Press Release

Dr. Elisha Smith Arrillaga issued the following statement on behalf of The Education Trust–West:

We applaud the appointment of Dr. Joseph I. Castro to serve as the next chancellor of the California State University system. Chancellor Castro has boldly led California State University, Fresno since 2013 where he has contributed to the institution’s strong commitment to the Central Valley. He is the first California native and Mexican American to lead the CSU System.

Dr. Castro takes the helm at a crucial moment for CSU and our state as a whole. The CSU system is one of the country’s greatest engines of social mobility and economic opportunity. And yet our state desperately needs to get many more students — especially students of color and low-income students — enrolled in and graduated from college. That was true even before the pandemic. Now the challenge is both more urgent and more difficult. As we begin to recover from this period of crisis, CSU will need to continue to promote success without restricting access; work creatively to reduce the full cost of college despite a state budget crunch; deepen its alignment with our K-12 public schools; and double down on its role as California’s preeminent training ground for great, diverse K-12 teachers.

This is also a tremendous moment for the CSU system. The CSU Trustees have set important, ambitious graduation goals and, while opportunity gaps persist, have taken important steps toward achieving those goals. More high school students are graduating high school CSU-eligible and more community college students are earning the credits they need to transfer than ever before. To keep this momentum going, the new Chancellor will need to continue to center equity and access in their decision making.  We urge Chancellor-Select Castro and the Trustees to retain the intent of the January 2020 quantitative reasoning admission requirement resolution that delayed full approval of the proposal until it can be studied further by a third party.  There are a number of initiatives and advocacy efforts currently underway to advance racial equity on California’s higher education campuses. This fall, California voters will have an historic opportunity to level the playing field for Black, Latinx, and Native American students by ending the state’s ban on affirmative action, and we appreciate CSU’s support for that measure.

While the CSU has made great progress toward their Grad Initiative 2025 goals, we know there are students who experience a unique set of challenges in higher education. Our Hear My Voice II report highlights resiliency as well as the barriers faced by women of color who are unhoused and/or student parents, and offers recommendations for CSU leaders to collect better data and to pilot an “ally” program to improve supports for these students and drive progress toward GI 2025’s goals of closing equity gaps.

Dr. Castro’s career over two decades demonstrates his commitment to students and being an equity-centered and responsive leader. We look forward to working with him to build on the system’s recent successes and to continue relentlessly working toward true educational justice for all of California’s students.