January 29, 2016  

Celebrities Edward James Olmos and Rick Najera Join Los Angeles University Leaders for Panel on Diversity in Higher Education to Kick-Off CDU’s 50th Anniversary Celebrations

First in a Series of Events Commemorating CDU’s 50th Year Training Healthcare Leaders Ready to Provide Care with Excellence and Compassion


LOS ANGELES, CA —  Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU) will kick-off a series of events to celebrate its 50th anniversary with celebrities Edward James Olmos, Rick Najera, and a panel of Los Angeles University leaders for a timely discussion on the absence of Latinos and African Americans in higher education. Events throughout the year will honor when CDU was founded 50 years ago, on August 3, 1966 following the Watts revolt, to address the inadequate access to education and healthcare in the community of Watts and greater South Los Angeles.

"Leading a conversation with Universities across Los Angeles on the need to increase opportunities for African Americans and Latinos in higher education is not only a symbolic way to launch our 50th anniversary celebration, it is of increasing importance. According to a recent Association of American Medical Colleges report, the number of black males applying to and attending medical school in this country has declined since 1978. As campuses across America find ways to create inclusive spaces for students of all backgrounds, CDU will continue to recruit and train diverse and committed healthcare professionals in a supportive environment" said Dr. David M. Carlisle, President of CDU.

Since its founding, CDU has earned designation as a minority-serving institution by the U.S. Office for Civil Rights, and is recognized by the Department of Education (DOE) under Title III B as a Historically Black Graduate Institution (HBGI). The University is also a charter member of the Hispanic-Serving Health Professions Schools, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health of Hispanic people through research initiatives, training opportunities, and academic development.

“Education is the most crucial issue in America today.  Education versus incarceration will decide our nation’s future.  Author Victor Hugo said it best, ‘He who opens a school door, closes a prison.’  Simply put, it’s all about opportunity and hope and investing in our future.  That is why I launched Latino Thought Makers, so that I can partner with influencers like my good friend Edward James Olmos to discuss important topics such as diversity in education.  We are at a critical point in the narrative of our great nation where diversity in education must be achieved.  We must work to see increased diversity in the top academic achievers, increased diversity in the faculty so that they more closely represent the students, and an increase in the diversity of ideas in higher education.  If we do these simple things, then our future leaders will be in a position to compete in a world that is rapidly changing," said Rick Najera, nationally acclaimed speaker and award-winning writer-performer-director-producer.

"CDU’s 50th Anniversary and events like the February 11th President Breakfast are designed to honor the University’s steadfast commitment to its mission to develop a diverse group of healthcare leaders who seek social justice, promote wellness, and provide care with excellence and compassion," said Dr. Carlisle.

The 50th Anniversary President’s Breakfast is sponsored by Torrey Pines Bank.

For more information on the 50th Anniversary celebrations, visit the newly launched website,, and follow #CDUat50 on social media.


  • Edward James Olmos, actor and director, known for his roles as William Adama in the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, and teacher Jaime Escalante in Stand and Deliver, among others
  • Rick Najera, nationally acclaimed speaker and award-winning writer-performer-director-producer
  • David M. Carlisle, MD, PhD , President and CEO, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Moderator
  • Clarence H. Braddock III, M.D., M.P.H., M.A.C.P. Vice Dean of Education, Chief Medical Education Officer, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine
  • Mildred García, Ed.D President , California State University Fullerton
  • Steve O. Michael, PhD Executive Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science
  • Luis Pedraja, PhD Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Antioch University
  • Francisco Rodriguez, PhD Chancellor, Los Angeles Community College District

WHEN:                 February 11, 2016, 9:00 a.m., Check-in at 8:00 a.m.
For media interviews and attendance, please contact: Isidra Person-Lynn, Communications Specialist at (213) 394-5075 or email at

Tickets are $125. To purchase, please visit:

WHERE:               Renaissance Los Angeles Airport Hotel,
9620 Airport Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, 90045





Isidra Person-Lynn,
Communications Specialist
323.563.5833 or 213.422.8707




About Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science
CDU is a private, nonprofit, nonsectarian, medical and health sciences institution. Located in the Watts-Willowbrook area of South Los Angeles, CDU has graduated more than 550 medical doctors, 2,700 post-graduate physicians, more than 1,200 physician assistants, 450 nurses and hundreds of other health professionals. CDU’s mission is to conduct education, research and clinical services in the context of community engagement to train health professionals who promote wellness, provide care with excellence and compassion, and transform the health of underserved communities. For more information, visit .


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A Private University with a Public Mission

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