By Sebastian Juarez
Though Dr. Thomas Parham, California State University, Dominguez Hills’ newly named president, is moving to Carson from the University of California, Irvine, where he has worked since 1985, he is really returning home.
Parham is a South Central Los Angeles native.
That local connection is one of the key reasons why the search committee for a new president chose Parham from an impressive list of resumes and interviewees. Their choice was confirmed March 21, when Parham was officially selected CSUDH president by the California State University Board of Trustees.
Peter J. Taylor, the chair of the selection committee, says that Parham was the right choice because “he looked at the job as a calling and not just a professional opportunity.”
Taylor said Parham’s connection to the area made him a logical choice for the position.
“We needed someone that would not only work hard but also who would want to make a difference in a broader community,” Taylor says. “We think Thomas can become a figurehead that attracts future students.”
Justin Blakely, ASI president and a member of the selection committee, agrees that Parham’s impressive resume, and his deep connections to the community, made him the right choice.
What stuck out the most to Blakely was something Dr. Parham said in his final interview with the selection committee. He told them that his whole career was built in order to come back to CSUDH. He always knew that he’d come back to help the community that raised him, Blakely said.
Parham will replace President Willie Hagan once he retires at the end of the current school year. The transition will mark the end of Hagan’s five-year career as president and will usher in a new era here at CSUDH.
Parham is currently the vice chancellor at UC Irvine, a school he has worked at since 1985. He has a Ph.D. in counseling psychology and is a native of South Central Los Angeles, just a short drive away from our campus.
His professional resumé is filled with accomplishments ranging from the late 70’s until now.
Some notable awards are a 1984 selection as an Outstanding Young Man in America, a 1998 Election to the title of “Distinguished Psychologist” by the Association of Black Psychologists (ABP’s highest honor), and an Oct. 2017 appointment as one of the OC’s 500 most Influential Community Members by the Orange County Business Journal.
In a statement on calstate.edu, Parham expressed his excitement and gratitude for the opportunity to serve as president.
“I enthusiastically support the CSUDH mission,” said Parham. “This is a time of growth and opportunity for the university and there are many exciting challenges that lay ahead.”