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California Assembly honors Sac State with state’s first Black-Serving Institution designation

The California state Assembly honored Sacramento State on June 6 as the state’s first Black-Serving Institution. Pictured: Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, middle, holds a plaque recognizing the honor as President Luke Wood, left of McCarty, and other lawmakers and University administrators gather around inside the Capitol. (Sacramento State/Edward Harimoto)

The California state Assembly honored Sacramento State on June 6 with a floor resolution declaring the University the state’s first Black-Serving Institution.

Members of campus community meet outside state Capitol.
Sacramento State President Luke Wood speaks outside the state Capitol to a group of campus leaders and state lawmakers during a ceremony recognizing the University as the state's first Black-Serving Institution. (Sacramento State/Edward Harimoto)

Lawmakers led by Assemblymember Kevin McCarty put forth the resolution to recognize the University’s ongoing efforts to boost Black enrollment and graduation rates. Sac State leaders witnessed the ceremony from a gallery overlooking the Assembly floor.

Sac State does not qualify for the federal Historically Black College and Universities (HBCU) or Predominantly Black Institution designations, which recognize colleges and universities that primarily serve African Americans. But the University enrolls more Black and African American students than any other university in the CSU system and is cultivating programs and initiatives designed to serve them.

About 6% of Sac State’s student population, or close to 2,000 students, are Black, and President Luke Wood has said the University should lead the way in ensuring they succeed in college and beyond.

“This distinctive recognition reaffirms Sacramento State’s commitment and dedication to serving the needs of our diverse student body, especially for our Black students,” Wood said. “I want to express my profound gratitude to the California state Legislature, Sacramento County and the city of Sacramento for recognizing us as a Black-Serving institution.”

The resolution comes as the Assembly is considering a bill that would establish a Black-Serving Institution designation for colleges and universities that have a Black student population of at least 10% or 1,500 students.

Wood pointed out that Sac State already is a designated Hispanic-Serving Institution and Asian American and Pacific Islander Serving Institution.

“Currently, our Black students have to go out of state” to attend a college or university that carries the Predominantly Black Institution or HBCU designation, he said.

With the resolution, “we are publicly saying that we are here to serve Black students, same as our Latinx and Asian students,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sac State is ramping up programs to serve Black students, including the first-in-the-nation Black Honors College (BHC), which will welcome its inaugural class in the Fall semester. The BHC will offer high-achieving students of all races, cultures and majors a comprehensive curriculum focusing on the Black and African American experience.

“We are proud to be at the forefront of promoting access, success and excellence for Black students as we begin the first-in-the-nation Black Honors College,” Wood said. “We remain committed to advancing equity and social justice in every aspect of our institution.”

Sac State also has created a Black Success Initiative to address the holistic needs of African American and Black students, staff, faculty and administrators.

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About Cynthia Hubert

Cynthia Hubert came to Sacramento State in November 2018 after an award-winning career writing for the Sacramento Bee. Cynthia believes everyone has a good story. She lives in East Sacramento with her two cats, who enjoy bird-watching from their perch next to the living-room window.

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