Photo courtesy of CSU
CSU Chancellor Joe Castro

In his first State of the University address Tuesday, California State University Chancellor Joseph Castro painted a picture of a dramatically changed system from the one that existed 18 months earlier.

“This public health crisis has disrupted our lives in previously unimaginable ways, and it’s brought about great economic uncertainty, and like so many hardships, has disproportionately impacted the most vulnerable among us,” he said, referring to the coronavirus pandemic. “Compounding this tragedy over the past year and a half have been horrific acts of injustice, violence and hatred. Our nation continues to be deeply and bitterly divided.”

But despite the pandemic and racist attacks against Black and Asian Americans this past year, Castro said the 23-campus community has shown remarkable courage and resilience.

“Our return to relative normalcy has been and will continue to be in fits and starts, but that return is inevitable,” he said. “This is certainly one of the most challenging times in the CSU history, and while the pandemic may not be through with us quite yet, we can’t let our guard down.”

Castro indicated that despite these problems, early data indicates that almost 133,000 students earned degrees in the 2020-21 academic year, which would be “an all-time high,” he said.

He also applauded the start of significant changes happening across the system like Humboldt State University beginning the transition to becoming CSU’s third polytechnic university; CSUCCESS, an initiative to narrow the digital divide by providing Apple products to more than 35,000 new and transfer students; and a new science, technology, engineering and math hub at CSU Northridge to close opportunity gaps, particularly for Latino students.

But Castro, who took over as system chancellor in January, said the system could and should be doing more for students and faculty.

“The voices of the pandemic cry out to us to be more inclusive and equitable,” he said, adding that one of his highest priorities as chancellor includes ensuring “that our diverse students are reflected by and connected with faculty and staff who authentically understand their lived experiences.”

Today, 45% of CSU staff identify as a person of color compared with about one-third of people about a decade ago, said Castro, a Latino who is the first person of color to serve as chancellor.

Among instructional faculty, only 35% identify as a person of color, he said, adding, “We must do more.”

But the CSU should have done more to support faculty and students in the past 18 months, said Charles Toombs, president of the California Faculty Association, the union representing CSU faculty members, in a video response to the CSU’s status report.

“A lot of faculty needed training and support, and when the CSU pushed back, we stepped up and secured us more money to be properly trained to convert classes online,” Toombs said. He also chided the CSU system for ending additional Covid-19 paid sick leave which forced the union to advocate for Senate Bill 95, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed. That legislation offers Covid-19 paid sick leave but only through Sept. 30.

And despite its rhetoric, the CSU hasn’t offered clear guidelines on how it will provide training so faculty members have a better understanding and can more effectively communicate with students and other staff from different cultural backgrounds despite allocating $10 million in its budget to do so, said Aparna Sinha, a professor at Cal Maritime.

Sinha told CSU trustees that she leads union-sponsored workshops on anti-racism across CSU and, “I … constantly see and hear about the gap in understanding around anti-racism and equity practices across the campuses. Our faculty need professional development training around social justice, and it is time our administrators start valuing it.”

To get more reports like this one, click here to sign up for EdSource’s no-cost daily email on latest developments in education.

Share Article

Comments (1)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * *

Comments Policy

We welcome your comments. All comments are moderated for civility, relevance and other considerations. Click here for EdSource's Comments Policy.

  1. Stuart Hurlbert 4 days ago4 days ago

    This will not be news to anyone in the CSU system, but other readers should understand what is meant when Castro says, "Among instructional faculty, only 35% identify as a person of color, he said, adding, “We must do more.”" It means that racial preferences in hiring faculty should be used "more," in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and California Constitution. There is zero evidence – and none is claimed – that the 35% … Read More

    This will not be news to anyone in the CSU system, but other readers should understand what is meant when Castro says, “Among instructional faculty, only 35% identify as a person of color, he said, adding, “We must do more.””

    It means that racial preferences in hiring faculty should be used “more,” in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and California Constitution. There is zero evidence – and none is claimed – that the 35% figure reflects bias or racial discrimination on the part search committees or administrators, other than the multi-decadal use of preferences for blacks and latinos.

    At SDSU up til about a year ago, our College of Sciences and College of Engineering set aside a certain number of faculty positions that were open to all applicants except white males and Asian males. After I publicly pointed this out to the campus, websites were scrubbed and revised making this less obvious but the intent remains.

    More recently SDSU did one of those infamous “cluster hires” and hired five new black faculty members. This was done, as usual, by using official job descriptions designed to discourage non-blacks from applying.

    The CSU central administration, and those of every CSU campus, under the very deceptive label of “equity” operate under the notion that the 1964 Civil Rights Act and California Constitution are merely “suggestions” and not the law. Nothing unusual about SDSU here. Violations of the 1964 Civil Rights Act are pervasive throughout the CSU system and committed with impunity,