Yao-Appointed-President-of-California-State-University-Channel-Islands.aspx
  
1/26/20221/26/2022 8:30 AMThe CSU Board of Trustees has appointed Richard Yao, Ph.D., to serve as the fourth president of California State University Channel Islands.
Richard Yao Appointed President of California State University Channel IslandsLeadershipPress Release
CSU-Standouts-Faculty-and-Staff-to-be-Honored-for-Extraordinary-Dedication-to-Student-Success.aspx
  
1/24/20221/24/2022 8:00 AMAnnual Wang Family Excellence Awards honor contributions in teaching, scholarship and service to CSU students.Annual Wang Family Excellence Awards honor contributions in teaching, scholarship and service to CSU students.
CSU Standouts: Faculty and Staff to be Honored for Extraordinary Dedication to Student SuccessFacultyPress Release
CSU-Statement-on-Governors-2022-23-January-Budget-Proposal-.aspx
Checked Out To: Gonzaga, MikoCSU-Statement-on-Governors-2022-23-January-Budget-Proposal-.aspx
Checked Out To: Gonzaga, Miko
  
1/10/20221/10/2022 11:15 AMIn his January budget proposal, Governor Gavin Newsom outlined a multi-year compact to grow CSU base funding each year from 2022-23 through 2026-27.
Statements from California State University Leaders on Governor’s January 2022-23 Budget ProposalBudgetPress Release
The-California-State-University-to-Require-COVID19-Vaccination-Booster-for-Spring-2022-Term.aspx
Checked Out To: Barrie, MatthewThe-California-State-University-to-Require-COVID19-Vaccination-Booster-for-Spring-2022-Term.aspx
Checked Out To: Barrie, Matthew
  
12/22/202112/22/2021 8:30 AMThe new requirement calls for boosters to be received by February 28, 2022 or six months after an individual received the final dose of the original vaccination, whichever is later.
The California State University to Require COVID-19 Vaccination Booster for Spring 2022 TermPolicyPress Release
1 - 15Next
  
  
  
  
  
  
  
Page Image
Rollup Image
  
alumni-at-play.aspx
  
5/16/20225/16/2022 8:10 AMHow CSU alumni shape California’s parks and recreation industryAlumniStory
Alumni At Play
CSU-Flexible-Courses-Equitable-Learning-2022.aspx
  
5/11/20225/11/2022 8:35 AMDedicated CSU faculty and staff continue to employ flexible pedagogy and leverage technology to support more equitable learning, both online and in person. Student SuccessStory
students sit in an innovative classroom setting
The Future is Flexible
Celebrating-the-CSUs-APIDA-Presidents.aspx
  
5/4/20225/4/2022 2:00 PMIn celebration of Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Heritage Month, some of the CSU's campus leaders reflect on their journey and inspiration.LeadershipStory
A college graduation cap with the words future education leader on it
A Conversation with the CSU's APIDA Presidents
Commencement-Season-2022-is-Here.aspx
  
5/2/20225/2/2022 11:45 AMSee how CSU campuses are honoring their graduates.CommencementStory
Commencement 2022 is Here!
Second-Gentleman-Doug-Emhoff-Alumni-Event-2022.aspx
  
4/29/20224/29/2022 2:05 PMHusband of Vice President Kamala Harris and CSUN alumnus reflects on his Cal State experience during virtual alumni event.AlumniStory
U.S. Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff: CSU Education Foundational to his Professional Success
Action-for-Equity-Re-Enrollment.aspx
  
4/25/20224/25/2022 11:40 AMHow CSU reengagement efforts help underserved students return to school and persist to graduation.Graduation InitiativeStory
Action for Equity: Reenrollment
Explained-Admissions-Without-the-SAT-or-ACT.aspx
  
4/18/20224/18/2022 10:20 AMThe CSU will no longer use SAT and ACT scores in admissions. But what does that mean for applicants?AdmissionStory
Explained: Admissions Without the SAT or ACT
CSU-Summer-arts-applications-2022.aspx
  
4/13/20224/13/2022 10:35 AMApplication deadlines are May 27 for immersive on-campus summer arts experience at Fresno State, or April 22 for study abroad programsCommunityStory
young men and women dancing in a stage production
Calling All Student Artists: CSU Now Accepting Applications for 2022 Summer Arts
University-Police-Building-Trust-and-Strengthening-Community-.aspx
  
4/11/20224/11/2022 8:00 AMUniversity Police Departments implement strategies to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors.CommunityStory
A police officer on a college campus talking a student
University Police: Building Trust and Strengthening Community
what-you-can-do-to-combat-climate-change.aspx
  
4/6/20224/6/2022 11:50 AMThis Earth Month, CSU experts share practical ways to make a difference.SustainabilityStory
What You Can Do to Combat Climate Change
the-healing-power-of-the-arts.aspx
  
3/28/20223/28/2022 9:05 AMPrison Arts Collective seeks to transform the lives of incarcerated individuals through the arts.CommunityStory
The Healing Power of the Arts
changemakers-in-wine.aspx
  
3/21/20223/21/2022 9:55 AMHow four CSU alumnae make their mark on California’s industry.AlumniStory
Changemakers in Wine
Leading-the-Way.aspx
  
3/14/20223/14/2022 8:00 AMWomen at the CSU aren’t just celebrating history…they’re making it. Meet the university’s 11 female presidents.  LeadershipStory
Leading the Way
CSUCCESS-iPads-Enhance-Experience-2022.aspx
  
3/7/20223/7/2022 10:25 AMFirst-time CSU students share feedback on tech distribution program and work to boost digital literacy.CSUCCESSStory
man stands next to woman holding a new iPad in a box outside on a college campus.
Student Surveys Show CSUCCESS iPads Enhance Educational Experience
10-Benefits-of-a-College-Degree.aspx
  
2/28/20222/28/2022 8:00 AMIt’s a notion long-held within society: Going to college will enhance your life. But how?DegreesStory
10 Benefits of a College Degree
1 - 15Next