California State University, San Bernardino formally received the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) 2023 Excellence & Innovation Award for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Leadership at the annual conference on Nov. 7 in Chicago.

The university was selected by AASCU’s awards committee for its CSUSB President’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Board initiative and “its outstanding results and potential to influence and serve as a model for other institutions.”   

This recognition will be empowering to our campus community,” said Robin Phillips, CSUSB vice president of human resources, who accepted the award on behalf of the university and President Tomás D. Morales. “I wish to add my personal recognition and appreciation to President Morales for his leadership at CSUSB on DEI efforts and initiatives. This is close to his heart.”

DEI efforts at Cal State San Bernardino are intentional and deliberative, Phillips said. “And it can be challenging to create a DEI culture which permeates the entire campus. But it is incredibly enriching for our campus community.

“Our goal is to offer a place to study and work which is welcoming, supportive and safe to all who step foot on either of our two campuses, in San Bernardino and in Palm Desert,” she said. “And we wish to graduate students who take the values of DEI back into their communities and into their future careers.”

“I am incredibly proud that CSUSB’s efforts to build a more equitable and inclusive campus for the diverse students, faculty and staff who work here have been recognized by a national organization such as AASCU,” Morales said when AASCU announced the award in August. “We are a designated Hispanic-Serving Institution and a Minority-Serving Institution. But recognizing this fact means that we need to act to provide a welcoming environment for all who choose to study and work here.”

The university is eligible to select an engraved award or a $500 donation to the university “in support of a scholarship fund, on-campus food pantry or similar.”  

The President’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Board was created after Rona Halualani of Halualani & Associates conducted a thorough review of the university’s DEI efforts. The board’s composition is campus-wide and consists of representatives from shared governance bodies including the Faculty Senate, Staff Council and ASI (student government) as well as representatives from cultural centers, affinity groups and experts across campus to increase inclusiveness in planning and bring a wide variety of perspectives.

The ongoing goal is to better coordinate and render CSUSB’s DEI efforts to be even more effective than in the past, as well as to ensure these principles are built into the university’s operational structure. The vision is to build a university that is welcoming to all who come to study and work on its campuses.

Speakers hosted by CSUSB’s DEI Board have included Ibram X. Kendi, author of “How to Be an Antiracist”; author Luis Alberto Urrea, whose most recent book is based on his mother’s experiences during World War II, “Good Night, Irene”; and Pulitzer Prize nominee Victor Villaseñor, author of the “Rain of Gold” trilogy.

AASCU is firmly committed to the values of DEI. Soon after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to prohibit the consideration of race as part of the college and university admissions process, the organization said in a statement: “AASCU is strongly committed to equity. Regional comprehensive universities are anchored in educational excellence. They are diverse, inclusive institutions, and they will uphold their mission and vision of giving everyone the right to an equitable, high-quality education. The 4.9 million undergraduate students enrolled at these institutions will be engaged citizens, community leaders, and future taxpayers who will lift communities, cities, states, and the country.”

For more information visit the President’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Board website.

Also visit the AASCU website for information on its programs. For questions about the award, contact Sara Gassman, program manager of leadership development and partnerships, at or (202) 478-4675.