California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) held a reception for the new Helen Rucker Center for Black Excellence in the Otter Student Union Ballroom on April 24. Put together by the Otter Cross Cultural Center, the event served as a follow up event to the annual All Black Gala, which was held virtually back in February.
The in-person celebration included a silent auction, photo-opportunity, free soul food, and live music from Leon Joyce Jr. Trio, professor Carlos Tottres and the CSUMB Gospel Choir. President Eduardo Ochoa; Chief Diversity Officer Brian Corpening and Black Students United President Brooklyn Greene all spoke at the event.
Greene introduced the purpose of the Helen Rucker Center for Black Excellence during the opening remarks. To CSUMB’s Black student population, the new center is meant to serve as a way to give them a stronger community. “With efforts towards making our campus a more welcoming and inclusive place, students are excited about the Helen Rucker Center for Black Excellence,” Greene said.
Corpenin added on to Greene’s point during his speech, “We heard the call of the students and we responded. And let it be known today, we will spare no effort, extend our energy, and do everything necessary to ensure that every student that comes to this university has the most optimal success experience possible.”
As of now, The Helen Rucker Center for Black Excellence will be on campus in the old Student Union building.
Corpening explained the reason for naming it after Rucker, is to model it after someone “who’s a pillar. Who has done the things that we want it to stand for: courage, resiliency, persistence, bravery, dedication, and to keep your eyes on the importance of education. Helen being a lifelong educator, we couldn’t think of any better person to name it after. The things that we’re doing and the things we plan to do is about ensuring that we recruit and retain a diverse student population. But more importantly, it’s about how we recruit and retain a diverse faculty and staff to make this a place where people want to come and stay.”