From the Desk of the President

This page houses the personal and professional opinions of President Parham, as well as other communications from the Office of the President.


Celebrating Ramadan

April 12, 2024

Dear Toros,

At sundown on April 9, the Muslim community here in Southern California and around the world concluded their 30-day celebration of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar.

Each year, Ramadan marks a time for deep and serious self-reflection. It represents an opportunity to contemplate one’s life, to engage in increased charity and generosity, and to intensely interrogate one’s values and beliefs to examine the congruence between those principles and one’s behaviors.

Even as the sun has set on this year’s Ramadan, I invite every member of the Toro community to take this opportunity to join our Muslim friends and neighbors in this type of inward reflection, as it is always beneficial to recalibrate one’s life and ruminate on how one can contribute more to our community and our world. 

Whether Muslim or not, Ramadan should remind us all of our shared values of respect, generosity, and justice. These are at the heart of our mission here at CSUDH and should be cornerstones for each and every one of us.

On behalf of the entire CSUDH community, I hope our Muslim brothers and sisters enjoyed a happy and healthy Ramadan! 


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

The Quandary of Presidential Constraints

March 28, 2024

Source: Op-Ed by CSUDH President Thomas A. Parham for Inside Higher Ed

Amid the controversies over whether and when presidents should speak out, Thomas A. Parham asks, whose voice are we listening to?

L. Song Richardson’s decision in February to step down from her position as president of Colorado College surprised many people both within and outside of higher education. It also has raised some interesting questions to interrogate especially for many of us who hold a similar office.

Richardson, a celebrated academic law professor and former dean of the School of Law at University of California, Irvine, was appointed as the chief executive at the small liberal arts college just a little less than three years ago. Although serving in that capacity was clearly an achievement and honor, holding the office created an audio shackle of sorts, according to Richardson. She came to feel that the desire to use her voice and perspective to weigh in on the most controversial issues of the day conflicted with the perceived roles and responsibilities of a university president. 

While I respect and support my colleague’s decision, I’m not sure that I share all of the implied assumptions surrounding it. One such assumption is that a president must remain unbiased in their opinions and perspectives, even though every member of a university community holds some. It’s impossible for presidents to not hold their own views, even if they keep them to themselves.

Another assumption is that presidents are required to maintain an objective posture on issues so students can experience the full range of available perspectives free of any bias or contamination that a president may inject into a discussion. But I’m not sure I subscribe to the notion that students’ intellectual and emotional sensibilities are so tender and fragile that they are incapable of sifting through a chief executive’s opinions on certain issues and forming their own independent conclusions.

The fact is that the college and university campuses we presidents lead should be the places and spaces where the most important issues of our day become the topics of critical discourse and analysis. The vigorous exchange and weighing of ideas is a hallmark of the academy and a cherished value. A part of bold, dare I say progressive, leadership is framing narratives around a whole host of perspectives—indeed, it would seem to be an academic ideal.

That is particularly true in a changing national zeitgeist and media climate that is often void of authentic intellectual rigor, dominated by skewed political perspectives, anxious to forget or deny the historical wrongs of this country’s past, and prone to shield people from their emotional and intellectual discomfort. Moreover, especially of late, it’s all occurring in an atmosphere in which many people seem determined to suppress any signs of a “woke” agenda—that is to say, any efforts that seek to raise awareness and expand consciousness on ways to usher in a more compassionate and respectful appreciation of cultural differences.

Richardson’s case does raise a different line of inquiry, however: As presidents, how do we reconcile the choice between what we must do and what we feel is right to do? Unquestionably, the recent scrutiny placed on presidential opinions when it comes to domestic issues such as affirmative action or women’s reproductive rights, or more global issues like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the Russian aggression against Ukraine, is quite pronounced. And given the backlash presidents can endure for disappointing and even angering constituents when rendering opinions on controversial subjects, many chief executives have decided to mute their voices in hopes of enjoying a safer terrain free from, at best, unwanted public scrutiny or, at worst, severe critique.

Presidents, like executive managers in corporations, are expected to remain poised and objectively professional. In managing our college or university’s affairs in the midst of national trends, we must guard against antagonizing key stakeholders like boards, major donors and key legislators who have or seek to exercise authority and oversight over our positions. We are also expected to use our voice and position to articulate perspective on the challenges our institutions are facing, and yet we must do so in adherence to a set of institutional or corporate norms and values.

But the norms and values of our institutions may run very well contrary to our own, as the case of L. Song Richardson epitomizes. And while most presidents have faced scrutiny and felt the tensions I’ve described when it comes to speaking out, the issues she and others have confronted in their presidencies increase in complexity when we add in variables like race and gender.

By that I mean that when the norms about how a president should act or respond in a given situation are anchored in a framework that is decidedly white and male, there is a high degree of congruence between people’s expectations and how that individual responds. In contrast, women, people of color and others who are underrepresented in college presidencies can face greater expectations, as they are often the first woman or minority person holding the top position at their institution. At the same time, various constituents may perceive their perspectives and comments as deficient or inappropriate because they diverge from societal norms as a result of those leaders’ different cultural identities.

Moreover, what’s just as important—if not more so—but often not discussed, is that presidents who aren’t white and male must frequently grapple with distinct internal dilemmas. From my vantage point as a fellow African American president, and a culturally conscious one at that, I’m aware that presidents of color and other marginalized groups often hear a different voice. The President Richardsons of the world often hear the voice of the Afro-Caribbean psychiatrist Frantz Fanon, who argued that, “Each generation, out of relative obscurity, must reach out, and seek to fulfill its legacy or betray it.”

How does President Richardson—or do I, for that matter—in recognizing the struggle and sacrifice our ancestors waged for us to occupy the seats that we do, fulfill a legacy by remaining silent? Socially and culturally conscious leaders often hear the vocal stylings of Martin Luther King Jr., who reminds us that “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter,” that “there comes a time when silence is betrayal,” and that “in the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.”

People both within and outside of higher education must understand the psychic dissonance that challenges culturally different and conscious leaders, who grapple with the discrepancy between what one must do or say and what that leader feels is right to express in oral opinion or written exposition. These personal, inner-voice discussions force many academic leaders to question what one is prepared to sacrifice: perhaps position, integrity, or the validation and valuation one receives from others they believe need to approve of the content and process dynamics of their speech.

We struggle with a quandary I have articulated in my own scholarship on racial identity development. I argue that the central question that presidents of color all must confront and navigate is how to maintain a sense of our own cultural integrity in a world that does not fully support or affirm our humanity.

L. Song Richardson’s decision to resign from her position and return to the law school at UC Irvine may be the best choice for her, as well as an unexpected windfall for her former institution. Yet, as I sit here at the close of Women’s History Month, I cannot help but be struck by how far academe still has to go when it comes to issues of leadership, especially those of nontraditional presidents who face distinct and sometimes even existential challenges. And I cannot help but grieve the loss of my colleague in that presidential seat and the void her presence will leave among the ranks of those of us who dare traverse the landscape of guiding colleges and universities forward in this day and time.

Update on Budget Deliberations

March 28, 2024

Dear Campus Community:

Earlier this month, I communicated to apprise you of the prevailing statewide and systemwide circumstances affecting our university budget, as well as my commitment to initiate a transparent, comprehensive analysis and collaborative deliberation with university leaders to tackle these challenges strategically. Today, I am reaching out to provide an update on the progress made by our leadership team in this endeavor and to outline the forthcoming steps the university will take to navigate our current financial circumstance. Over the past month, we have made substantial strides as an institution in addressing these constraints, consistently guided by our dedication to safeguarding student success initiatives and upholding academic excellence as the foremost priorities.

The executive leadership team and I have conducted thorough discussions and investigations into our finances and commitments with key university stakeholders, including the University Budget Committee, the Academic Senate, divisional leadership, and other relevant parties. Those conversations will continue. Each group has brought unique perspectives and expertise to the table, fostering a collaborative approach to address these financial challenges, and I am truly impressed by the community's willingness to look beyond divisions and focus on the health of the whole university.

After thorough discussions and careful consideration with the executive cabinet, I have devised a strategy to address the current shortfall in three distinct phases, aimed at mitigating its impact while allowing us to adapt to evolving circumstances statewide. In phase one, I have allocated specific reduction targets to each vice president and division leader, which they will further discuss with their respective staff as necessary. Phase two assessment will commence this summer, followed by deliberations on a potential third phase during the fall semester, specifically in October/November, with anticipated reduction targets for 25/26. Proposed measures will undergo review by the executive cabinet before final decisions are made. Throughout this process, I have underscored the importance of safeguarding our core priorities, and I am confident that our Toro community will emerge from this set of financial challenges stronger and more resilient than before. 

I want to thank every one of you for your steadfast commitment to this institution and its transformative work. I assure you, together we will face this challenge, and we will overcome it as a university family. I ask for your continued support and patience with us, as this is a fluid situation with dynamics changing frequently, while we cope with budget instability at the state level and strive to proactively address declining enrollments and unfunded mandates related to compensation.

Within our esteemed institution, alongside state-level authorities and the Chancellor’s Office, capable individuals are coming together to courageously address these challenges. I am confident that we will emerge from this period not only prepared to lead in a new era but also to perpetuate, with Toro Pride, our legacy of delivering transformative education as the preeminent urban university we aspire to be.


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

CSUDH Budget Challenges

March 4, 2024

Dear Campus Community:

I write to you today as a matter of urgency to discuss a difficult if not formidable topic. CSUDH is facing serious challenges regarding our budget. Preliminary discussions have already begun in certain campus and systemwide circles about how we can address this situation, but I want you to hear about this from me directly. Admittedly, no one person or variable is responsible or to blame for our circumstance, so I invite us all to resist that temptation. Yet we are compelled to address this circumstance in the immediate moment. While the steps we will likely be required to take will be difficult in order to resolve our budget issues, I am confident that the university will emerge stronger after working together to address our current position.

There are many factors that have contributed to the university’s budget challenges—some of which are recent, and some of which go back for years, even prior to my administration. Among these are a state budget shortfall exceeding tens of billions of dollars, and certain mandates from the State of California and the CSU system, which have created new standards and spending for the university to engage in, but without a concomitant increase in funding. We have had areas of the university where the budget has not reflected our lived experience, creating a mismatch between funding allocations and campus needs. We have also learned that prior administrations engaged in spending patterns that mirrored current enrollment projections in those years, exceeding the CSU’s funded allocation targets, which were believed to be insufficient. Additionally, we also are facing an ongoing decrease in enrollment, due both to demographic trends showing a decline in college-age students, the slow recovery of higher education from the COVID pandemic, a general questioning by America’s citizens about the value of higher education, and a very low unemployment rate, which makes jobs for college-aged students more plentiful. In combination, these factors conspire to contribute to the circumstance we find ourselves having to confront.

Because of these factors, we will be forced to make significant reductions to our spending. This is not a decision made lightly by me or the rest of the university’s executive leadership team, but it is a necessary one in order to continue providing the transformational educational experiences that our university is known for. I want to make clear that our highest priorities remain maintaining the academic integrity of the institution, and ensuring that students’ academic experiences not be harmed by any of the steps we will have to take to address this financial shortfall. 

University leaders are reviewing their area budgets and developing recommendations for steps that can be taken to address our situation. In the spirit of candor, we will be sharing opportunities for the university community at large to engage in reflection and action on this subject. I invite those who can to join tomorrow’s Conversations that Matter discussion, which includes an agenda item on the university budget, or to participate in the Budget Lunch and Learn on Wednesday. There will be more opportunities for open discussion later in the year.

This is a difficult time for our university, but as I told a large meeting of staff last week, I am not nervous or scared of the outcome. I am comfortable and confident because I know that as a university and a community, we have been and are a strong Toro Nation. We turn to each other for support and gain strength from working through onerous circumstances together. Let us commit to doing the same now, as we navigate some difficult terrain in the weeks and months ahead.


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Reflections on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Life and Legacy

January 12, 2024

“I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.” (MLK, 1964)

Greetings Fellow Members of our CSUDH Family:

This weekend, our campus, region, state, and nation are poised to celebrate the 95th birthday of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As the holiday approaches, and we prepare for activities, some of which are listed below, that include recognition ceremonies, Kingdom Day parades, community service projects to help others, or in our personal spaces where recreation, entertainment, and rest are in order, it is important to reflect on not just the personality of the man, but the principles he lived by.

Unquestionably, Dr. King was an extremely impressive personality and one of my heroes. However, the principles he embraced and incorporated into his philosophy represent an enduring legacy on the man. In that regard, ideas are the substance of behavior, and as we strive to create a greater degree of congruence between our ideal selves and our real selves, it is principle that helps each of us outline the blueprints to a more self-actualized future.

Sixty years ago, in 1964, Dr. King delivered the quote above while receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. But even with the honorary and aesthetic ambiance of the Nobel ceremony in Sweden, America witnessed a range of human endeavors that challenged us to be its best in everything. We saw advances from science, including unveiling new affordable and available technology like the color TVs, to the latest automotive vehicle. There was the introduction of Saturn V rocket engines that would later help launch astronauts into space and even in sports, we had a new heavyweight boxing champion. Indeed, we were making strides toward space travel while sending teams to compete in the Tokyo Olympics.

Yet amid all of that innovation, creativity, ingenuity, and American know-how, our nation was in the midst of civil rights struggles and demonstrations led by Dr. King. There were urban rebellions in cities across America, particularly in Harlem and Rochester, NY, as well as Jersey City and Elizabeth City, NJ, in response to police abuse of Black teens, economic deprivation, unemployment, discrimination, and racial inequality.

Fast forward sixty years to our present day, and our innovative spirit continues to sparkle while America’s misery index of social inequality, racial injustice, police misconduct that threatens principally Black and Brown lives, toxic political party differences that shred the fabric of our democracy, gun violence, homelessness, along with global skirmishes paint a less than optimistic picture of a more perfect union.

Despite our advances, we have not found a path to love our way through the darkness of our biases, adversities, and disagreements, particularly those that cross the boundary from intentional harm to straight-up evil. The notion of “right, temporarily defeated” sounds like an excellent illustration of our condition as a society as the gains of the past are slowly eroding away with public policy and court decisions serving as the instruments of their demise.

In that same Nobel Prize acceptance speech, King spoke out for basic human rights of everyday citizens, saying, “I have the audacity to believe that people everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.” If unarmed truth and unconditional love can achieve even a moment of mastery over evil triumphant, then we need to take Dr. King’s message to heart. Unarmed truth doesn’t use facts and data as weapons to denigrate someone’s position or person, but rather seeks to create more observational bridges toward a better understanding of each other’s perspectives and humanity. Unconditional love extends kindness, compassion, empathy, and deep affection towards others without requirements to meet certain conditions before those feelings can be extended. These sentiments seem to capture what we embrace at CSUDH, and more broadly in the CSU. 

This year, as our Toro family welcomes in the Spring 2024 semester, let me invite you to approach it with the audacity to believe, as did Dr. King, that basic needs are human rights, that the education faculty provides and students experience can and is transformative, that right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant, and that the dignity, equality, and freedom we all desire can be celebrated in each and every one of us.


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.


Introducing our Second Presidential Artist in Residence

December 7, 2023

Dear Toros:

I am delighted to share an exciting development in the evolution of the Presidential Artist-in-Residence (PAIR) program that I believe will leave an indelible mark on our campus community and beyond. In our quest to become a model urban university, CSUDH is committed to continually positioning itself as the local hub for culturally rich, currently relevant experiences — a goal which the arts help us achieve through visual expression and interrogation.

Toni Scott, acclaimed mixed-media artist, was our inaugural PAIR. She produced enduring and impactful artwork on campus that included a “live painting” event with accompaniment by the CSUDH Orchestra, and two groundbreaking exhibitions, TRANSCEND and “The Measurement of Things.”

It brings me immense pleasure to announce our second Presidential Artist-in-Residence, esteemed Afro-Latina artist Cristina Martinez from Seattle. Her work is rooted in illuminating the often-overlooked stories and inherent beauty of Black and Brown people. The resonant themes of race, identity, and culture depicted in her art align seamlessly with the founding principles and ethos of CSUDH — a university dedicated to the pursuit of social justice and equity.

As part of her residency, Martinez will present her latest solo exhibition, titled “& Still We Bloom,” at the University Library's Multicultural Art Gallery on the fifth floor. Featuring eight original works of art, the exhibition extends an invitation for all to explore their excellence and celebrate the many seasons of life.

The exhibition opens on Monday, December 11, and is free to the public. Additionally, a reception in March will honor Martinez’s work, accompanied by a compelling panel discussion featuring the artist and other influential speakers. I encourage everyone to visit the exhibition and experience the beauty of “& Still We Bloom.” We are proud to partner with Martinez and are honored that she has chosen the CSUDH campus as the platform to highlight her artistic endeavors.


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Acknowledgment of Indigenous People's Day

October 9, 2023

Dear Toros:

"We will be known forever by the tracks we leave." – Dakota proverb.

Today, October 9, marks the recognition of Indigenous People's Day. What was once known as Columbus Day is now marked by a repudiation of colonialism's destructive effects on the continent's Indigenous peoples, and a recognition of Indigenous culture, history, and humanity. It also is a reminder that colonialism is not simply related to the control and subjugation of people, resources, and land, but also relates to the political control of knowledge exercised by those colonizers.

Indigenous People's Day is now an annual event, but we must insulate ourselves from the notion that setting aside one day to recognize the vast influence and achievements of our nation's native inhabitants is somehow sufficient. True recognition and appreciation are contingent on making these sentiments part of the fabric of our lives on a daily basis.

For example, as part of that long-overdue recognition, at CSUDH we are doing our part to ensure we follow the spirit of the California Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and foster strong ties with our local Native Tribal communities. For too long, Indigenous artifacts and remains have been considered the "spoils of war" of the colonizers, or intellectual prizes for the academically curious, dispersed to museums and other institutions without regard to their importance, sacredness, or Tribal ownership. We are currently involved in the project of identifying, returning, and repatriating those artifacts and remains housed at CSUDH, an effort we and the entire CSU are committed to completing in a timely and respectful fashion.

Indigenous People's Day invites us all, irrespective of who we are and where we come from, to learn more about the history, culture, and challenges of our brothers and sisters in the Indigenous community. This day summons us all to examine how portraits of Indigenous people from history, the entertainment media, and our own social world have contributed to the assumptions we make, biases we hold, and behaviors we display toward this community. Going forward, each of us is encouraged to ask ourselves what we are doing personally to advance social justice and equity in regard to every community at CSUDH. The celebration of Indigenous people should be part of a constant self-interrogation as to our thoughts and actions, both individually and collectively, and how they can be used in the service of a society that places true value on the diversity of every member of the human family.


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Acknowledgment of Yom Kippur

September 25, 2023

Dear Toros:

In the midst of our celebration of the multicultural mosaic our campus community represents, we will pause for a moment to acknowledge the Jewish high holy day of Yom Kippur, which occurs today, September 25.

Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) is an occasion but more importantly an opportunity for members of the Jewish community to celebrate the new year, while also engaging in prayer, and reflecting on their own lives. Those reflections center on a personal analysis and internal cleansing regarding how one can achieve greater levels of congruence between who they are and the people they wish to be, while seeking forgiveness.

This occasion invites us all, irrespective of ethnic or religious background, to learn more about the history, culture, and challenges of those in the Jewish community. This recognition might also instigate a personal reflection in ourselves, where we allow for a deeper interrogation of those attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that prevent us from consistently engaging in measures of accountability that help us all realize our best selves. As a socially just, equitable, and inclusive campus, we are committed to providing an inclusive working and learning environment. As such, I ask all to be mindful and supportive of the needs of students, staff, and faculty who may be observing this religious holiday.


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Welcome to the new Academic Year!

August 28, 2023

Greetings, Toro Community!

Welcome to the 2023-2024 academic year at your California State University, Dominguez Hills!

The beginning of a new Fall term is one of the most exciting times of the year, as a fresh cohort of scholars and learners embarks on their academic journey, bursting with the energy and enthusiasm to engage the moment and their educational dreams.

This time of year reminds me of the verbal stylings of Harriet Tubman, who asserted, "Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars and change the world."Students, take that to heart! With that said, I am beyond excited to see what this year will bring and the stellar accomplishments that our students and faculty will produce, supported by our dedicated staff.

To all of our incoming Toro students, whether you're arriving straight from high school, transferring from a community college, returning to campus to complete your educational journey after leaving last semester or even after an extended hiatus, or engaging your graduate school education, I extend the warmest welcome. No matter your background or academic level, all of us here at CSUDH are laser-focused on your success. We are always working to ensure that every Toro student receives the educational experience that they deserve.

If you are new faculty or staff at CSUDH, I am proud that you have joined us. Welcome! The Toro community is strong, resilient, and ready to support you in every way. Our commitment to students is unwavering, and I look forward to the myriad ways that you will contribute to our atmosphere of excellence, achievement, care, and support. With your help, CSUDH continues its transformation into the model urban university.

Admittedly, we do face challenges this year: tense labor negotiations are underway, we have state budgetary shortfalls, and there are campus infrastructure elements in need of repair and/or replacement. These are in addition to the ordinary stressors we all encounter, whether that is political discord and divisive economic hardship, or the day-to-day balancing act of education, family, work, and other obligations. I am confident, however, that by working together and keeping our focus on student success, we will weather these challenging times. When united as a community, we are strong and resilient, and nothing can stop us from achieving our goals. You have made the right decision to join the Toro Nation. The CSUDH family is supportive, encouraging, and driven, and if you ever need help, reach out. You will always find someone who can assist you, from our support services or the community, offering a helping hand or a shoulder to lean on.

Let's all pull together to make this the best semester yet at CSUDH. The work for all of us is just beginning, and I'm ready to roll up my sleeves and get to it. Go Toros!


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Celebrating a Major Gift to CSUDH

August 23, 2023

Dear Toros,

Today, I am pleased to announce that CSUDH has received a transformative $22.1 million gift from Ballmer Group that will strengthen our university's role in addressing equity gaps in early childhood education across Southern California.

This gift is the largest single donation in our campus's history and will support CSUDH's Toros Teach L.A. (TTLA) program. TTLA provides scholarships to education students earning the new PK-3 credential; funds training and upskilling for mid-career teachers looking to move into the crucial early education sector; and features certificate coursework for those who teach ethnically diverse learners.

I am proud of and beyond grateful to the leaders in our community who stewarded this impactful gift from the initial proposal to its announcement today. Dean Jessica Zacher Pandya of the College of Education and Dean Mi-Sook Kim of the College of Health, Human Services and Nursing led the way, as did Vice President of University Advancement Eva Sevcikova and Executive Director of Development Jasmina Zuljevic.

Even as we acknowledge the efforts of those whose work directly led to this gift, we must also recognize that it was only due to the ongoing excellence of our education programs that Ballmer Group chose to support Toros Teach L.A. Repeatedly, the funders told us how impressed they were with our existing teacher preparation efforts and innovative partnerships with local school districts. The gift to our university will allow us to accelerate the vital work we are already committed to and executing and will greatly increase its impact.

Please join me in extending the gratitude of our entire university to Steve and Connie Ballmer, and come together to support our faculty members who, over the next six years, will lead and implement the initiatives that make up the Toros Teach L.A. project: Associate Professors Jenny Chiappe and Kim Radmacher, co-directors of the Early Childhood Excellence initiative, and Assistant Professor Kirk Rogers, director of the Black Educator Excellence initiative. More information about these programs can be found at


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Moving CSU's Title IX and DHR Processes Forward

July 17, 2023

Dear Campus Community,

My administration is committed to providing a wholesome environment where each member of the Toro family has their humanity affirmed and is free from instances of harassment, retaliation, and discrimination. These characteristics are fundamental to our culture of care and our institutional values.

Today, the law firm Cozen O'Connor released its report on Title IX and Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation (DHR) programs at the California State University. This assessment was initiated by the Chancellor's Office and Board of Trustees in 2022, after allegations that reports of misconduct were improperly handled in years past. You may also have seen media coverage of a pending report on this same topic from the California State Auditor, set for release later this week. I write to you today to share the steps that CSUDH has taken in anticipation of these reports and their findings, and how the university will address this issue in the future.

The Cozen O'Connor team's review indicates that the CSU engaged in inconsistent practices across the 23-campus system when addressing complaints of DHR or Title IX violations. The report includes recommendations for addressing these shortcomings. For example, it calls on the Chancellor's Office to play a larger role in managing the tracking and adjudication of such complaints, better documentation and record management, and the establishment of a prevention and education oversight committee to coordinate and align programming across campus. The full report can be found online at The CSU's Commitment to Change.

While the report focuses on the system at large, it also includes findings about individual campuses. Please know that I take these recommendations not simply as a critique but as valuable feedback that will allow us as a campus community to close the gap between our aspirational selves that reflect the full measure of our values, and our real selves that are now being challenged with data that indicates we are falling short. At CSUDH, Cozen O'Connor found a lack of awareness and visibility of the Office of Equity and Inclusion, a lack of a strategic and coordinated prevention and education program, and a lack of a formal process and protocol for responding to conduct issues that are troublesome or disruptive, but which do not meet the threshold of violating the Nondiscrimination Policy.

Already, CSUDH has taken steps in the previous year that address these findings. These include:

  • The establishment of the Division of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice and the hiring of Dr. Bobbie Porter to lead it; and elevating what was proposed as an AVP position to a full vice president and member of the President's Executive Cabinet
  • Blair Miles hired as executive director of the Office of Equity and Inclusion
  • Nallely Lopez hired as new Title IX coordinator for CSUDH

Additionally, the Office of Equity and Inclusion has already begun intentional outreach and education by creating a dynamic social media account, hosting a Self-Care fair on campus on May 9, and providing over 20 presentations and trainings to campus constituencies since January 2023. In fact, OEI is participating in tomorrow's Toro Tuesday program, which introduces all incoming students (first-year, transfer, and graduate) to various campus resources. The report also made several recommendations related to the OEI website — many of which have already been made.

CSUDH has created an implementation committee, made up of students, faculty, and staff representatives, charged with overseeing the institutional review of the Cozen report that was released today and ensuring proper steps are taken to enact the report's recommendations that are consistent with my expectations as your president. The committee began meeting in the spring to lay the groundwork for not only responding to the report itself, but working together to ensure the campus environment remains one that is safe and welcoming to all who work and learn here.

You will hear more from Dr. Porter's team in the coming weeks and months about the committee's work and opportunities for you to participate in that process. CSUDH will also work in partnership with the CSU Chancellor's Office in developing and implementing policies and practices that align with the systemwide reforms recommended by the reports from Cozen O'Connor and the California State Auditor. The process of working through the entire 23-campus system may take longer than many of us would like, but I assure you it is crucial not only that our university undertake the necessary changes to address these significant issues, but that we also work together to ensure the entire system's response to DHR and Title IX complaints is deliberate and sound. As such, creating an environment free of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, and one that affirms everyone's humanity, is not simply the job of the Office of Equity and Inclusion or one individual on our campus. Rather, each of us must be committed to doing our part to ensure that our beloved DH campus exudes the social ambiance and culture of care we strive to manifest on a daily basis.


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

SCOTUS Ruling Doesn't Change our Values

June 30, 2023

Dear CSUDH Community:

The intellectual and artistic narratives signaling that "we have many rivers to cross" are on my mind today in the wake of the latest Supreme Court decision striking down affirmative action initiatives at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. Admittedly, as a university president, I am saddened, sickened, and disappointed by the decision, but I am not surprised.

The caustic and toxic nature of the policy conclusions of this ruling obviously have implications for higher education, but they are not limited to such. The realms of employment, general diversity efforts in public policy, opportunities for ownership and coaching positions in professional sports, and corporate responsibility initiatives, to name a few, will all look to this judgment and ask what it means.

Among our community, I suspect that there will be divergent points of view on the ruling. Some may praise the court's decision, and that is a right we should and will respect. Others may be disheartened by yesterday's decision; please know that I share your sense of hurt and frustration. If time and our multicultural leaders teach us anything, it is that courageous voices and principled activism can and do make a difference.

It is also clear that our resolve to support and advance a diversity, equity, and inclusion agenda on this campus will not be diminished or deferred by this court ruling. Nor will we allow a projection of an Asian figure as the face of this attack on affirmative action to drive a wedge between diverse voices that are inclusive of all people of color, including brothers and sisters in the API community, White allies, and others whose common struggle and connectedness to one another is solid and unbreakable.

If anything, the teachable moment here for all of us, but especially young people, is that voting matters, and freedom is not free—it must be fought for in every generation. Progress is only genuine and authentic if it can be maintained and sustained in the places and spaces we now occupy and positioned to render support for future generations who need to build on the legacy they inherit. Let' all pull together and show our support for each other in these trying times. Change is going to come, and hope is on the horizon; we just need to see and believe in that change and hope in ourselves and our beloved campus community.

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

A Proud Moment: Reflecting on Juneteenth

June 16, 2023

Dear Campus Community,

"We need leaders not in love with money, but in love with justice. Not in love with publicity, but in love with humanity."

–Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

What a proud moment. As we recognize and commemorate Juneteenth (sometimes called Jubilee Day or Freedom Day), we also celebrate its acknowledgment as an official holiday within the California State University system. This year, as a system, we will mark this milestone with a greater appreciation for the struggle people of African descent endured to both earn and realize freedom in this country, something many take for granted.

Simultaneously, this year's Juneteenth occurs amid a national climate where a celebration of authentic history is under assault by government officials, school boards, and even families in communities across many states. They appear more comfortable amid the ambiance of denial and historic amnesia, afraid to have their fragile sensibilities or those of their children shaken by telling the truth. It is a reminder that freedom demands constant vigilance, advocacy, and action. It is why I am delighted to endorse the CSU's efforts to celebrate Juneteenth and stand behind a historic document that emerged out of last year's systemwide Juneteenth Symposium, which will be released soon.

At CSUDH, Juneteenth recognition doesn't translate into a single day's observance. Here, we interrogate how our curriculum, faculty and staff hiring, and campus climate reflects greater diversity, inclusive excellence, and equality. Through this integrated interrogation, as a community, we can fully understand, appreciate, and respect our common humanity. As Audre Lorde reminds us, "It's not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences."

In this moment, we must also consider all people of color, as well as women, people with disabilities, and LGBTQIA friends and family whose freedom and equality has been delayed, intruded upon, silenced, and denied by policies and practices that aren't justified, humane, nor characterized by civility, empathy, compassion, or kindness. As Martin Luther King Jr. stated, "No one is free, until we are all free."

What matters to me on this Freedom Day is becoming a better and more wholesome academic community, one where freedom rings from every corner of the places and spaces we occupy. I am proud to do this work with each of you every single day.

Happy Juneteenth.


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Welcome to the Spring 2023 Semester

January 23, 2023

Dear Toros,

Welcome to the first day of classes for the Spring 2023 semester! The start of a new academic term brings with it many challenges and opportunities. Each of us can explore lessons inside and outside of classrooms and labs, as well as administrative spaces.

Students, you might reconnect with familiar friends and colleagues, or develop relationships with new ones. You may choose to join new organizations, consider different ways to express your creativity, and discover more avenues to build community. Faculty and staff, you can seize the opportunity to reevaluate your modes of engagement with members of the campus community, so that your functional duties better meet the needs of the Toros you most want to impact.

One thing is clear—this time is all of ours to identify, develop, and expand in ways that actualize our best selves as members of this beloved Toro community. I encourage us all to fully accept the challenge of walking into this brand new semester in 2023 with wonder and curiosity, as well as an eye on being intentional in helping each other succeed.

Sadly, this is not the only message to impart today. I am acutely aware that Toro hearts and minds are with the members of our community impacted by the senseless violence and tragedy that took place in Monterey Park and Alhambra over the weekend. I want you to know that you are not alone. We all mourn the passing of the lives lost and grieve with the families and individuals traumatized by these events. In this context, I remind the student community that Student Psychological Services offers in-person and telehealth services for all CSUDH students, and employees are encouraged to use LifeMatters for confidential support.

I wish every member of our CSUDH a successful and fulfilling Spring 2023 semester.


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Celebrating Dr. King

January 17, 2023

Dear Campus Community,

As we recognize what would have been civil and human rights icon Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s 94th birthday, I invite us to interrogate the ways we should honor the legacy he left us. In 1963, Dr. King wrote several visionary pieces, including his famous "I have a dream" speech. In that speech and many of his writings, his voice and vision were strong, compelling, and penetrating. It was in his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," however, that he wrote one of his most significant messages. Despite their warnings against civil disobedience, Dr. King appealed to Christian ministers to see that the African American struggle for freedom, justice, and equality was connected to Christian discipleship.

Dr. King believed that he was in Birmingham, in that space and time, because injustice was there. He wasn't content with the progress of the movement of his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, because of his conviction that "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." His restless soul would not be still or quiet while discrimination, bigotry, and racism was pervasive anywhere.

His voice from sixty years ago rings true even as we celebrate progress. Advances in science, health, and technology, do not overshadow injustice. Far too many still lack access to adequate healthcare and struggle with food, housing, and transportation insecurities. Others struggle with biased and sometimes deadly contact with the law enforcement and the criminal justice system. The injustices that plague our nation could be nullified, however, if each of us, in our own way, identified, spoke up, and acted to bring fairness, less bias, more equity, and justice to someone else's life. How dissatisfied are we and how restless are our souls when we bear witness to social misery?

In his letter from that jail cell in Birmingham, Dr. King reminded us that "we are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny." Since our destinies are inextricably linked to one another, perhaps helping to create a fairer and more just world for others, we bring an enhanced element of integrity to ourselves.


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.


New Approach to Cultural Heritage Acknowledgments

October 19, 2022

Dear Toro Community,

Last month, we determined that as we advance our institutional maturity for transformative diversity practice and culture change, it would be most appropriate that the new Vice President and Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer send a campus message acknowledging Hispanic Heritage Month, which is celebrated annually from September 15 through October 15. Shortly after sending that message, we received a request to send a similar message inviting the campus community to join in recognizing the 30th anniversary of Filipino American History Month. For community members not familiar with the innumerable contributions of Filipino Americans in the area and the country, please join us in recognizing the significance of this historic year. As an educational source regarding this community, our own Gerth Archives launched the Filipino American Digital Archive earlier this year which we encourage all Toros to explore.

Last month's message and the nearly missed opportunity to acknowledge this momentous occasion in Filipino American history signals a greater need to establish an institutional strategy for how we honor, recognize, and celebrate cultural heritage months and other days of cultural relevance. As the CDEIO, Dr. Porter will lead in the establishment of a routine and practice for recognizing heritage months and days in culturally reflective ways. The voices of all Toros are critical to this process, so we invite campus community members to join the Toro Cultural Heritage Recognition Work Group.

This work group will advise on and develop an annual Heritage Month and Identity Recognition Calendar for institution-wide engagement. The purpose of the calendar is to:

  1. acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of historically marginalized groups,
  2. raise awareness about issues, histories, and traditions that have not been acknowledged widely in curricula and culture, and
  3. provide administrators, communications teams, and culturally-focused groups/offices with a unified calendar for event and outreach planning.

We invite all interested students, staff, faculty, and community partners to join the inaugural work group. Please complete this short interest form if you would like to participate.

As with any campuswide engagement, we want to take intentional time to build this aspect of our campus belonging and community efforts. In this transitional year, as the work group conducts its charge, we encourage you to plan unit-level educational, celebratory, and meaningful activities. Please expect more information on this effort as the work progresses. For inquiries on this change and the work group, please contact


Dr. Thomas Parham

Dr. Bobbie Porter
Vice President and Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer

Blending Accountability and Grace

October 18, 2022

Dear Campus Community,

Last week our university student newspaper, The Bulletin, printed a cover acknowledging Hispanic Heritage Month using artwork with very offensive language. The words and labels used were derogatory, dehumanizing, racist, hurtful, insensitive, and triggering. Whatever the intention, the outcome resulted in questions about proper scrutiny, faculty oversight, accountability, and how we can ensure that incidents like this never happen again. Both the Chair of our Communications Department and the editor of The Bulletin have acknowledged the mistake and issued apologies to those who were deeply offended as well as to the entire campus community.

Without question, this was unacceptable and inconsistent with a campus ethic that values cultural sensitivity as well as caring for our community. I have called for a detailed accounting as appropriate administrative and academic officials are working to prevent any future reoccurrences. As your President, I extend my sincere apologies to all of those who have been impacted by this unnecessary trauma. As a campus community, we will learn from our mistakes by processing how we clearly fell short of our goals and taking the necessary steps to improve. We are already seeking a new faculty advisor who will be clear about the need for a comprehensive editorial review process and leading our students to be responsible journalists.

Incidents like these can have us searching for meaning and intent. In the absence of a clear and immediate explanation, those attributions are sometimes anchored in perceptions of ill will. However, we should consider that this was the result of negligence and an error in judgment rather than inflicting intentional harm.

Even while we are hurt, at times, empathy, compassion, kindness, and sensitivity are called for and I am asking all members of the Toro family to extend grace, especially now. As an institution of higher learning, when we fall short, we should allow for teaching moments so that we can learn from mistakes and become better. As a community intentionally creating a culture of care, extending a thimble full of grace full can be enough to both understand human imperfection and have greater tolerance for one another's shortcomings.

Sincerely, Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Actions to Support CSUDH's Asian Pacific Islander Community

October 10, 2022

Dear Campus Community:

On October 4, 2022, members of the Asian Pacific Islander (API) community and their allies met with CSUDH leadership in response to the demonstration held on September 22. I am grateful for the courageous voices of our API students, staff, faculty, and their allies, and support their desire to identify space, resources, and visibility. The administration and I stand in solidarity with them and affirm our ongoing commitment to their community.

Our exchange was honest and heartfelt. I used the occasion to inform and remind us of the efforts that have taken place to support and elevate our API community. Yet what I heard provided important teaching moments for the administration and me. Our efforts were not as visible as we hoped. The lack of a permanent home for our Asian Pacific Cultural Center (APCC) spoke louder.

We understand how it can be perceived as such, but not having a physical space for the APCC and its director is not a reflection of a lack of commitment. We are clear that the API community is a vital part of the CSUDH family. Please know that we heard you. We heard that in the addition to the lack of a visible space, the difficulty seeing yourselves reflected in the faculty and staff and the curriculum, and the perception that there is no prioritization of API students in enrollment has led you to believe that the campus, the administration, and I are not as welcoming and supportive as you expected, hoped, and deserve. These sentiments are a wake-up call and each division at CSUDH is on notice that we must and will do better.

During the meeting, we identified several categories of intervention that CSUDH will address. These include:

  • A physical space for the APCC and its director
  • A commitment to prioritize increasing enrollment efforts of API students
  • Increased staff hires, particularly for psychological services and counseling
  • An expanded API curriculum
  • Increased faculty hires

As I stated during our meeting, nothing on the list above is a point of contention. The administration agrees with the desire to see the API community better reflected at CSUDH and will demonstrate our agreement with action.

Over the next several weeks, my team and I will address the myriad of issues presented, including resolving the space issue within 30-40 calendar days. The team addressing these challenges will be led by Dr. William Franklin, Vice President of Student Affairs, and will have cross-divisional representation that includes but is not limited to:

  • Academic Affairs
  • Administration and Finance
  • The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Student Affairs

This group will be asked to report options and an immediate and long-term strategy for the broader list of issues and concerns. Together, we address the challenges before us and create solutions to the concerns raised by the API students.

I also want to publicly note that during our conversation, a specific division was used as an example during the discussion. Please be aware that no one division is to blame—how we arrived here and the responsibility to improve is on all of us.

Thank you for your attention and for all that you do to help build a stronger, more inclusive campus community.


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

The Meaning of Juneteenth for Higher Ed

July 5, 2022

This article was published by Inside Higher Ed.

In his poem "Dreams," the great American poet Langston Hughes reminds us that we should "Hold fast to dreams/For if dreams die/Life is a broken-winged bird/That cannot fly."

Beyond providing academic and co-curricular spaces for students to cultivate their intellectual potential, as a psychologist and university president, I also believe our role in higher education is to prevent wings from breaking and mend those that do.

Earlier this summer, the California State University system and the CSU Dominguez Hills campus that I lead hosted their first Juneteenth biennial symposium and celebration of Black excellence. The symposium drew some 650 in-person attendees and more than 1,200 participants via live-streaming, who took advantage of an opportunity to engage in some deep thinking and analysis about several questions:

  • What does the celebration of Juneteenth really mean?
  • How do we elevate the voices of our ancestors and everyday people in this discourse on higher education?
  • And, given the state of Black students, staff, faculty and senior administrators in higher education, how do we prevent wings from breaking and mend those whose structural integrity has been compromised by the inattention and outright bias and neglect of resources that would otherwise contribute to more successful outcomes than each of those groups currently realize?

The symposium was an opportunity to interrogate the most fundamental questions related to people's recognition of this newly declared national holiday. Juneteenth, Jubilee Day or Freedom Day, as it is sometimes called, is a recognition of the delayed emancipation of Black people in the Confederate state of Texas from bondage and slavery, even as they were granted their illusory freedom some two years earlier in 1863, when President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Had it not been for General Gordon Granger and the Union Army's movement into Galveston, Tex., and the announcement on June 19, 1865, Black folks in Texas may have waited even longer to be freed.

During the symposium and my opening remarks, I queried if some in attendance questioned my use of the term "illusory freedom." After all, many believe that Black people were really freed from slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation, and that the oppressors and their descendants have no obligation to address the residual baggage left by more than 400 years of oppression, discrimination, degradation, degeneracy, debasement, dishonor and dehumanization that slavery represents.

Well, the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, and various amendments added to the Constitution, and yet we continue to see a precipitous gap between Black and white in almost every objective index we measure, including employment; housing; wealth accumulation; health status; voting rights; treatment by law enforcement and criminal justice officials; educational access; retention, persistence, graduation and thriving of students; hiring, promotion and tenure of Black faculty; lack of opportunity for advancement to senior executive positions; etc. So alongside the so-called Freedom Day we now pledge to celebrate by CSU trustee mandate, I questioned what the CSU system and its 23 campuses were prepared to do to move beyond yearly programming and celebration. How can we usher in a new era of freedom for people of African descent in terms of enrollment, retention, graduation, recruitment and hiring of staff and faculty, promotion and tenure, and support for senior university executives?

As a psychologist, I understand that oppression is an unnatural human phenomenon that instigates unnatural human behavior. And while emancipations and public policies can remove the chains of slavery from the bodies of the oppressed, they don't necessarily remove the shackles on the brains of those who were enslaved, or those who were the oppressors or their descendants. All people get contaminated by the perpetration of evil, and the symposium was an opportunity to genuinely interrogate that reality, especially when we can see the residuals of psychological slavery play out every day in the mind-sets of too many of our students.

Famed educator and historian Carter G. Woodson, in his classic text The Mis-Education of the Negro, argued that "if you can control a man's thinking you do not have to worry about his action … If you make a man feel that he is inferior, you do not have to compel him to accept an inferior status, for he will seek it himself." His writing causes me to consider that, in my opinion, the biggest problem some of our students in higher education face is not simply food and housing insecurity, drugs, gangs, violence, poverty, or racism in the classroom. Rather, I am clear that the biggest problem some students face is the need for mental liberation.

The shackles of conceptual incarceration create a mind-set, which too many students possess, of "I can't," "I don't know if I belong in this institution," "I'm afraid of failing so I hesitate to try" and "the whole world is against me." I believe that the role of students as emerging scholars includes committing to a process that initially recognizes, and then begins to systematically unlock, the shackles of conceptual incarceration that contaminate their minds. Here, I see residuals that include:

  • A mind-set that doubts their capability to excel in school and produce work with a standard of excellence.
  • A mind-set that questions whether they even belong in college when the inevitable obstacle of poor performance on a test or in a class rears its head.
  • A mind-set that loses hope in the future, when it should be bright with possibility and potential, in favor of seeking more high-risk behaviors because of a belief that life is short.
  • A mind-set so compelled to seek external validation from peers and other societal influences that they disregard more positive elements in their own psyches and spirits, which they have learned to distrust.

What does our data tell us about the condition of people of African descent whose lives continue to be played out at the margins of society? Far too many of our African-descent boys and young men of color, as well as girls and young women, are in a perpetual state of crisis. They are growing up in poverty, dropping out of school or underachieving when they choose to stay, graduating at lower than acceptable rates, falling below the threshold of being normally admissible to research universities or even many regional comprehensive CSU campuses, engaging in nonproductive coping strategies, having too many negative encounters with law enforcement personnel on the streets and in the criminal justice system as a whole, being discriminated against in the employment marketplace, and generally falling short of their promise.

However, if the variance used to explain the outcomes that African American men and women experience on a daily basis is restricted to systemic factors alone, then we delude ourselves into believing that our young people and their families, and even the broader community, have no stake in or role to play in their own recovery, empowerment and uplift. In the CSU system, we do not and will not endorse such sentiments. If we are committed to preventing wings from breaking and mending those that do, I argue that we must embrace the role of not just educators, but healers. In my opinion, we must recognize that we cannot be a healing presence in the lives of Black people generally, and Black students in higher education institutions specifically, if we lose the capacity to believe that our people (and particularly our students) can elevate themselves to rightful places of rulership and mastery over their own circumstances.

This is why I remain concerned that despite our honest aspirations, the condition of African-descent people in the CSU and higher education nationally stands in sharp contrast to that vision. You see, I believe, as Asa Hilliard argued before me, that there is something wrong with an educational system that leaves our children:

  • Strangers to themselves;
  • Aliens to their culture;
  • Oblivious to their condition;
  • Inhuman to people who oppress them;
  • And unfulfilled in terms of their educational possibility and potential.

If Juneteenth is to have a real meaning, and not simply represent another programmatic initiative we can feel good about, then our efforts must result in:

  • Interrogating the biases and assumptions people bring with them into the academic spaces we occupy.
  • Developing new and substantive programs that address the true needs of the African-descent students, staff, faculty and senior administrators we claim to care about.
  • Examining policies and practices that inhibit rather than facilitate progress in supporting Black excellence in higher education generally, and the California State University's 23 campuses in particular.

The final panel for the two-day symposium took a page out of Martin Luther King's work entitled "Where Do We Go From Here?" His speech by that name was delivered in August 1967 on the heels of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Given those historic and consequential pieces of legislation, what more was necessary, and why a need to interrogate the question of "Where do we go from here?"

King argued that "in order to answer the question … we must first honestly recognize where we are now." I invited the symposium's in-person and online attendees—as I invite the readers of this article—to go back and reference King from his 1967 speech and accompanying book. There, he argued that:

  • "First, we (Black people) must massively assert our dignity and worth. We must stand up amid a system that still oppresses us and develop an unassailable and majestic sense of values. We must no longer be ashamed of being Black."
  • We must "discover how to organize our strength into economic and political power."
  • "We must reaffirm our commitment to nonviolence."

King argued that "this is no time for romantic illusions and empty philosophical debates about freedom," arguing instead it was a "time for action" and a "strategy for change."
"Let us go out with a divine dissatisfaction," he said, until America is reborn again with a truer measure of equal opportunity for all of its citizens.

Given these pronouncements, what are the implication for higher education of the Juneteenth symposium the CSU recently held, and this consequential question of "Where do we go from here?" I believe that these systems, as well as individual universities and colleges, must first cease engaging in several practices and begin asking and answering some important questions.

Higher education needs to stop:

  • Defining diversity, equity and inclusive excellence with simplistic yardsticks like demographic percentages of African American students in their enrollment. It's bigger than that.
  • Assuming that African American faculty should only be commensurate with the percentages of Black students in that university, rather than considering their numbers in relation to the total enrollment of white students and others whose ignorance of historical Black struggle and contemporary challenges is quite pronounced.
  • Believing that there is a parallel between the skin color and cultural consciousness of the Black faculty and staff institutions recruit and hire.
  • Concluding that the challenges Black students, staff, faculty and even senior executives face in higher education are only related to them alone, rather than the institutional and organizational dynamics, policies and practices that impede progress and make too many institutions unwelcoming places.

We need systemic change. Higher education needs to begin asking and answering:

How can the nation's colleges and universities develop programs that "massively assert" the dignity and worth of its African-descent students, staff, faculty and senior executives?

How can higher education facilitate the increase in strength for Black people that will help them gain more economic and political power? How can we make higher education more affordable, help people experience more opportunities for recruitment and advancement, while also being better compensated?

How can higher education replace "romantic illusions" of Black equality with the reality of:

  • The stones of stagnation;
  • The gravel of gradualism;
  • The pebbles of pessimism;
  • And the rocks of resignation that impede Black progress for students, staff, faculty and senior executives?
  • How can higher education create a "divine dissatisfaction" with the way things are now in favor of the way things might be if only we had more intentionality in our efforts?

If this year's Juneteenth celebration is to represent substance over performance, then I would invite us all to consider embarking on a more authentic and intentional effort to celebrate the meaning of Juneteenth with consequential and substantive change in cultivating and supporting Black excellence in higher education.

Pride Celebration

June 29, 2022

Dear Campus Community,

During this festive Pride Month, I am delighted to see LGBTIQ+ Toros and their many allies celebrate, educate, and recognize the consequential and significant achievements of the community.

Pride parades, festivals, and other activities across Southern California and the nation are wonderful ways to acknowledge the LGBTIQ+ community. More than celebrations, however, Pride Month at its core is about human authenticity. It's about the right to declare for oneself the full measure of one's humanity, while also locating and creating safe spaces where joy is present, affirmation is unconditional, and love and respect are abundant. How marvelous! We see this ambiance in CSUDH's own Queer Culture & Resource Center (QCRC), where support, connection, programs, empowerment, and information are available year-round. We are blessed as a university community to have this center and its activities, engagement, and leadership.

Yet, while we celebrate with our LGBTIQ+ family and friends, let us not forget that for too many, danger is ever present, harassment is the norm, public policy is inconsistent, and assault is a chronic challenge. Consequently, this month creates an opportunity to reflect on ways each of us can do more to create and sustain an environment that is free of any obstacles that might impede someone's access to opportunity, invite hesitation to pursue a direction in life, or disparage someone's humanity, based on their sexuality. We can and must do better and this month has been a great time to think creatively about ways we can be better allies, better colleagues, and better friends.

Pride Month officially comes to a close this week. However, it is never time to put away respect for the dignity and humanity of all members of the human family, especially our LGBTIQ+ family. Let's show our pride all year long, and empower all Toros to do the same.

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Precedent Gives Way to Politics

June 28, 2022

Dear Campus Community:

During the CSU's inaugural Juneteenth Symposium hosted by CSUDH two weeks ago, we pondered the notions of delayed freedom and emancipation for people of African descent in this country. Given that, you'll understand the irony of this week's news headlines—a ruling that restricts women's freedom.

Our nation, and many in our beloved campus community, are reeling from the Supreme Court overturning Roe vs. Wade. With this single decision, the highest court struck down and strangled a law that has been enforced for some fifty-two years. We now bear witness to a fundamental principle being hijacked by conservative politics. That was a sad day for the country's soul, and a commentary on how women are considered and treated.

I am profoundly disappointed with the Supreme Court's decision. And yet, I also am cognizant of the reality that some in our nation and this campus community may favor or even delight in the decision the high court recently rendered. My message, however, is not intended to argue about politics, as rigorous debate in institutions like CSUDH should yield insights, understanding, and respect for all points of view and political affiliations. In this circumstance, I urge all of us to debate the issues with a level of civility and common decency.

I frown on the Supreme Court trading precedent for politics. To undo the original decision granting women the right to choose how to manage reproductive health care is regressive, and quite frankly, a permission slip they should have never needed in the first place.

Now, I doubt that the court's decision will have direct consequences for Californians and CSUDH students, staff, faculty, and administrators. Our advisory, consultative, and reproductive health services from the Student Health Center will continue to be available, even as our systemwide legal counsel provides guidance on the implications of the ruling.

Once the dust settles from the intellectual and emotional commotion, and the granular haze from the particles of anger, hurt, disgust, and disappointment wane, the lessons this moment teaches us will not fade. One of those teachable moments involves voting. We must continue to make our voices heard and advocate for our rights, human rights, at the polls.

For example, the real damage from our previous administration was the ability to nominate two justices to the Supreme Court. If there is a lesson to be retained from last week's SCOTUS decision for all of us in the Toro family, I hope that we appreciate the value of voting, and how a lack of participation and engagement in the political process guaranteed to every citizen of this country brings real and long-lasting consequences.

Harriet Tubman, the great abolitionist, freedom fighter, and supporter of women's rights reminds us that "Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars and change the world." The dreaming and reaching she speaks of are active words, not passive, and require that we never yield to the complacency of the moment. For all of our sakes, for the sake of the country, and for the sake of women everywhere, I hope we never stop dreaming of a brighter future, and reaching for the stars of endless possibilities.

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Toxicity of Violence in America

May 26, 2022

Dear Campus Community,

Shock and dismay has once again shaken our nation as another act of senseless violence has infected a Texas community and school, resulting in the deaths of 21 people, including 19 children. Our hearts ache for the lives lost and the families traumatized, who are now left to grieve the loved ones who are gone too soon.

My condemnation of this wave of violence is not restricted to Texas. This latest tragic violence follows a mass shooting in Buffalo, N.Y, of mostly African Americans targeted by a White supremacist, and the shooting in Laguna Woods, Calif., targeting members of the Asian American community attending a worship service. These incidents are equally outrageous.

Each of these dastardly deeds of human assault and destruction instigates a wave of collective confusion that challenges us. How and why do these incidents continue to occur? How can individuals, supposedly embracing an American ethic where "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," whether a White supremacist in Buffalo, an Asian male in Laguna, a young Latinx male in Texas, or the assailant in a neighborhood drive-by shooting, possess such a callous disregard for human life? How can certain politicians continue to rationalize away these tragedies by so quickly referring to our grief, trauma, and collective outrage as a hysterical assault on the second amendment?

When will enough be enough? Are we all so used to these events and circumstances that we have become immune to the violence that chronically infects our lives?

Clearly, there is rarely a single variable that can explain these queries. And yet, as we seek to reconcile this incomprehensible confusion and outrage, a few facts are clear.

  • Tendencies toward violence are distributed across races.
  • The availability of handguns and assault-style weapons in our nation is too pervasive.
  • We must do a better job of prevention by paying attention to any warning signs of violent intent.
  • Gun policy reforms are not optional, they are required.

Our individual and collective trauma and grief is sufficient enough to demand change. As a member of the higher education academic community, CSUDH will continue directing our academic and co-curricular endeavors to teach the value of human life and the need to respect the dignity, sanctity, and humanity of each and every member of the human family.


Thomas A. Parham, PhD

Asian American Heritage Month

May 6, 2022

Dear Campus Community,

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The ups and downs of the past few years have me thinking about the words of the great Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei, who reminds us that "Success is a collection of problems solved." Over the last few years, the Toro community has confronted more than its share of problems and obstacles—and I am proud of the success we have made in overcoming and solving them together.

Here at CSUDH, our connections to South Bay and greater Los Angeles Asian American communities are deep and growing. Our Gerth Archives & Special Collections recently launched the CSUDH Filipino American Digital Archive, to document and preserve the important contributions of Filipino Americans in the area. Our ongoing participation in the CSU Japanese American Digitization Project has allowed the archive to build a huge collection of archival materials gathered from families across Southern California.

I am pleased that CSUDH is now the home of an Asian Pacific Islander Resource Center, which will be moving into its new on-campus space over the summer. Under the direction of Nathan Nguyen, the center will provide a hub for community building and educational resources, and we are hopeful that it will become a home away from home for our API students. Meanwhile, our recently established Asian-Pacific Islander Studies major is bringing rigorous academic and co-curricular scrutiny to the history of and problems facing Asian American communities today.

I encourage every member of the Toro Nation to spend this month celebrating the contributions of our broad Asian and Asian American-Pacific Islander community, and uplifting one another. While recent news about hate crimes against Asian American people calls to mind some of the more toxic aspects of our American experience, together we can help turn an often dark history into a decidedly brighter future.

The great California novelist Maxine Hong Kingston encourages us to "In a time of destruction, create something." I believe that our collective determination to create a truly just and equitable society, even in the face of cruel and cynical attempts to tear us down, will ultimately prevail. I look forward to stepping into that bright future with each and every one of you—and I invite you all to cherish and celebrate this Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with me.

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.


Reflecting on Women's History Month

March 28, 2022

Dear Campus Community,

Former First Lady Michelle Obama tells us that "[t]he difference between a broken community and a thriving one is the presence of women who are valued." While we continue to transform into a model urban university, women executives, administrators, faculty, staff, students, alumni, foundation board members, and external stakeholders will be an essential part of that ascendency at CSUDH. Consequently, as we reach the end of Women's History Month, I wanted to reflect on the importance and resonance of Michelle Obama's assertion and the significance of Women's History Month itself.

Here at CSUDH, we celebrated Women's History Month with an enlightening Presidential Distinguished Lecture Series discussion with Univision news anchor Ilia Calderón, who shared stories of her struggles and ultimate success as the first Afro-Latina to anchor an evening newscast for a major broadcast network in the United States. We were also treated to the Art and Activism panel led by our own First Lady Davida Hopkins-Parham, and two thought-provoking art exhibits, featuring the groundbreaking work of Lauren Halsey and Toni Scott. Their artistic presence and authentic truth telling on our campus this month was the perfect occasion to showcase their talent and work while and presenting a great opportunity to discuss diversity, equity, and social justice through the lens of art. The exhibits are on-going, so if you haven't yet viewed them, I encourage you to do so.

Women's History Month 2022 has brought on the confirmation hearings of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who is on track to become the first Black woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. This month is set aside to celebrate just these kinds of history-making moments, and I applaud Judge Brown Jackson for serving as such a noble role model for us all, especially women of color, while navigating her way through some of the toxic rituals of the senate confirmation process with intellect, strength, cultural integrity, poise, and character.

This month also witnessed the continued generosity of MacKenzie Scott and her commitment to impact communities that have been underserved and overlooked. Most recently, this month brought the news that we will benefit once again from the leadership of Dr. Joleen Koester, retired President of CSU Northridge, as she was appointed Interim Chancellor of the CSU system.

As we reflect on Women's History Month, the contributions of Michelle Obama, Ilia Calderón, Lauren Halsey, Toni Scott, Ketanji Brown Jackson, MacKenzie Scott, Joleen Koester, and countless others comes to mind. Although well-intended, chronicling achievements is not its sole purpose. Women's History Month should remind us that there are people behind the contributions who in addition to facing struggles associated with blazing trails, may have also encountered sexism and racism. It should serve as a celebration of our mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, grandmothers, and friends. Women's History Month should prompt us to seek more active ways to honor and elevate the women who impact our communities and clear the path for young women following in their footsteps. I encourage us to look beyond Women's History Month to identify and actualize ways in which women are truly valued.


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Celebrating International Women's Day

March 8, 2022

Dear Campus Community,

Today is International Women’s Day, a celebration and acknowledgement of the powerful impact and influence of courageous and bold women throughout the globe. It is a day of particular significance here at CSUDH, where 65 percent of our students are women. These hard-working Toros are destined to be the leaders of the future, and it is appropriate to give them the recognition and support they deserve.This year, the United Nations has selected "Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow" as the theme for International Women’s Day. I am proud to say that at CSUDH, we live by those words every day—notions of equity and sustainability are hard-wired into our campus’s mission. It is essential that women have a voice when it comes to decision-making about climate change and sustainability, as they constitute a majority of the world’s poor and are thus more vulnerable to the impacts of an environment in upheaval.

Another theme you will see on social media and elsewhere today is #BreakTheBias, a campaign meant to highlight the ways in which women are often discriminated against in the workplace and elsewhere. Through bias both deliberate and unconscious, women face an uphill climb in their efforts to move ahead and achieve in their chosen fields. The #BreakTheBias campaign is a call for each of us to take whatever actions we can to help level what has long been a decidedly uneven playing field.

In the words of pioneering feminist Gloria Steinem, "The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist, nor to any one organization, but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights." In that spirit, take a moment today to ask yourself what you can do to help further the goals of equity and opportunity that are so vital to our civilization's progress.

International Women’s Day offers us a chance to decide how we might best be able to help manifest an equitable, sustainable, and just future. I encourage every member of the Toro community to join me in this noble enterprise.

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Black History Month in 2022

February 1, 2022

Dear Campus Community,

In 1926, famed educator and founder of Negro History Week (now Black History Month) Carter G. Woodson argued that a February celebration of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass should expand to include the stories, history, and contributions of Black Americans. Woodson was clear that "[t]hose who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from teaching of biography and history."

Last week, when Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer announced his impending retirement, President Joe Biden, looking to make good on a campaign promise, declared that he would make it a priority to nominate the first Black woman to this nation’s highest court. I can think of no better way to kick off Black History Month than this stirring reminder that history is not simply a concept of the past—our history continues to be made today and every day by people who care about advancing the race as well as civilization.

In fact, last week’s announcement is just part of the continuum of Black history, a history that stretches all the way back to ancient Africa and the beginnings of human civilization. From the shadows of ancient Kemet (Egypt) and the pyramids on the Giza plateau, to the gates of Great Zimbabwe, and fast forwarding to the steps of the Supreme Court and Justice Thurgood Marshall, the contributions of those of African descent have been consequential, thus making them vital drivers and creators of the world’s history and culture.

It is a history that continues to be made and changed daily, and I remind you all that we are living through history ourselves. I encourage everyone reading this message to use it as a call to action—a reminder that the struggles we face today are every bit as significant as those we lionize as "Black history."

With racial animus and inequity once again showing their hideous faces with regularity in our culture, voting rights under assault, the murder of Black citizens continuing to be an all too frequent occurrence, and the perseverance individuals must demonstrate in navigating their way through the challenges they face, it is vital that we all come together to stand up for diversity, equity, tolerance, and social justice. The ongoing battle for voting rights is an essential and existential one, and I applaud those who are on the front lines of this struggle, from dynamic Georgia activist Stacey Abrams to our own CSUDH alumna, Congresswoman Karen Bass.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. reminds us that, "Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but only comes through continuous struggle." The change we wish to see in our world and our lives will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. Toros, we are the ones we've been waiting for. We can be the change that we seek. I invite the Toro community to take up this challenge, step forward, and be the change that you seek, much like those we honor during Black History Month have done to change our nation's history and the trajectory of our democracy.

Join me in celebrating Black History Month, and let me invite each of you to use lessons in history and culture to expand your knowledge, instigate new insights, and help dissipate whatever biases and misinformed assumptions we may hold about people who are culturally different.


Thomas A. Parham, PhD

Timeless Voice of Dr. King

January 16, 2022

Dear Toro Community,

"Until justice rolls down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream."
—Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This has been a particularly challenging time in our nation. Voting rights are under assault, police officers and vigilantes are committing senseless murders of unarmed citizens, and congressional subcommittees are needed to hold individuals and organizations responsible for the insurrection on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Added to that is the physical and psychological toll that COVID-19 is having on each of us, challenging the best of our intellectual, emotional, and spiritual sensibilities.

Consequently, this year's Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and celebration constitutes a need for reflection and introspection as the relevance of Dr. King's words, sermons, writings, and prophetic voice is not only timeless, but vital. We must think critically about our own lives, and the roles we play in responding to our current realities. In the midst of all that is happening in the world, I am nonetheless encouraged, reassured, and inspired by the quote, "If you can't fly, then run; if you can't run, then walk; if you can't walk, then crawl; but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward." Dr. King's message applies perfectly to what I'e seen in the Toro community over these past few years. Despite the political, economic, racial, social justice, and educational tensions of the moment, we have pulled together, adapted our strategies and methods, and pushed forward despite every obstacle that life has thrown in our path. I ask you to navigate these coming weeks and months with the same spirit that has guided us to this point.

The last couple of years have been hard on all of us, but the resilience, determination, and fortitude of our Toro community rekindles my hope that once we finally emerge from these trying times, CSUDH will be even stronger and more focused on what truly matters—justice for all, equality without limits, and righteousness without measure. With that in mind, I leave you with another thought from Dr. King: "The time is always right to do what is right." We can and must do what we can to help one another, dissipate biases, and fight for what we believe in. I urge you to reflect on your own situation and ask, "What can I do to contribute to my community this year?"Let's truly embrace the example that Dr. King set and commit to bring positive change into the world. Think about this year's Martin Luther King Jr. holiday as a "day on" rather than a "day off" and consider how his spirit of perseverance through adversity can help each of us fly a little further, run a little faster, walk with more intentionality, and even crawl with the purpose of reaching a future bright with possibilities for this nation and the Toro Nation.

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.


Passing of CSUDH President Donald R. Gerth (1928-2021)

December 7, 2021

Dear Toro Community,

I have sad news to share with you all. Dr. Donald R. Gerth, the second president of California State University, Dominguez Hills, passed away yesterday at the age of 93. His impact and influence on CSUDH cannot be overstated.

Dr. Gerth took the helm at Dominguez Hills in 1976, when it was still known as California State College, Dominguez Hills. He was instrumental in the institution attaining university status, just one year into his tenure, and was a strong proponent of establishing CSUDH as a model urban university that could served the diverse needs of a large metropolitan region.

During his eight years at CSUDH, Dr. Gerth oversaw everything from curriculum expansion to the growth of the physical campus. Under his leadership, the university's first student housing complex was built, along with the Toro Gymnasium and swimming pool; and construction was completed on LaCorte Hall, the University Theatre, and the Student Health Center.

In addition, Dr. Gerth partnered with the Los Angeles Olympic Organizing Committee to bring the 1984 Olympics cycling competition to the campus, signing an agreement for the university to serve as the location of the Olympic Velodrome Stadium.

A scholar of public higher education, particularly of the CSU system, Dr. Gerth helped establish the creation of the CSU archives, which is considered the largest archival repository devoted to the history of higher education planning in the western United States. Through his advocacy, the CSUDH Archives was named the permanent home of that collection.

Dr. Gerth left the university in 1984, to take over the presidency at CSU Sacramento (CSUS), where he served until 2003. His legacy continues to be felt at both institutions, which is reflected in the fact that the special collections and archives at both CSUDH and CSUS are named after Dr. Gerth and his wife, Beverly.

After his retirement, Dr. Gerth's service to the CSU continued, as he wrote the first comprehensive history of the system. The People's University: A History of California State University, published in 2010, remains the essential source for understanding the genesis, growth, and success of the CSU system.

In the name of the Toro community, I offer the Gerth family our heartfelt condolences on their loss. Dr. Gerth's impact at CSUDH continues to be felt and appreciated by everyone who steps onto the campus. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and loved ones at this difficult time.


Thomas A. Parham, PhD

Opportunity for Change

November 24, 2021

Dear Toro Community,

The past two weeks have seen verdicts rendered in a pair of high-profile cases—the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse for killing two and injuring one with an assault rifle at a Black Lives Matter rally, and the trial of three white men filmed killing Ahmaud Arbery while he was jogging through a neighborhood. Whatever your thoughts are on the results of these trials, there is no denying that they are dominating the national conversation at the moment, and providing us all with important teachable moments.

I do not wish to relitigate these cases or debate the validity of the verdicts in this message. Rather, I would like to remind everyone in the Toro community that social justice is among the most important aspects of CSUDH's mission. In their own way, each case illustrates the long road that remains in front of us as a nation on our quest for true justice and equity in the midst of racial bias and divisiveness that is so pronounced across the country. We also want to remember the lives lost even as we mourn with the families still grieving in pain at the deaths of their loved ones. 

In this moment, I am reminded of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said, "We must all learn to live together as brothers and sisters, or we will perish together as fools." At this point in our history, it is impingent on each of us to recognize one another's humanity in the face of forces that strive to tear us apart. While we may have disagreements on principles, dehumanizing our rivals or resorting to violence to "solve" our problems is never a solution. Nothing is more precious than life.

Until we all can see each other clearly as members of one human family, with our own hopes, dreams, foibles, and concerns, our society will remain far from the ideal of a more perfect union that our nation seeks to attain. Let us use these trials as teachable moments, rather than fodder for more arguments and strife.

Toro family, Mahatma Gandhi reminds us that, "You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." Consequently, I remain stubbornly hopeful in my belief that through shared experience and thoughtful reflection, humanity can overcome our persistent troubles with race and class, and make more progress in challenging the biases and assumptions we harbor about others who are different. At this historically fraught moment, I invite you all to join me in helping turn tragedy into an opportunity for change. Indeed, Dr. King reminds us, "An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity." 
Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.


Giving Thanks

November 22, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

Wow, what a year! In the past, I have reminded folks of my belief that "life at its best is often a creative synthesis of opposites in fruitful harmony." This year, that sentiment has characterized our experience. To think that we have been able to navigate a COVID-impacted virtual environment and successfully engage a modified Fall 2021 repopulation plan is nothing short of fabulous. And while we have populated 27% face-to-face classes and 73% online, I am most gratified by your commitment to make the best out of a less than ideal situation. I am also gratified that the health and safety of our campus community has remained relatively intact, with no major outbreaks or situations that required more emergent interventions. I am grateful for the positive news, even as I am cognizant that this virtual environment has led to substantial struggles among many students. Not surprisingly, I am looking forward to our spring plan to return to more face-to-face engagement.

In the wake of our continued adaptations, our beloved community has embraced the notion that these series of crises have also provided a range of opportunities. Thus, in the midst of our challenges, a bright light of fortune continues to shine on our campus. We have received an unprecedented earmark of $60 million from the State to improve our campus infrastructure. We welcomed new deans, faculty, and staff to the campus who are committed to the mission we all embrace. We have received new federal grants that will allow us to develop and enhance programmatic initiatives on the Academic and Student Affairs sides of the house that will assist us in supporting our students in need. Our Information and Technology team has transformed the technology infrastructure to include not only better WiFi connectivity, but also secured more devices for our students. We continued capital projects through the pandemic and were able to celebrate a grand opening of not one, not two, but three new buildings and one esports facility in mid-October. Knowing that our students have needs for more financial support to relieve the burden of work, our University Advancement team has been hard at work cultivating and securing new gifts that will provide even more support to students.

As we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, I will be feeling an extra measure of gratitude because of our collective effort and work. This is the essence of "Go Far Together," and I couldn't be more proud, pleased, and thankful. Recognizing our social justice roots, however, I am also conscious that this holiday is a painful reminder of the oppression Native Americans and Indigenous peoples have suffered over the last several centuries. Consequently, as we dine and gather to embrace family we haven't seen in a while, let us recognize and embrace the dignity and inherent worth of all members of the human family.

I wish you all a happy and peaceful time of giving thanks.


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Native American Heritage Month

November 5, 2021

"All dreams spin out from the same web." – Hopi saying

Dear Campus Community,

November is Native American Heritage Month, a time set aside to pay tribute to the Native Americans who inhabited this North American continent, to celebrate the influence they've had on our nation's history, and to pledge our support to strengthen and advance tribal sovereignty and self-determination.

Too often throughout our nation's history, our Indigenous community members have borne the brunt of suffering engendered by westward expansion, broken promises, and disease.

The CSUDH campus and most of Los Angeles County rests on the traditional lands of the Tongva people. Each year, I honor their historical connection with this land through the following acknowledgement:

We acknowledge that the land on which we are gathered here today is the home and traditional land belonging to the Tongva Nation. Today we come with respect and gratitude for the Tongva people who still consider themselves the caretakers of this land. It is through their examples that we are reminded of our greater responsibility to take care of Mother Earth and to take care of each other.

I invite every member of the Toro Nation to join me in recognizing and celebrating the countless ways in which Indigenous individuals have enriched our campus and country—this month and every month. Our nation has not often done the right thing regarding our relations with our Indigenous forebears. Recognizing their unique accomplishments and honoring their stewardship of the land we live and learn on is beyond appropriate; it is necessary.

I close this message with another timely and timeless message. Chief Isna-la-wica of the Teton Sioux said, "I have seen that in any great undertaking it is not enough for a man to depend simply upon himself." His wisdom reminds me that Toros must "Go Far Together!"

Thank you,

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

CSUDH Receives $5 Million Gift

November 3, 2021

Dear Toro Community,
I am thrilled to announce that California State University, Dominguez Hills has received its largest single donation. Today, Snap Inc., developers of the social media platform Snapchat, announced a $5 million gift for the creation and endowment of a new institute on campus to support computer science education! Gratitude for this historic act of transformational generosity knows no bounds.

Housed in the College of Education, the institute will help solve the increasing equity gaps in computing education by making high-quality computer science education an integral part of the experience of all K-12 students in the Los Angeles area. The institute will allow the College of Education to integrate computer science knowledge and theories into its course materials, which in turn will help the teachers we train to do the same in their own classrooms.

The legacy that Snap Inc. is helping to build will positively impact the South Bay and California as a whole, and reverberate through generations of computer science teachers and learners. Integrating computer science education into the curriculum of K-12 schools in underserved communities is an important step in closing the digital divide that leaves many would-be scholars on the outside looking in. With Snap Inc.'s help, CSUDH will smash that digital divide and create technology-savvy, academically engaged leaders throughout Southern California.

Please join me in wishing congratulations to College of Education Dean Jessica Pandya and Assistant Professor of Liberal Studies Mike Karlin for their work in securing this gift. The generosity of Snap Inc. and partnerships like this one ensure that CSUDH and our entire community will continue to "Go Far Together."


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

Wednesday, September 15, marks the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month. In that spirit, I wanted to take a moment and invite you to join me in recognizing, reflecting on, and celebrating the innumerable contributions of our Hispanic friends, neighbors, and co-workers to the fabric of our society.

Your CSUDH has long been a proud Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), ranking among the top schools in the nation in awarding degrees to Hispanic students, which includes those who identify as Chicano/a or Latinx. In fact, more than 65 percent of currently enrolled Toros identify as Hispanic/Latinx. Our university is fiercely proud of our commitment to the success of our Hispanic/Latinx students.

Many of CSUDH's most distinguished alumni and faculty are of Hispanic/Latinx descent, as well. They have made—and continue to make—indelible marks on their professions and their communities. CSUDH alumni and faculty not only celebrate Hispanic Heritage—they create it. I am proud of the role that CSUDH has had in nurturing and supporting their success.

Recognizing the unique and countless contributions of the Hispanic/Latinx community that have impacted and transformed society is always both appropriate and necessary. CSUDH is proud to be a supporter of and contributor to Hispanic heritage, and I encourage all Toros to learn something new, engage with someone you are less familiar with, and commit to challenging your intellectual and emotional sensibilities by embracing and celebrating our Hispanic/Latinx community.


Thomas A. Parham, PhD

Celebrating Jewish Holidays

September 6, 2021

Dear Colleagues:

Celebrating the diversity and inclusive excellence of our Dominguez Hills campus is one of the cornerstones of our strength as an institution. Today I write with an acknowledgement of the Jewish High Holy Days of Rash Hashanah (the head of the year) or Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). The occasion is an opportunity for members of the Jewish community to celebrate the new year, while also engaging in prayer while reflecting on their own lives, and how one can achieve greater levels of congruence between the persons they are and the people they wish to be, while seeking forgiveness. Rosh Hashanah in 2021, begins at sundown on September 5th and ends at sundown on Wednesday, September 7th. This ushers in 10 days of atonement and reflection, culminating in the observation of Yom Kippur, which begins at sundown on Wednesday, September 15th and ends at sundown on Thursday, September 16th.

While we acknowledge these holidays and wish our Jewish colleagues and friends Happy New Year, let us all use this occasion to reflect on our own lives, celebrate the joys we are all blessed to experience, and contemplate on the myriad of ways we may wish to atone for how we too fall short of our personal expectations. As we continue this Fall semester, I wish you all continued success on accomplishing your own personal and professional goals in this place we call the Toro Nation.

Shanah Tovah!

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D

Welcome to the Fall 2021 Semester

August 23, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

Welcome to the fall 2021 semester, Toros!

Today is the first day of classes, and I am beyond excited to welcome our dedicated staff, faculty, students, and senior administration back to the CSUDH campus. While today doesn't represent the complete reopening that many of us had hoped for or envisioned, it is a happy marker on our journey back from COVID-19 lockdowns and virtual gatherings.

The first day of classes is always exciting—even more so this fall, after more than a year of forced absence from our beloved campus. So…let us take this occasion to welcome our Toro first-year, transfer, and graduate students. Also, while faculty have offered, and new and continuing students have signed up for a high proportion of courses online, not all Toros have thrived in this virtual format. Thus, I urge us all to be ever vigilant in watching out for those members of our community who may be struggling to make it. Our outreach efforts and response to queries must increase to meet the new unique needs of our students and the challenge of our times.

We will return this semester to a transformed campus, with three gorgeous new facilities waiting to greet you. While only a small percentage of students will be returning for on-campus courses this fall, your enthusiasm and energy are guaranteed to breathe life into every corner of our CSUDH campus.

Of course, the transition back to campus will assuredly come with its own challenges and responsibilities. At present, one of those responsibilities is that everyone on campus wear a face covering or mask at all times, except when alone in their office or while eating and social distancing. As you all know, employees and students coming to campus will be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine by September 30, and weekly surveillance testing will be in place for many groups utilizing the campus. I invite you to view my fall 2021 welcome video to learn some of the details.

I understand the trepidation and anxiety that you may feel about returning to campus in the midst of yet another COVID-19 surge. Rest assured that the university is doing everything in our power to ensure that you, our Toro students, faculty, staff, and senior executives, are as safe as possible when on campus. As someone in a high-risk group myself, I wouldn't ask anyone to return to campus if I didn't feel comfortable doing so, and I will very much be a presence on campus—masked up and ready to work. Having said that, I am cognizant that the virus is unpredictable, and changes in conditions may cause us to pivot yet again if warranted. In those cases, I ask for your patience, understanding, and flexibility.

By adhering to the campus's basic health and safety protocols, we help safeguard every member of the Toro Nation from the COVID-19 virus, and inch ever closer to a fully reopened CSUDH campus. A healthy campus is a shared responsibility and I ask each member of the Toro family to do their part to adhere to health and safety protocols.

For a more complete rundown of what the campus is doing to keep Toros safe, please visit

Once again, welcome back, Toros! I’m looking forward to a fantastic and impactful semester.


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Repopulating Campus Timeline

June 11, 2021

A new academic year always brings excitement, and this year is no exception. As we approach the start of Fall 2021, we also anticipate the repopulation of our campus after relying on virtual connections since March 2020. Notwithstanding changes in the mode of operations, there has been a holistic focus on continuing the momentum we were building before the pandemic, with the intentional spotlight on producing excellence in all our endeavors. As we emerge from our virtual spaces, we will repopulate a campus that has likewise evolved and is thriving. This new academic year is accompanied by significant opportunity—the opportunity to become greater and better than we’ve ever been.

Planning to repopulate our campus required input from all facets of our community. This collaborative and consultative process has been grounded in guidance by our two north stars: the health and safety of the campus community and the academic success of our students. Adhering to these principles has led us to a repopulation plan that’s in the best interest of our collective wellbeing, and that ensures when students return to campus, they have access to all services needed to sustain their academic success.

Based on a foundation of functionality and the need to provide face-to-face contact to best support students, the phased repopulation schedule for non-faculty employees is as follows: 

  • Monday, July 19 – Phase 1 units and all MPPs
  • Monday, August 2 – Phase 2 units
  • Monday, August 16 – Phase 3 units

This phased-in approach will ensure that we return to campus safely, we are prepared to provide our students with the high-quality education and necessary support they deserve, and we can make any adjustments prior to the first day of classes on August 24. Your manager will communicate which phase you are in and work with you and your unit to determine how to deliver full coverage, including in virtual spaces, to our student body and one another.

This repopulation plan is based on the latest information available. As has been the case since the pandemic started, changes are inevitable and can happen quickly. As additional data is available, your manager will assess the responsibilities and coverage your unit provides and if necessary, determine appropriate modifications needed during this upcoming term. These assessments, along with mandates from the State of California, Public Health officials, or the Chancellor’s Office, may provide the basis for future decisions.

Please know there will be more frequent communications in the coming days, weeks, and months so that you are informed and well-prepared for this ongoing transition. In addition to receiving more frequent communications, I invite you to participate in an all-employee Town Hall in July. Registration details are coming soon.

The pandemic forced us to drastically alter everything that we do. This alteration to the way we educate and engage with our students has taught us many lessons. We’ve learned what is most essential for providing intellectual transformation, that everyone did not thrive in the midst of the adaptations we adjusted to, that we can exercise some flexibility without diminishing our standards, and that we are truly in this together. As we prepare to repopulate our campus, we must remember, lean on, and expand all the lessons that we’ve learned.

I understand that this is yet another transition. I know that you will have to personally adjust and mentally prepare to return to campus. I encourage you to take advantage of all available campus resources during this transition, including those listed below. I also encourage you to remember that Toro Nation is making this shift together. At a time like this, we need to remind ourselves of the strong community that we’ve built together. Let’s take this great opportunity presented to us. Being mindful of the lessons we’ve learned, choosing to approach this year with grace and agility, and dedicating ourselves to the same level of transformation that we expect from our students will position us well to continue evolving CSUDH into a better version of ourselves.

I appreciate your flexibility and patience. I hope you are as excited as I am to return to our beautiful and thriving campus. See you soon and go Toros!


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Helpful Resources

For questions regarding medical ADA accommodations, please contact Shaun Milton, Associate Director, HR Programs at or visit

Please also take advantage of our Employee Assistance Program (EAP), Life Matters. Visit our EAP at (password: DHtoros) or call 1-800-367-7474.

Revisit Toros Together for the most current information related to repopulation, measures we’re taking to keep our community well, and how you can stay safe.

Celebrating Pride Month

June 3, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

In the words of the American writer, womanist, activist, and self-described "Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, and poet" Audre Lorde, "When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid."

Pride Month is both a joyful, communal celebration of vibrant visibility and a personal celebration of self-worth and dignity. It reminds us of the struggles that members of the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community have endured—and continue to endure—in their quest for equity, liberty, justice, recognition, and respect. Please join me in recognizing and celebrating the contributions of LGBTQ+ individuals during this month of June and throughout the year.

Despite the contributions of LGBTQ+ individuals to our world civilization and U.S. culture, life for them "ain’t been no crystal stair," in the words of Langston Hughes. It has been over 50 years since the seminal Stonewall Inn uprising sparked the movement for LGBTQ+ rights and liberation. Much progress has been made since then—from striking down repressive legislation to affirming the right to marriage equality. We still have a way to go, however. Discrimination and violence against LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender women of color, continues to plague our nation. Those who challenge or choose not to conform to gender norms continue to be subjected to bullying and harassment. We must all stand together and reject such ridiculous oppression.

We all should be committed to ensuring that CSUDH is always a welcoming, affirming environment for our LGBTQ+ students, colleagues, and friends. I am proud of the work that our CSUDH Queer Culture and Resource Center is doing to raise awareness and visibility on campus, and for providing safe spaces for individuals to share their thoughts, hopes, and dreams.

I am inspired by the resilience and strength of the LGBTQ+ community, whose determination to live their lives on their own terms, like Audre Lorde, is opening eyes, hearts, and minds. A truly just and equitable world is within our grasp, and I honor those individuals who are bravely pushing us toward that end, even if it is simply by being their authentic selves and living life on their own terms.

This Pride Month, I reaffirm CSUDH’s commitment to standing in solidarity with LGBTQ+ individuals, and recognize their importance to the fabric of our community. Let us all celebrate their contributions and help create a society in which everyone feels free to be exactly who they are. For in celebrating the achievements of LGBTQ+ individuals and the community, we celebrate the best in ourselves.


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Reflections on a Return to Normalcy

June 1, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

Summer is in the air, bringing its annual promise of sunny days, warmer weather, and seasonal breezes. This summer feels especially exciting, as we begin to emerge from more than a year of isolation and a principally virtual reality. I hope you share my enthusiasm and happiness at the prospect of seeing one another and interacting in the shared space of our gorgeous campus once again.

We have already celebrated one momentous milestone in our journey back, with our first on-campus commencement ceremonies since 2019. Thousands of graduates, family, and friends of the Classes of 2020 and 2021 were able to gather safely together and celebrate the accomplishments of our newest cohorts of Toro Nation alumni. What a proud moment for the degree recipients, as well as a tribute to our illustrious faculty and committed, dedicated staff, who supported students’ academic dreams and aspirations.

The seven ceremonies across three days were a fantastic success, reuniting members of our far-flung community, and reminding us all of the joy and importance of connecting with others in more authentic ways. It was a welcome reminder of how good it feels to be surrounded by loved ones, colleagues, and mentors in a common space. It also spoke to how much each of the participants trusted that we had managed health and safety protocols with the utmost care and consultation with our own Emergency Operations Center and public health entities. All of us who attended were moved and inspired by the experience.

The Toro Nation owes a huge debt of gratitude to the tireless work of several teams who all functioned as an interconnected whole to stage these events. First, our Ceremonies and Events office, who put together the ceremonies under incredibly tight deadlines and constantly changing health and safety directives, deserves our admiration and gratitude. Second, our digital and media team deserve our thanks as well for creating a livestream and video recording of the festivities. Third, we take our hats off and thank our volunteers, who executed the plans that were developed with a single mindset of making the three days memorable for all participants. The results were spectacular, and I ask you to join me in thanking all of our teams who exhibited that Toro Pride.

In another sign of returning normalcy, the CSUDH cabinet will conduct our first full face-to-face retreat in two years on June 14. I look forward to meeting with my colleagues in person to discuss and update planning what the fall semester will look like. We will be sharing ideas and strategies to facilitate student success in light of the potential learning loss that the pandemic lockdown has caused, as well as taking a look at and planning our budget while we seek to better align our limited resources with the university’s highest priorities. The hard work is sure to be tempered by the excitement we are all feeling at being able to work together again in person. The cabinet will return to regular, in-person meetings at the July 1 beginning of the new fiscal year. With the state’s pending announcement about changes in our color code, and the opening up of more facilities, we look forward to repopulating our campus.

Our Office of Student Affairs is also hard at work on plans to welcome folks back to campus. As students, faculty, and staff begin to repopulate the campus, Student Affairs is planning events that will encourage safe, outdoor—and even indoor— interactions and tours. The Toro Nation will be able to come back together and once again engage with one another and the communities we serve. These communal interactions are at the very heart of our mission here at CSUDH, and I am beyond thrilled that we will once again be able to support and lift one another up with a smile, even while initially masked, with rapid movement toward a hug, or an encouraging pat on the back, as conditions allow.

The excitement is growing by the day among all of us at CSUDH. I simply cannot wait to walk through our beautiful campus, viewing our new infrastructure and landscape, chatting with our incredible students, or sharing a moment of inspiration with a staff or faculty colleague. It has been a long and winding road back, but we are almost there. We did it together.

Thank you to every single member of the Toro Nation who has worked and strived to get us to this point. See you soon!


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Health Services Fee Increase

May 24, 2021

Dear Faculty and Staff,

For the past three years, we have sought to bring both oversight and stability to our budget. We have been better stewards of our resources, provided budget transparency to the campus, created new expectations for fundraising, and advocated for more funding from the Chancellor's Office. Despite our best efforts, some of the services we render to students are not sufficiently funded. This is most apparent in Student Health Services and Student Psychological Services within Student Affairs.

As a result, effective Fall 2021, I am approving a Health Services Fee increase of $55/semester or $110/academic year, bringing our fee for the year to $260. 

Health Services Fees Across the CSU

The average Health Services Fee across the CSU is $345. Our current Health Services Fee is the second lowest in the CSU. CSULA has a lower fee ($138/year) and CSULB has the same fee as our current one ($150/year). It is important to note, however, that both CSULA and CSULB have 26,342 and 39,359 students, respectively. Because of their larger headcount, they generate significantly more revenue, allowing them to provide the same level of services that we seek with this fee increase. When we compare CSUDH with our closest peers, CSUEB and CSUSB, their annual fees are $386 and $261, respectively. Even after the fee increase to $260 per year, CSUDH will still track way under the system average. 


You may recall that in Fall 2020, we solicited feedback regarding the proposed Health Services Fee increase. The feedback was clear and consistent. Students asserted that mental health services are critical and our health professionals indicated that we do not have sufficient personnel to render the type of services our students deserve. Additionally, the trauma of the pandemic, including health challenges, academic disruptions, and family loss of life have underscored the necessity for these services to be enhanced.

For additional information on the Alternative Consultation Process please visit

There is never a good time to increase student fees. It’s partly why we have not raised our Health Services Fee in fifteen years. I understand that an added $110/year may pose challenges for our hardworking students. However, this will provide them access to some of the most talented therapists in the country, resulting in an environment of wellness across campus.

Our college health program is a self-supporting entity, fully funded by the Health Services Fee and as student enrollment increases, the demand for student health and mental health services also increases. In consideration of these factors and after consultation with the Chancellor's Office, the most reasonable approach is to implement a fee increase that will allow students to receive high-quality and necessary services. We must provide student access to convenient and affordable health services on campus. Not only does it benefit the entire CSUDH community, but it is our responsibility.

Thanks to everyone who provided feedback. I appreciate the range of perspectives that have been shared that help our campus move forward with a standard of excellence.


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Vaccination Clinic at CSUDH

May 14, 2021

Campus Community,

I am pleased to announce that the university has partnered with Rite Aid to bring a pop-up vaccination clinic to campus for CSUDH faculty, staff, students, and members of the community—including those age 12 years or older, who are now eligible in Los Angeles County to receive the Pfizer vaccine.

The pop-up clinic will take place on Wednesday, May 19, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. A team of Rite Aid health professionals will be administering first-dose Pfizer vaccines and single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines. The clinic would return Wednesday, June 9, to give the second dose to individuals who received the Pfizer vaccine at the May 19 clinic. Adolescents age 12 to 15 will only be offered the Pfizer vaccine and must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

Appointments are encouraged but not required. To schedule an appointment, visit

The walk-in clinic will take place in the university’s Extended Education building, with free parking in Lot 3 off Victoria Street at Tamcliff/Toro Center Drive. For a CSUDH campus map and driving directions, visit

For more information, visit


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Fall 2021 Campus Repopulation

May 7, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

As of May 5, Los Angeles County became eligible to advance from the orange Covid-19 tier to yellow. This move results in restriction lifts, allows for higher capacity limits in certain venues, and supports Governor Newsom’s plan for an anticipated statewide reopening on June 15.

At CSUDH, everything that we have done and will do is guided by our twin north stars— the health and safety of all members of our community and student learning and success. Our repopulation planning approach is no different. The Cabinet is equally dedicated to our community’s health and safety and the success of our students.

Based on the recent Fall 2021 Return to Campus Survey results, there are mixed sentiments about an accelerated return to the university. Data tells us that faculty and management are generally more ready to return than staff and students, whose families have been hit especially hard. Consequently, we need to accommodate not only physical safety, but also remain cognizant of the need for time and space to recover from emotional trauma. Many in our community were afflicted with the virus themselves and saw the impact of the Covid infection on loved ones. Our student population has been negatively impacted at higher rates, with more dire consequences because of and complicated by socioeconomical differences. Thus, it is imperative, for the sake of our students’ learning in addition to their wellbeing, that repopulation plans consider some of the unique circumstances influencing their willingness and ability to return to campus.

I know that you all want answers and clarity, and while I am committed to transparency, the dynamic nature of the information that is rapidly changing demands that the team and I be very deliberate in our messaging. Here is what is known thus far:

  • June 1 is our self-imposed deadline for all class schedule changes to be finalized and published, and when all contributing factors will be considered. After June 1, further changes to the Fall semester are unlikely so that we can provide some measure of stability for you to prepare and plan.

  • We are currently anticipating at least 20-30% of our class sections to be face-to-face. We may have an opportunity to double that percentage given progress in the public health sphere, the scientific consensus that instructional and co-curricular spaces don’t need deep cleaning between every class, and assuming that infection rates, hospitalizations, and mortality rates continue to decline. Our capacity on campus may increase as the vaccination becomes more readily available and administered. Residence halls, University Library, student services, affinity centers, Loker Student Union, and our food services will follow a similar pattern of repopulation. We will update you further when we have more clarity about staffing levels and resource availability.
  • We expect more information on a vaccination mandate to be issued by the Chancellor’s Office in the very near future. Please know that I am committed to supporting the Chancellor’s call for all members of the university community to be vaccinated when returning to campus.

Thank you for your continued patience, understanding, and trust as we do our best to manage our Fall repopulation plans safely.


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Celebrating Asian American History Month

May 3, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. In these moments, I return to the words of the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, who reminds us to "be careful what you water your dreams with. Water them with worry and fear and you will produce weeds that choke the life from your dreams. Water them with optimism and solutions, and you will cultivate success. ... Always be on on the lookout for ways to nurture your dreams." That piece of wisdom aligns well with the posture we have assumed here in the Toro Nation.

This year’s celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month arrives amid troubling news about a rise in anti-Asian violence. However, we must not allow the actions of a handful of misguided bigots to skew our focus on celebrating the contributions to this nation and the world by our sisters and brothers in various Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander communities. We will also not allow negative news to temper our enthusiasm or obscure our unity. Rather, let us redouble our efforts to recognize and appreciate the work that our collective Asian American community has brought to bear in helping to develop this state and nation.

From the Chinese laborers who built the bulk of the Transcontinental Railroad or toiled in dangerous gold mines; to those who served as farm workers and worked the fields in California, we celebrate you. From Yuri Kochiyama, who, along with her husband, created cultural comfort zones for civil rights activists who lived in or visited New York; to the Sue brothers (Derald, Stanley, and David) whose contributions to psychological thought and practice impacted an entire academic and clinical discipline, we celebrate you. From CSU’s own Dr. Judy Sakaki and Dr. Ellen Junn, the first Japanese-American and Korean-American women to lead four-year universities in the United States, and CSU Trustee Wenda Fong, co-founder, Chair Emeritus, and current board member of the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE); to Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, who pioneers innovation in medical research and treatments—these are phenomenal thinkers, advocates, and community servants. We celebrate you. From the late Sen. Daniel Inouye’s groundbreaking contributions to the political fabric of this country; to Ellison Onizuka, the first Japanese American in space, Asian Americans have made unique, substantive, and lasting contributions to the fabric of American life. We cannot allow these facts to be forgotten, diminished, or misinterpreted.

Here at CSUDH, our connections to South Bay and greater Los Angeles Asian American communities are deep and growing. Our Gerth Archives & Special Collections has been building a huge collection of archival materials gathered from families across Southern California as part of the CSU Japanese American Digitization Project, an ongoing effort of which we are all extremely proud.

Our new Asian-Pacific Islander Studies major is another exciting development, promising to bring rigorous academic and co-curricular scrutiny to the history of and problems facing Asian American communities today. The City of Carson is home to one of the world’s largest Samoan communities, and we are proud that one of the largest contingents of international Toro alumni are in Tokyo, Japan. Each of these elements brings visible representation to one of our region's most important communities. Consequently, I encourage every member of the Toro Nation to spend this month celebrating the contributions of our broad Asian and Asian American-Pacific Islander community, and uplifting one another. Through the acquisition of authentic and factual information, we can also challenge the biases and assumptions that too many in society harbor, while continuing to combat the racist tendency among some to point fingers and cast aspersions on an entire race of people.

While more contemporary recognition of Asian American people in the news necessarily calls to mind some unfortunate and toxic aspects of our American experience, together we can help turn an often dark history into a decidedly brighter future. The Buddha reminds us that "the past is already gone, the future is not yet here. There is only one moment for you to live." I look forward to stepping into that future that has yet to arrive with each and every one of you; but I invite you all to cherish and celebrate one moment, this moment, this Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with me.


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Thoughts on the Chauvin Verdict and Perceived Justice

April 21, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

In the words of my hero Martin Luther King Jr., "True peace is not merely the absence of tension but the presence of justice."

The tension in the air has been palpable for weeks since the trial of Derek Chauvin began. And having endured the anger, disgust, anxiety and psychic stress of these many months since George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent trial, the guilty verdict in this case comes as a welcome relief to us all. After years of watching perpetrators of state sanctioned violence against people of color walk away without being found culpable or charged with a crime, this was a verdict that many of us had not expected, but are grateful for. I am also appreciative of the support and advocacy of CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro, whose statement can be found at: Justice for George Floyd's Family | CSU ( In no way is this jury’s judgement an indictment of all law enforcement and the brave men and women who run toward danger every day when it threatens our personal safety, security, and property. It is, however, a way to hold people accountable who use their status and authority to abuse citizens and abridge people’s rights.

From my vantage point as an African American university president, the Chauvin verdict leaves me with mixed feelings. First, I am sad that we have to celebrate an incident of judicial accountability, as if we shouldn’t expect this outcome in cases that are so blatantly clear. However, am I pleased that the guilty verdict was reached? I absolutely am. Yet I also recognize that two families have been torn apart; one because of George Floyd’s murder and the cruelty and inhumane treatment he suffered at the hands of the police in Minneapolis; the other because the Chauvin family will suffer given he forgot his oath and couldn’t see past the blinders of racial animus that so colored and distorted his view of Black people. There are no real winners in this drama, even in the momentary relief signaling that justice was done in this trial. A family is still left to grieve the loss of George Floyd, and a daughter is forever deprived of the rituals that fathers and daughters engage in as they make a lifetime of memories together.

Unlike so many people of African descent victimized through our nation’s history, from Emmett Till to four little girls in Birmingham, Alabama; from Fred Hampton to Rodney King; from Michael Brown to Eric Garner; from Amadou Diallo to Sandra Bland; from Tamir Rice to Philando Castile; from Breonna Taylor and even yesterday with the killing of Ma’Khia Bryant, who ironically was calling the police for help and was ultimately shot by them; at least George Floyd’s family will receive a modicum of justice for the pain they’ve endured. Yet, the fact that there is much more work to be done is a truism that frankly understates the problem. As long as the underlying ethos of racism and white supremacy is allowed to infect law enforcement agencies whose personnel operationalize their motto "to serve and protect" with scandalous inconsistency, true justice will remain an elusive pursuit for black, brown, indigenous brothers and sisters, and other poor people of this nation. As long as minor infractions that could be handled with a simple citation are confronted by police with the brutality of lethal force and barbaric control of people perceived to be a threat, then genuine justice will continue to be relegated to the bookshelves of aspirational ideals.

The vicious legacy of racism, bigotry, and white supremacy forces us to remain acutely aware that the murder of George Floyd was not an isolated incident. Even as lawyers were debating the facts of the Chauvin case, our nation was horrified once again by the unjustified killings of Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo. While we can take solace in the fact that Mr. Chauvin will be held accountable for his brutality and callous, depraved indifference for human life, we cannot become complacent in our battle against official malfeasance and state sanctioned violence masquerading as law enforcement. Like the late Fannie Lou Hamer, "I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired" at the constant denigration and disregard for the sanctity of our lives, and the constant vigilance we have to maintain when walking, jogging, driving, sleeping, or just plain living while Black is a burden we should not be obligated to carry.

Quoted above are the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who reminds us that "True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.”"So, while the streets of our nation may remain calm this week in the wake of this welcome verdict, let us not delude ourselves into believing this outcome represents true justice. George Floyd is still dead, and his family will continue to miss and grieve for him regardless of how many years Chauvin spends in prison. True justice should have intervened when Mr. Floyd was detained; true justice should have occurred when Daunte Wright was stopped; true justice should have ruled the moment when 2nd Lt. Caron Nazario was stopped by Virginia state police. True justice can only come when we put more intentionality behind creating an equitable society, and find a way to respect the dignity and humanity of all members of the human family, irrespective of their demographic composition. The continuing violence perpetrated against people of color must stop.

There are more painful days ahead, but I remain prayerfully optimistic that the "arc of the moral universe," while long, occasionally bends towards justice. However, the weight of social activism will need to be applied to keep that arc from regressing back toward the mean of normality that embraces inequality, reinforces the privileges of a few, and denies too many people of their inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I also believe that institutions like our own CSUDH can be an asset in helping to educate a more informed citizenry, challenging people to interrogate the biases and assumption they harbor, and doing our best to dissipate the profound ignorance that is too pervasive in this world. In this regard, I thank our faculty and staff for accepting these challenges as they manage our virtual and face-to-face classrooms, and appreciate the academic and co-curricular learning opportunities and campus programs that are available to help our students, staff, and faculty heighten their awareness, enhance their knowledge about culturally different people, and develop their skills and cultural competence. Many of these forums, however, require a listening ear, an ability to empathize and appreciate other points of view, and a commitment to respect and honor the free speech rights of all in our university community whose views may agree with or stand in sharp contrast to your own.

Before closing this missive, I want to acknowledge those in our community who may be struggling to manage their intellectual and emotional sensibilities during times like these. You need not do so alone. Reach out to a friend or peer; connect with your support groups, and use your networks to embrace the teachable moments of this tragedy and triumph with courage and compassion. If you find yourself needing support, a listening ear, or a vehicle to just engage in a cathartic release, let me encourage you to access the following resources:

Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and LifeMatters at (800) 367-7474 or visit LifeMatters online (password: DHtoros)

Student Psychological Services ( 310-243-3818

Mervyn M. Dymally African American Political & Economic Institute (

Resources (

Rest assured that I will continue to work tirelessly to advocate for more fairness and justice that we all deserve. I ask the Toro Nation to join me in this effort as we create and sustain a more just and equitable society that embraces the authenticity of each of our human beingness.

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.


March 25, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

I have spoken previously about the need for all of us to stand together against the rise of hatred being directed at our Asian American and immigrant brothers and sisters. To that end, I would like to encourage the Toro Nation to join our fellow CSUs on Friday, March 26, for a national day of action and healing to #StopAsianHate.

March 26 happens to be the anniversary of the Naturalization Act of 1790, a pernicious piece of legislation during our nation’s founding that prohibited non-white people from becoming U.S. citizens. Despite our progress over the past two centuries, we are still reeling from the legacy of such racist and bigoted legislation.

The #StopAsianHate campaign is an attempt to harness the power of social media to stand united against anti-Asian violence. Speaking up in support of the Asian American community is an important first step in conquering this problem. I invite you all to post your own message of support on social media networks on March 26, using the hashtag #StopAsianHate.

For more ways you can support the cause, please visit The website has posted a toolkit and resources, as well as information about a worldwide vigil for the victims of the recent Atlanta shootings. I strongly encourage everyone in the Toro Nation to visit the website and join myself and thousands of concerned citizens in denouncing this bitter scourge on our body politic.

Thank you,

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Reflections on an Unprecedented Year, and the Perseverance of the Toro Nation

March 12, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

As many of you are aware, it was one year ago this week that COVID-19 was officially declared a global pandemic, and the classrooms and offices of CSUDH were quickly converted to a primarily virtual mode. Unlike many anniversaries, this is not one that we’re eager to celebrate, but it can still provide us with an opportunity to reflect on what these past twelve months have brought.

The unprecedented challenges of the past year have changed all of our lives in ways both subtle and profound—from learning to conduct our business via Zoom meetings and conference calls to remembering to wear our masks every time we leave home.

I am beyond proud of the hard work that everyone at CSUDH has put into our efforts to continue providing top-flight education and services to our student community. I remain amazed at the level of perseverance I’ve witnessed, as well as the Toro Nation’s ability to adapt to radically new conditions, sometimes through trying personal circumstances.

Whether it’s the IT department working overtime with faculty to ensure that our virtual classrooms are functioning correctly, or the folks at Financial Aid continuing to assist students in need remotely, the administration, faculty, and staff of CSUDH have consistently gone above and beyond in their approach to ensuring student success.

I would also like to thank the hard-working members of our CSUDH Emergency Operations Center, who have worked diligently since day one of this crisis to plan and put in place the university’s health and safety protocols. They continue to respond with professionalism and alacrity to each new curve the pandemic has thrown us, and their work had been invaluable to keeping CSUDH up and running.

We cannot allow this occasion to go by without also celebrating and honoring the lives that have been lost to the pandemic. Over 500,000 of our fellow citizens have succumbed to COVID-19, and I extend my deepest sympathy and condolences to the loved ones they left behind.

As we reach this one-year milestone, there is some good news filtering through. The vaccine roll-out is gathering momentum, and infection rates are dropping throughout the state. In the next few months, we will hopefully begin to see more and more signs of the “return to normalcy” that we’ve all been eagerly anticipating.

This is not a time to let down our guard, though. I urge everyone in our campus community to continue following all health guidelines. Wear a mask when in public, maintain appropriate social distancing, and wash your hands often. Even with the advent of COVID-19 vaccines, these simple methods are still vital in helping keep infection rates going in the right direction.

I am hopeful that we have reached a turning point in our battle against this deadly virus, but continued vigilance is necessary to ensure we don’t backslide. We've come this far together; let’s not waver in our commitment now. Instilled with this spirit, I am confident that we will all be together sooner, rather than later.

Stay safe and stay healthy, Toros!


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Women's History Month

March 4, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

Women have been and continue to be the foundation of our families, as well as sources of knowledge in our schools, empowerment in our businesses, discovery in our science, and inspiration in our athletics. With a student body that is 65 percent female, we honor women in the Toro Nation as our future leaders of tomorrow.

The celebration of Women's History Month has a special resonance this year, coming as it does just a few short weeks after the inauguration of California's own Kamala Harris as the first female vice president of the United States. Vice President Harris' journey from Oakland to the U.S. Capitol is an inspiring one that speaks to the progress our nation has made over the past century.

As I touched on in my Black History Month message, history is not some calcified object to be placed on a shelf and dusted off once a year and admired. Rather, history is an ongoing process that we are all living through and contributing to.

Women's history isn't only Susan B. Anthony fighting for women's suffrage or Dolores Huerta organizing and representing farmworkers; it's also CSUDH alumna Lula Davis-Holmes winning the November election to become mayor of Carson. Women's history isn't only Ruth Bader Ginsburg taking her seat as a Supreme Court justice, or LaDonna Brave Bull Allard leading Dakota Access Pipeline protests; it's also Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Dorothy Vaughn setting a standard of sustained excellence in the NASA space program that allowed America to put astronauts into space and return them home safely.

Over the past century, women have made substantial gains and attained a greater measure of societal equity, but there is still a long way to go. Our sisters, daughters, and mothers still suffer the indignity of sexual harassment and violence, still run up against the glass ceiling of business success, and still earn less than men for the same jobs. I am inspired by the new generation of female leaders who have taken up the fight against inequity, from national leaders like Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, the co-founders of Black Lives Matter, to our own CSUDH physics chair, Dr. Ximena Cid, whose support and mentorship of women in the hard sciences is helping to break down barriers and subvert stereotypes.

Women's History Month is an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the accomplishments and achievements of the women who have shaped, and continue to impact, our nation and our world. It is also a chance to rededicate ourselves to overcoming the substantial challenges that still remain.

In that spirit, this month, take some time to learn about the illustrious achievements of the female heroes of the past. But also take a moment to ask yourself what you can do to help the women who are among us today, continuing and expanding on the work of their forebearers. How can you help further the goals of equity and opportunity that are so vital to our nation's progress?

I believe that together, we can create the equitable society that we envision. Women's History Month offers us a chance to decide how we might be able to help manifest that future. I encourage every member of the Toro Nation to take up the challenge.

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Violence Toward Asian Americans

March 2, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

"We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny." (Martin Luther King Jr., 1963)

It is with a troubled heart that I have been observing the recent upsurge in violence directed at our Asian American and Asian immigrant brothers and sisters. From coast to coast, and even right here in Southern California, hate crimes directed at those of Asian descent have been on a precipitous rise over the past year, coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic. Like the violence against black and brown bodies, brothers and sisters in the Jewish, Muslim, and LGBTQ+ communities, and the poor whose lives are played out at the margins of society, this latest surge in aggression and brutality against individuals of Asian descent, including the elderly and children, sickens me. I write to raise my voice in condemnation of this cruelty, and to ask that you join me in speaking out against these atrocities.

While some politicians and pundits have found it expedient to scapegoat China or Asia in general as the "source"of the COVID-19 virus, there is nothing to be gained by pointing fingers, assigning blame, or engaging in juvenile name-calling. Sadly, many in the general public have followed suit, using a deadly pandemic as cover to unleash their hatred on innocent men, women, and children who try, as best they can, to navigate the same pathways to productivity and success that we all do.

Whether this anti-Asian sentiment is expressed via racial slurs shouted from a passing car, dehumanizing words painted on a wall, or actual physical assaults and violence, it is unacceptable and reprehensible. Consequently, these incidents must serve as reminders to us all that as a nation which aspires to be a more perfect union, the collective will that promotes and exhibits decency and compassion in times of challenge must overwhelm the tendencies to blame, scapegoat, and denigrate others' humanity. We must take the time to let our sisters and brothers in the Asian community know that we support them through these troubling times.

I am also reminded, as Dr. King asserted years ago, that in the end, we will remember not just the words (and actions) or our enemies, but the silence of our friends. Therefore, we must redouble our efforts at combatting the pernicious influence of racism that tends to rear its ugly head in trying times. We must use our voices to speak out against the assaults on people's humanity. We must demand accountability for those who engage in racist fearmongering, and insist that law enforcement step up their efforts to protect the vulnerable among us, irrespective of their demographic background. We must confront those who would denigrate our Asian brothers and sisters, and let them know that ignorance, intolerance, and incivility have no place in a civil society, and will not be tolerated.

It is truly a sad state of affairs when even in the midst of our recovery from a deadly pandemic, there are those among us who continue to attempt to sow division and hatred, rather than coming together as one community and nation to fight a common enemy. Despite this latest trend, however, I am confident that the Toro Nation will continue to stand strong in the face of such mindless aggression, and will continue to recognize and live by the credo that we are all one people, challenged by the same adversities, and committed to a relentless pursuit of freedom, justice, and equality for all.

I am reminded that in the Japanese tradition, a thousand origami paper cranes can be given to the ill to wish for and speed their recovery. Perhaps we can use that same symbolism to wish that the sickness and pathology of racism in this country can be healed, and that those who have been assaulted by this pernicious evil can once again feel safety in the spaces they occupy and visit, love in their hearts and peace in their spirits.

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Three Year Review of President Parham

February 15, 2021

The CSU Board of Trustees have a policy requiring its presidents to be reviewed every three years. It is now time for President Parham's review and this notice is to invite you to submit comments responding to the specified criteria found at:

Please submit letters or emails no later than March 22, 2021 to Chancellor Castro at:

Dr. Joseph I. Castro, Chancellor
The California State University
401 Golden Shore, Suite 641
Long Beach, California 90802-4210

Kindly review the attached letter, which provides detailed instructions, and as always feel free to contact us with any questions at or 310-243-3301.
Black History Month

February 2, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

Famed historian John Henrik Clarke reminds us that: "history is a clock that people use to tell their political and cultural time of day." As we open the pages on another Black History Month, the political and cultural time of day for people of African descent is on full display, inviting me to share a few thoughts with the Toro Nation.

First, we thank Carter G. Woodson, whose founding of Negro History Week was the precursor to Black History Month. We also appreciate the opportunity to pause, reflect on the contributions of a people, while also taking stock of the challenges that remain in this day and time. And in those reflections, the consubstantial (elements of the universe are of the same substance) nature of the human family allows each of us to remember that by celebrating the contributions of others, we validate and affirm the best in ourselves.

Typically, Black History Month messages focus on remembering ancient pharaohs like Ramses or Queen Hatshepsut; honoring civil rights era pioneers like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Fannie Lou Hamer, or Rosa Parks; or recognizing the towering achievements of greats like W.E.B. Dubois, Booker T. Washington, Jackie Robinson, or Muhammad Ali. But rather than simply celebrate their personalities, I invite you to examine and interrogate the principles they used to manage their affairs. For it is there that we find the substance over simplicity. Accordingly, I encourage you all to spend some time this month in memory of these passionate men and women who chose justice over complacency, human dignity over conformity, and action over acceptance.

However, I would also like to point out that Black History Month doesn't only have to serve as a way of commemorating heroes and heroines of the past. Rather, it is also a chance to affirm that we are all living through Black history at this very moment.

When Black Lives Matter protestors, who have recently been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, take to the streets to protest systematic oppression and brutality by our nation's police, Black history is made. When CSUDH's own Congresswoman Karen Bass is elected Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Black History is made. When Kizzmekia Corbett is praised as the chief scientist behind the COVID-19 vaccine, Black history is made. When CSU's own Victor Glover, a NASA astronaut, commands the first operational flight of the SpaceX Dragon to the International Space Station, Black History is made. When Stacey Abrams gets out the vote in Georgia and Rev. Raphael Warnock is voted in as that state's first African American senator, Black history is made. When California's own Kamala Harris takes the oath of office and is sworn in as the vice president of the United States, Black history is made.

I invite all of you to keep these achievements in mind throughout the month. Black history is not something encased in amber, sitting on a shelf to be dusted off and admired once a year. Black history continues to be made every day, from the steps of the U.S. Capitol to the classrooms of CSUDH, where we are both educating the next generation of Black leaders, and those students, irrespective of race and gender, whose contributions will help empower future generations of African American people.

Let's spend the next four weeks not only admiring the greats of our past, but acknowledging the heroes and heroines among us today. With every step we take toward true social equity and justice, a little bit more Black history is made.


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Welcome Back!

January 26, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

Welcome back! The beginning of any semester is always exciting, with the promise of new experiences and opportunities for growth and learning. This spring, though, after a tumultuous year like 2020, it is more important than ever that we celebrate this season of renewal and growth and embrace the chance to start fresh.

This spring, CSUDH has a myriad of reasons to look forward to a bright future. Even during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, our momentum forward never ceased. I am pleased that our enrollment has remained steady throughout this crisis, attesting to the determination and commitment of our students and their true understanding of the value of a university education.

The completion of our new Innovation and Instruction Building, along with that of the new Housing Complex and Science & Innovation Building, continues to transform the aesthetic ambiance of our campus, while further increasing our instructional, research, and co-curricular capabilities. I am also pleased to report that this year's budget outlook from the state is more promising than we had expected, likely mitigating the need for deep, sustained cuts to our departments and staffing.

Our faculty, staff, and administration remain committed to student success, and are putting in place new initiatives and endeavors that will surround students with a blanket of support. With that said, I also am reaching out to our students this semester, asking that you remain active participants in your own success. If you are struggling or in need of assistance in any way, reach out and utilize the services available to you, from our Toro Food Pantry to Psychological Services. We can only help those who let us know they need it!

A further ray of hope this spring has arrived in the form of a COVID-19 vaccine that is being rolled out across the nation. While its implementation across Southern California is still in its early stages, I am optimistic that its efficacy will prove sufficient to begin a "return to normalcy" sooner rather than later. Additional information about the vaccine's availability will be relayed to the campus community as soon as we receive it.

As a reminder, the first two weeks of the spring semester will be 100 percent virtual, with only a small percentage of classes allowed to resume in-person meetings starting Feb. 8. For those individuals approved to work, study, or live on campus, our new surveillance testing program will help ensure that they can do so safely.

This semester will surely have its challenges, but after a year of unprecedented anxiety, stress, and upheaval, I firmly believe that things are looking up, and that the Toro Nation will rise to meet every challenge thrown our way.

Good luck on a great spring 2021 semester.


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Campus Statement for MLK Birthday/Holiday

January 15, 2021

Dear Campus Community,

"The measure of a man (or woman) is not where they stand in times of comfort and convenience, but where they stand in times of challenge and controversy." – Martin Luther King Jr.

I make no secret of the fact that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of my personal heroes. His strength of character, moral clarity, and courage in the face of overwhelming opposition continues to inspire me and millions of others across this nation and around the world.

With every new shock the past 11 months has brought, from a deadly pandemic, financial challenges, Black people murdered by police and citizens alike and subsequent Black Lives Matter demonstrations, to an attempted insurrection and domestic terrorist attack, I have been able to call upon a quote from Dr. King to give me solace and hope. For even a half a century since they were uttered, his words still prove both relevant and resonant. Indeed, I have learned, and I would invite all of you to spend less time worshiping his personality, and more time studying and embracing his principles.

Throughout the past year, I have found myself frequently returning to a famous quote from Dr. King: "Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals." If we are to move forward into the bright future that we all dream of, we must not assume that just because our cause is just, that victory is inevitable.

Toro Nation, as we have seen time and again, real and authentic change is indeed possible if we work with determination and keep our eyes on the prize. In that spirit, this 2021 Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I ask every member of our university community to rededicate themselves to the hard but vital work of combating racism and social inequity wherever it occurs - from the halls of Washington to the corridors of CSUDH itself.

Indeed, Dr. King also reminds us at this time: "We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters, or perish together as fools." If the events of the past year have taught us anything, it is the truth and veracity of those words. Let's make sure each of us is doing our absolute utmost to live and work in harmony with one another, support and affirm the dignity and humanity of those we engage, and pledge to fight against inequity and injustice whenever and wherever we encounter it.

Dr. King would ask no less.


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Teachable Moments Regarding the Nation's Culture

January 14, 2021

As published in the Los Angeles Sentinel

Is it time for higher education institutions to help place genuine equality front and center in our national discourse?

January 6th, 2021 was intended to be a day of ceremonial ritual that underscored the strength of our democracy, and the commitment we as a nation have to a set of principles, values, and ideals that anchor our embrace of the constitution of the United States. Students in universities and colleges, in K-12 institutions, and even mature adults could treat it as a civics lesson, for there were many teachable moments in this season of election politics. The lessons learned however, were not necessarily the ones intended, for at many levels, the teachable moments were literally colored and shaped by lessons in White supremacy, racial and ethnic politics and denigration, law enforcement and military response to protestors based on political party and racial demographic, and politicians who defiled their oath to the American people in order to court favor with a misguided ideologue bent on holding unearned power and position. What a sad day for America; the incongruence and scandalous inconsistency so palpable that it can’t help but cut deep into the fabric of one’s psyche and emotional core. In the aftermath of this disgraceful display, how will higher education chronicle this day and what lessons will it offer its students who are one step away from crossing the threshold into their careers, the workforce, and opportunities to become more civically engaged.

To say that most Americans were shocked and horrified at the scenes emanating from our nation’s capital on January 6, 2021, would be an understatement of significant proportion. As I compose this letter, my spirit continues to stir with a restlessness, if not outright anger, disgust, and indignation at what I witnessed transpiring Wednesday January 6, 2021 on cable television news stations. Somehow, the normal statement a president authors in times of challenge and controversy to my campus community seemed insufficient in capturing the gravity of what I had witnessed. A massive crowd of Trump supporters, in an act of outright sedition, laid siege to one of our pillars of democracy, bolstered by the false and unsubstantiated claims of the 2020 election being hijacked by fraud, theft, and illegal voting. Various courts in numerous states throughout the country found no basis for the assertions or no evidence to substantiate the allegations. We teach our students to be more critical thinkers, and learn to bolster their opinions with actual facts and data to help them form and frame more cogent and persuasive arguments. Yet, facts and data were in short supply among that mob on the Washington mall on January 6th, and gave way to pure emotion whipped into a frenzy by massive amounts of misinformation.

Interestingly, those claims stealing an election were not only authored by the President himself, but were supported by a host of Republicans like Senate Majority Leader McConnell, Sen. Lindsey Graham, Sen. Ted Cruz, other members of the senate and congress, Republican Party leadership, the Attorney General, White House communications personnel and staff members, cabinet appointees, TV news personalities, members of organizations like Q Anon, Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and a host of others committed to support and embrace the President’s alternate reality of what a commander in chief should sound and act like, despite having lost the 2020 election. I’m sure our students are asking what in the world is going on with our leaders?

Those who have embraced and otherwise enabled the current president over the past four years also shoulder some of the blame for the January 6 riot and rebellion that damaged property, cause bodily harm, and cost human lives. Unfortunately for them, no amount of eleventh hour “moon walking” back from their support of the president’s agenda and actions, and their embrace of his positions over the past four years, will save them from history’s judgement about these roots of rebellion. Their track record is clear; their complicity documented; their attempts to subjugate the will of the people permanently recorded. But those may not be the only culprits here. Looking at the thousands of faces descending on the nation’s capital, I’m wondering what role higher education has played in contributing to the mindsets of those persons in the crowd. The duality of this query however, rests not just with what higher education has said, but what it hasn’t said. In this moment of intense reflection, I’m remembering Dr. King’s declaration reminding us that “in the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends.” Have our colleges and universities been silent conspirators in this drama that continues to unfold?

Understand however that the responsibility and fault this president and his enablers hold is not for their political beliefs they embrace, conservative or otherwise. Each of us is entitled to our own views and voters can chose candidates according to whose platform best aligns with their values and perspectives on life. The fault is not really about the disappointment they feel at coming to grips with the Republican’s defeat in the election. They have a right to feel disappointed, hurt, depressed, and even discouraged. Rather, their blame is grounded in the false narratives, distorted truths, alternate realities, and outright lies that are promulgated by them that misinform segments of the American people, tear at the heart of what our democracy is supposed to stand for, seeks to suppress the vote of substantial portions of our nation’s citizenry, and incites the activism and sedition we all witnessed. There has been ample time for many of these enablers to reverse course on this implicit and explicit assault on our democracy, and distance themselves from a president who uses his office for personal gain for he and his family, while he ignored the needs of a nation and its citizens, even in the middle of a global pandemic that has resulted in hundreds of thousands of lives lost. None of his enablers did so then, and they should not be allowed to do so now without a true accounting and reconciliation of their behavior.

In the days since these horrific events incited by the sitting president of the United States, I have also pondered the blatant inconsistency and profound incongruence in the dynamics of how this siege by principally (but not exclusively) White people was handled. When compared to other protest and demonstrations held earlier this year when the murder of Black lives at the hands of law enforcement personnel and citizens alike instigated cries for social justice and police reform, those demonstrators were met with a sizable police and national guard presence, tear gas, brutality, and arrest. Even as this January 6th activity took place on a day when a ceremonial certification of an election symbolizing how the peaceful transfer of power was supposed to take place, I found myself, as a university president, retreating back to the annals of history in search of a parallel circumstance. I found myself asking the question of what does this ritual of democracy, the voting, the election, and the certification process of the Electoral College vote really mean to me as a person of color and a male or female of African descent? Do I really have confidence in our democracy that even as I seek to engage in these civic rituals, that I will then be afforded the same rights and privileges as my White counterparts? Does my full participation in the rituals of election and inauguration frenzy insulate me or Black and Brown people, or Muslim brothers and sisters, from the harsh realities of being a culturally different racial or ethnic group in America? Will these election rituals erase racism and sexism; abolish discrimination; diminish anti-Semitism; stop violence against women and children; eliminate the inequities in healthcare, economic opportunities, or educational opportunities; address housing and food insecurity; put a sizable dent in the level of poverty this nation is experiencing; reform policing practices so that my Blackness is no longer a target of biased law enforcement; will it help me obtain more justice in the courts; or help eliminate the redlining that increases my insurance premiums because of the neighborhood I reside in? I thought long and hard about these questions, and despite the status and privileges I do enjoy as a university president and distinguished psychologist with a collective sense of consciousness, I still couldn’t get to yes. I mean- what do these election rituals and voting certifications really mean to me? And there it was; the answer and our contemporary challenge for 2021 was contained in the writings of Frederick Douglas.

In July of 1852, some one hundred and sixty-nine years ago, Frederick Douglas delivered his famous speech on what meaning the July fourth celebration held for the slave and people of African descent. In his address, beyond describing the event as “human mockery and sacrilegious irony”, he answered the query and asserted that for him, it represented “a day that reveals, more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is a constant victim.” “To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impotence; your shouts of liberty and equality hallow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all of your religious parade and solemnity, are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocracy; a thin veil to cover up crimes that would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on all the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody, then are the people of these United States.

The address by Frederick Douglas is a sobering reminder about the profound sense of incongruence that has and continues to exist between what America preaches and what she practices when it come to African Americans and other people of color. The irony here of course is that as much celebration as African Americans have done in seeing the first woman and person of color elected Vice-President of the United States, from an HBCU no less, and seeing Joe Biden win the presidency, we all have to ask ourselves, and universities will have to interrogate, what that victory really means for the masses of Black people who registered, made phone calls, hosted fundraisers, contributed record sums of money, stood in long lines, mailed in ballots, and voted? These students and their families are our alumni, currently occupy seats in our institutions, and will be making applications for admission in the near and distant future. Ironically, the President-elect, and his 2020 election campaign was almost dead in the water until Rep. James Clyburn and Black voters from South Carolina delivered him a primary victory that he rode to the Democratic convention to receive his party’s nomination. Black women and men, the Democratic Party’s most loyal constituency, turned out in mass to deliver victory after victory in states critical to the Biden-Harris election. And even once that election was over, and senate races in Georgia were undecided, Staci Abrams and a coalition of Black women and other committed volunteers, along with Black voters in Georgia, delivered victories for both Democratic senate candidates. How will those efforts be rewarded?

You see, it is undeniable that we have made progress as a country over the past six decades. With the passage of civil right and voting rights legislation, war on poverty programs, desegregation of schools, Comprehensive Employment & Training Act programs (CETA), Educational Opportunity Programs, TRIO Programs, Title IX regulation, and of late, renewed PELL Grant funding, and especially the affordable care act the Trump administration and Republican caucuses in the House and Senate have spent the last four years trying to undo, change has occurred. And yet, I am hoping that the measures of progress we boast about from this 2020 election, and Jan 6th 2021 Electoral College certification and pending Inauguration, extends beyond a few cabinet appointments and executive orders that at a surface level represent the desegregation of political appointees and government policies. The standard for people who live their lives at the margins of society, has to be raised in 2021, and at least one political party has to push for true equality across every domain of American life in order to acknowledge and reward, in a reciprocal way, the investment Black people have made and the trust they have placed into this American democracy. Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1967 text asking “Where Do We Go From Here” is reverberating in my mind as I process the legislative successes and political appointments of the past, that have yet to yield true equality for too many of this nation’s citizens. Similar to that space in time, a nation’s sensitivity was raised, and policies enacted, but real and substantial change and authentic equality has been an illusive prize too many are unable to grasp.

Consequently, the address by Mr. Douglas over a century and a half ago also serves as a challenge or gauntlet thrown down at the feet of the new Biden-Harris administration, and for higher education as well. President Biden and Vice-President Harris, with control of the congress and senate, will need to help this nation realize a greater measure of its promise and possibility. They will need to help a deeply divided nation heal. And while there are a host of policy initiatives, undoing past executive orders, along with a health pandemic, and restoring the economy that will demand their immediate attention, one of those domains of intervention has to be the differential treatment of Black and Brown citizens by police and law enforcement that we saw on display this past spring and summer, versus what we witnessed on Jan 6, 2021 in how police treated marauders and rioters bent on assaulting our democracy.

What to the people of African descent in this country do these election rituals represent at the deep structure level? Only time will tell if we as a nation, this new administration, and our colleges and universities have the temerity to push past this moment where sensibilities have been disrupted, and find new and enhanced measures of equality that more authentically represent a thrust towards becoming a more perfect union. Higher education will need to stand up and ante up as well in this high stakes game of political posturing. For a nation divided needs its institutions of higher learning to reframe the discourse on how best to affirm the dignity and humanity of all of this nation’s citizens.

January 6 Events at the Capitol

January 11, 2021

This season of our lives has been filled with calls for social justice, state budget woes, and a health pandemic never before seen in many of our lifetimes. Fortunately, we have adjusted to changes in our circumstance, embraced a more virtual reality, focused on our academic mission, supported each other through our trials and tribulations, and demonstrated the will, perseverance, and resilience necessary to continue moving forward in our lives. There are other situations and life events, however, that challenge even our most temperate sensibilities, and force us to rethink how we make meaning out of cherished traditions, national rituals, and interpersonal dynamics that should guide the way we comport ourselves when engaging others.

On January 6th, our federal legislative bodies in the Congress and Senate set out to complete a time-honored tradition of certifying the votes of the Electoral College, and declaring a winner in what was a very fiercely contested 2020 presidential election. As you have seen by now, those proceedings were usurped by a sitting president who incited his followers with a plethora of unsubstantiated election fraud claims, followed by an exercise in outright sedition, rebellion, rioting, and senseless violence. The actions of thousands of zealous supporters of President Trump, who descended on the nation's capital in what can only be called anarchy, and represented a direct assault on the constitution, as well as the foundations of our democracy. The actions of those involved created chaos, instigated violence, destroyed and defaced property, and led to a loss of life and bodily injury. The images were shocking, deplorable, and disgusting, and leave many of us, including this university president, angry, and righteously indignant. This is not how our democracy is supposed to function in a system that prides itself on being a gold standard in world politics.

The events of Jan 6 mark a historic first and a low point in the chronicles of American democracy and the behaviors of a sitting president. The process dynamics related to both how this event was managed or mismanaged, and how insurrectionists were treated by law enforcement, also reveals a scandalous inconsistency. When compared to how demonstrators were treated, brutalized, tear gassed, and assaulted in the days following the George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery murders, and subsequent Black Lives Matter protest and demonstrations, one can only conclude that America has a long way to go in reconciling its vicious legacy of racism and White supremacy, with an aspirational self that preaches the desire to become a "more perfect union."

In this space in time that we currently occupy, where excellence, access, learning, discovery, innovation, dynamic research, personal growth, and preparation for the workforce needs of tomorrow are central to our mission, let us not allow the incidents of the past week or the toxic narratives of a particular ideologue or political party, to make us lose sight of the values and virtues that anchor our efforts in the CSU and here in the Toro Nation. Here at CSUDH, we value our diversity as a core strength; we want to celebrate and affirm each other's humanity; we deplore racism, sexism, discrimination, homophobia, religious bigotry, and oppression; and we respect differences of opinion and appreciate vigorous but respectful debate that allow us to understand, appreciate, challenge, and even empathize with other's points of view. And in a society which seeks to honor every citizen of age with the right to have a say in how the affairs of this country are managed through their vote, let us never yield to a mob mentality that seeks to illegally arrest that right because they disagree with the outcome of an election, or the country's preference for a particular candidate.

Let us not be disillusioned by the antics of this past week. Even as we are far from a perfect society, and have many more mountains of true equality to climb, dragons of oppression to slay, and dreams of a brighter future to realize, I'm still betting on the fundamental goodness in each of you and in most people, whose energy, love of humanity, and belief in a more fair and just world will carry us forward to better days bright with possibilities and potential.


Holiday Wishes from CSUDH

December 17, 2020

A message of hope and encouragement from President Thomas A. Parham on behalf of the entire CSUDH community. Best wishes for a happy and safe holiday season!

Happy Hanukkah to the Entire Toro Nation

December 10, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

Tonight marks the first night of Hanukkah. Jewish people throughout America and the world will come together to light the first candle of the annual Festival of Lights. The story of Hanukkah is one that continues to resonate thousands of years since the events it commemorates, when a small band of Maccabees rose up against seemingly overwhelming obstacles and defeated their oppressors.

This tale of the triumph of freedom over tyranny is one that every American can identify with, regardless of what religion, if any, they follow. The struggle for justice is an ongoing one, as we have seen in our own streets throughout this most tumultuous of years. Reflecting on the Hanukkah story allows us to recognize the strength that we each have within us to resist oppression and fight for a more equitable future.

Throughout the eight days of the festival, I encourage Toro Nation to draw inspiration from this compelling narrative. Let the Maccabee's fight against persecution inspire us all to do more in our own current battles. May the light of our Jewish brothers' and sisters' menorahs help illuminate our own path toward equity and justice.

Happy Hanukkah to the entire Toro Nation.


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D

Reminder to Be Safe This Holiday Season

November 20, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

As we approach the holiday season in this most tumultuous of years, I would like to take a moment to remind everyone to stay safe.

COVID-19 is on the rise again throughout the country, and Los Angeles County remains in the purple zone, or tier one, indicating the virus is widespread. We must recognize the seriousness of the numbers we are seeing in terms of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. The virus has still not been contained or controlled and state leaders have issued a Limited Stay at Home order for most of California -

In the absence of a vaccine, the best protection that we have is our own personal behavior. We must create a climate that reinforces and celebrates behavioral change, in order to protect ourselves and the most vulnerable among us.

I understand that everyone is getting tired of being confined at home or restricting outside movement. "Quarantine fatigue" is a real thing, but we must not allow our boredom or ennui to place ourselves or others at risk. We all want to visit with family and friends, but the medical and public health reality is that large gatherings are frankly not safe at this time. Being around large or even small groups of people increases one's vulnerability index.

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, please consider doing so remotely this year. If you do meet in person, utilize all the best safety practices: wear a mask, physically distance yourself as much as possible, and wash and sanitize your hands frequently. Practicing good health habits is the best way to protect yourself and other members of our community. Make no mistake, this virus does not know geography, political party, income status, or racial and gender demographics. It has had an impact on everyone, and for some the consequences can be extremely severe. As a reminder, the university has established a COVID-19 reporting hotline at (310) 243-2076, for members of the campus to confidentially report COVID-19 positive results or possible exposure.

In my own family, your first lady, Davida Hopkins-Parham and I do celebrate Thanksgiving. Yet, even in this time of a global pandemic, cries for social justice, and election divisiveness we never want to lose sight of those things we are most thankful for. We are blessed to be proud members of the Toro Family, thankful for the way all of you have persevered through the adversities of the day, and proud of our institutional mission to educate the next generation of critical thinkers and community leaders whose intellectual gifts we have an opportunity to cultivate and develop. Davida and I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving, but let's make sure to temper our celebrations with a healthy dose of reality this year.

Be safe. Be well.


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Native American Heritage Month

November 9, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

Somewhere I read "Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect."(Chief Seattle, Duwamish, 1854)

November is Native American Heritage Month, and I want to acknowledge THAT the place we occupy as campus land is ground once occupied by a native American people. We take time this month to recognize, and I would invite all members of the Toro Nation to join me in honoring and celebrating the lives of our Indigenous brothers and sisters. I also wish to laud our American Indian community for the many contributions they have made to enhancing our lives, including foods, use of plants for medicinal remedies, mastery of the ecology, mathematics, environmental adaptations to manage the elements, and several useful tools.

Many of you already know that the CSUDH campus (and most of Los Angeles County) is situated on the traditional land of the Tongva people. It would be remiss of us as a campus community to forget and/or ignore this legacy, even as the university acknowledges its social justice roots. To that end, it has become commonplace to honor their historical connection with the land with the following acknowledgement:

We acknowledge that the land on which we are gathered here today is the home and traditional land belonging to the Tongva Nation. Today we come with respect and gratitude for the Tongva people who still consider themselves the caretakers of this land. It is through their examples that we are reminded of our greater responsibility to take care of Mother Earth and to take care of each other.

I invite every member of our CSU Dominguez Hills family to join me in recognizing and celebrating the countless ways in which Indigenous individuals have enriched our lives and country. The aspirational nature of our democracy, recognizes the gap that exists between what we say and what we do that is the nature of the human condition but one more step in closing that gap in becoming that more perfect union is to give honor and recognition to our indigenous forebearers. Recognizing their unique accomplishments and honoring their stewardship of the land we live and learn on is more that appropriate at this date and time.

Let me close with this remembrance of some words from the Cherokee nation, who remind us that: "When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice."

Thank you,
Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Hispanic Heritage Month

September 30, 2020

Dear Campus Community,

Last week, the California State University (CSU) system made history, by announcing that my esteemed colleague Dr. Joseph Castro will be the first person of color to serve as chancellor of the largest public university system in the country. Made during national Hispanic Heritage Month, the announcement could not have been more welcome or more timely.

CSUDH has long been a proud Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI), ranking among the top schools in the nation in awarding degrees to Hispanic students, which includes those who identify as Chicano/a, Latino/a, and Latinx. In fact, more than 60% of current Toros identify as Hispanic/Latinx.

In a typical year, the campus would be buzzing with activities in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, but this is far from a typical year, as you all know. Even without more public displays, I want you to know that CSUDH remains fiercely proud of our commitment to the success of our Latinx students.

I am thankful for the hard work being done by our many campus groups and organizations to improve access and support the endeavors of our Latinx student community. Especially notable in this regard is the work of our Chicana/Chicano Studies department and the CSUDH Multicultural Affairs office. Other groups working tirelessly to support our Latinx population include the Dolores Huerta Graduation Celebration Hermanas Unidas, the Latino Student Business AssociationToro Dreamers Success CenterComputing Alliance of Hispanic Serving Institutions (CAHSI)Espíritu de Nuestro Futuro (ENF): Immigrant Student Alliance, and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (M.E.CH.A.). Thank you to everyone involved in these groups; your efforts are vital to creating positive change and student success.

Many of CSUDH's most distinguished alumni are of Hispanic/Latinx descent, from retired Boeing CTO John Tracy and Jet Propulsion Laboratory optics engineer Rosemary Diaz to Wall Street Journaleditor Sam Enriquez and trailblazing attorney Maria Villa. They have made indelible marks on their professions, proving that CSUDH alumni not only celebrate Hispanic Heritage -- they create it. I am proud of the role that CSUDH has had in nurturing their success.

I invite every member of the CSUDH community to join me in recognizing and celebrating the countless ways in which Latinx individuals have enriched our campus and country. Their unique contributions continue to impact and transform society in innumerable ways, and recognizing this is both appropriate and necessary at a time when racial strife and disparities are at the forefront of the American conversation.

CSUDH is proud to be a supporter of and contributor to Hispanic heritage.

Thank you,
Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

2020 United States Census and Upcoming General Election

September 28, 2020

Dear Dominguez Hills Family:

Over one hundred years ago, W.E.B DuBois reminded us that "the cost of liberty is less than the price of repression."

This year, that is truer than ever, as we reconcile the social justice and health challenges of this day and time against the threats being waged towards the constitutionally protected liberties and rights we should all enjoy as a democratic society. Toros, our new, socially distanced reality has adjusted our daily activities in virtually every way, but no matter the circumstance, we can all continue to be civically engaged and involved.

In that spirit, I would like to remind the campus community to complete the 2020 United States Census as soon as possible. By completing the simple 10-minute survey, we ensure the continuation and funding of services that benefit the entire community, from education and healthcare to infrastructure and transportation projects, and much more. Let's make sure Every Toro Counts.

I would also encourage everyone to do your civic duty by participating in the electoral process and voting in the upcoming General Election which will determine, among other things, who will be president of the United States. Your vote will also have implications for congressional and senate seats and various statewide ballot propositions. In California, residents can register to vote up until the day of the election. To register to vote or to find out more information, visit

In these consequential moments that help define the future of our nation, I recall the words of heroes like Dr. Martin Luther King, who argued: "I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and oppression, that the bright daybreak of peace and personhood can never become a reality…"

Your dreams and aspirations for a better America can become a reality if you simply believe that your voice and vote matters, and you let nothing stand in your way of exercising your constitutionally protected rights.

Thank you, and Go Toros!

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.


Welcome New CSU Chancellor

September 23, 2020

Dear campus community,

This morning, Dr. Joseph I. Castro, the current president of Fresno State, was announced as the new chancellor of the California State University system. I would like to take this opportunity, on behalf of the faculty, staff, students, senior executives, and alumni at CSUDH, to congratulate Dr. Castro on his appointment. He has been a valuable member of the CSU community for many years and I look forward to continuing to collaborate with him. Dr. Castro's appointment is an important milestone for the CSU system, as he becomes the first person of color to serve in this capacity. I have known Dr. Castro for a number of years, both from my days at the University of California and my tenure in the CSU, and I enthusiastically endorse the Trustees' selection.

We welcome Dr. Castro to the role of chancellor during one of the most tumultuous and consequential periods in the history of the CSU system. With a global pandemic disrupting academic endeavors, the resulting economic crisis that has pinched education budgets across the nation, and the social unrest and cries for racial justice emanating from the voices of students and community residents alike, Dr. Castro will be asked to work with 23 presidents and senior executives at the Chancellor's Office in making tough decisions from the moment he takes office. I have complete faith that he will continue to lead the CSU system with the excellence, prudence, and compassion we have come to expect from his predecessor, Dr. Timothy P. White.

During this time of transition, I ask all of you to join me in thanking Chancellor White for all he has done to support and promote the CSU system during his tenure. Most recently, his strong leadership has been a key in helping the 23 California State University campuses weather the storm throughout the COVID-19 crisis. While other universities and colleges have struggled with premature re-openings and a lack of compliance with public health protocols, Chancellor White's early decision to move academic and co-curricular learning to a primarily virtual reality has proven to be a model of foresight and planning.

I fully expect Dr. Castro to continue Chancellor White's legacy of achievement and expansion of the CSU system, while bringing his unique perspective, experience, and leadership style to the role. I look forward to meeting with Dr. Castro soon, and am confident that with him at the helm, the CSU system will successfully navigate the troubled waters of our current reality and continue to provide our students with a first-in-class education and resources.

A live "Conversation with the Chancellor-select," hosted by Monica Lozano, president and CEO of the College Futures Foundation, is scheduled for this Friday, September 25, 11:00 a.m. at The event is a unique opportunity for students, faculty, staff and stakeholders to learn more about Dr. Castro and his vision for the CSU.

Again, please join me in congratulating Dr. Castro.


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D
Formation of Task Force on Racial Reconciliation

July 20, 2020

Campus Community,

The challenges of the past several months have brought into sharp focus the racism and structural inequities that are too pervasive in society. The continued assault on and murder of Black, Brown, and Indigenous people in communities across America leave all of us shaken to our core, angry at the injustice, disgusted at the brutality, nauseated by the inhumanity, and vocal in our indignation. In response to that barbarism, the Black Lives Matter movement and various cohorts of organized social advocates and community members throughout the nation and world have raised their voices in collective outrage, demanding that this nation and its institutions confront the vicious legacy of individual and institutional racism. In the wake of demands for reform and justice, many of society's most enduring institutions are taking a hard look at their own structures and practices, in an attempt to wrestle with the possibility that their organizations could use more enhanced scrutiny. Indeed, this nation is on the precipice of a social reawakening that demands all segments of society interrogate what they can do to achieve a just and equitable life experience for every citizen.

While certain domains have been the targets of social advocacy and intentional examination around their policies and practices, the community of higher education generally, and this campus specifically, cannot afford to be insulated from any analysis that addresses challenges that lay ahead. We are an institution of higher learning founded on the values of social justice. We as a campus community cannot become dispassionate spectators to our own history, but must be active participants in our institutional growth and development, to fulfill our vision to be a model urban university.

Consequently, I, along with executive leadership, have decided to constitute a Task Force on Racial Reconciliation to assist our campus in identifying ways in which this university can achieve greater degrees of congruence between our aspirational goals and the policies, practices, and institutional customs that frame our educational enterprise.

It will be essential for our campus community to work together and move forward. Therefore, in the spirit of transparency and communication, a web page will be created to list the Task Force members, state its purpose, solicit feedback, and provide ongoing updates. I want to thank Dr. Donna Nicol, chair of Africana Studies, and Dr. Anthony Samad, director of the Mervyn Dymally African American Political and Economic Institute, for agreeing to co-chair this task force. I also want to thank the other members, to be named shortly, who will participate and engage in this important endeavor. I look forward to the recommendations they will advance and to closing the gap between the institution we aspire to be and the policies and practices that we engage in on a daily basis.

I am confident that CSUDH will courageously take the needed steps to move the needle in this complex yet critical work, and I look forward to reporting back to your soon. Simply put, we cannot do it without every member of our village – the students, faculty, staff, and alumni.


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

Emotional Caring: A Letter to the Campus Community

June 25, 2020

Campus Community,

As our official summer season dawns, I write to you today with a different flavor of messaging. The times we are confronting have tested us all in unusual and profound ways. Consequently, as we have attempted to respond quickly and reasonably to our changing circumstances, we have all tended to focus on the needs and obligations directly before us. Yet, even as we actively engage and address the issues of our time, I do not want us to lose the human side of the equation, in contrast to the more task-oriented and sometimes automatic nature of our workflow and daily rituals.

In my work over the years, I have been fond of saying that, where students are concerned, pride factors get them into places like CSUDH or other universities, but human factors get them through. Taken in a different context, I am acutely aware that human factors are important elements that must be attended to as we continue to face the crises before us.

Indeed, our focus on humanity was the driving factor that established the health and safety of our entire campus community as the beacon for our fall planning initiatives. Our focus on humanity in the earliest days of COVID-19 adaptations had us opening our computer labs and purchasing devices to accommodate those students whose technological circumstances were insufficient or non-existent. Our focus on humanity allowed our residence halls to be populated by students who, for reasons of foster care, homelessness, or family issues, needed to remain in our student living communities despite the urgency that most students move out. Our focus on humanity helped us find the resources to support students who the federal government deemed ineligible for CARES funding. Our humanity allowed us to cultivate and distribute financial gifts that provided necessary resources to those who had unfulfilled basic needs. Indeed, that is some of the best of what we do as a Toro Nation.

While the authentic nature of our humanity has invited us to care for others, I want to remind us all that self-care is essential as well. I see your work ethic. I hear about your commitment and dedication. I read about the efforts many of you are expending to help out your fellow Toros and this campus with whatever is needed. I appreciate all of that. However, I want you to care for yourselves as well.

In this moment of reflection, I find myself thinking less about WHAT I need to do as your president and more about WHO I need and want to be for all of you in this moment. So in that spirit of self-care, while I will refocus some of my energy inwardly and invite you all to take care of yourselves, know that my sense of self is more collective in orientation.

Thus, I want to be an extender of compassion and empathy to all of you who need your administration to know that you are managing these uncertain times, compounded by life circumstances with some amount of anxiety and fear. I want to be the curator of your trust, acknowledging that everyone involved in planning for our future do so with your health and safety, as well as your best interests, in mind. I want to be the supplier of optimism, asserting that while the challenges before us regarding COVID-19, racial oppression, state budgets, etc. are significant, we have the personnel and talent to navigate them successfully.

I want to be a president who leads with love in a fear-based world because I love this campus and all the efforts faculty, staff, senior administration, students, and external stakeholders expend to fulfill our mission and help us reach for greater degrees of excellence. And, I want to be a purveyor of hope in recognizing that "trouble don't last always," that the vast majority of us are committed to change, and that things will get better in the months and years ahead.

Be well, stay healthy, find ways to do something nice for yourselves, and make authentic connections to the people in this life you care most about. GO TOROS!


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.

CSUDH Statement on DACA Decision

June 18, 2020

Campus community,

This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Trump Administration's attempt to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. As a result, hundreds of thousands of individuals are proudly calling out, "Home is here!" Indeed, the United States is the only home most Dreamers have ever known, and CSUDH stands with them in proclaiming our delight and relief at the court's decision.

And we will continue to stand with you, because we realize that DACA is a temporary solution and more steps are needed to reach full citizenship for our Dreamer brothers and sisters. Today's Supreme Court ruling threw out the Trump Administration's attempt to end the program because it did not follow the proper procedures for dismantling such a program. It is yet to be determined if other attempts will be made to end DACA with a different rationale and process. Let's celebrate this victory, but remember that it is but one battle in an ongoing fight to protect our neighbors, friends, and classmates who are American in every way except on paper.

The CSUDH Toro Dreamers Success Center will be announcing plans for further actions and ways to continue to move the conversation forward. Concerned community members can contact the center for information, resources, and suggestions at (310) 243-2782 or

Rest assured that we will not retreat from the challenge to create a more equitable and just nation that recognizes the dignity and humanity in us all. Social justice has always been a key aspect of CSUDH's mission, and we will continue to support and fight for our undocumented students in every way as we navigate our way forward. Your fight is our fight.

This circumstance has shown once again how urgently our nation needs lasting reform to its immigration system, and we must demand that our representatives in Washington rise to that challenge. CSUDH, along with a coalition of dedicated partners, remains committed to advocating for and supporting our Dreamers and undocumented Toro family members.

In solidarity,

Dr. Thomas A. Parham, President
Dr. Michael Spagna. Provost/Vice President of Academic Affairs
Dr. William Franklin, Vice President of Student Affairs
Mr. Chris Manriquez, Vice President of Information Technology/CIO
Ms. Deborah Wallace, Vice President of Administration and Finance/CFO
Mr. Michael Losquadro, Interim Vice President of University Advancement
Mr. John Walsh, University Counsel
Ms. Deborah Roberson, Chief of Staff
A Battle for the Soul of Our Nation

June 4, 2020

As published in Diverse Issues in Higher Education

Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a long way from Brunswick, Georgia and Louisville, Kentucky. Yet the three areas are now inextricably linked by the recent tragedies that befell African-American citizens – murdered in those locations by citizen vigilantes or police officers. Each illuminates a teachable moment that we would do well to learn from, and demonstrates that even during a historic pandemic, when we are all supposedly “in this together,” that we still have a long way to go as a society before we truly reach “togetherness.”

These tragedies shout out a familiar refrain to African-Americans everywhere, who continue to live in fear of predators on all sides. Whether vigilantes, criminals, or law enforcement personnel, these predators are seen as a potential threat to every person of African descent, irrespective of position or social status. It very much seems that it’s just not safe to be Black in America.

However, I remain hopeful that this situation can be rectified in time. I believe that education can be the key to understanding one another and moving forward toward a truly just society. Being a university leader demands that I attend to that reality, even as I plan for our next semester here at CSUDH under the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Reliving a Racist Past

The senseless and unexplained assaults on the lives and humanities of Black people should be relegated to our nation’s past, but trying to escape a history of racism and White supremacy is not an easy task. From slavery to the Watts Rebellion, that legacy is permanently cemented in our history books.

Markers like electing America’s first African-American president or increased numbers of Black and minority college graduates point to progress in this arena. But a more intentional and deliberate look at our nation’s deep structure reveals that such signposts of social change may be more counterfeit than people imagine – our progress more of a mirage than legitimate improvement.

It is undeniable that some progress has been made; my own career is proof of that. Yet too many in this nation, particularly African Americans, continue to be denied an authentic slice of the American dream, as their lives are terrorized by what can only be described as an American nightmare.

George Floyd died after being pinned down by police. Ahmaud Arbery was simply jogging through a neighborhood when confronted by White assailants who assumed he was a thief; he lost his life in that Georgia suburb. First responder Breonna Taylor overcame her fear of COVID-19 to stand with colleagues on the front line to help save lives. Yet, she became another police shooting victim while relaxing in her own Louisville apartment. Both were brutally murdered by forces that mistook them for something they were not. Their lives were forfeited to the racist biases of people haunted by their own prejudices and bigotry.

Clearly, the frequency with which these tragic deaths continue to occur paints a frightening portrait. The tragic stories of Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, and too many others are still ever-present in the minds of the African-American community. The rate at which these killings occur indicts a nation that is either in denial about realities of Black life, oblivious to the conditions that plague African-American citizens, or too dispassionate about the loss of innocent Black lives.

The psychologist in me has long pondered this dilemma. How can we legitimately claim that this is the land of the free, when some of its citizens cannot drive, jog, sleep, or just exist while Black? Similarly, I have also questioned how anyone of any race can bear witness to the suffering of African-Americans, sit in silence about these tragedies, and still maintain their humanity and dignity.

The Importance of Education

Being a university president provides me with an interesting perch from which to view this situation. From where I sit, we need new voices, ideas, and energy to help us close the gap between the aspirational America we all hope our country can be, and the one that continues to signal that Black lives are expendable. So, where do those new voices come from?

One avenue can be our institutions of higher learning, full of students anxious to discover, critique, analyze, learn, and grow. On our university campuses, we have the privilege to help educate students, and dislodge them from the intellectual, emotional, and behavioral apathy that can keep them tied to biases they arrive at our doors with. We can help them critically analyze information, debate differing points of view, form more persuasive arguments, and find their own voices.

Hopefully, a more educated citizenry can help to challenge the biases and assumptions people harbor toward those who are different. Education can help push us forward to social norms that marginalize the toxic thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that some now feel comfortable to display, and hold accountable those who would violate these norms of decency and respect for the lives of those different from ourselves.

A Soul in Need of Saving

Indeed, the quest to better affirm and support the dignity and humanity of African-Americans and all citizens is a struggle for the soul of this nation. While justice needs to be demanded in the murders of Black men and women, allies need to echo their concerns as well. I’m reminded of Dr. King during the bus boycotts of the mid-1950’s, when he observed that the citizens who joined in the boycott would rather walk the streets in dignity than ride the buses in humiliation.

So I come to you as a university leader, psychologist, professor, and healer, to ask: What would each of us do to dignify our struggle against oppression, rather than humiliate ourselves with the comforts of conformity?

We have to decide what kind of country we want America to be. How committed are we to closing the gap between what we preach as a nation, and how we actually live? I am committed to doing my part as an educator to convince students that oppressing others in order to affirm themselves is a road to nowhere. I am also committed to the electoral process, voting for the change we desperately need. What’s your role? With each tragedy we experience or read about, a bit more of our nation’s soul slips away. How committed are you to rescuing it?

From Tragedy to Transformation: Thoughts on Confronting Racism

May 2020

I write to you in an hour of racial tension and social strife that is gripping this nation. The plague of unchecked assaults and traumatic violence aimed at Black, Brown, and poor people of this nation leaves all of us stunned, sickened, and nauseated. My heart goes out to the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the countless other families who live with the pain of loved ones lost to senseless violence. As a CSUDH family, I ask you to join me in honoring and praying for both the souls of those whose lives were taken, and the families who seek to assuage their grief, righteous anger, and pain by synthesizing demands for justice with thoughts for a brighter future in our nation.

The incidents in Minneapolis in the aftermath of the Floyd murder bring into sharper focus the raw pain, anger, hurt, anxiety, fear, and outrage that people are feeling. When human rights are so violently violated, liberties so thoroughly trounced, freedoms so frivolously forgotten, humanity so profoundly disrespected, and cries for relief from the pain and suffering being inflicted are so callously disregarded, it makes sense to strike back at the systems and institutions you perceive as oppressing you.

I understand this impulse completely. Yet, when legitimate forms of freedom of speech, demonstration, protest, and social advocacy deteriorate into the rioting and looting of stores and businesses that people depend on for their daily sustenance, such behaviors must be guarded and guided by the higher principles that instigated our outrage in the first place.

While Brunswick, Louisville, and Minneapolis are hundreds of miles away from Southern California and the CSUDH campus, I am cognizant that there are teachable moments in this tragedy, and that institutions of higher education have a role to play in addressing the ills of our nation. In addition, the collective community orientation many embrace, and the compassionate sentiments we feel in these emotionally painful moments, impact all of us in profound and lasting ways.

Consequently, if you find yourself needing to talk, listen to others, reason, shout, or just try to make sense out of this poignant reality, know that campus personnel and external resources are available to assist you. Please reach out and contact our campus student mental health, affinity centers, or employee assistance professionals:

  • For students, our dedicated team of Student Health and Psychological Services professionals are available to assist you and may be contacted at (310) 243-3818.
  • In addition, our student affinity groups are open virtually, including the Rose Black Resource Center, Multicultural Affairs, Women's Resource Center, EOP Center, and Queer Culture and Resource Center.
  • Additional psychological resources for students, faculty, and staff can be found on the SHPS Psychological Services web page.
  • Faculty and staff can receive assistance through LifeMatters. They can be reached at (800) 367-7474, and are available 24 hours a day for immediate, in-person access to services. LifeMatters can also be contacted online through the CSUDH LifeMatters portal, password: DHtoros.

The social justice roots that this university was founded on run deep in our campus DNA. Yet, if we become passive spectators to our history, instead of active participants in actualizing the full promise and possibility of our educational mission to challenge biases and assumptions, confront bigotry and prejudice, eradicate cultural ignorance, and help students, staff, and faculty realize a greater measure of our common humanity, then we have not completely fulfilled the legacy we have been blessed to inherit.

Let us commit to use this tragedy as the impetus to become better versions of ourselves, and find a way as a Toro Nation to impact this country and a world that is sorely in need of transformation.

Mind the Gap - Is a Gap Year a Good Idea in a Time of Crisis?

May 2020

Summer is nearly upon us, which typically would mean opportunities to engage with family and friends, with social gatherings, barbeques, music festivals, and sports all on the menu. We would then enjoy the transition into fall, with the promise and excitement of a new school year motivating students and teachers nationwide. Unfortunately, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis will make these next several months much different, with major disruptions weighing on this year's high school seniors and community college transfer students.

Many have applied to universities and colleges, and have by now received acceptance letters from a number of those schools. Normally, students would have already declared which school they are planning to attend. But the COVID-19 pandemic has created such disruption to the academic schedule that many institutions like ours have modified their timelines, pushing back deadlines for intent to enroll decisions from newly admitted students until June 1st. Consequently, lots of students have been spending the past few weeks pondering their futures, contemplating where to enroll, or if to instead take a gap year during all this turmoil and uncertainty.

Gap years provide students with a deliberately planned pause or break between one segment of their studies and another, whether between graduation from high school and the beginning of college or between earning their bachelor's degree and starting graduate or professional school. While there are a small percentage of students nationally who usually consider that possibility, the COVID-19 health crisis has a greater number of the newly admitted class of 2020 exploring that option.

Some of my colleagues in academia have written opinion pieces encouraging students to pursue this break in their studies. Avoiding burnout, improving academic performance upon one's return, receiving unit credit, enhancing one's maturity, and securing independence are among the reasons cited. In an op-ed in the New York Times, the writer shared that her daughter was strongly considering the option of a gap year rather than engaging with a virtual reality for some or all of her first year in college.

No one can blame students and families for exploring this option. After all, the uncertainty in the air regarding fall planning, and the strong possibility that the pending semester will begin in a virtual format is quite evident. In fact, a number of universities in the nation, particularly those in the California State University system, the nation's largest system of public higher education, have recently announced their plans to be principally virtual this fall. Others in the country appear to be following suit. Yet, despite the probability that the semester will begin virtually, I can think of a number of reasons why students and their families should rethink a gap year at this time.

My rationale for opposing a gap year, despite the turmoil that now confronts us, begins with the fact that higher education is one of the greatest engines of social mobility in our nation, particularly for culturally different students and those that come from economically challenging circumstances. In fact, several universities, including California State University, Dominguez Hills, where I serve as president, have been recognized for their work in elevating the social mobility of their students and their families. The sooner a student begins their academic journey, the faster they will finish, and be able to take advantage of the expanded range of job options and increased salary potential that comes with a college degree. A gap year delays the launch of that trajectory toward greater success.

There is also something to be said about academic continuity and momentum. Immediately continuing one's studies catapults a student into the midst of college life, excited and engaged with their academic and co-curricular learning. Taking a gap year potentially derails that momentum. For some students, it will be difficult to recapture.

An additional variable centers around the distractions of work, expanded social activity, opportunities to travel, and accumulation of bills to pay. During a gap year, an individual may become so engaged with these endeavors that it's difficult to get back on track with their university studies. While some students may have the discipline to easily re-engage and re-enroll in school, others will find it easier to extend their gap year indefinitely, giving them a bigger hurdle to climb once they decide to get back in the game.

Finally, I am cognizant of the fact that while a gap year typically allows one to work, travel, and engage the broader spaces of one's community, the COVID-19 health crisis has significantly disrupted such plans. People are still being advised to stay home, job are being lost, businesses are closing or reducing workers, and domestic travel is being restricted. International travel is even more of a challenge, and the predicted second wave of this global pandemic has not yet arrived. Indeed, I would definitely invite students to rethink the notion of a gap year.

Rather than bow out, I am encouraging students to lean in. True, the virtual reality that now frames much university instruction is very different than what students were expecting. However, it may be that working from home or remote locations is providing new college students with an advanced peak into a future where more and more of the world's affairs will be conducted via web-based conversations, seminars, and virtual realities.

In the end, there's a strong possibility that the adaptations and technological innovations forced on us by the pandemic will become essential components of our working world going forward. Taking a gap year might set some students back more than they know or expect.