When we entered 2020 with all the hope a new year brings, no one could have predicted the reality that was to come. Within a few months of New Years celebrations, we saw empty grocery store shelves and shortages on hand sanitizer. We learned to meet with friends and share milestones through computer screens, and we put many of our plans on hold. And yet we found hope as we came together with our communities to care for one another. And so, as we bid 2020 farewell—perhaps with a sigh of relief—we reflect on the year’s joys and accomplishments despite the challenges.
Auspicious Beginnings: The CSU started off strong in 2020 after receiving record-breaking philanthropic support in 2019—$569 million in new gift commitments—and completing a 2019 research project to help close academic equity gaps.
“Still I Rise": The accomplishments of African American students, faculty, alumni and staff of the CSU are too numerous to mention. Still, on the occasion of Black History Month, we recognized 29 exceptional people who helped to make the California State University what it is today: a place of academic rigor, exceptional achievement and pioneering inclusiveness.
Making the Switch: With the onset of COVID-19 in March, the CSU made an unprecedented transition to online instruction. But the switch didn't stop the university from offering a high-quality education, as many faculty members got creative with their curriculum and the university offered faculty professional development opportunities focused on virtual teaching.
And, in response to the inequities CSU students faced during the pandemic, campuses banded together to provide them with the support they needed, including basic needs resources and reliable access to internet and technology.
During Women's History Month, we commemorated the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage with a look at 24 remarkable CSU women.
Diamond Jubilee: April marked 60 years of educational excellence at the California State University. To celebrate, we kicked off a year-long reflection on the transformational experience of a CSU education, as captured by faculty, staff, alumni and friends over the past six decades. Continue to check back through April 2021 to see additional photos from the CSU throughout the years.
Combating COVID-19: As the novel coronavirus swept across the globe this spring, CSU faculty, staff and students offered their time, talents and knowledge to help California confront the pandemic. They stepped forward to tackle the challenge by proposing new medical devices, producing protective equipment, making facilities available and rallying resources.
But the effort went beyond the campuses, with many courageous CSU alumni serving on the front lines as well.
Still Worth Celebrating: While the COVID-19 pandemic meant 2020 commencement ceremonies were unavoidably postponed for more than 100,000 CSU graduates, they still found unique ways to honor this rite of passage.
We also took a look at how CSU campuses work with local industries to ensure their graduates are ready to enter careers and drive innovation in these regional sectors—as well as at CSU research shedding light on how California's offshore oil platforms support thriving marine ecosystems.
Hallowed Halls: Summer is usually the time when people can take a break from work or school and do a bit of exploring, whether close to home or further away. While COVID-19 canceled many summer plans, the CSU's cultural institutions took to virtual space to introduce their communities to cultures, history and people from around the world.
Second Chances: The university's commitment to offering options to those touched by incarceration is evident in programs such as Project Rebound, which is active at multiple campuses, and the Prison BA Graduation Initiative at California State University, Los Angeles. Our “From Incarceration to Graduation" piece explored how the CSU provides an opportunity to break the cycle of recidivism.
Welcome Chancellor Joseph I. Castro: On September 23, the Board of Trustees appointed Joseph I. Castro, Ph.D., as the eighth chancellor of the California State University. Dr. Castro served as the eighth president of California State University, Fresno since 2013 and is the first California native and first Mexican American to oversee the 23-campus university.
“I am truly grateful for and excited about this unique and wonderful opportunity, and I look forward to working with the talented faculty, staff and presidents of the 23 campuses as well the Board of Trustees and executives and staff at the Chancellor's Office to further increase achievement for our 482,000 students," he said.
Overcoming Obstacles, Together: To acknowledge National Disability Employment Awareness Month and the 30th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, we highlighted ways the university trains faculty and students who use their skills to address everyday challenges facing those with disabilities.
In a tumultuous year, marked by Black Lives Matter protests, a major Supreme Court decision on the status of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and a rise in harassment of Asian Americans amid COVID-19, the CSU reaffirmed its commitment to diversity and inclusion.
Be the Change: November saw a critically important election take place, with individuals—especially young people—coming out to vote in record numbers. For the March primaries, CSU campuses opened voting centers and implemented additional efforts to help students vote—and preparation for the November 3 election was no different. Campuses mobilized to get student voters registered, though that's not the only way they've been helping students make a difference in their communities this year.
Time of Transition: Chancellor Timothy P. White's last year at the helm of the California State University was anything but “normal." While he demonstrated his unwavering commitment to the students of the CSU throughout his tenure, that dedication was undeniable as he postponed his retirement in March to navigate the university through the pandemic. Through it all, we continued to rank among the top U.S. universities for value and upward mobility, and graduation rates and student achievement reached an all-time high under Graduation Initiative 2025, placing the university in a strong position as Chancellor-Select Castro takes on his duties on January 4, 2021.
If 2020 has taught us anything, it's that we can't know what next year will bring. But whether it's smooth sailing or rough seas, one thing remains constant: the CSU's dedication to providing a life-changing education and experience for all its students.
Goodbye, 2020; hello, 2021!