Last weekend was a busy one on campus, with our women’s basketball team making its network television debut and the MB Blitz raising more than $10,000 for athletic scholarships.

But I would like to talk first about weekend events that happened off campus. On Saturday and Sunday, I was graciously welcomed to two Seaside churches to talk about our university and the opportunities for higher education through the CSU. Sunday, Interim Provost Julio Blanco and Ronnie Higgs, our vice president of student affairs and enrollment services, spoke at Seaside churches as well.

It was all part of CSU’s Super Sunday initiative, our statewide outreach to the African-American community. During February, CSU representatives will speak to nearly 100,000 young people and their families about opportunities available to them through the Cal State system.

The CSU began its Super Sunday outreach to the African-American community in 2005. Our universities have long been advocates of the need for access to quality higher education. Chancellor Timothy White participated in the recent Washington D.C. summit with President Obama on providing college opportunities for all qualified students.

Super Sunday is one part of the CSU African American Initiative, whose goal is to increase the numbers of African-American students who attend and graduate from college. CSU’s diversity efforts are augmented by similar initiatives for the Asian American and Pacific Islander, Latino and Native American communities.

At CSUMB, our enrollment of African-American students is increasing. In Fall, 2009, African-American students represented 4 percent of our total undergraduate enrollment. This fall, that number had increased to 7 percent. Since our overall enrollment also rose significantly through that period, those gains are even greater when expressed in absolute numbers; 177 African-American students were enrolled in fall 2009 and 381 this fall.

Our enrollment of African-American students tracks closely with their percentages among county high school graduates. Unfortunately, our county’s high school dropout rate among African-American and other minority students remains too high. That’s another reason our university needs to build even closer ties with K-12 to help more students prepare for a college education.

Cradle to Career Partnership: That kind of outreach and coordination is an important aspect of the Monterey County Cradle to Career Partnership, which we are working with partners across the county to establish. We named Cynthia Nelson Holmsky as director of that partnership, and she began her work earlier this month. Ms. Holmsky, a Monterey resident, has a strong leadership background in local non-profits and business organizations. Her office is located in Building 1 and I am sure she would welcome input from faculty and staff as she gets established in her new job.

Exciting Sports Weekend: The opportunity to connect with a national television audience doesn’t come often to our campus. So it was great to be able to project such a positive image for Cal State Monterey Bay when the CBS Sports Network broadcast our women’s basketball game with Cal State San Bernardino Saturday. I was able to attend the game and can vouch for the sense of excitement in the Kelp Bed. I heard from others that the television broadcast had the same feel and truly reflected the positive spirit of Division II athletics.

Congratulations to Athletic Director Kirby Garry and his staff for taking full advantage of this opportunity. Congratulations, too, to the University Development staff who worked with athletics on the MB Blitz and exceeded the $10,000 goal in money raised for athletic scholarships. You can watch the student-produced Thank you” video celebrating the event.

As always, I welcome your comments on this newsletter or on any issues facing the university. You may direct them to president@csumb.edu.

Eduardo Ochoa signature

Eduardo M. Ochoa
President, Cal State Monterey Bay