April 2021
As we continue to monitor and meet established safety guidelines in response to COVID-19, our offices are still open and operating in a virtual format. You can reach us via email and we will respond as quickly as possible. Please visit CSUSB’s dedicated COVID-19/Coronavirus information webpage for all things COVID-related at CSUSB. Thank you and stay safe!
Message from the dean
I’ve seen many changes in higher education over the years. Gone are the days when admitted students would come to campus, register for classes and begin their college life. When all required classes were completed, we handed them a degree. Those were the days when few families could afford to send their children to a college that could provide resources for their children to become successful through their educational and career journeys.
Social and technological advances have brought major changes that require higher ed to rethink its purpose and the way it does business. A college education is no longer only for children of elite families.
According to a 2009 Pew Research survey, “73% of all adults agreed that, in order to get ahead in life these days, it is necessary to get a college education.”
It is vital that a higher education is accessible to everyone – whether or not they have the financial means to attend.  
The CSUSB Palm Desert Campus excels in providing this access. At PDC, 66% of our students are female, 69% are Hispanic, 58% are Pell grant recipients and 76.8% are first-generation students. One of the major challenges this demographic change has brought to higher ed is the graduation rate. Because of a lack of resources and limited family support, many of these students drop out before completing their degree.
PDC’s answer to this challenge was to create an unforgettable student experience. One program in particular, PDC Pack Prep, is an example of how our staff leaders, using limited resources, have collaborated to meet incoming students - weeks before they start at PDC - in order to make their transition to PDC a lot easier.
PDC Pack Prep is a preparation program that supports the transition of first year and continuing college students to a four-year university by providing opportunities to engage with current students and fellow peers. Staff leaders communicate with students prior to their orientation experience to guide them through the next steps in order to establish connections and prepare them for orientation.
The objectives and benefits of the PDC Pack Prep program include:
  • Meet orientation leaders and fellow classmates;
  • Build PDC Pack Pride and a sense of belongingness;
  • Inform and connect students to campus resources before attending orientation;
  • Learn how to navigate important features of Zoom and the MyCoyote portal;
  • Learn basics about the PAWS Report (student academic record), Roadmaps and Schedule search;
  • Inform students about important upcoming deadlines and to-do items before enrolling for fall courses; and
  • Prepare for virtual orientation.
One student said about her experience with PDC Pack Prep, “I thought PDC Pack Prep is a great addition. It made me feel so welcomed to the pack considering we won't be on campus this fall. I got to make new friends, learn more about the school and open my mind to a whole new perspective.”
PDC has been able to increase its first-time college students’ 4-year graduation rate from 28% to 35% during this past year. The PDC Pack Prep program has played a very important role in helping us with this achievement. This, and many other PDC success stories are a reflection of the wonderful work of our dedicated and passionate staff and faculty.
We are very appreciative of our staff leaders and their contributions to the PDC Pack Prep program. Serving as PDC Pack Prep leader, Vanessa Rojo wears her regular hat as one of three academic advisors at PDC. Her role in the PDC Pack Prep is to design, communicate, coordinate, implement and ensure the success of the program and the new student orientation program that usually lasts a few months. Assisting Vanessa is Jazmin Vera, who works at PDC handling scheduling, registration, promotion and marketing for the PDC Pack Prep program. Avi Rodriguez supports the Prep from her student engagement coordinator’s role by training orientation leaders, a group of 24 current PDC students who lead the packs during orientation events.
After students attend PDC Pack Prep, they continue to receive support and guidance at orientation. Numerous PDC staff and faculty members contribute to orientation by attending sessions, presenting and helping students get to know PDC and its services.
Staff and faculty at PDC continuously strive to create unique experiences outside the classroom to better support and retain students, and keep them on their path to success.
At CSUSB, We Define the Future!

Jake Zhu, Ph.D.
Dean, CSUSB Palm Desert Campus
Campus Happenings
In the ring and in the classroom, PDC student strives to inspire the youth in his community
Criminal justice major and professional boxer, Brandun Lee, knows how important it is to follow your dreams. During his youth, Lee's family promoted going to college while he worked toward becoming a professional athlete. After his acceptance into Cal State San Bernardino's criminal justice program, he knew he could define his future through a career in law enforcement and use the tools he is learning from CSUSB to positively impact the youth in his community.
Connecting PDC students with Coachella Valley alumni
Did you graduate from a high school in the Coachella Valley and an accredited university? Do you work in the Coachella Valley and want to inspire current CSUSB Palm Desert students? If so, please consider joining the University Alumni of the Coachella Valley - a brand- new program at PDC!
Online hospitality management certificate offered this spring
Are you interested in earning an online hospitality management certificate? The program will run from May 3-Oct. 29.
Virtual Campus Tours
Virtual tours provide insights you simply can’t get through word-of-mouth exchanges, view books, or websites. Choose from our multiple virtual visit options that best suit your needs. Your visit will be narrated live by current CSUSB Palm Desert Campus student tour guides via Zoom.

We encourage counselors, teachers, prospective students and families to sign up for a virtual campus tour today!
In Conversation: The Voices of OLLI
If you enjoyed radio, you're going to love OLLI podcasts! Listen to a series of fun conversations between OLLI instructors, members, and staff (each about 20 minutes long) and be sure to check back often as OLLI will be adding more podcasts regularly. A special thanks to OLLI instructor and member, Lou Gorfain, for producing the series!

While you're at it, be a part of OLLI at the CSUSB Palm Desert Campus, which offers all the fun of learning, without the homework, tests, or grades. Plus, you may even make some new friends who share your interests!
Bank of America donation supports university's Street Medicine efforts
Thank you to the Bank of America regional office in Riverside, CA for recently donating more than 100 boxes of gloves, masks and hand sanitizer to the CSUSB Palm Desert Campus Street Medicine program, which provides much-needed healthcare services to homeless and unsheltered populations in the Coachella Valley and San Bernardino who might otherwise go to an emergency room for issues that can be treated in the community.

Three new programs at PDC
Cybersecurity, Entrepreneurship and Hospitality Management are now being offered at PDC!