To strengthen the university’s connections with local religious leaders and faith-based organizations, President Willie J. Hagan highlighted the benefits of a California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) education during the Hosannna Broadcasting Network’s (HBN) 8th Annual Breakfast with the Clergy on June 27.
Hosted on campus for the first time by HBN in association with CSUDH, the breakfast brought together church leaders from throughout the state and members of their congregations to recognize and award clergy for their achievements, as well as to enjoy good food and music and listen to guest speakers, such as keynote speaker Apostle Beverly Crawford, and Tersit Asrat, HBN’s founder and president.
Hagan was among the guest speakers, and in his presentation he shared many of the university’s attributes and the successes of its students and faculty on and off campus, such as their economic and public service impact on local communities. He also proudly shared the success of CSUDH’s Male Success Alliance on mentoring and encouraging at-risk young men to pursue higher education, and the campus’ advancement and promising future in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education.
“In many ways I feel that we are in a similar business. You transform individual lives by spreading the gospel, and you empower communities through education services,” said Hagan, “and education and empowerment are what we do very well here at this university.”
Hagan also “bragged” a little about the many accolades CSUDH has received, such as the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll’s highest honor, the Presidential Award in the General Community Service category, and the university’s national ranking by Washington Monthly magazine for its contribution to the public good.
“We are ranked 10th in the nation for our contribution to the public good,” he said. “What that means is we focus on social mobility in our communities.”
Pastor Sandra O’Neal shared the impact the university has had on her family through the work of her late husband, a CSUDH alumnus.
“My late husband was a graduate of Cal State Dominguez Hills, and with that degree he was able to start a business in account management services that lasted over 25 years,” she said. “So, as you can see, when we reach out to the community and touch the lives of others we plant those seeds, and we don’t even know where those seeds are going to grow. The seeds that you [CSUDH] have planted in our local area—we see that people are growing from those seeds.”
Hagan said that at one time CSU Dominguez Hills was known as a “fall back school,” where students applied if they didn’t get into other universities first, but that now the demand to enroll at CSUDH has “increased significantly.”
“Ted Mitchell, the U.S. under secretary of education, was talking to President Obama and the president asked him, ‘What are the three most remarkable and forward moving campuses where things are happening in the country?’ And the under secretary said to him, ‘Hampton University, USC and Cal State Dominguez Hills,’” said Hagan. “He said that because of the things we are doing here; that we truly recognize our mission to transform our communities and the lives of our students.”
Minnie Claiborne, a counselor and therapist specializing in individual and family therapy who served as master of ceremony at the event, described how higher learning and one’s faith go hand-in-hand.
“When we’re teaching the word of God, those of us who understand the distinction between spirit, soul and body understand that the soul is comprised of mindfulness and emotion,” she said. “That it’s essential that our minds are renewed, not only by the word of God, but also in academia so we can identify and bring forth what God gave to the world and what we’re called to impact. So education is very important.”
Hagan concluded his presentation by further opening the doors of the university to the clergy and their congregations.
“If a church contacts us and asks us to come out and do workshops, such as on financial aid, or to provide advice regarding how to get into college, we will be there. We want to be as actively engaged in the community as possible,” he said. “We have a long history of working with churches and their congregations in providing educational services and partnering with them during our Super Saturday and Super Sunday events. So, if we can do more to work with you to help your students succeed, please give us a call.”