Thomas A. Parham, Ph.D. is a family man who resides in the Southern California area with his wife, Davida. Dr. Parham is the 11th president of California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH), a highly diverse, metropolitan university primarily serving the South Central and South Bay areas of Los Angeles County. Established in 1960, CSUDH is one of the 23 campuses that comprise the California State University system, the largest system of public higher education in the nation.
Dr. Parham previously served as vice chancellor for student affairs and an adjunct faculty member at the University of California, Irvine, where he had been since 1985. Prior to his role as vice chancellor, he served as assistant vice chancellor for counseling and health services, Counseling Center director, and director of the Career and Life Planning Center at UCI. Early in his career, Dr. Parham also held an appointment on the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
“Dr. P.,” as he is affectionately known, is a licensed psychologist with more than 35 years as a scholar and practitioner. He has sustained a research focus in the area of psychological nigrescence, specifically on identity development, African psychology, and multicultural counseling. In addition to writing over 45 journal articles and/or book chapters, he is the author of Psychological Storms: The African American Struggle for Identity (African American Images, 1997) and Counseling Persons of African Descent: Raising the Bar of Practitioner Competence (Sage, 2002). He also co-authored of Culturally Adaptive Counseling Skills: Demonstrations of Evidence-Based Practices (Sage, 2011) and the highly regarded The Psychology of Blacks book series, now in its fourth edition, The Psychology of Blacks: Centering Our Perspectives in the African Consciousness, 4th ed. (Pearson Education, 2011).
He has also produced several videos, including Counseling African Americans, Youth and Violence, and Innovative Approaches to Counseling African Descent People available through Microtraining & Associates, and Working with African American Clients, available through the American Psychological Association.
Dr. Parham is a proud alumnus of the American Psychological Association’s Minority Fellowship Program, and strives to align his professional endeavors with the legacies left by MFP’s founders and former directors, Drs. James Jones and Dalmus Taylor. He holds Fellow status in Divisions 17 and 45 of APA and with the American Counseling Association, and the title of Distinguished Psychologist in the Association of Black Psychologists.
Dr. Parham is a past president of the National Association of Black Psychologists and the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development (a division of ACA). He served on the editorial board for the Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development for five years, and completed a term on the editorial board of the Journal of Counseling and Development as well. He currently serves as an ad hoc reviewer for the Journal of Black Psychology. He also serves as treating clinician for the NFL program for substance abuse.
In consultations, public addresses and television appearances throughout the United States, Dr. Parham has addressed such issues as multicultural counseling, counseling African Americans, cultural competence, educating African American youth, youth and violence, coping with stress, characteristics of exceptional people, multicultural education, managing a diverse workforce, effective communications, developing effective management and supervisory skills, managing people, conflict resolution, and team building.
Dr. Parham contributes his talents in the areas of social advocacy, community uplift and youth empowerment to communities in both Los Angeles and Orange Counties.
In 1986, the city of Irvine appointed him to its Human Relations Committee, on which he helped draft the city’s first human rights ordinance. He also served as chair of UCI’s Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium for 10 years, and sought to extend the boundaries of the university community countywide.
In the early 1990s, he helped charter the Orange County chapter of the 100 Black Men of America, 100 BMOC. While serving as their first chair of the education committee, he helped to develop the 100 BMOC’s signature Passport to the Future program, and is the architect of their Rites of Passage component.
He extended his reach and influence to the greater Los Angeles area by collaborating with the College Bound program to produce a similar Rites of Academic Passage component for high school students. After much encouragement, he has taken the Rites of Academic Passage model and turned it into an intellectual property now available for commercial sale. That program is known as The Bakari Project. He remains intimately involved with both programs to this day.
Dr. Parham was elected to serve as the fifth president of the 100 Black Men of Orange County organization in January 2002, a term of service he completed in 2005. His efforts as president included collaborating with Turning Point Communications and the City of Irvine to host the Annual African American Business Summit; planning for a Fall Health and Wellness Summit; initiating an Institutional Report Card initiative to evaluate the quality of the educational experience for African American youth in Orange County schools; serving on Orange County Sheriff’s Community Coalition Program; and helping to recognize and honor citizens of all colors who make a difference in the African American community by co-chairing the 100’s award committee for its annual gala. He has also served as national chair of education for the 100 Black Men of America.
Dr. Parham has been interviewed and quoted extensively in regional and national newspapers and magazines. He participated in the 2005 State of the Black Union hosted by Tavis Smiley, which aired on CSPAN, and appeared in the 2010 documentary Fair Game?, directed and produced by Mario Van Peebles.
In characterizing him, some have written: “Parham is a gifted and charismatic speaker in the tradition of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. Indeed, for many, his presence as a public figure is transformative; the power of his innate humanity and manifest love conveying an overwhelming sense of acceptance and understanding. You feel a great many things in the presence of Dr. Parham; mostly, you just feel better” (Mears, 2002).
Dr. Parham grew up in Southern California and received his bachelor’s degree in social ecology from the University of California, Irvine, his master’s degree in counseling psychology at Washington University in St. Louis, and received his Ph.D. in counseling psychology at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He is licensed to practice psychology in California.
Honors & Awards
- 2018 Illustrious Leadership Award from the American Psychological Association’s Minority Fellowship Program
- Honoree, Orange County Business Journal, “OC’s 500 most Influential Community Members,” October 2017
- Honoree, Orange County Chapter of The Links, Inc., “Salute to American Heart Month,” celebrating African American Leadership, Excellence and Dedication in the field of mental health, February 18, 2017
- Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, The Chicago School of Psychology, Washington, DC, October 10, 2014
- Recipient of Orange County Human Relations Award – in recognition of extraordinary contributions to Orange County in human or civil rights, Anaheim, CA, May 5, 2011
- 2010 Janet E. Helms Award for Mentoring and Scholarship
- 2009 Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the Phillips Graduate Institute
- 2008 100 Black Men of America’s Wimberly Award
- August 2007 American Psychological Association – Division 17 – Society of Counseling Psychology Award for Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring
- July 2007 Association of Black Psychologists, Certification and Proficiency in African Centered/Black Psychology – Board Certified Fellow and Board Certified Diplomate
- 2003 University of California, Irvine’s Lauds and Laurels Award (one of UCI’s most distinguished honors) for staff achievement
- 1999 APA “Dalmus Taylor Award” for Leadership, Scholarship and Advising