CSUN Leaders Partner with Congregations to ‘Facilitate Dreams’ on Super Sunday

CSUN President Erika D. Beck stands with a group of CSUN leaders, alumni and students at a table decorated with a "CSUN Alumni" banner and Black Alumni Association materials.

CSUN President Erika D. Beck (3rd from right) celebrates “Super Sunday,” a statewide initiative of the CSU, at H.O.P.E.’s House Christian Ministries in Granada Hills on Feb. 26, 2023. Photo by David J. Hawkins.

On a frosty, bright Sunday morning — as joy, warmth and rock music-fueled energy filled the sanctuary — CSUN President Erika D. Beck delivered words of hope, excitement and welcome on behalf of all Matadors on Feb. 26.

The annual tradition marked the last Sunday of Black History Month, “Super Sunday,” a statewide initiative of the CSU. Beck represented Northridge at H.O.P.E.’s House Christian Ministries in Granada Hills, one of more than 100 faith-based communities statewide working to spread the message of equity and inclusion in higher education for underrepresented groups.

Beck thanked the congregation for inviting CSUN into their spiritual home again this year. She noted that college enrollment is falling across the country, especially among students of color, and spoke of the urgency of reversing this trend.

CSUN President Erika D. Beck stands behind a clear, lucite podium, speaking on a stage.

Photo by David J. Hawkins.

“Making sure that our [campus] community and our leaders reflect the richness of diversity of the communities we’re so proud to serve is one of our highest priorities,” she said, as well as “making sure that our Black and African American students on campus don’t just succeed, but thrive beyond our doors as the leaders we need to ensure a brighter and more equitable future for us all. Our academic mission requires a robust and thriving African American student body and faculty.”

She also spoke about the unparalleled value and affordability of a CSU degree, and the impact of CSU and CSUN alumni across the nation.

H.O.P.E.’s House is near and dear to the CSUN community, as its lead pastor, Andrea “Dre” Humphrey ’88 (Economics), and its senior pastor, Charles Humphrey Jr. ’86 (Mechanical Engineering), are alumni who met on campus in 1982 and launched their congregation there some 20 years later.

Now situated a few miles northeast of campus, the congregation counts many alumni, as well as CSUN parents and staff, as members. Gigi McGuire, assistant director of Student Outreach and Recruitment, who coordinated the event for the university, invited the CSUN Black House, Black Faculty Staff Association, Black Alumni Association, Tseng College and others to share information on degree programs, campus resources for Black students and other information, in the church lobby after the morning service.

“This event remains important because it allows us to interact with community members that we may not meet at a school event or campus tour,” McGuire said. “We are able to share life-changing information, and answer questions that help people see that they can achieve the goal of getting a degree. This is a great way for CSUN to impact the community in a meaningful way.

CSUN President Erika D. Beck stands with a Black Alumni Association member.

CSUN President Erika D. Beck greets Carroll J. Brown III, president of the Black Alumni Association and lecturer for one of CSUN’s Freshman Seminar courses, at Super Sunday. Photo by David J. Hawkins.

“I always get questions about graduate programs and continuing education,” she said. “I envisioned a sort of ‘CSUN takeover’ [this year]. I was very excited to see five tables in the lobby, to engage with the students and families. It was also great to see so many current CSUN students visit as well. The conversation with Dr. Beck [after the service] was amazing, and I think the students appreciated her taking the time to chat.”

The pastors, deacons and other church leaders at H.O.P.E.’s House welcomed President Beck and the CSUN guests with open arms.

“I’ve had the privilege of seeing Dr. Beck live and in person — at events such as Diversity Council events, awards programs, basketball games and Alumni Association meetings, and I’ve found her to be warm, engaging and super approachable,” said Senior Pastor Charles Humphrey Jr., who serves on the Alumni Association board of directors. “In fact, on one occasion, she stopped the conversation she was having with some high-level muckety muck at Northridge. She said, ‘Hello.’ [And then] she asked, ‘How’s Dre?’” The question surprised and delighted the pastor, he said.

“Okay! You got me at ‘How’s Dre?’” he said, as the audience of about 200 cheered. “I really appreciated her personal warmth and energy, and her engagement with all that she deals with on a regular basis. Out of all the high-powered folks she deals with on a regular basis … she saw me. And she sees you as well.”

In her remarks, Beck reflected on her own higher education journey.

“From the moment I set foot on a college campus, I knew that universities were the engines that power possibility, ignite potential and curate peace,” she said. “I have devoted my entire career to facilitating access to the transformative power of higher education because I know for sure that it doesn’t just impact individual lives, it changes family trees and elevates every member of our community.”

She thanked the congregation for its support in helping more students reach the doors of the California State University, noting that it’s never too early — or too late — to begin or finish a college degree. “We welcome all, we embrace all,” she said. “We hope that you will join with us.”

Other Matadors who joined President Beck at Super Sunday included William Watkins, dean of students and vice president of Student Affairs; Nichole Ipach, vice president of University Relations and Advancement and president of the CSUN Foundation; and Joaquin Macias ’00 (Psychology), an officer on the CSUN Alumni Association board of directors.

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