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.

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

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
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.