By Staff Reporter
Photo Credit: Inside CSUSB
In a significant development, Dr. Tomás D. Morales, President of California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB), has been appointed as the California State University (CSU) Presidential Advisor for Native American Initiatives. Interim Chancellor Jolene Koester announced this prestigious appointment, emphasizing the importance of fostering respectful relationships with sovereign tribal nations within the CSU system.
President Morales expressed his gratitude for the honor and recognized the responsibility it carries. He stated, “We, as the nation’s largest public university, need to do the very best we can in advancing tribal relations, enhancing the education of Native American students, expanding the academic knowledge of indigenous communities, and preserving their cultural heritage.”
In his new capacity, Dr. Morales will play a crucial role in advising fellow CSU presidents and university leadership on cultivating culturally competent relationships with tribal nations. One of his key priorities will be overseeing the repatriation of Native American remains and artifacts currently held by CSU campuses, in accordance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) and California Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (CalNAGPRA).
Interim Chancellor Koester affirmed CSU’s commitment to establishing the necessary infrastructure to facilitate timely repatriation and to demonstrate profound respect and solidarity with Native American communities. This commitment follows recommendations from the Joint Legislative Audit Committee (JLAC) of the state Legislature in 2022, which called for an audit of CSU’s compliance with NAGPRA and CalNAGPRA. The subsequent audit, published in June, highlighted the progress made by CSU in repatriation efforts while underscoring the need for further compliance.
Dr. Morales assumes this esteemed role following the retirement of Gayle Hutchinson, former President of Chico State University, who previously held the position of CSU Presidential Advisor for Native American Initiatives. This appointment reaffirms CSU’s dedication to strengthening its relationship with Native American communities and upholding its responsibilities under federal and state law.