Advancing Black Student Success and Elevating Black Excellence

The Chancellor’s Strategic Workgroup on Black Student Success Report

As the nation's largest and most diverse four-year public university, the California State University (CSU) provides opportunities for upward mobility to more than 450,000 students and serves as a key stepping stone to empowering them to become leaders in a changing workforce.

Reflecting national trends, the CSU has experienced an ongoing decline in both Black student enrollment as well as retention. In fall 2022, Interim Chancellor Jolene Koester charged the CSU leadership to redouble efforts in supporting and advancing Black student success. She framed this effort within Graduation Initiative 2025, which has contributed to increased graduation rates systemwide but has not yet been able to close stubborn equity gaps.

A strategic workgroup developed both an approach that centered the student experience and voice as well as recommendations that challenge the CSU to think broadly and act boldly. The resulting report articulates13 systemwide recommendations designed to catalyze the cultural change urgently needed to advance Black student success and create a potential model for other institutions of higher education.

Download an Executive Summary  Download the Report

Chancellor's Strategic Workgroup Charge

Draft recommendations to advance a strategic plan to position the CSU as a nationwide leader in Black student outreach, recruitment, enrollment, persistence, success and graduation. Following their work to establish the strategic direction and action steps to advance Black student success, the implementation of the workgroup's recommendations will involve collaboration with a broad and inclusive cross-section of institutional stakeholders from across the system.

Continuing the Conversation

These links and conversations support our mission to improve upward mobility and increase Black student enrollment and retention at the CSU.

Workgroup Membership

Workgroup representatives were selected intentionally from throughout the system's 23 universities for their expertise and knowledge in the areas of student success, specifically Black student success. Members met regularly as a full workgroup as well as in smaller teams centered around such key topics as: attracting more Black students to the CSU; supporting student retention and persistence for Black students once enrolled; examining campus culture and belonging; and exploring the role of faculty and staff in Black student success.

Chancellor's Senior Leadership Council Members

  • Thomas Parham, President, CSU Dominguez Hills, Co-chair
  • Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, President, Fresno State, Co-chair
  • Sylvia A. Alva, Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs

University Representatives

  • Cynthia Jackson-Elmoore, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
  • Walt Jacobs, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, CSU East Bay
  • J. Luke Wood, Vice President, Student Affairs, San Diego State University
  • Thomas Wallace, Vice President, Student Affairs, CSU Bakersfield
  • Anna Ortiz, Dean, College of Education, CSU Long Beach
  • Tari Hunter, Associate Executive Director, Equity, Programs and Leadership, CSU Northridge
  • Marcellene Watson-Derbigny, Associate Vice President, Student Retention and Academic Success, Sacramento State
  • Frederick Smith, Associate Vice President, Equity and Community Inclusion, San Francisco State
  • Patience Bryant, Director for Black/African American Equity, San José State

Chancellor's Office Staff

  • Dilcie Perez, Workgroup Facilitator and Associate Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs, Equity and Belonging
  • Jeff Gold, Interim Associate Vice Chancellor, Student Success
  • Judith Millsap, Assistant Director, Community Partnerships
  • Lori Putnam, Report Editor and Assistant Director of Communications, Academic and Student Affairs


The workgroup would like to thank the CSU students, faculty and staff who shared generously and courageously their experiences in the service of creating a more thriving and welcoming CSU community. We also extend our gratitude to the content experts, community partners and other individuals who assisted in the discovery process.