One of the buzzwords of the current moment is “social mobility.” What is it and why is it important? Because it is clearly something that Cal State San Bernardino is excelling in, based on recent recognitions. 

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) defines the term in this way: “the generational movement of wealth, education, employment status, social adjustment, democratic participation, and general well-being.” AASCU’s June 2023 report on social mobility provides an in-depth look at how the nation’s regional public universities are essential mechanisms in our current moment for advancing and building better lives, particularly for students from underrepresented and underserved backgrounds.

CSUSB President Tomás D. Morales emphasizes again and again in his speeches, remarks and communications that education is the key. He believes firmly that it is the means to building a life, a career and a community. And that education is the driving component in building a cradle-to-career pipeline right here in the Inland Empire. As recent CSUSB social mobility rankings attest, that emphasis is bearing fruit in the direct improvement of the university’s students’ lives.

In early October 2023, The Atlantic magazine published an article headlined, “Nothing Defines America’s Social Divide Like a College Education.” In it, author Yascha Mounk explores recent papers produced by economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton. While the fact that whether an individual in the U.S. has graduated from college “now determines much more than it did in the past what sort of economic opportunities you are likely to have and even how likely you are to get married,” Case and Deaton’s research indicates that the possession of a higher education degree is now a greater factor than race in predicting an individual’s lifetime earnings and even life expectancy.

The AASCU report states institutions who focus on providing what students need in order to grow social mobility take seriously their role in improving the odds for historically underserved students. That is, providing targeted programs and structures which surround, support and supplement a student’s academic coursework can produce positive results, when it comes to social mobility.

With the caveat, as Mounk writes, “in a just society, holding a college degree should not be nearly so predictive of one’s life trajectory as it now is in the United States,” but that is the reality in which we live.

And what CSUSB’s social mobility rankings demonstrate is that students do not need a degree from “a famous school” in order to improve their lives and those of their communities.

In fact, right here in the Inland Empire, the residents of San Bernardino and Riverside counties have access to an institution of higher education that will significantly grow their social mobility, regardless of their first-generation status or having an economically disadvantaged background.

On this “First-Generation Day 2023,” Cal State San Bernardino is providing the access to a higher education degree that builds social mobility.