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Great expectations and opportunities

  • March 10, 2008

As a regional university, Cal State East Bay's core mission is to make high quality higher education truly accessible to qualified East Bay students of all backgrounds. We are embracing this stewardship role in part through growing outreach to the East Bay communities we serve - including those historically underserved - together with a powerful message of access, opportunity, inclusion, and stewardship. The events of the past month bear proud witness to this commitment and to our progress.

"Live the Dream, Embrace Your Future," was the theme of the annual African American Education Summit held on the Hayward Campus of Cal State East Bay March 1 - but the slogan could very well apply to the message countless CSUEB students, faculty, and staff have been delivering to all of our potential students since last fall. "If you can dream it, you can do it," Bay Area civil rights attorney John. L. Burris told teenagers and their families at the African American Summit, which drew an estimated 900 to 1,000 persons for the speakers and workshops on preparation for college and an educational resource fair. These moving exhortations mirror the encouragement that our outreach teams offer prospective students every day as they work to convey the transformative opportunity that a Cal State East Bay education offers.

"CSU Super Sunday," when we partnered with the California State University system and 17 Bay Area African American churches on Feb. 17 to raise awareness of college accessibility and requirements among congregations, is yet another example of our progress in engaging and motivating underserved youth and their families. I had the privilege of addressing congregations at Revival Center Ministries in Vallejo and Oakland's Acts Full Gospel Church of God in Christ. Chancellor Charles Reed, Cal State Bakersfield President Horace Mitchell, Cal State Fullerton President Milton Gordon, Cal State Dominguez Hills President Mildred Garcia, and California State University Trustee Mathew Jenkins, together with a number of CSUEB administrators and professors, addressed congregations at other locations. Following each church service, CSUEB outreach teams provided information on the application and admission process.

Just two weeks earlier, on Feb. 2, our gymnasium was packed with young people and their families for the annual Latino Education Summit. The theme for that event was "Education is Everybody's Business," and that slogan certainly describes the Cal State East Bay philosophy of outreach to all who live in the region we serve. Participants at the event were able to attend workshops presented both in English and Spanish aimed at providing important information to college-bound students and their parents. And educators were able to learn strategies for dealing with multicultural and language issues.

In the spirit of regional stewardship, we co-hosted these events in partnership with key community organizations. The Oakland African American Chamber of Commerce was our partner for the African American Education Summit. Our co-hosts for the Latino Education Summit were the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Alameda County and other organizations committed to improving educational opportunities for the Latino community.

I've often said that the future of CSUEB depends not upon our ability to sprint but to run a marathon. Thus, we need to recognize that outreach efforts and special events such as these are not episodic. They are part of a continuous, year-round commitment to get the word out about what CSUEB offers - and also what's required and available to assist students of all backgrounds. One would expect no less of an earnest steward - and this is fast becoming our hallmark throughout the region.

As the region's high-access university, we serve students from many ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. At the same time, our students share a common quest: They seek the knowledge, skills, and guidance needed to realize their degree and career objectives. Our ability to deliver on this quest is what sets us apart. With the record number of applications from prospective freshmen that came in before the March 1 deadline - and thousands more transfer students and graduate applicants continuing to ask for information - the word is definitely out in our region that Cal State East Bay is the university of great expectations, great opportunity, and great diversity where dreams can come true. Our slogan, "Where all your possibilities come into view," never rang more true.

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