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Call to Action: Recommendations for Securing Black Student Success

Alex Beall

Learn more about the 13 recommendations developed by the CSU’s Black Student Success Workgroup.


In June 2023, the California State University released “Advancing Black Student Success and Elevating Black Excellence in the CSU: A Call to Action," a plan to elevate Black excellence, improve outcomes for Black students and address the decline in their enrollment, retention and graduation rates.

To provide the resources and support needed to accomplish these goals, the report included 13 recommendations in three categories: supporting Black student success, supporting all faculty and staff in facilitating Black student success and building systemwide infrastructure for Black student success. The CSU has committed $10 million over three years to help its 23 universities implement these recommendations to better support the Black community on their campuses.

“We are indeed the largest institution of public higher education in this na​tion, and we are proud to be carrying this banner," Thomas Parham, CSU Dominguez Hills president and co-chair of the Black Student Success Workgroup, said during the September Board of Trustees meeting. “And so, as we move ahead—all 23 universities, faculty, staff, administrators, Academic Senates, Chancellor's Office and this Board of Trustees—we all must together move forward if we are to narrow the gap between our aspirations for Black equity and the realization that we have been in fact falling short."

Read about the 13 recommendations​ here:​

Supporting Black Student Success

1. Create and implement a CSU early outreach plan. Each of the 23 universities will create an outreach plan and partner with K-12 schools to promote a college-going culture among young students. These efforts should include partnering with local schools and community organizations to promote pathways to the CSU, encouraging alumni and current CSU students to engage in early outreach programs, and expanding opportunities for K-12 students to get hands-on learning experiences with faculty on CSU campuses.

2. Develop a comprehensive enrollment strategy for Black students. The goal of the enrollment strategy is to ensure representation of Black students reflects the demographics of the campus's local community, or California, whichever is higher. Each CSU will set its own recruitment goal accordingly. Additionally, in coordination with the Admission Advisory Council, the CSU will explore ways to give greater consideration to students who participate in early outreach programs, among others. And, in partnership with community colleges, the university will work with the Umoja and African American Male Education Network and Development and other organizations to increase access for prospective students.

3. Develop a comprehensive retention and persistence strategy for Black students. This strategy would help enrolled Black students persist to graduation. The strategy's four components include a personalized student support model and case management approach to help each individual student; enhanced advising that builds a connection to campus and financial resources; efforts to reengage and reenroll students who have not completed their degree; and initiatives, services and practices to support Black students, such as first-year experiences and increasing Black student participation in high impact practices like internships or study abroad.

4. Create welcoming and affirming spaces. To foster a greater sense of belonging for Black students on campus, the 23 universities will strive for a culture that accepts and celebrates all students. Associated steps include creating Black-designed and inspired campus spaces, living and learning residences in CSU housing and Black Resource Centers on all campuses. In an effort to create a culture of care for students, the CSU also will prioritize hiring culturally competent mental health professionals and campus police trained in community policing.

Supporting All Faculty and Staff in Facilitating Black Student Success

5. Develop and implement inclusive and culturally relevant curriculum. Through professional development programs and new faculty orientations, the CSU will support faculty in developing inclusive and culturally relevant course curriculum, teaching methods and classroom management practices that support Black students.

6. Standardize and increase Black faculty and staff recruitment and support. Newly developed search criteria and hiring processes are designed to attract and recruit faculty who are equipped and have proven successful in serving students from diverse backgrounds. Additionally, as representation in the classroom is important to Black student success, recruitment efforts will target disciplines with little or no Black faculty as well as focus on hiring faculty who study issues relevant to the Black community.

7. Invest in Black faculty and staff support. To create a sense of belonging for Black faculty and staff, each university will establish employee resources and affinity groups that support faculty's diversity, equity and inclusion work, scholarly research and professional development.

8. Incorporate Black student success in faculty and staff evaluations. In collaboration with faculty and Academic Senate leaders, CSUs will embed measures of student success and equity into the recruitment, tenure and promotion process for faculty and the evaluation process for staff and administration. This may include questions about creating a welcoming environment on course evaluations or determining how faculty and staff have contributed to Graduation Initiative 2025 goals.

Systemwide Infrastructure for Black Student Success

9. Implement a comprehensive enrollment marketing campaign. As part of a larger enrollment marketing campaign, the CSU will partner with a marketing agency with a proven record of communicating with culturally diverse communities to better reach prospective students and their families.

10. Develop a structure and process for systemwide data-driven practices. The CSU will continue to promote data-driven practices to help improve students' academic outcomes.

11. Create systemwide policies on addressing unprofessional conduct. This recommendation features steps that will help the CSU address biased behavior and language that undermines Black faculty, staff and student success but falls short of Title IX or discrimination, harassment and retaliation reporting thresholds. This includes the creation of policies for handling such complaints, annual training and the establishment of campus climate teams to set a culture of acceptance and understanding.

12. Launch the CSU Statewide Central Office for the Advancement of Black Excellence. This centralized office would help fund and amplify campus efforts to implement the recommendations in this report as well as encourage and foster additional innovative practices.

13. Create structures for systemwide accountability. To ensure this work is carried out and continues on in the future, the CSU plans to establish a series of mechanisms to hold itself accountable: an in-person professional development training on addressing anti-Blackness in higher education, an audit assessing the representation of Black faculty and staff, an annual report on progress made, the development of a systemwide advisory group on this topic and the inclusion of Black student success in presidential performance reviews. This recommendation includes the allocation of one-time funding of $10 million over three years toward these efforts.​

To learn more about the report, visit the Black Student Success​ website.

Student Success