A history of excellence: Black Faculty at CSUF
February isn’t just flowers and chocolates for Valentine’s Day – it is also Black History month. Cal State Fullerton has a long line of black excellence from past presidents to successful alumni.
Starting in the 1980’s Jewel Plummer- Cobb, granddaughter of a freed slave, was the third president of CSUF. This made her the first African-American female university president in the western United States. Throughout her nine-year presidency, Cobb constructed multiple buildings across the campus using donated funds, and built the first on-campus student residence halls.
Cobb put a major emphasis on science and research, resulting in the establishment of multiple science labs as well as the computer science building. Perhaps her most important contribution was the emphasis she put on diversity, women, scholarships, and study abroad. When asked how she wanted to be remembered, she said “I think I’d like to be remembered as a black woman scientist who cared very much about what happens to young folks particularly women going into science.” She died on January 1st, 2017 and is survived by her son, granddaughter and daughter-in-law.
Dr. Milton Gordon became the university president in 1990, becoming the second black president at CSUF. Gordon is mainly known for the growth and expansion that occurred during his presidency. He renovated and built new buildings on campus such as Mihaylo Hall, the Clayes Performing Arts Center, and more.
Enrollment at CSUF grew significantly under Gordon as well as increasing the number of majors available to students. His passion for diversity was evident with the attention he gave to underrepresented students. By the end of his presidency, minorities made up more than 60% of the students at Cal State Fullerton. Lastly, he pushed for international connections with universities countries such as China and Russia. Gordon died in 2017, and to honor his memory Cal State Fullerton is renaming University Hall to Gordon Hall.
The university also had an interim president, Willie Hagan, who was president from January of 2012 until June of that same year. Bruce Bowen was a former basketball player for the Cal State Fullerton Titans basketball team.
After college, he appeared on multiple teams such as the San Antonio Spurs, and even made it to the men’s national team. Cedric Ceballos is another former basketball player from Cal State Fullerton. He went on to play for the Phoenix Suns and came back to California to play on the Los Angeles Lakers.
There is a long line of black excellence at CSUF that will hopefully continue well into the future.