“Dominguez Hills is an important partner. We are counting on you to contribute your expertise to help us solve our big challenges.”
That was the central message Mayor of Long Beach Rex Richardson conveyed during an official campus visit on March 9. Three months into his first mayoral term, the Toro alumnus is eager to establish partnerships between the city and CSUDH, with the intention of creating more opportunities for Toros to enter public service.
Richardson began his visit with a meeting with President Thomas A. Parham, then embarked on a campus tour before sitting down with students, faculty, and staff to discuss his goals as mayor and his personal connection with CSUDH.
He opened by remarking upon the campus’ dramatic transformation, noting with a smile that it “looks nothing like it did in 2001,” when he was a first-year student. He went on to describe his family history and how his tenure at CSUDH enabled him to “put down roots” in Southern California. Not only did Richardson meet his future wife in the student government offices, but he also served as president of Associated Students, Inc.–a leadership experience which he says primed him for public service.
“Here’s where I learned about advocacy and representation,” he said. “We wanted to make a meaningful difference.”
Richardson spoke about the urgent need for retaining talented, local professionals in civil service, and mentioned several initiatives he is undertaking to meet that skills gap. His office is working with AmeriCorps to establish a two-year public service fellowship for college graduates, and is also seeking to establish a public service pathways preference for graduates of CSU Long Beach and CSUDH.
“Simply by graduating from those institutions, you are locally trained and you have community contacts–you are prepared for public service,” he said.
Richardson made sure to emphasize the need for students from all academic backgrounds, and touted the benefits of his own humanities degree. Originally a business major, he had switched to philosophy due to its engaging classroom debates and discussions.
“Philosophy challenged me,” he said. “I felt philosophy was an incredible program because it prepared me to speak, write, and think critically. If you can develop those competencies, they’ll benefit you throughout your whole life.”
Before wrapping up his visit, Richardson made sure to stop by the ASI office to engage with student leaders, hear about their priorities, and offer pearls of wisdom.
“Stay close,” he advised them. “All the relationships, all the connections you have here–who knows where it goes!”