California State University, Long Beach
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Program, White To Be Celebrated

Published: November 1, 2016

In the classroom during the early days of EOP.
Students in the classroom during the early days of EOP.

On Friday, Nov. 4, CSULB will host a 50th anniversary celebration of California State University’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) at The Pointe in the Walter Pyramid from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

Organized by the CSULB’s Black Student Union Elders Association, the event will serve to not only note the milestone anniversary, but also to honor Dr. Joseph White, who is credited with being the founder and driving force behind EOP while serving as a professor at CSULB in the 1960s.

In addition, a special guest speaker at the event will be Willie Brown, who served as mayor of San Francisco from 1996-2004 and was the 58th Speaker of the California Assembly from 1980-95. He was a member of the California State Assembly for more than 30 years and, along with long-time friend White, played in integral role in the creation of EOP.

Also scheduled to be at the event is U.S. Congressman Alan Lowenthal, who will speak and acknowledge White being placed into the Congressional Record.

The keynote speaker will be White himself, whose address is titled “State of Students of Color in Higher Education.”

“We are still doing the same work that Dr. White began 50 years ago,” said CSULB’s EOP director John Hamilton. “We’re still reaching out to historically underrepresented students—African Americans, Latinos, AB540 students, Southeast Asians, Cambodian and Pacific Islanders. We’re still doing the work, trying to brings students in and make sure that they have access, they’re retained and that they graduate. We’re proud to carry on his vision.”

Willie Elston, an EOP student in its early years and one-time director of the Upward Bound program at CSULB, said the event is a way to recognize White’s vision.

“The Education Opportunity Program was the reason why a number of students, particularly students of color, ended up coming to Cal State Long Beach,” said Elston, one of the event organizers. “Dr. White had seen the lack of diversity at the campus and began to work with various colleagues and administrators to see how they could change that. He worked at trying to figure out how to get special admits and how to identify students who just needed the kind of opportunity EOP could provide.”

Along with speakers and a panel titled “EOP: Then, Today and Tomorrow,” approximately 200 former EOP students and family members are expected to attend and will have the opportunity to view archival materials along with a video created specifically for the event.

EOP, which serves approximately 2,500 students annually, is committed to providing access to historically low-income and first generation college students and is credited with opening the door for many of those who may otherwise have never qualified to attend a four-year institution.