From the Desk of the President

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.

2021

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.

Sincerely,

Thomas A. Parham, PhD
President

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
President

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 https://www.csudh.edu/together/health-safety/.

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

Sincerely,

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.
President

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!

Sincerely,

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.
President 

Helpful Resources

For questions regarding medical ADA accommodations, please contact Shaun Milton, Associate Director, HR Programs at smilton1@csudh.edu or visit https://www.csudh.edu/hr/employee-ada-accommodations-services/.

Please also take advantage of our Employee Assistance Program (EAP), Life Matters. Visit our EAP at mylifematters.com (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.

Sincerely,

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.
President

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!

Sincerely,

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.
President

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. 

Background 

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 https://www.csudh.edu/shs/health-services-fee/.

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.

Sincerely,

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.
President

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 https://vaccination.as.me.

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 csudh.edu/visit-us.

For more information, visit csudh.edu/together/vaccine.

Sincerely,

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.
President

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.

Sincerely,

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.
President

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.

Sincerely,

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.
President

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 (calstate.edu). 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 (csudh.edu) 310-243-3818

Mervyn M. Dymally African American Political & Economic Institute (csudh.edu)

Resources (csudh.edu)

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.

Sincerely,
Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.
President

#StopAsianHate

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 AsianAmericanDayOfAction.com. 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.
President

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!

Sincerely,

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.
President

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.

Sincerely,
Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.
President

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.

Sincerely,
Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.
President

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: https://www2.calstate.edu/csu-system/about-the-csu/leadership/presidents/Documents/csu-presidential-review-criteria.pdf.

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
Email: presidentreview@calstate.edu

Kindly review the attached letter, which provides detailed instructions, and as always feel free to contact us with any questions at officeofthepresident@csudh.edu 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.

Sincerely,

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.
President

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.

Sincerely,

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.
President

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.

Sincerely,

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.
President

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.

2020

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.

Sincerely,

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D
President

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 - https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/limited-stay-at-home-order.aspx.

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.

Sincerely,

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.
President

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.
President

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.
President

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 vote.ca.gov.

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.

President

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 www.calstate.edu/chancellorconversation. 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.

Sincerely,


Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D
President
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.

Sincerely,

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.
President

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!

Sincerely,

Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D.
President

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 tdsc@csudh.edu.

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.