CSU Voices and Views

Higher Education for All

James M. Rosser
President
California State University, Los Angeles

Cal State L.A. President James M. Rosser greets prospective CSU students from the congregation of the New Covenant Baptist Church in Norwalk.

Cal State L.A. President James M. Rosser greets prospective CSU students from the congregation of the New Covenant Baptist Church in Norwalk.

Like many of the thousands of CSU employees, alumni, students, and, of course, our partners in church congregations across the state, I placed high hopes on the Super Sunday effort and our collective aspirations of encouraging more young African Americans to enroll in college.

From those very first town hall meetings that inspired the CSU African American Initiative, to now our eighth year in this effort, our success is more than apparent; it is applauded and serves as a model for educational outreach and change across the nation.

Next month, when I again stand in front of a congregation to discuss the Road to College and the life-enriching benefits of a college degree, I look forward to making meaningful connections with the young people and those for whom this information is so critical. For some, shedding a little more light on the path is all that is needed. For others, the information is a call to action.

Since announcing my retirement, and as Super Sunday quickly approaches, I have reflected on how far we have come and how much farther there is to go. From my colleagues who wake early on Sunday morning to address churches filled with hundreds of parishioners, to those who plan the events and hand out literature before and after service, I thank you for your efforts and enthusiasm.

Super Sunday was launched in 2006. That year, the CSU partnered with 35 faith-based institutions throughout California. Since then, we have expanded to around 100 churches and have created additional comprehensive signature programs that take place throughout the year. Our creative forethought, and the planning that ensued in partnership with our church partners, has enabled us to develop a continually expanding pipeline of more educationally-prepared African American youth entering postsecondary institutions.

Of course, many challenges remain for young African Americans; however, it is a great source of satisfaction for me to have contributed to Super Sunday to help level the playing field by providing accurate and useful information, and through direct and productive action.

During my 34-year career at Cal State L.A., I have experienced the pendulum of the state’s prosperity swing from prosperous to adverse times—from our current budgetary challenges, to exponential growth in the number of students we serve, and their positive impact on the communities in which they work and live.

We cannot rest on our laurels. It is imperative that we push forward. The increasing demographic shift in California’s and the nation’s job market make it vital that African Americans, Latinos and the full spectrum of students, inclusive of other underrepresented student groups, obtain critical skills, particularly those in math, engineering, science and technology fields.

We have come a long way, yet the CSU must work harder and remain unwavering in helping ensure all students of color become and remain competitive in a rapidly changing economy. And we will. Through our experience on the frontlines in this effort, and as witnessed time and time again during our professional lives, we know that a strong economy and workforce, particularly in California, will largely depend on the educational attainment of all students.

I have dedicated much of my career to increasing access to higher education for all students and I am particularly pleased by the knowledge that the work we have all done through the African American Initiative and Super Sundays will carry on long after I retire.

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4 Comments to “Higher Education for All”

  1. dwight w, Student from Fresno, Says:

    I Dwight am a senior high school student at Newark Memorial high school in Newark, California. I am a point guard on our varsity basketball team and I keep a grade point average at 3.01. I am striving to be all that God has planned for me to be. My parents are not working right now due to my dad had a stroke and my mom has been taking care of him around the clock. So I am trying to get help so I can be successful in life. Thanks

  2. Erik Fallis Says:

    Hello Dwight,

    I am so glad you are still striving for college despite your family’s health and financial challenges. Your story is one that many CSU students can identify with, and I hope you are getting the guidance and support you need to join your peers on our campuses. The most critical step coming up is submitting a free application for federal student aid by March 2 at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/

    Nearly half of all CSU students have their tuition costs covered by grants/waivers or other forms of aid that do not need to be paid back. However, the FAFSA is required to qualify for the aid. Even if you are still deciding between campuses, or the CSU and another college, you can fill out the FAFSA and send the information to multiple institutions.

    Best wishes for your success,
    Erik Fallis
    efallis@calstate.edu

  3. Annamaria Says:

    I’m a philosophy stdnuet at CSU Stanislaus and I’m in the honors program. Just stopping by to say a big hello to all those who think we stdnuets should go join the army or work cheap labor because obviously, we’re painfully stupid and unworthy of higher education. You don’t think all these remedial stdnuets, whom you claim make up most of Stan State, could possibly be the fault of the California education system? (continued in next post)

  4. Erik Fallis Says:

    Hello Annamaria,

    This particular blog entry makes no mention of remedial education. However, I sense your frustration and would like to help direct you to someone who can provide information on this topic.

    The CSU is particularly concerned with working in partnership with the K-12 system so we can address some of the challenges in student preparation. Please feel free to email me at efallis@calstate.edu and continue this conversation.

    Best regards,
    Erik Fallis

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