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Cal State Fullerton Awarded $250,000 Grant to Advance Black Student Success and Foster Inclusive Excellence

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To advance Black student success and elevate Black excellence, Cal State Fullerton was awarded a one-time grant of $250,000 from the California State University system that will be used to expand pathways for first-year students, support learning communities and inclusive curriculum, and reinforce equitable searches for tenure-track faculty.

The grant is part of a systemwide initiative led by the CSU’s Black Student Success Workgroup to reimagine how the nation’s largest four-year public university system supports Black students and addresses persistent trends in low Black student enrollment, retention and graduation rates. The CSU announced a 2024 allocation of $4,630,846 to 23 campuses, which is part of a $10 million commitment over the next three years to fund priority areas outlined in the report “Advancing Black Student Success in the CSU.”

CSUF President Sylvia Alva, who previously served as the CSU’s executive vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, led the workgroup and acknowledged the many CSU students, faculty and staff who shared their experiences. The report was the culmination of interviews, listening sessions, surveys and other activities conducted over the course of spring 2023.

“In the past three years, our nation has faced crises like the pandemic, financial instability and social injustices against Black individuals,” said Alva. “While this has raised awareness about Black experiences, it has also highlighted the disparity between our ideals and actions within the CSU. Our collective mission, therefore, is to bridge this gap and unlock the full potential of Black excellence.”

The funding allocated to Cal State Fullerton will support two key initiatives:

Conducting Equitable and Inclusive Workshop Search Series: CSUF is supporting tenure-track faculty searches through recruitment, interview and evaluation of candidates using research-based best practices to mitigate bias. Workshop topics include: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Fundamentals: Focusing on Unconscious Bias; Crafting an Equity-Minded Position Announcement; Creating an Intentional Recruitment Plan; Creating Equitable Evaluation Criteria and Interview Questions; and Post-Selection Strategies. The university also is enhancing the search experience by partnering with the Black Faculty and Staff Association and other faculty and staff associations in the on-campus interview process.

Equitable Pedagogy Module: The Equitable Pedagogy Module is a universitywide intervention focusing on anti-Blackness and the impact of white supremacy in classroom practices and building learning communities for syllabus change to diversify the curriculum. The program promotes equitable teaching practices to improve student success and encourages faculty to critically examine their curriculum by providing stipends and learning communities for faculty to create changes in their syllabus.

To advance this work, Patience Bryant was recently appointed Cal State Fullerton’s inaugural executive director of Black student academic success, effective May 6.

“I am excited to embark on this journey with our newly appointed executive director of Black student success,” said Cecil Chik, assistant vice president for diversity, inclusion and equity and chief diversity officer. “With the financial commitment from the Chancellor’s Office, our campus can continue to make intentional impact on our Black student experiences in and outside the classroom.”

These initiatives were informed by the active participation of CSUF Black student leaders, Black faculty and staff, Black alumni, college deans and recommendations from the systemwide report, which featured best practices from all 23 campuses. 

Best Practices at Cal State Fullerton

  • During the 2022-23 academic year, Cal State Fullerton successfully conducted a cohort hire by modifying job postings and implementing intentional recruitment efforts in the College of Education. As a result, three out of four hires were Black faculty members, contributing to an increase in Black faculty representation from 5% to 12% since 2018. 
  • CSUF’s Institute of Black Intellectual Innovation is developing a leadership team comprising faculty and alumni to drive institutional change through collaborative research, artistic performance and relevant conferences. The university also supports faculty research projects fostering collaborative partnerships related to innovative cultural production, research and service. 
  • Cal State Fullerton updated its Student Opinion of Teaching evaluations to address race, equity and respect in the classroom. This change aims to gather feedback on crucial aspects of the learning environment.
  • To foster diversity, equity and inclusion across campus, Cal State Fullerton’s Division of Human Resources, Diversity and Inclusion has initiated a mandatory DEI goal for Management Personnel Plan employees as part of their evaluations.
  • Cal State Fullerton’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Programs has developed a bias communication protocol that brings the assistant vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion into the communication process for bias- or hate-related incidents on campus. The university has successfully coordinated centralized communication and care, campus communication and care, and direct communication and care to impacted communities.