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The Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs began as the Black Student Services Department in 1977 under the Department of Campus Life. From its inception, the primary goal of the department has been the retention of black students as they matriculate through the Trojan experience toward graduation while maintaining a holistic environment that students can develop academically, culturally, professionally and socially.

The Black Student Services department began in part as an outcry by black students who felt a lack of services and resources geared towards them. Student leaders of the Black Student Union, as well as other students worked towards increasing admission and enrollment rates, increasing the hiring of faculty and staff, and increase programming that led to the creation of services geared toward this community. Through their constant insistence and demands, the Black Studies Department (now the American Studies and Ethnicity Department) was created. These same student leaders also supported the creation of the Norman Topping Student Aid Fund.

The first director of the Black Student Services Department was Mr. Willis Edwards.

In the early 1980’s, the department’s name was changed to the Department of Black Student Services and led by the leadership of Dr. Pamela Porter for over 15 years. During the 80’s and 90’s, the department offered forums, and programs which explored ideas, advised and assisted students, and brought faculty together with students. Some of the programs during this time period included Freshmen Mentors, Faculty/Student Brown Bag Lecture Series, and community interns.

The department also served as advisor to the Black Student Assembly, which was made up of the Black Student Union, Black Women’s Caucus, National Society of Black Engineers, Evening of Soul, and AllUsWe Magazine. The department also sponsored the Student Executive Council, which consisted of the presidents of black student organizations and a few at-large members that served as liaison between the department and the student organizations.

In 1995, the Department of Black Students partnered with other Student Affairs administrators to begin Somerville Place, a culturally-based residential floor for students of African descent. The creation of the floor was, again, as a result from the insistent request from students who wanted to share a similar experience and be connected with other African American students from the beginning of their USC careers.

In 1997, the department went under another name change to the Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs, which better described the programs and services offered through the department. In 1999, Ms. Corliss Bennett-McBride became the current Director. Since 1999, CBCSA has implemented and/or supported several new programs based on the creativity and feedback from its students, including African American Cultural Celebration, Annual Soul Food Dinner during Trojan Parent Weekend, and Black Welcome Week.

CBCSA continues to evolve to meet the needs and demands of its students so that they are better supported during their time at USC.


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