Three California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) faculty members were honored for their excellence in teaching, outstanding achievement and the creative ways they engage students during the 2015 Annual Faculty Awards Reception on March 26.
All three faculty and 40 of their colleagues were also recognized for a combined total of 500 years of service to the university. The recipients and their years of service are listed below.
The reception was emceed by Ellen Junn, CSUDH provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, who began the evening by calling the award recipients “the soul of our university.”
“Every accomplishment we enjoy would not take place were if not for our outstanding faculty. You inspire not only our students, but everyone on our campus through your dedication and student-centered focus,” said Junn. “You attract students to our campus, you bring in critical external funding, you do important research, scholarship, and creative activities, and you have the single largest impact on our students.”
The highlight of the reception was the presentation of the highest honors bestowed on faculty by the university: the Excellence in Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Award; the Presidential Outstanding Professor Award; and the Lyle E. Gibson Dominguez Hills Distinguished Teacher Award. Each recognizes a unique aspect of the teaching profession and to the contributions faculty make to the university, students, and their field.
Professor Nancy Erbe, negotiation, conflict resolution and peacebuilding, is the recipient of the 2015 Presidential Outstanding Professor Award. The honor recognizes excellence in individuals who demonstrate outstanding achievements in all areas of faculty performance.
Erbe, who was awarded the 2014-2015 Fulbright-PUC (Pontifícia Universidade Católica) Rio de Janeiro Distinguished Chair in American Studies and is currently serving in Brazil, was unable to attend the reception. She asked two of her students, Mukurima Muriuki and Lawrence Kaimaara, and alumna Giuseppina Wright (2014, M.A., negotiation, conflict resolution and peacebuilding) to accept the award on her behalf.
“A wise man one said, ‘When you educate a man, you have only educated a man. But when you educate a woman, you educated a generation,’ said Muriuki. “Dr. Erbe has used her education to influence the next generation of leaders, not only in America, but in the forgotten counties of the universe; including Kenya, where I come from.”
The Lyle E. Gibson Dominguez Hills Distinguished Teacher Award, named for founding university vice president of academic affairs, recognizes individuals whose teaching is not only exemplary, but who demonstrate an active interest in the progress of students and seeks new and creative ways to engage them.
This year’s recipient of the distinguished teacher award was Fahimeh Rezayat, professor of information systems and operations management. Her nomination packet included four letters of support from colleagues and 11 letters from students.
“I couldn’t do what I do without the cooperation of my colleagues, so I’m accepting this award on their behalf. It belongs to all of us,” said Rezayat. “Working for students who work full-time, have children and still come to learn at the university is an honor for me. I really enjoy watching them change their lives.”
One of Rezayat’s students, Nisrine Seklawi, praised her ability to engage students beyond the lecture.
“As a new transfer student I couldn’t have asked for a more knowledgeable, caring, and patient professor,” said Seklawi. “You made me not only love learning about statistics, but also love Dominguez Hills because it has professors like you.”
This year’s Excellence in Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Award was presented to Mekada Graham, interim chair and associate professor in the Master of Social Work program. The award acknowledges that research, scholarship, and creative activity are essential components of the mission of CSUDH. Moreover, the award recognizes that these professional activities provide intellectual stimulation and motivation for student learning.
Graham, who was in London, England, attending a research seminar organized for her by the Royal Holloway University of London, could not make the reception. She sent an acceptance letter, which was read by Junn after she announced Graham’s award.
“I am deeply honored to be selected to receive the Research and Creativity Award this year and I would like to offer my sincerest gratitude to the faculty committee for this award. It is such a privilege when your peers honor your work in this way,” wrote Graham. After describing her current research project on student narratives and their journey through graduate studies in social work, the letter concluded: “I want students to not only understand and engage with ongoing projects for social change but also experience the transformative possibilities of graduate education.”
The reception also included a special recognition: the presentation of California Campus Compact’s 2015 Richard E. Cone Award for Excellence and Leadership in Cultivating Community Partnerships in Higher Education to Cheryl McKnight, director of the Center for Service Learning, Internships and Civic and Community Engagement (SLICE).
California Campus Compact developed the award to “inspire institutions of higher learning to expand their efforts in institutionalizing and sustaining community-campus partnerships.” McKnight was recognized for her success in developing and cultivating service-learning and community-campus partnerships for CSUDH, and the overall impact of her work on the California State University system.
“The thing that touches my heart the most is seeing how supportive all of you have been,” said McKnight, who has led the SLICE program since 2007. “But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you all do the work and I get all the credit. What a great deal.”
The award was presented to McKnight by Elaine Ikeda, executive director of California Campus Compact.
“Each year we invest in a champion,” said Ikeda. “Richard Cone was going to be here tonight, but he had a health situation. But I have to tell you, when we shared that Cheryl had been accepted for the award he said that he was extremely happy. He felt she really embodies the all the characteristics that the award is about.”
FACULTY SERVICE AWARDS
5 Years: James Barbour; James Katzenstein, Li-Lin Liu Celene Navarrete; Elvira Teller; Charles Thomas; Bing Xu
10 Years: Melissa St. James; Meng Zhao
15 Years: Mohammad Eyadat
25 Years: Fahimeh Rezayat; Wang-Chan Wong
30 Years: Edward K. Chu
College of Arts and Humanities
5 Years: Anne Choi
10 years: Debra Best; Marisela R. Chavez; Nancy Cheever; Nancy Erbe; Michael R. Galant; Roderick Hernandez; James Jeffers; Ericka Verba
15 Years: Maria Hurtado; Jung-Sun Park
25 Years: Miguel Dominguez
College of Health, Human Services & Nursing
5 Years: Mekada Graham; Lynn Harris-Henderson
10 Years: Maria T. Peralta
15 Years: Gay L. Goss; Margaret D. Parker; Ben Zhou
College of Education
10 Years: Irene U. Osisioma
15 Years: John K. Davis; Alice T. Richardson
College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences
10 Years: Hee K. Choi; Michael H. Ferris Jr.; Karen Wilson; Helen Chun
15 Years: Susan Needham
35 Years: Ramona A. Davis
10 Years: Caroline Coward; Wei Ma
Division of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs
10 Years: Tiffany Herbert
45 Years: Janie Macharg