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Preparing-for-the-Fires-2021.aspx
  
6/16/2021 12:10 PMKelly, Hazel6/16/20216/16/2021 8:20 AMLearn how campuses across the CSU continue to lead efforts in wildfire research, management and workforce preparation across multiple disciplinesCaliforniaStory

​​​​​​Six of the top 20 largest California wildfires took place in 2020, burning more than 4 million acres. Yet experts predict the 2021 season will be even worse. Learn how campuses across the CSU are contributing to efforts to better understand, predict and manage California's wildfire crisis.

The CSU's 23 campuses touch nearly every part of California, and so, unfortunately, does wildfire. As a system that serves the state's citizens, the university is committed to finding solutions as quickly as possible.

In January 2021, eight CSU campuses came together virtually to host the first-ever CSU wildfire briefing, “Addressing Wildfire and Smoke Impacts in California." Chico State, Humboldt State, Cal State LA, San Diego State, San José State, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, CSU San Marcos and Sonoma State each presented a snapshot of their areas of research and academic preparation, followed by a question-and-answer session to discuss some of the state's most pressing wildfire issues.

“Not only does the CSU have the capacity, but we have the potential to directly address the critical questions in fire science research, education and outreach in the state today," said San José State University Provost Vincent Del Casino, Ph.D., who moderated the January briefing. “Simply put, we can change the landscapes of California, and the world, for the better."

​Take a look at some highlights in wildfire research and workforce development from each of the eight campuses.

 

Chico State | Recovery & Resiliency​

men in the field wearing wildfire gear preparing a controlled burnA Chico State biology master's student and land steward at BCCER participates in a prescribed fire on the reserve. Photo by Jason Halley/Chico State​

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​Students at Chico State are immersed in research on wildfire impacts. “Whether assisting faculty to compile the most detailed water quality data set after an urban wildfire in history, or actively participating in fire mitigation projects on over 3,000 acres of wildlands annually, our students yearn to be part of the solution," said Eli Goodsell, director of the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve (BCCER), a 7,835-acre wildland owned by Chico State Enterprises which recently became the largest contiguous ecological reserve in the CSU thanks to a generous land donation. ​

With thousands of acres of both wild and working lands, Chico State continues to prioritize experiential learning, fire mitigation and post-fire recovery projects. This is exemplified through the recently launched interdisciplinary master's degree in wildland management as well as the campus' recognition and respect for indigenous wildfire knowledge and practices.

As a result of the devastating Camp Fire of 2018 and other catastrophic fires in the Butte County region, Chico State established a new staff liaison position for campus community recovery and created the Environmental Resiliency Collaborative (ERC) to bring campus environmental experts together to work on solutions to wildfire impacts and other challenges facing their region.

​Humboldt State | World-Class Research​​​



student lighting fire to an experiment in the labHumboldt State Wildland Fire Lab students examine flammability of hardwood species from as part of an undergraduate research project. Photo by Kellie Jo Brown/Humboldt State

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Humboldt State has more than 12 faculty members engaged in research related to wildland fire challenges—publishing more than 100 papers in the last decade, said Jeffrey Kane, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the university's Wildland Fire Laboratory. Areas of research range from wildfire fuels treatment and environmental impacts to incorporating traditional ecological knowledge in wildfire management. Through both private and public partnerships—including tribal governments—HSU's experts share their world-class research and knowledge to help develop a more fire resilient California. ​​

Cal State LA | Preparing the Fire Protection Workforce ​

three firefighters standing on top of firetruck looking at wildfireCal State LA's fire protection bachelor's program prepares students for top positions in firefighting operations.

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“Cal State LA's fire protection administration program arms graduates with technical and administrative skills that lead to some of the top fire protection positions," said Michael Thomas, Cal State LA assistant professor and retired Los Angeles Fire Department chief.

​Typically, fire protection education is limited to lower-division coursework at the community college level. However, Cal State LA's program is the only one of its kind in California, offering a bachelor's in fire protection administration and technology to students who have completed the pre-requisite lower-division courses at the community college level, then transfer to Cal State LA. “Graduates are uniquely prepared to implement the managerial skills that are crucial in commanding large-scale firefighting operations," Thomas said.

​San Diego State | Connecting Wildlands and Communities​

plane dropping fire retardant onto a wildfire SDSU researchers collaborate with the region's communities to develop climate-smart solutions and resilience strategies. Photo courtesy of SDSU Community Climate Action Network

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With $11 million in fire-related funding received over the last five years, San Diego State researchers have engaged in a wide range of studies, including fire mapping and modeling, climate-fire relationships, impacts of fire on wildlife vegetation and water resources, the use of innovative technology and social media to inform emergency management, and much more.

One project that highlights SDSU's contributions is the Connecting Wildlands and Communities project, funded by the California State Strategic Growth Council through the California Climate Investments Initiative and is a collaborative effort of the university's Institute for Ecological Monitoring and Management (IEMM).

“Together, we're working to bridge the gap between ecosystem and community resilience planning by assessing climate risks and coordinated strategies to reduce fire risk, promote water sustainability, and protect biodiversity in both our wildlands and communities," said Megan Jennings, Ph.D., IEMM director and SDSU assistant adjunct professor. ​​

San José State | State-of-the-Science Modeling 

pickup truck with man standing outside near with wildfire smoke in backgroundThis truck is equipped with the CSU-Mobile Atmospheric Profiling System (CSU-MAPS), which can monitor wildfires and fire weather in remote and mountainous terrain. Photo courtesy of the SJSU Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center

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​“We develop and operate the most advanced fire and smoke prediction system in the U.S. and it's the same system that's been adapted all around the world," said Craig Clements, Ph.D., professor and director of the new Wildfire Interdisciplinary Research Center at San José State. “We can forecast not only where the fire spreads, but when and where the smoke will go."

The university also has the only mobile Doppler radar in the western U.S. “We deploy it to active wildfires where we can track smoke in real-time, and it allows us to detect extreme fire behavior, such as fire tornadoes, leading to increased firefighter safety," Dr. Clements added.

SJSU offers the only fire weather-focused graduate degree program in the country, training meteorology students on fire weather forecasting—an emerging need for utility companies in the western U.S. The university also introduced a wildfire sciences minor for undergraduates starting fall 2021.

 

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo | Holistic Wildfire Solutions

professor pointing to landscape with students outsideDr. Chris Dicus, wildland fuels and fire management professor at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, shows fire ecology students the recovery of a former wildfire burn area. Photo by Patrick Record/California State University

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Cal Poly recently established its Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) FIRE Institute—a collaboration of 19 of the university's academic programs along with partner agencies—with the common goal of moving beyond traditional fire suppression and protection philosophies. The multidisciplinary institute brings together a cross-section of practitioners in forestry, fire protection, engineering, city and regional planning, architecture, and many others.

“Our approach is both a macro and micro level, from community design to evacuation modeling, from fire engineering to structural hardening, from forest management to home landscaping, from community economics to individual survivability, from air quality to responder health and safety, and from satellite remote sensing to preventing ignitions on the ground," said Dan Turner, interim director of the Cal Poly WUI FIRE Institute.

​CSU San Marcos | Firefighter Health & Career Development

wildfire fighters in the field CSUSM's online wildfire science and the urban interface bachelor's program was developed in partnership with local, state and national fire associations. Photo courtesy of CSU San Marcos

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“Our firefighters are working under some of the most extreme and hazardous conditions known to humans, evidenced by the dramatic incidents of occupational heart attacks and strokes respiratory illness and cancer. The destructive toll on their mental and behavioral health is only now being understood. And that's where we've made a promise to help," said Matt E. Rahn, Ph.D., director of the CSU San Marcos Environmental Leadership Institute.

In response, CSU San Marcos launched a fully online bachelor's in wildfire science designed with working fire professionals in mind. The upper-division coursework features a unique curriculum, including topics with a focus on climate change, the recovery of ecological systems and soils post-fire, occupational cancer exposure, and wildfire policy and law. “And it includes the first course in the nation that focuses solely on firefighter mental and behavioral health," Rahn said.

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Sonoma State | More Accurate Forest Measurement​

scientific device pointed at forestThe forest understory grows dense with flammable dead branches and brush—known as “fuel load." The greater the fuel load, the greater potential for a more severe wildfire, where more carbon can be released into the atmosphere. Lisa Patrick Bentley, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology at Sonoma State, leads an interdisciplinary team focused on quantifying above-ground carbon stocks and fire fuel loads.


​“Measuring precise dimensions of trees is key to determining how much climate-altering carbon is stored," Dr. Bentley said. “Fuel loads are difficult to measure, but they need to be accurately quantified to mitigate the severity of wildfires." Her team uses terrestrial laser-scanning technology and multispectral sensors on drones to assemble detailed 3D data of the forest's structure. “Graduate student-led research is finding that our methodology can increase the accuracy and cost-effectiveness of forest management."​


 

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​Whether on the ground collecting ecological data or on the front lines of a forest fire, the staff, students and alumni of the CSU are meeting the state's wildfire crisis head-on with leading-edge research and workforce preparation.

“The CSU is passionate about educating the next generation of fire scientists, at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Workforce development—which builds resilience in communities and natural environments—is a key part of the DNA of the CSU," said SJSU's Del Casino. “And CSU students are committed to our region and state. They grew up here, they want to give back, they want California to be livable, sustainable and affordable. And the Cal State system prepares them to do just that."

 

Learn more about the CSU's role​ in understanding, preventing and fighting California's devastating wildfires. 



people sitting by a lake looking at mountains on fire at night
Preparing for the Fires
CSU-Joins-Effort-to-Boost-Early-Childhood-Education-in-California.aspx
  
6/15/2021 10:36 AMSalvador, Christianne6/15/20216/15/2021 8:10 AMCampuses take part in $4.5 million partnership to better align preschool teacher preparation programs with California standards and diversify workforce.Teacher PreparationStory

Three CSU campuses—Sacramento State, CSU Bakersfield and Cal Poly Pomona—have been chosen to help transform early childhood education in California, supporting Governor Gavin Newsom's Master Plan for Early Learning and Care.

The focus of the project, titled UPLIFT CA (Universities & Partners Learning, Innovating, Fostering Equity, Transforming California ECE Degrees), is to elevate the early care education (ECE) workforce with an emphasis on supporting dual-language learners. A $4.5 million grant from the Early Educator Investment Collaborative will fund the project.

Implementing a set of expectations for all educators

According to experts, nothing is more critical to students' learning outcomes than the knowledge and skills of the adults who directly interact with them. Early childhood education is often a child's first step into the education system, and getting them started on the right foot with effective teachers will improve their chances of later success in school and life.

While PK-12 teacher preparation programs clearly articulate the competencies that teachers need to optimally support child development, a similar set of expectations is not currently in place for early-learning educators. They need only a permit whereas PK-12 educators are required to have a credential or bachelor's degree as well as undergo state-determined skill assessments.

UPLIFT CA will bring together the CSU, local community college campuses, state agencies and ECE providers to ensure future early-learning educators are fully equipped with state-determined competencies, similar to what is expected of PK-12 educators. Participating institutions will collaborate to strengthen ECE curriculum and align California's teacher preparation programs with state standards.

In turn, a competency-based system will create greater consistency across professional development programs, leading to a more coordinated pathway for community college students to complete their bachelor's degree at the CSU.

Increasing equity in early learning

A focus of the project is to prepare teachers to work with dual-language learners and increase diversity among the pool of early childhood educators.

“The Master Plan for Early Learning and Care describes a roadmap for building a comprehensive and equitable early learning system over the next decade, and critical to this plan is the development of a workforce to serve the needs of our diverse students and families," says Marquita Grenot-Scheyer, Ph.D., CSU assistant vice chancellor of Teacher Education and Public School Programs.

Approximately 60 percent of children under the age of 5 in California speak a language at home other than English, and educators often lack the skills needed to provide children with high-quality language experiences in both English and their home language.

By considering language as part of equity in early learning and care, UPLIFT CA will eliminate bias through practices and training. Supporting the development of dual-language learners is a foundation for future academic success and can break down barriers in higher education for minority students.

The CSU shares in UPLIFT CA's mission to strengthen PK-12 learning and close equity gaps in education. Annually, the CSU produces more teachers than any other institution in California, as well as having one of the most diverse student bodies in the nation, making the university a critical partner in developing California's early learning and care workforce.

To learn more about the CSU's efforts in preparing California's future teachers and educators, visit the Teacher and Educator Preparation website.​

Preschool classroom
CSU Joins Effort to Boost Early Childhood Education in California
white-house-college-vaccine-challenge-2021.aspx
  
6/9/2021 3:36 PMKelly, Hazel6/9/20216/9/2021 7:30 AMThe CSU pledges to be a Vaccine Champion University as part of new White House effort aimed at increasing vaccinations for younger Americans.CommunityStory

​​​​The California State University joins hundreds of colleges across the country in President Biden’s COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge to urge more young Americans to get vaccinated. At least 21 of the 23 CSU campuses have signed on to the challenge so far, and more are expected to join.  

 The White House and U.S. Department of Education launched this effort in early June as a way to reach younger Americans who are lagging behind in COVID-19 vaccination rates. Participating colleges are asked to commit to three key actions to help get their campus communities vaccinated: engaging every student, faculty and staff member; organizing their college communities; and delivering vaccine access for all. 

 “The CSU continues to strongly encourage all members of our respective university communities to receive a COVID-19 vaccination,” said CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro. “I urge all students—and their families—to actively do their part to protect their community.” 

 The CSU has been a leader in the administration of COVID-19 vaccines to help the state achieve its vaccination and immunity goals. The university hosted several public vaccination sites on its campuses across the state, in addition to partnering with national pharmacies to offer pop-up clinics for its campus communities.  

On April 22, the CSU announced plans to implement a fall 2021 term COVID-19 vaccination requirement upon FDA approval of one or more of the vaccines. The proposed policy—still in development—would require all students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated before accessing any campus facilities.  

All institutions who sign up and take the pledge will be listed on the White House website, and the administration will feature Vaccine Champion Colleges throughout the summer in social media, events and remarks. Campus partners are asked to share successes with the hashtags #COVIDCollegeChallenge and #WeCanDoThis on social media.   

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vaccine distribution site outside at a college campus
CSU Campuses Join COVID-19 College Vaccine Challenge 
student-research-competition.aspx
  
6/7/2021 8:14 AMRamos, Paulo6/7/20216/7/2021 8:00 AMInnovation was on display at the 35th Annual CSU Student Research Competition.ResearchStory
Student Research Competition

Great Minds, Big Ideas

Innovation was on display at the 35th Annual CSU Student Research Competition​.


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As the CSU shapes the bright minds of our future, those minds are already working to lead California, the nation and the world to a better tomorrow. The 35th Annual CSU Student Research Competition, hosted by California State Polytechnic University, Pomona​ April 30-May 1, 2021, showcased student researchers from across the university who are finding solutions to the world’s challenges. Here are just a few of the competition’s winners.​

Alyssa McCulloch

Alyssa McCulloch

Campus: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Major/Program: Biomedical Engineering, Junior
Project: Endothelialized Silicone Aneurysm Model for In Vitro Evaluation of Neurovascular Devices

Since joining the team under Kristen O'Halloran Cardinal, Ph.D., at Cal Poly’s Tissue Engineering Lab as a freshman, Alyssa McCulloch has helped develop cardiovascular and neurovascular models for testing medical devices. These are anatomically relevant models of human blood vessels that mimic the physiological environment and allow the researchers to see how blood vessels would respond to new devices.

McCulloch’s research, which won first place in the Health, Nutrition, and Clinical Sciences; Interdisciplinary (Mixed) category, looked at building model blood vessels​ that have an aneurysm (a bulging that can lead to rupture, resulting in strokes) using silicone. She then tested how the vessels responded to flow diverters, a device that closes off the aneurysm and prevents rupture.

“The main goal was to be able to develop this in vitro device testing model that can be used as a precursor to more traditional animal studies and clinical studies in a way that is more cost effective and scalable,” McCulloch says. “The main advantage of what we're working on is you can test more configurations and/or types of devices to help make future decisions on what's going to be best for treating patients with these types of vascular conditions.”

Currently, the team is working with straight aneurysm blood vessel models, but is planning to build models that more closely resemble the winding blood vessels in the brain.

“We use a more simplified version of it now to be able to show what this model can do,” McCulloch explains. “Moving forward, we can modify the model to replicate clinical scans. The idea is we will be able to utilize this model to better understand the effect [of devices on] hu​man cells and … without being in an animal setting.”

Alyssa McCulloch doing research in the lab at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

Shenaya Yazdani

Shenaya Yazdani

Campus: Cal State Long Beach
Major/Program: Pre-Industrial Design, Freshman
Project: 'Coming Home' Refugee Shelter Design

​“I think it is very important designers put their minds toward helping humanity and making an improvement in society by using their knowledge, especially in the more underprivileged areas,” Shenaya Yazdani says.

In that spirit, Yazdani developed a design for a six-person refugee shelter, which took second place in the Creative Arts and Design (Mixed) category. The shelter includes insulated walls that trap warmth, window screens that keep out insects, high ceilings that prevent the accumulation of dust and mold, solar panels that provide power and cushions that can be laid on the floor or attached to the wall.

“Refugees usually use tents or canvases that rot, decay and aren’t stable,” Yazdani says. “But by offering this refugee shelter, it gives them a sense of comfort and helps them know there’s hope in the future, and they’re able to focus more on taking care of their families.”

​The project grew out of an assignment for her design course with CSULB lecturer Michael LaForte to develop a solution to one of the world’s problems with a particular focus on the UN’s sustainability goals. Her design, which could range from 21 to 30 square meters, meets the United Nations Refugee Agency’s shelter requirements and addresses the UN’s sustainability goals around homelessness and renewable energy.

“There are about 80 million forcibly displaced people [worldwide], with 26 million of them being refugees,” Yazdani says. “And all these families are left in search of a shelter and roof over their heads. Inspired by my own family, as many of my family members have been refugees in the past themselves, I wanted to take action in a possible way to contribute to their having a safe shelter without having to worry about being displaced.”

Drawings of the interior and exterior of the shelter.

Alex Dewey, Jonathan Calderon Chavez

Alex Dewey, Jonathan Calderon Chavez

Campus: Sonoma State
Major/Program: Computer Science, Senior; Computer Science, Junior
Project: Using Machine Learning to Measure Biodiversity from Sound Recordings

“Computer science is very much a tool, but that tool needs to be applied to whatever data set you're working on, whether that be in the realm of economics, finance, biology, geology or whatever specialty,” Alex Dewey says.

Earning them first place in the Engineering and Computer Science (Mixed) category, Dewey and Jonathan Calderon Chavez’s machine learning work contributed to Northern Arizona University Ph.D. candidate Colin Quinn’s​ thesis at the intersection of ecology and information sciences. Dewey and Calderon Chavez, along with student team members Antone Silveria and Vincent Valenzuela, fed labeled visualizations of sounds that Quinn created, called mel spectrograms, through an artificial intelligence to train it to recognize patterns.

The algorithm that utilizes machine learning can n​ow recognize and categorize new recordings—including human sounds, animal sounds and nature sounds like rain and wind—helping biologists monitor biodiversity in an area over time.

“The purpose of this work is specifically for biologists to have a way of measuring the environment,” Dewey says. “People will be able to use this information to better analyze the effects that certain builds have on an environment, how the ecosystem is changing and where animals are located.”

This work is also part of a larger project and partnership called Soundscapes to Landscapes, which includes Sonoma State and provided the sound recordings. The two computer science students got involved through a computer vision course with Assistant Professor of Computer Science Gurman Gill, Ph.D., and completed the work under SSU Geography, Environment & Planning Department Professor and Soundscapes to Landscapes team member Matthew Clark, Ph.D.

“I wanted to take part in this research project and learn about how we can address certain issues like climate change that we face in Sonoma County,” Calderon Chavez says.

A sound recorder placed in a bush.

Claudia Rocha

Claudia Rocha

Campus: CSU Monterey Bay
Major/Program: Psychology, Senior
Project: “WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS!”: Using Youth Participatory Action Research as a Tool to Advocate for Latinx Youth During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Claudia Rocha took first place in the Behavioral, Social Sciences, and Public Administration (Undergraduate) category with her project aimed at helping the Gonzales Youth Council (GYC) understand how COVID-19 impacted youth mental health and schooling. The GYC is an elected group of sixth through 12th graders who give youth a voice in Gonzales, California, city government.

“When COVID hit, the youth decided they wanted to understand how to best support their peers, especially because they had known there was a history of mental health problems in their community like suicides or attempted suicides,” Rocha says.

Rocha’s research mentor and CSUMB Assistant Professor of Psychology Jennifer Lovell, Ph.D., developed a relationship with the GYC in February 2020 through a community-based research initiative called Gonzales CoLab. She then brought on Rocha and another undergraduate researcher, Selina Espinoza, to support the GYC’s research efforts.

The team worked with the GYC to develop the group’s survey, determine factors to measure mental health and train the students in analyzing the data. Rocha specifically conducted workshops to teach council members how to analyze data from open-ended responses. Armed with the data, the GYC was able to present their findings to stakeholders and advocate for more mental health resources for local youth—ultimately resulting in the city hiring an additional clinical social worker to support students.

“It was about giving youth a platform to see what other youth needed and to actually use the data to make a community level change,” Rocha says. “It gave the GYC the chance to be leaders and have their own expertise to bring to the table because they have their own unique insight into what it is to be a middle and high school student during COVID.”


Take a look at the complete list​ of this year’s CSU Student Research Competition winners and more coverage​ from CSU campuses.


Great Minds, Big Ideas
True-Grit.aspx
  
6/4/2021 11:29 AMKelly, Hazel6/4/20216/4/2021 12:00 PMMeet just a few remarkable graduates from the class of 2021, many of whom overcame significant challenges on their path to earning a degree, and learn how they plan to pay it forward. Student SuccessStory
​​​Every spring, the California State University confers more than 120,000 degrees on the most diverse group of students in the nation. Those numbers continue to increase each year under Graduation Initiative 2025 as dedicated and talented faculty and staff continue to work to improve student success. CSU students are just as extraordinary, and behind each of those students is a story of determination to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. Whatever their background, the CSU helps them find their voice and gives them the tools they’ll need to be leaders in their communities. 

Meet just a few remarkable graduates from the class of 2021, many of whom overcame significant challenges on their path to earning a degree, and learn how they plan to pay it forward. 

Angelica Trujillo | CSU Bakersfield

Though CSU Bakersfield graduate Angelica Trujillo decided she wanted to become a pharmacist at age 15, she didn’tA woman and her young daughter. immediately travel that road. After high school, she enlisted in the United States Army where she served for eight years, including a deployment in Iraq in 2010. At 32, with a young daughter to care for, Trujillo enrolled at Bakersfield College and eventually transferred to CSUB where she declared a biochemistry minor.

As a full-time student and a parent who also works up to 35 hours a week at her job, Trujillo’s responsibilities were made especially difficult last year as she and her 7-year-old daughter’s classes were both delivered virtually. She persevered, though, and will continue her education at the Chapman University School of Pharmacy in Irvine this fall.

“Angelica is an exceptional student who completed her education while overcoming almost insurmountable setbacks,” says Karlo Lopez, Ph.D., an associate professor in the department of chemistry and biochemistry at CSUB. 

Read more about Angelica Trujillo at CSUB News.

Jesus Barba | Chico State

Growing up as the son of farmworkers in Salinas, California, Chico State graduate Jesus Barba was surrounded byA smiling young man wearing a white polo shirt. agriculture, but it wasn’t until he joined Future Farmers of America that he began exploring careers in the field.

“Agriculture has always been around my family, in the sense that they have always worked the fields,” Barba said. “I want to stop that trend and be the one inside the company and not the one in the field picking the produce.”

Now Barba, a first-generation college student, will graduate summa cum laude with a degree in agricultural business. During his time at Chico State, he earned Dean’s List recognition every single semester and served as a teacher’s aide for agricultural ecology. Barba plans to continue his education by pursuing a master’s degree and possibly even a Ph.D. in the next few years, and eventually start his own company in agriculture. 

Read more about Jesus Barba at Chico State Today

Marci Bertuzzi | Cal State East Bay

Cal State East Bay graduate Marci Bertuzzi calls herself a victor, and rightly so: The veteran, single mom and dom​esticA woman wearing a graduation cap and gown. abuse survivor has overcome many obstacles on her journey to earning a degree. Following high school, Bertuzzi served several years in the United States Marine Corps during which time she gave birth to a daughter and endured an abusive relationship with the child’s father. 

While earning a bachelor’s degree in business with a concentration in entrepreneurship, Bertuzzi maintained a 3.95 GPA while raising her daughter and even founding her own oil and gas consulting firm.

“I want to show my daughter that while life will throw you curveballs, it’s how you swing the bat that determines your ultimate success,” she says. “You can do anything if you really want it.”

Learn more about Marci Bertuzzi at East Bay Today.
 

Caleb Charles | Fresno State

Fresno State graduate Caleb Charles always knew he wanted to be a lawyer, and his dreams were realized when he learned about the Central Valley Regional Pathway to Law Pipeline, a collaboration between Bullard High School, Fresno City College, Fresno State and the San Joaquin College of LawA man wearing a graduation cap and gown. that provides a pathway for underrepresented students from minority backgrounds to earn law degrees and increase the diversity of the members of the State Bar of California. 

In addition to his studies, Charles served as a member of the Phi Alpha Delta pre-law fraternity and participated in the Student Advocacy Project, representing Fresno County residents appealing low-level citations. Charles also earned the Fresno State Philosophy Department’s 2021 undergraduate student of distinction honor.

Charles says he plans to become a criminal defense and civil rights attorney to advocate on behalf of those who have been unjustly charged with crimes. 

Learn more about Caleb Charles at Fresno State News.  

Mehtaab Brar | Cal State Fullerton

When Mehtaab Brar began attending Cal State Fullerton, the Fresno native found a community of peers and mentors in the Male Success Initiative, which offers students of color programming, resources and a network of peer and faculty mentorsTwo smiling young men sitting on a couch. to support their journey through higher education. 

Similar male success initiatives are offered at several CSU campuses and align with Graduation Initiative 2025 goals to eliminate equity gaps between underserved students and their peers by fostering a sense of belonging for them on campus.

“The Male Success Initiative has given me a support system outside of my classes,” says Brar, who will be part of the inaugural class of scholars graduating this year. “To have such a motivated group of men around you, makes you want to be the best version of yourself.”

Brar plans to continue his education in medical science, with a goal of attending Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Pennsylvania, and eventually become a plastic surgeon.

Learn more about Mehtaab Brar in Titan Magazine

Jacqueline Cruz | Cal State Long Beach

In August 2019, Jacqueline Cruz was preparing to start a master’s program in public policy at Cal State Long Beach, but herA woman wearing a graduation cap and gown. plans were almost derailed by a motorcycle accident that left her needing six surgeries and temporarily wheelchair bound. Cruz was able to continue her studies through grit and family support. She says the struggle her parents endured while she was growing up inspired her to achieve her dreams.

“My parents are both Mexican immigrants,” Cruz says. “They came to this country with nothing but an American Dream. I will be forever in debt to them.”

Cruz, who is also a CSU Dominguez Hills alumna, will receive a master’s degree in public administration from CSULB. 

Learn more about Jacqueline Cruz at CSULB News
 

Denise Nguyen | CSUN 

California State University, Northridge graduate Denise Nguyen attended community college somewhat aimlessly until being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, a setback that helped give her clarity about her future. The first-A smiling young woman.generation college student decided she wanted to become a leader in the public health industry and use her voice to improve health equity.

While at CSUN, Nguyen was a member of the CSUN Model United Nations team, won the Best Data Visualization Award at CSUN’s DataJam, and was recognized as a Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholar, which supports the doctoral aspirations of CSU students who have experienced economic and educational disadvantages.

During the pandemic, Nguyen served as a Vietnamese-English translator at her local community center for people filing unemployment claims and created an escort program for elderly Asian Americans. She plans to attend Johns Hopkins University in the fall and hopes to eventually help build health care legislation in Washington D.C.

Learn more about Denise Nguyen at CSUN Today.  

Zobeida Delgadillo | San José State

San José State graduate Zobeida Delgadillo certainly managed to squeeze as much out of her time at the university asA smiling woman standing outdoors. possible. She served as Associated Students president, chief executive officer and director of legislative affairs, as well as a governing member of the California State Student Association, where she advocated on behalf of the CSU’s half-million students.

Delgadillo also served as a senator on the Academic Senate, a board member on the Student Union, a member of the Athletics Board, an orientation leader for New Student and Family Programs, and a member of Alpha Omicron Pi. She says these experiences helped her find her voice and gave her a platform to lead. 

“I believe that my personal and professional experiences at SJSU have laid the foundation for me to continue creating transformative change in my career and community,” says Delgadillo.

Delgadillo has earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and plans to pursue a master’s degree in the fall. She has received admission and a scholarship to the University of San Francisco to study sports management.

Learn more about Zobeida Delgadillo in the SJSU Newsroom


​Special thanks to ​​​CSU campus writers and photographers Kelli Ardis​​, Michelle Borges, Cathi Douglas, Matt GushTiffany Harbrecht, Benjamin Kirk, ​Debra Cano Ramos and Garvin Tso.​​
A grid of eight photos of smiling men and women.
A smiling woman wearing a graduation cap and gown.
True Grit: Remarkable Grads of 2021
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6/7/2021 8:27 AMMcCarthy, Michelle6/1/20216/1/2021 9:00 AMLGBTQIA awareness is always in season, but during Pride Month in June, there's a heightened sense of visibility and community.DiversityStory

30 Days of Pride

LGBTQIA awareness is always in season, but during Pride Month in June, there's a heightened sense of visibility and community. These CSU faculty members, students, alumni and staff are committ​ed to breaking down closet doors year-round.​

The LGBTQIA community is blessed with activists who dedicate their lives to fighting for equal rights. Past luminaries such as Harvey Milk, Sylvia Rivera, Audre Lorde and Edith Windsor changed the course of history, making their names synonymous with the movement. There are also those who may not garner the same widespread attention but still make huge strides in the ongoing effort for equality—people like pride center counselors, student leaders and faculty members who provide support.

While many pride celebrations may be virtual this year due to the pandemic, nothing can dampen the celebration. Click on each day below to meet just a few of the LGBTQIA members of the CSU who represent all the colors of the rainbow.

01
Robert Garcia, Ed.D.
Mayor of Long Beach
Alumnus, Cal State Long Beach
'02, '10
 

Robert Garcia, Ed.D. is Long Beach's first openly LGBTQIA elected mayor and the first person of color and Latino American to hold the office. Dr. Garcia is a first-generation student and was part of the first cohort of students to graduate from CSULB's​ doctoral program in educational leadership.


​02
Sally G​earhart
LGBTQIA Activist, Professor, Author, San Francisco State Professor Emerita
 

Sally Gearhart is the first out lesbian to obtain a tenure-track faculty position in the U.S.—a distinction she achieved while teaching at San Francisco State.

03
Eric Kupers
Theatre and Dance
Department Chair,
Cal State East Bay
 

Eric Kupers helped assemble CSUEB's first-ever Inclusive Performance Festival, a grassroots event committed to radical inclusion of artists and activists with and without disabilities, of all shapes and sizes, from all cultures, all gender expressions and all art forms and modes of communication.

04
Krystle Tonga
Assistant Director, Cross-Cultural Leadership Center 
Alumna, Chico State '11
 

Krystle Tonga enhances the work of diversity, equity and inclusion at Chico State by educating and promoting inclusive practices that elevate the experience of under-represented and marginalized communities at the faculty, staff and student level.

05
Ramon "Ray" Visaiz
Graduate Student
CSU Channel Islands '16
 

As an undergrad, Ramon Visaiz single-handedly planned CSUCI's first Rainbow Graduation. He even secured renowned LGBTQIA author Ronni Sanlo, Ed.D., whose life was the inspiration for the movie called Letter to Anita, as the guest speaker. He is currently pursuing a master's in education at CSUCI.

06
Bowen Neumann
Lead Peer Counselor
Sacramento State Pride Center
 

Bowen Neumann has worked at the Pride Center as a peer counselor since spring 2020, where he has supported students through their personal and academic endeavors. Neumann has helped his peers feel seen, heard and appreciated during one-on-one sessions.

07
daniel soodjinda, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Stanislaus State
 

Daniel Soodjinda, Ph.D., is an associate professor of liberal studies and teacher education. He has conducted research with LGBTQ+ Asian American students At Stanislaus State, Dr. Soodjinda serves as a mentor in the LGBTQ+ Mentorship Program.

08
Bonnie Sugiyama
Director, San José State PRIDE Center and Gender Equity Center
Alumni, Sacramento State '04, '11
 

Bonnie Sugiyama has worked on social justice issues as a student and a professional at several CSU campuses for 20-plus years, including: the advocating and founding of the Pride Center at Sacramento State; the re-visioning and creation of the Sonoma State University's Center for Culture, Gender and Sexuality (now the HUB); and the founding director of the PRIDE Center at SJSU.

09
thelma iwuchukwu​
Graduate Student, Occupational Therapy
CSU Dominguez Hills
 

Thelma Iwuchukwu has been connected with the Queer Culture & Resource Center at CSUDH for more than two years. Initially, Iwuchukwu was a volunqueer, then became employed as a student assistant. Prior to the pandemic, she facilitated community-building and educational efforts within CSUDH's physical space. During the pandemic, she collaborated with other student advocates and volunqueers to curate digital spaces such as the Flipgrid class titled Queer Culture & Community, promoted peer wellness and engagement on CSUDH's Discord group-chat platform and facilitated other social and educational events for the community and campus.​

10
James Martinez
Trustee, Fresno County Board of Education
Alumnus, Fresno State '10
 

James Martinez is the director of operations for the Associated Students, Inc. at Fresno State. He is recognized at the state and national levels as the first openly gay male elected official in Fresno County.

11
Eric Gonzaba
Assistant Professor, American Studies
Cal State Fullerton
 

Eric Gonzaba was recognized with the Emerging Open Scholarship Award from the Canadian Social Knowledge Institute for the project Mapping the Gay Guides, which explores American LGBTQIA spaces since 1965.

12
Bianca Tonantzin Zamora
Writer and Social Justice Educator
CSU Monterey Bay
 

Bianca Tonantzin Zamora serves as a coordinator and national workshop leader for CSUMB's Otter Cross-Cultural Center. She has served as the chair of the Monterey County LGBTQ+ Collective, manages the Queer Trans Mentorship Program and Rainbow LGBTQ+ Graduation Celebration at CSUMB and has curated the campus Werk Witch Drag Show. Zamora believes in and celebrates the power, brilliance and knowledge of Queer communities.

13
Chrystian Smith
Student
San Diego State
 

Chrystian Smith is the Associated Students Vice President of Internal Affairs for the 2020-21 academic year, a peer educator at the SDSU Pride Center and a Quest for the Best honoree.

14
Eloy Garcia
Student
Cal State San Bernardino
 

Eloy Garcia cofounded The Pride Pack, an LGBTQIA club on campus, and created the podcast LPDcast, which provides first-generation students of color with skills, habits and resources that are conducive to leadership and professional development.

15
Laurel Holmstrom-Keyes
Professor, Women and Gender Studies, 
Sonoma State
 

Laurel Holmstrom-Keyes coordinates a series of online forums called Tuesday Talks and helps maintain the LGBTQIA community listserv and website. She keeps the SSU LGBTQIA community connected by sending out reading and movie-viewing lists. Holmstrom-Keyes was instrumental in launching SSU's Safe Zones Program, has served on numerous coming out and educational panels and offered training for the campus community.

16
Amber St. James
Activist
Alumni, San Diego State '20
 

Amber St. James is a SDSU Strategic Planning Committee member. St. James has long been a strong advocate for improved visibility and support for members of the LGBTQIA community and for the university's strategic plan, with a particular focus on diversity, retention and success initiatives. St. James was the president and founder of the Black queer organization BlacQ Space​ on campus and lead programmer of SDSU's drag shows.

17
Dan Perez-Sornia
Associated Students Staff Coordinator
Alumni, Humboldt State '20
 

Dan Perez-Sornia was the first nonbinary member of the Delta Phi Epsilon sorority at Humboldt State. “Even though sororities and fraternities are very gendered organizations, it's important to know times are changing," Perez-Sornia says. “I'm the embodiment of that change."

18
Andrew Spieldenner, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Communication
CSU San Marcos
 

Andrew Spieldenner, Ph.D, is one of two new North American delegates to the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), which is leading the global effort to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030 by connecting governments, nonprofits and the private sector in providing life-saving HIV services. As a non-government delegate, his duties include developing and negotiating with member states to advance progressive HIV policies around the world.

19
Andrew Oca
Student
Cal Maritime
 

As an openly gay cadet at Cal Maritime, Andrew Oca's mission has been to bring visibility to the LGBTQIA community on campus. Through his many leadership roles, including being president of the Gay-Straight Alliance, Oca has helped shape the school's uniform and grooming standards to be more inclusive to transgender and gender-nonconforming cadets. Next year, he'll be the vice-chair for culture on the Cal Maritime Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, as well as the university's student housing director. He hopes to utilize the full potential of these positions to create a more inclusive campus and leave a lasting legacy for all future LGBTQIA cadets at Cal Maritime.

20
Frank Rojas
Journalist
Alumnus, Dominguez Hills '19
 

While at the L.A. Times, Frank Rojas wrote a personal essay on his coming out story​. He was also a member of The Wall Las Memorias Project a community health and wellness organization dedicated to serving the Latinx LGBTQIA community of Los Angeles. Rojas recently graduated with a master's from USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. 




21
Jay Bettergarcia
Professor, Psychology
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
 

Jay Bettergarcia launched the SLO ACCEPTance Project​, a multiyear series of trainings that equip therapists to better serve the LGBTQIA community.

22
Grace Vallejos
Student
Cal Poly Pomona
 

Grace Vallejos is the president of Cal Poly Pomona's Out in STEM chapter, which advocates for fostering community and spreading awareness of minority intersectionalities. “LGBTQIA advocacy means appreciating our queer ancestors, who gave their lives fighting for our rights and whose work we can still continue today," Vallejos says. “During the pandemic, a sense of normalcy, comfort and family away from home were needed more than ever. One of the most powerful ways to advocate can be as simple, yet profound, as cherishing the people and communities you already love."

23
cynthia wang, Ph.d.
Assistant Professor, Communications Studies 
​Cal State LA
 

​​Cynthia Wang, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the department of Communication Studies. ​She was named a 2021 ​Emerging Scholar by Diverse Magazine. Her research interests include the role critical theory and rhetorical perspectives play in the discourse around social justice issues, particularly as mediated by social network platforms. Dr. Wang is the founder of The ArQuives​, a digital location-based LGBTQ story-telling platform.​

24
Jason June
Author
Alumnus, CSUN '13, '16
 

Jason June has written queer-inclusive young adult books, including Mermicorn Island and Jay's Gay Agenda, published by Scholastic and HarperTeen. “This last year has taught us so much about how the universe can throw so many punches our way," he says. “What we really need now is a chance to laugh, a chance to connect to each other."

25
Micah Savin
Ph.D. Candidate
Alumnus, CSU San Marcos '18
 

When Micah Savin was 25, he lost the love of his life, Philip, to AIDS. Philip's last request was for Savin to “love others as you have loved me." That experience sparked his passion for neuroscience, specifically the impact AIDS and HIV have on the brain. A first-generation American Indian college student, Savin overcame numerous obstacles on the path to earning his degree, including being homeless for portions of his childhood. He is now in the Ph.D. program at Fordham.

26
Kris Grappendorf
Lecturer, Department Chair Kinesiology 
CSU Bakersfield
 

Kris Grappendorf has long been an advocate for and mentor to many LGBTQIA students. She began as co-chair of the LBGTQIA faculty staff affinity group in its inaugural year and launched the first of many LGBTQIA events on campus. Grappendorf initiated the proposal to seek the Campus Pride designation as an institution and assisted with the first Lavender Graduation Celebration. She also helped develop the first-ever Pride Week on campus and worked with the athletic department to create its first Pride Night at an intercollegiate volleyball game. 

27
Julia Balén, Ph.D.
Professor, English and Freedom & Justice Studies
CSU Channel Islands
 

Julia Balén, Ph.D., has helped move the needle significantly in terms of LGBTQIA awareness at CSUCI and in the community with her social activism. In the wake of several LGBTQIA suicides/murders, Dr. Balén organized a service learning project for her LGBTIA studies class. She had students research different aspects of bullying and organize a local anti-bullying summit​ for educational and religious leaders to learn more about how to create safer spaces for our youth. The summit resulted in ongoing social action and activism.

28
Alisha Valavanis
General Manager and CEO,
Seattle Storm
Alumna, Chico State '00, '04
 

Alisha Valavanis has been an outspoken advocate for equality related to women's sports. In 2016, she was presented with the Chico State Distinguished Alumni Award. Valavanis led the Seattle Storm to a fourth WNBA Championship in 2020​.

29
Ken Yeager
Political Science Lecturer, Former Politician, Activist
San José State
 

Ken Yeager was the first openly gay elected official in Silicon Valley, the first as a trustee of the San Jose-Evergreen Community College District, the San Jose City Council and the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. He is currently working on a groundbreaking history project focused on the LGBTQIA community in the San José-Santa Clara region. The website queersiliconvalley.org​ is now considered the prime repository of local LGBTGIA history.

30
Annika Anderson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Sociology,​ Director/Principal Investigator for Project Rebound
Cal State San Bernardino
 

Annika Anderson, Ph.D., leads a team that seeks to establish an alternative to the revolving door policy of the criminal justice system by eliminating barriers that prevent the formerly incarcerated from succeeding and graduating from college. Dr. Anderson was selected as a 2016 Summer Research Institute Fellow​ for The Racial Democracy, Crime & Justice Network at Rutgers University-Newark's School of Criminal Justice.

To meet more remarkable members of the CSU LGBTQIA community, visit Portraits of Pride.

30 Days of Pride
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5/27/2021 3:21 PMRuble, Alisia5/26/20215/26/2021 11:05 AMMental Health First Aid training program empowers CSU faculty to become mental health allies for students.WellnessStory

​​​​Living through a pandemic has shown us all the importance of mental health like never before. Faculty across the CSU's 23 campuses know this first-hand as they interact with their students during what has been an exceptionally challenging time for many—both academically and personally.

While each CSU campus offers critical Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) for students, some may be initially reluctant to seek professional help, but they may share mental health concerns privately with their instructors.

A 2021 survey from Boston University's School of Public Health indicated that university faculty members are increasingly involved in responding to their students' mental health concerns, yet report a lack of training on how they should respond.

Much like first aid training, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training prepares lay-people to provide aid to individuals in distress until they can be connected to professional help.

How and when should instructors intervene if concerns arise about a student's mental well-being? When is it considered a crisis? These are some of the questions CSU faculty have been exploring as they become certified in Mental Health First Aid, a virtual training program instructed by two CSU professors—Bonnie Gasior, Ph.D., professor of Spanish at Cal State Long Beach, and Darci Strother, Ph.D., professor of Modern Language Studies at CSU San Marcos.

Drs. Gasior and Strother are now offering the National Council for Mental Wellbeing-led  trainings to faculty across the CSU—and the demand continues to grow. By the end of the 2020-21 academic year, they will have trained six cohorts comprising more than 150 CSU faculty as certified Mental Health First Aid responders.

Much like first aid training, Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training prepares lay-people to provide aid to individuals in distress until they can be connected to professional help. In addition to reducing the stigma around mental health, the program teaches participants how to respond to common mental health and substance use issues that are sometimes exacerbated by the high-stress environment of college, and better equips participants to help students find social support networks and resources for recovery within and beyond their campus community.

After becoming certified to offer MHFA training and leading sessions for groups of faculty on their respective campuses, Gasior and Strother connected with Emily Magruder, Ph.D., director of the CSU Institute for Teaching & Learning, to create a university-wide training program in partnership with campus faculty development centers. After all, 75 percent of mental illnesses develop before age 25, making colleges ideal locations for early identification, and faculty are often in a position to serve as “first responders."

During her 10-year stint as a CSULB faculty advisor, Dr. Gasior explains that she was always struck by the number of students who would confide in her about a mental health challenge. “For each student who came in with an academic problem, I would have another disclose a mental health issue," says Gasior, who helped bring the faculty-focused MHFA program to CSULB as a Provost Leadership Fellow and was awarded a CSU Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award (FILA) for her efforts.

Similarly, Strother's time as a department chair and as an ongoing faculty mentor convinced her that she needed more tools in her skill-set to support student success, and that knowing how to address her students' mental health needs better would make her a more effective educator.

The program Strother and Gasior teach is specifically focused on training faculty and the unique challenges they may face when interacting with university students in the virtual or physical classroom.

The whole idea is to enable faculty to feel that they can intervene. They can deescalate. they can get that person to the appropriate professional."—​Dr. Bonnie gasior, Cal state long beach professor

“The whole idea is to enable faculty to feel that they can intervene. They can deescalate. They can have de-stigmatizing conversations and they can get that person to the appropriate professional to find the help that they need," says Gasior.

A critical topic covered in the coursework is suicide, says Strother, explaining that they have participants go through an exercise in which they learn to develop a sort of “muscle memory" by asking another human being—even if it's on Zoom—“Are you having thoughts of suicide?"

“It's a really, really uncomfortable exercise. Every time I do it, it's uncomfortable," she says. “But we need to not be afraid to have those conversations and to have them in ways that are direct, and not stigmatizing."

Strother points to data from a fall 2020 survey by the American College Health Association that reports 2 percent of college students surveyed attempted suicide in the last 12 months. “Not just thought about it, but actually attempted suicide. If you have 50 students in a class, one of them may have attempted suicide in the last 12 months. College professors need to know about that," she says, adding that a faculty member's ability to help a student get immediate attention can really make a difference.

Strother adds: “We should never be comfortable with suicide, but we should also never bury it because it's out there. It's among us. Students having thoughts of suicide may be present in every class that we teach, unfortunately. So faculty in all disciplines would be well-served to know what to do and to be able to have those conversations."

​Gasior and Strother emphasize that the faculty's response and feedback on the MHFA trainings has been reaffirming and rewarding. “It speaks really highly to the dedication of the faculty in the CSU that so many of them are willing to step up to the plate and do this training on top of their regular workload," Strother says. “The faculty are coming to this work because they see value in it. And because they're incredibly committed to their students' well-being." Addressing student engagement and well-being is an operational priority of Graduation Initiative 2025, the university-wide effort to increase graduation rates for all CSU students while eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps.

​Because the demand for MHFA faculty training has far outpaced the pair's capacity to offer them, the CSU Institute for Teaching & Learning plans to expand the program in 2021-22 to add additional faculty instructors. In fact, their current coordinator, Sailesh Maharjan, a faculty member in psychology as CSUSB, will receive his instructor certification this summer.

“Just like every community needs as many people as possible trained in physical first aid, every community also needs as many people as possible who are trained in Mental Health First Aid," Strother affirms. “It's just something that strengthens communities across the board."


​If you are in crisis or considering suicide, immediately call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), call 911, or go to your nearest ER.



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First Responders for Mental Health Challenges
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5/24/2021 8:14 AMMcCarthy, Michelle5/24/20215/24/2021 9:00 AMTake a visual stroll down memory lane and witness the transformational experience of the CSU throughout the years.Story

​​​​​There's something about big milestones in life that can evoke feelings of nostalgia. All of a sudden, you're rustling through old scrapbooks, dusting off photographs and calling to mind memories that bring a smile to your face.

When the California State University blew out 60 candles last April, we marked the occasion on a grand scale. Following a theme every month, all 23 CSU campuses shared photos from their past and present. Images include faculty members, students, staff and alumni from all six decades of the CSU's existence, capturing moments from the rich experience of college life.

Since the signing of the Donahoe Higher Education Act into law on April 27, 1960, the CSU has grown to become the largest system of four-year higher education in the nation. When you stop to think about the vast number of lives touched by the university, it can be awe-inspiring.

We invite you to revisit the CSU's celebration of 60 years of educational excellence. Here's to 60 more!​

View the complete CSU 60​th anniversary photo collection.

College students pose for a photo.
Picture This—60 Years of Educational Excellence
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5/19/2021 9:02 AMKelly, Hazel5/19/20215/19/2021 9:00 AMThe CSU Board of Trustees has appointed Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, Ph.D., to serve as the ninth president of Fresno State.LeadershipPress Release

​The California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees has appointed Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval, Ph.D., to serve as the ninth president of California State University, Fresno. Jiménez-Sandoval currently serves as interim president of Fresno State.

“From providing world-class, transformational educational opportunities, to conducting cutting-edge research, to uniting our entire community in support of athletic teams, Fresno State makes a profound impact on the entire Central Valley," said Jiménez-Sandoval. “It is an honor to be chosen to lead this premier university, which opens doors of opportunities for our talented students and improves the quality of life for everyone in the Valley. I look forward to working together with our dynamic faculty, committed staff, talented students and innovative community partners to increase the life-changing opportunities that a Fresno State education provides."

“Dr. Jiménez-Sandoval has an exciting vision for the future of the university while having gained immeasurable institutional knowledge and developed outstanding relationships throughout the campus and community over his many years of service to Fresno State," said CSU Trustee Jane Carney, chair of the Fresno State search committee.  

Jiménez-Sandoval has a deep history with Fresno State and an even longer association with the Central Valley. He first joined the university as a member of the faculty in 2000. Over two decades of service, he has served as professor of Spanish and Portuguese, coordinator of the Spanish master of arts degree, chair of the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, interim associate dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, and provost.

His relation to the Central Valley reaches back to his early years, as he grew up in nearby Fowler after his family moved to the area from Mexico and maintained the family farm. He and his wife, Dr. Mariana Anagnostopoulos, a member of the Fresno State Philosophy Department faculty, are proud parents of two sons, Arion and Leo.

Jiménez-Sandoval graduated cum laude with bachelor's degrees in Spanish and History from the University of California, Irvine, where he also earned his Ph.D. in Spanish and Portuguese literatures. In addition, he has professional certificates in critical theory from Cornell University, in Spanish art history from Escuela de Arte y Antigüedades de Madrid (Spain), and in Portuguese language and culture from Universidade de Lisboa (Portugal).

Jiménez-Sandoval will immediately assume the campus presidency.

 

 
About the California State University
The California State University is the largest system of four-year higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, 56,000 faculty and staff and 486,000 students. Half of the CSU's students transfer from California community colleges. Created in 1960, the mission of the CSU is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of California. With its commitment to quality, opportunity, and student success, the CSU is renowned for superb teaching, innovative research and for producing job-ready graduates. Each year, the CSU awards nearly 129,000 degrees. One in every 20 Americans holding a college degree is a graduate of the CSU and our alumni are 3.9 million strong. Connect with and learn more about the CSU in the CSU NewsCenter.​ 


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Saúl Jiménez-Sandoval Appointed President of California State University, Fresno
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5/18/2021 11:09 AMKelly, Hazel5/18/20215/18/2021 8:25 AMBroad’s generous legacy throughout the CSU will positively impact generations of students in California. PhilanthropyStory

​​Eli Broad, entrepreneur, philanthropist and former CSU Trustee, died on April 30, 2021 in Los Angeles at the age of 87. The well-known champion of K-12 and higher education in California was a generous benefactor to the California State University. Broad served as a CSU trustee from 1978 until 1982making a point to visit every campus to better understand each university and the students it served. 

“I am saddened by the loss of a great leader in education, science and the arts. Mcondolences go out to his wife Edythe and the Broad family,” said CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro. “The CSU is grateful to Eli for his service as a trustee and for the Broad Foundation’s generosity over the years. We are proud to carry on his legacy through our mission of equitable access to higher education for Californians.” 

Broad’s support for the CSU extended throughout the university system. He was Sacramento State’s most generous benefactor in the history of the university, donating more than $30 million over the years. In 2005 the Eli and Edythe Broad Education Foundation gave the university $2 million toward construction of the athletics field house that bears their nameinspiring other donors to join in the fundraising effort. More recently, Broad’s Placer Ranch Inc. donated 300 acres of land in Placer County—valued at $27.4 million—to Sacramento State to expand access to four-year public higher education in the regionPlacer Ranch has committed to invest additional in-kind gifts to the university for construction of the new off-site educational center. Mr. Broad also donated the first $1 million toward Sacramento State’s first building at the Placer Center. 

Broad was also passionate about the arts and lent his guidance and support in the development of CSUN’s Younes and Soraya Nazarian Center for the Performing Arts (formerly known as the Valley Performing Arts Center), and the Broad Foundation also supported an exhibit at Cal State Long Beach’s University Art Museum. As a former trustee, Broad was also a supporter of the CSU Chancellor’s Office Trustees’ Award program.  

Eli and Edythe Broad established the Broad Foundation in 1999 with the goal of improving urban public education. The foundation committed more than $500 million toward the cause in its first five years. The couple were also longtime supporters of civic development, medical research, science, and the arts. In 2015, they opened The Broad, a free, contemporary art museum in downtown Los Angeles, and are credited with helping reshape the cultural landscape of Los Angeles. 

The son of Jewish immigrants from Lithuania, Eli Broad graduated from Michigan State University in 1954 and went on to build two Fortune 500 companies over a five-decade career in business. Eli and Edythe Broad earned distinction among leading American philanthropists with their support of education, the arts, and science and medical research. Among their contributions to higher education were naming gifts to UCLA, California Institute of Technology, Pitzer College, Michigan State University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University and Whitehead Institute. In addition to serving as a member of the CSU Board of Trustees, Broad also served as a trustee for Caltech and Pitzer College. Visit the Broad Foundation website to learn more.  

 Visit the CSU Foundation website to learn more about charitable giving to the CSU.  ​

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Eli Broad is survived by his wife Edythe, co-founder of the Eli and Edythe Broad Education Foundation. Courtesy of the Broad Foundation 

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Sacramento State Placer Center, which will be on 301 acres near the center of the Placer Ranch development, is meant to expand higher education opportunities in the region.  







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A Legacy of Impact: Honoring Late Philanthropist, Former CSU Trustee Eli Broad
may-2021-budget-revise-statement.aspx
  
5/28/2021 11:13 AMKelly, Hazel5/14/20215/14/2021 1:00 PMThe Governor’s May Revision budget proposal provides significant additional funding to public higher education and the CSU.BudgetPress Release

​​​​​​​The following statement can be attributed to California State University Chancellor Joseph I. Castro:

“The Governor's May Revision budget proposal provides significant additional funding to public higher education and the California State University, and contains many visionary strategies that will enable the Golden State's economy to come roaring back. Two such bold proposals are transformational investments in Humboldt State University to expedite a transition that will further meet California's needs and at California State University, Northridge to create a national Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) 'Equity Innovation Hub.'

“We are grateful for the proposed recurring investment in the CSU. Investing in the CSU—the nation's largest and most diverse public university—continues to be one of the wisest and most consequential decisions our state's leaders can make with a sevenfold return on every dollar that California invests in the university.

“Over the coming weeks, the CSU will celebrate commencement and the conferral of more than 130,000 degrees on Californians who will help to propel our state's recovery. The total number of CSU graduates will continue to grow in future years as additional investment in the CSU will directly benefit student achievement through our university-wide Graduation Initiative 2025 efforts and will further strengthen our work to eliminate equity gaps and improve success among students from underserved communities.

“The one-time funding proposed by Governor Newsom is also very much appreciated and is essential to begin addressing the university's long-standing infrastructure needs. We are at a unique moment in time as the state has robust projections of one-time funding available, and the university has decades-old infrastructure needs that can be met with further investment. As the budget process continues, the CSU will continue to advocate for additional funds to improve and modernize our facilities so that our current and future talented and diverse students can benefit from the learning conditions they deserve."


​The following statement can be attributed to Zahraa Khuraibet, President, California State Students Association:

“We are happy to see the Governor’s support of the CSU and its students through his proposed investments. CSU students appreciate the administration’s continued prioritization of equity and affordability.  This includes the new and historic $4 billion for student housing insecurity, which has been a major barrier for too many students for too long. The California State Student Association looks forward to advocating with our higher education partners to ensure that the CSU is accessible, affordable, and sustainable for all students.” 


The following statement can be attributed to Dr. Robert Keith Collins, Chair, Academic Senate California State University:

"​On behalf of the 26,934 faculty of the CSU, we are grateful for the increased institutional resources. This increased funding further enables faculty success to continue enabling student success and reducing barriers to access and achievement." 


Combining all budget proposals from January through May, Governor Gavin Newsom proposed an increase of $514.9 million in recurring funding that will substantially align with the funding priorities expressed in the CSU Board of Trustees' budget request for 2021-22.  Additionally, the Governor's proposals would provide a one-time allocation of $325 million, of which $150 million is federal funds, for critical infrastructure, maintenance, and renovation projects. Also, Governor Newsom proposed additional one-time allocations of $433 million to advance the transition of Humboldt State University into the state's third polytechnic university and $25 million to create a Center for Equity and Innovation in Technology at CSUN that will accelerate Latinx student success. Graduation Initiative 2025 is the CSU's ambitious university-wide initiative to increase graduation rates for all CSU students while eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps facilitating additional success for students from underserved communities and historically underrepresented in higher education.​


About the California State University

The California State University is the largest system of four-year higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, 56,000 faculty and staff and 486,000 students. Half of the CSU's students transfer from California community colleges. Created in 1960, the mission of the CSU is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of California. With its commitment to quality, opportunity and student success, the CSU is renowned for superb teaching, innovative research and for producing job-ready graduates. Each year, the CSU awards nearly 129,000 degrees. One in every 20 Americans holding a college degree is a graduate of the CSU and our alumni are 3.9 million strong. Connect with and learn more about the CSU in the CSU NewsCenter

California Capitol Building
Statements from California State University Leaders on Governor’s May Revision Budget Proposal
a-time-to-celebrate.aspx
  
5/10/2021 8:14 AMBarrie, Matthew5/10/20215/10/2021 4:15 PMWhether in-person or virtual, 2021 commencements will be a time to remember for CSU graduates.CommencementStory

A Time To Celebrate

Whether in-person or virtual, 2021 commencements will be a time to remember for CSU graduates.


 

In 2020, the pandemic forced campuses to celebrate commencements virtually. This year, celebrations will look a bit different, especially as California begins to loosen its COVID-19 restrictions. While the CSU will not see a full return to traditional ceremonies—some campuses will continue with virtual commencements—many have found creative ways to mark the milestone in person for both 2020 and 2021 graduates.

​Each CSU campus is following state and county guidelines to ensure any event maintains the safety of those in attendance, and many campuses will also provide livestreams of their events for those who can’t or choose not to attend.

“In this most extraordinary year, I offer my deep admiration, gratitude and sincere congratulations to a most extraordinary class of graduates,” Chancellor Joseph I. Castro wrote in a letter to this year’s graduates. “As numerous forces upended our world, you held your dreams steadily in sight and persisted in your studies through challenges none of us could have imagined.”

Take a look at how a few campuses plan to celebrate their graduates.

In-Person Ceremonies

With safety measures in place, such as mask wearing, social distancing and limits on guests in attendance, a number of CSU campuses have planned more traditional ceremonies.

Graduates at California State University San Marcos will be able to walk across the commencement stage during five in-person ceremonies organized by each college. They will be able to invite two guests to the viewing audience.

“My sisters are very important to me, and to have them attend my graduation ceremony was always something I pictured," says Gladys Guzman, '21, CSUSM graduate with a double major in sociology and criminology and justice studies. “However, even if I will not be allowed to have them physically present with me because of the two-guest limit due to CDC guidelines, I am grateful I will have the opportunity to walk across the stage and have my parents witness one of their daughters graduating. Not only is a graduation ceremony important for us as students, but as the first one in my family to graduate, it is also a way to honor and thank those who believed in and supported my journey."

Last year, CSU San Marcos hosted its first Graduates on Parade celebration as a substitute for a traditional commencement event. The parade was so beloved by students that it will become an annual tradition. This year, the event will not only give individuals another option if they are not yet comfortable attending the in-person ceremony, but it will allow graduates to celebrate alongside even more of the support system that helped them on their journey.

Moving its ceremony from the quad to Bodnar Field, California State University Maritime Academy has also planned for a traditional commencement with a two-guest limit.

“Commencement means everything I have worked night and day for over the last few years was worth it," says Connor Crutchfield, '21, Cal Maritime graduate and Corps of Cadets Commander. “With in-person commencement, I am grateful I get to spend the last couple moments as a student at Cal Maritime with those who have helped me get to this point in my life."

California State University, Chico announced an in-person ceremony for graduates only—but will also keep its virtual ceremonies for family, friends and graduates not attending in-person commencement.

“Celebrating commencement with an in-person ceremony means I will be able to experience that special feeling of accomplishment, while surrounded by the peers I've gotten to know in my department throughout my four years," says Kayley Parr, '21, Chico State graduate in communication design. “I am grateful I will be able to walk across the stage in person and gain a sense of closure as I move on to my next chapter!"

Car-mencement Ceremonies

From drive-in ceremonies to parades, campuses have also found ways for students to celebrate graduation with friends and family from the safety of their vehicles.

At California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, students and their guests will drive in to the commencement venue—similar to a drive-in movie—where large screens and a stage will be set up. The ceremony will include the elements of a traditional ceremony, and students will be able to exit their car and walk across the stage.

“Although it's not a normal commencement ceremony, I'm actually really excited we've been given the opportunity to have a drive-in commencement ceremony with approval to cross the stage after worrying we weren't going to be able to have anything," says CPP communication graduate, Courtnee Owens, '21. “I'm really grateful that Cal Poly Pomona is working hard to make sure 2020 and 2021 grads are recognized for our accomplishments."

CARme​ncement at California State University, Sacramento will likewise allow graduates to celebrate together from their cars. As students drive through campus, commencement speeches and videos will play along the route while faculty and staff cheer them on. Though graduates will not be able to walk across a stage, there will be two Recognition Zones where graduates will be individually honored.

“As a graduating senior, I completely sympathize with how difficult this has been for my fellow graduates," Noah Marty, '21, Sacramento State ASI president and political science graduate, says in a campus article. “This isn't how any of us imagined our graduation ceremony to be, but the university undertaking a completely new challenge to give our class a graduation experience is incredibly commendable."

Virtual Ceremonies

Several campuses have deemed virtual ceremonies the best option to maintain the safety of their faculty, staff, students and their families.

California State University, Northridge, for example, will hold campus-wide and college-based virtual commencements for its graduates featuring degree conferral, speeches and student recognition. William Watkins, Ph.D., CSUN vice president for student affairs and dean of students wrote on April 2​, 2​021, that even with fewer restrictions, the size of the campus's graduating class makes an in-person ceremony impossible, “even with no guests in attendance."

“Having a virtual commencement isn't my preference, but it tells me the staff of CSUN are doing their best to honor the efforts of the graduating classes while also trying to keep everyone safe and healthy," says Cyrus Shafii, '21, CSUN graduate in English.

However, CSUN will also host a series of commencement car parades following the virtual event and will add at least one commencement day in 2022 and 2023 for 2020 and 2021 graduates.

“The chance to drive through campus would give me the opportunity to say good-bye not just to CSUN's campus, but to this entire chapter of my life," Shafii says. “While it's a shame I won't be able to do this while walking across a stage surrounded by my peers, I do appreciate the symbolic gesture driving through campus offers. I'll be separated physically from my peers and CSUN's staff within the confines of the car, but I won't be alone. Even distanced, we're still together in a way."


Check your respective campus website for information and livestreams, and keep in mind campus plans may continue to change in the coming weeks.

A Time To Celebrate
CSU-vaccination-partnerships.aspx
  
5/5/2021 10:48 AMKelly, Hazel5/5/20215/5/2021 10:35 AMMany CSU campuses now offer even more options for students and employees to get their COVID-19 shots, thanks to unique partnerships with national pharmacies and local hospitals. CaliforniaStory

​​​In an effort to make the COVID-19 vaccine readily available to its campus communities, the CSU has partnered with national pharmacies and area hospitals to offer free local pop-up clinics specifically for CSU students and employees. While many CSU campuses already serve as vaccination sites for the broader community, these new clinics represent a unique public-private partnership between the university and pharmacies such as Rite Aid, Albertsons/Safeway, CVS and Walmart.  

“The CSU is thrilled to be able to partner with major national pharmacies to bring the COVID-19 vaccine directly to our campuses,” says Jenny Novak, director of systemwide emergency management and continuity at the CSU Chancellor’s Office. “We highly encourage all CSU students, staff and faculty to take advantage of these free and convenient vaccination days just for our communities. Through these partnerships, we are actively doing our part to help the state achieve its vaccination and immunity goals.” 

For example, both CSU Channel Islands and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo partnered with Rite Aid to offer first-dose COVID-19 vaccines on April 29 and will begin second-dose appointments on May 20. Chico State has also partnered with Rite Aid to offer a clinic on May 11, and Cal State Fullerton has partnered with Providence St. Jude Medical Center to make COVID-19 vaccinations available to all faculty, staff, students and their immediate family members living in Southern California.   

Interested students and employees should visit their CSU campus coronavirus information website or contact their office of student affairs or human resources department for information.   

On April 22, the CSU announced plans to implement a fall 2021 term COVID-19 vaccination requirement upon FDA approval of one or more of the vaccines. The proposed policy—still in development—would require all students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated before accessing any campus facilities. In addition, the American College Health Association urges college students to schedule their COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible and not to delay initiation until they reach their summer destination. 

As part of its commitment to safeguarding the health and safety of its students and employees, the CSU will continue to assess the needs of its campuses and may consider offering additional clinics closer to the start of the fall semester.  


​​​Vaccination Tips

  • Schedule your first vaccination appointment as soon as possible 
  • Make a plan for the second dose (if applicable) at the same time 

  • Protect and duplicate vaccine documentation cards 

​​


woman giving man an injection in his arm
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5/3/2021 8:33 AMSua, Ricky5/3/20215/3/2021 8:40 AMWith the graduation of the Class of 2021, the CSU will reach the astounding milestone of 4 million living alumni.AlumniStory
Cheers to the Class of 4 Million
CSU-COVID-Vax-Requirement-FDA-Approval.aspx
  
4/22/2021 1:18 PMKelly, Hazel4/22/20214/22/2021 1:00 PMRequirement would go into effect for the fall 2021 term contingent upon one or more vaccines receiving full approval.PolicyPress Release

​​​​​​In the interest of maintaining the health and safety of students, employees, guests and all members of campus communities, the California State University (CSU) joined the University of California (UC)​ today (April 22, 2021) in announcing that the universities intend to require faculty, staff and students who are accessing campus facilities at any university location to be immunized against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This requirement will be conditioned upon full approval of one or more vaccines by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as adequate availability of the fully approved vaccines. This requirement will become effective at the beginning of the fall 2021 term, or upon full FDA approval of the vaccine, whichever occurs later. 

“Together, the CSU and UC enroll and employ more than one million students and employees across 33 major university campuses, so this is the most comprehensive and consequential university plan for COVID-19 vaccines in the country," said CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro. “Consistent with previous CSU announcements related to the university's response to the pandemic, we are sharing this information now to give students, their families and our employees ample time to make plans to be vaccinated prior to the start of the fall term."

“Receiving a vaccine for the virus that causes COVID-19 is a key step people can take to protect themselves, their friends and family, and our campus communities while helping bring the pandemic to an end," said UC President Michael V. Drake, M.D.

Prior to the implementation of any changes to the CSU's existing immunization requirements, the CSU will engage the California State Student Association, the CSU Academic Senate and labor unions. The COVID-19 vaccination requirement would allow for students or employees to seek an exemption based on medical or religious grounds. The policy and related implementation details are under development and will be made available once the consultations have concluded.

“The state of California has been a leader in the administration of COVID-19 vaccines, and Californians receiving a vaccine has led to significantly reducing the transmission of COVID-19 in our state," added Castro. “Continued vigilance will further mitigate the spread of the disease that has radically altered our lives over the past year. We will continue to strongly encourage all members of our respective university communities to receive a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as it is available to them."

As announced in December 2020, the CSU plans for the majority of instruction and activities in fall 2021 to be in-person while acknowledging there will be variance across the campuses. The planned COVID-19 vaccine requirement will further enable the campuses to be repopulated.

Visit the UC Office of the President also issued a press release​ on April 22.



# # #

About the California State University
The California State University is the largest system of four-year higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, 56,000 faculty and staff and 486,000 students. Half of the CSU's students transfer from California community colleges. Created in 1960, the mission of the CSU is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of California. With its commitment to quality, opportunity, and student success, the CSU is renowned for superb teaching, innovative research and for producing job-ready graduates. Each year, the CSU awards nearly 129,000 degrees. One in every 20 Americans holding a college degree is a graduate of the CSU and our alumni are 3.9 million strong. Connect with and learn more about the CSU in the CSU NewsCenter. 



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