Joe W. Bowers Jr.
California Black Media
Walter Scott Hawkins was a California State University San Bernardino (CSUSB) administrator for 33 years where he was a champion of providing minority students the tools they needed to succeed academically. Hawkins passed away on Nov. 18. He was 72 years old.
Hawkins was a resident of Rialto, a city in San Bernardino County located about 54 miles east of Los Angeles, for more than 40 years. He was active in the African American community serving as President of the Rialto Board of Education and as a member of a variety of community service programs and groups in the San Bernardino area.
Respected for his aptitude at collecting and analyzing numerical data, Hawkins was also a University administrator who used his skill to evaluate programs assisting underserved students. In the community, he effectively used data to help elect policy makers that supported the needs of its African American members and to propose actions policy makers needed to take.
Recently, Hawkins was a consultant to California Black Media (CBM). He collected the data, analyzed it and produced “Counting Black California” a report that identified population pockets of “hard to count” African Americans to guide groups and organizations focused on increasing Black participation in the 2020 US Census. This data was overlaid with state COVID-19 outbreak data to help the African American Community Empowerment Council secure $2.5 million dollars for testing in the African American community statewide.
Hawkins was born in San Angelo, Texas on Oct. 12, 1948. He was the only son of Maiso and Altamae Hawkins. His father was a master sergeant in the US Air Force. As a child, Hawkins lived on military bases in Japan and Germany where he gained familiarity with both languages.
After graduating from Victor Valley High School in Victorville, California, he attended San Diego State University on an academic scholarship. While there he played on the football team and ran track and he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree (BA), Master of Social Work (MSW), and Pupil Personnel Service Credential.
While living in San Diego, Hawkins worked as the Director of the Black Social Workers Association and was on the staff of the San Diego County Adoption program called Tayari that recruits prospective foster and adoptive parents in the African American community.
Hawkins joined the Cal State University San Bernardino (CSUSB) administration in September 1974. His first job was as the director of the Upward Bound program. Upward Bound focuses on identifying qualified youth who are low-income and potential first-generation college students in order to support and encourage them in pursuit of post-secondary enrollment.
After that he was appointed director of the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP). Under his leadership, EOP grew from two programs in Student Services to a strong Undergraduate Studies office in the Academic Affairs department. Hawkins was recognized for dedication to students as an EOP Trailblazer when the California State Universities celebrated the EOP 50th anniversary in 2019.
Current CSUSB EOP Director Veronica Ramirez Amerson said, “Walter is well loved by our EOP team and his spirit, humor, knowledge and strong advocacy for students and our community will always be remembered.”
After EOP, Hawkins became the director of the Research & Policy Analysis Office (RPAO) in Undergraduate Studies. Retired Associate Vice President for Undergraduate Studies Dr. Milton Clark said, “Walter was just brilliant at looking at data, seeing what programs worked, what programs that didn’t work, preparing reports. The help that he provided and the data that he provided was invaluable. I think, as much as anything by example, I learned to be a better leader, because of Walter.”
Hawkins retired from CSUSB in the spring of 2007. Retirement gave him more time to engage in a variety of volunteer community service programs in the San Bernardino area. He was a Rialto USD School Board member for nine years and he served in an appointed position with the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools.
With the San Bernardino NAACP Branch, he served as the Chair of the Political Action Committee and with the Westside Action Group (WAG), a nonprofit community organization. He was a Second Vice President.
Past president of the San Bernardino NAACP and retired Assemblymember (District 47) Cheryl Brown said, “The community has lost another giant. Walter Hawkins was a master data analyst. The information he provided gave depth and context to an issue. He could look at the data and tell the true story. His reports were on target. He mastered the computer and will always be known for his work on what he developed and called the Ebony Triangle, a statistical area where Black people were moving in the latest migration”
Alton Garrett, who met Hawkins at the Westside Action Group in 1991 and collaborated with him on a number of political campaigns and policy related projects said, “He was a great person. He’s going to be missed in the community and in the education arena.”
In addition to his community service, Hawkins was a Senior Research Associate with NewHawk, a consulting firm that focused on demographic research, geographic information systems (GIS), political campaign support, database management and digital imaging.
Hawkins is survived by his wife Dr. Jean Peacock, a CSUSB professor emeritus of psychology, their children and grandchildren.
He was a member of Ecclesia Christian Fellowship Church in San Bernardino and a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.