Most of the five award winners shed a tear or two at California State University, Dominguez Hills’ (CSUDH) 2016 Annual Faculty Awards Reception as they shared heartfelt memories and gratitude for the colleagues, students and family members who have helped contributed to their success as educators.
During the reception, which took place March 25 in the Loker Student Union ballroom, the award recipients were celebrated for their excellence in teaching, outstanding achievement, and the creative ways they engage students. Forty-three of their colleagues were also honored at the reception for their combined total of 735 years of service to the university. The recipients and their years of service are listed below.
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 the contributions faculty make to the university, students, and their field.
Keisha Paxton, director of CSUDH’s Faculty Development Center, was honored with the “2016 Presidential Outstanding Professor Award,” which recognizes excellence in teaching and overall contributions in research and service as a member of the CSUDH campus community.
Paxton “takes pride” in teaching CSUDH’s diverse student population, and “great care” in organizing her courses and providing her students clear and transparent expectations, said Ellen Junn, CSUDH provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, who emceed the reception.
“We have educated thousands of students from diverse backgrounds here, many of whom have gone on to earn advanced degrees, but we cannot rest on our laurels. We have to continue to support our students and see potential in them that they might not see in themselves,” said Paxton. “I’ve seen such potential in many of my students, and one of my greatest joys is pointing out those talents to them. When we actively notice their potential to achieve doctorates and continue along the educational pipeline, we are changing the face of academia. And to make even more effective change in the world, we need more people of color to pursue academia.”
Jeff Sapp, professor of teacher education, was honored with the “Excellence in Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity Award.” The honor highlights all three attributes as essential components of CSUDH’s mission, and that such professional activities provide intellectual stimulation and motivation for student learning, according to Junn.
Junn praised Sapp for publishing more than 125 “pieces of scholarship” since his arrival at CSUDH in 2006, as an accomplished leader in the field of critical multicultural education. She also noted his dynamic body of work, which encompasses scholarly work in anti-racist/anti-bias intervention, peer-reviewed work in gender studies, and research on issues of diversity and equity in schooling, children’s literature, and much more.
Sapp praised his colleagues for their unwavering support, and thanked the university community as a whole for its openness to his work and research, and its all-encompassing and steadfast commitment to diversity.
“My research over the last nine years has become specifically focused on gender, queer theory and queer studies in education. At the two former institutions that I taught that research would have never been acknowledged, let alone awarded. It was actually disparaged and I was pretty brutalized because of it,” said Sapp, as he tried in vain to hold back his emotions. “So it’s not lost on me that it’s awarded here, and it behooves me to think of the decades of professors and staff members who identified as much as activists as they have teachers and professors, and who had strategically written into our policy ‘safer spaces’ so I can stand here and receive this award tonight. …I have spent more than a quarter of my career at Cal State Dominguez Hills. My colleagues in the College of Education have become the brothers and sisters that I never had, and that I’ve always wanted.”
Marisela Chavez, associate professor in the Chicano/Chicana Studies Department, received the “Lyle E. Gibson Dominguez Hills Distinguished Teaching Award,” named for founding university vice president of academic affairs. It recognizes individuals whose teaching is not only exemplary, but also demonstrates an active interest in the progress of students, and seeks new and creative ways to engage them.
Junn praised Chavez’s interest and research, and how it has influenced high-impact practices (HIP) at CSUDH to benefit students, particularly those from underserved communities. She also mentioned how Chavez, as an Academic Affairs Administrative Fellow, collaborated with other units on campus to institutionalize HIPs at the university, many of which are now integrated into CSUDH’s Strategic Plan.
“Receiving this award has given me the opportunity to think about my teaching in more profound ways, and the usual mad rush to prepare for every class session. It has also given me time to reflect upon the teachers who I’ve had in my own life and what I’ve learned from them,” said Chavez. “I thought, ‘What made them great teachers? How did I craft my own teaching strategies, my own pedagogy? And I came to realize that the model of a great teaching for me is based on three things: love, hope, and social justice.
“Love shapes my endeavor to provide a space where students are honored and challenged to make their own futures. …Hope fuels my attempts to ensure that all students who come to my classes find the knowledge and skills that change the way they had previously viewed history and their own lives. …And the desire for social justice frames my ideals and knowledge that students use experiences to imagine and achieve a purposeful future for themselves and their communities.”
Thomas Philo, an archivist in the University Library, along with Ivonne Heinze-Balcazar, chair of the Modern Languages Department, were this year’s recipients of the “Excellence in Service Award.” The honor recognizes faculty contributions to university governance and development, and acknowledges that service is an essential component of CSUDH’s mission.
Heinze-Balcazar was recognized for providing consistent service to the College of Arts and Humanity at CSUDH, and leading the way to many of the significant milestones her department has experienced since her arrival.
“In fall 2003, with great passion, I began teaching as an assistant professor in Spanish linguistics in the Department of Modern Languages. Since that time, I have delighted in the challenges of teaching, research, and service,” said Heinze-Balcazar. “…As a Latina professor, scholar and administrator, I am proud to join those who have come before me. I want to thank my students who motivate me every day to be a better professor, and a better administrator. I want to thank the faculty awards committee and the colleagues who are attending this event today, and who have supported me through many years. Gracias, and thank you.”
Philo received nine letters of support for his Excellence in Service Award nomination from various CSUDH and community leaders, according to Junn. She also credited Philo’s tireless work for the rededication of the Shinwa-En Japanese Garden in 2010, as founding member of the Carson Historical Committee, and the numerous ways he has contributed to the betterment of the campus community.
Philo organized a portion of his remarks around the theme “Big ticket item,” a term he said he “never fully understood. He began with an emotional, yet uplifting account of how his wife’s inspiration to teach–English at the high school level–slowly unveils itself as each semester progresses: from her stating “I can’t reach them, they’re impenetrable…” during the beginning of the semester; to “These kids are working so hard. They’ve come so far,” toward the end.
“She [his wife] is the one students email from college and from grad school. She’s the one who made a difference to them and took them somewhere where they didn’t know they could reach. She’s a big ticket item,” he said. “So what is service here? I think Cal State Dominguez is known as the place that opens the door for people who can’t find the door elsewhere. But our big ticket item is that yes, we get them inside the door, but we then point them to another door that’s at the top of the stairway and say, ‘That’s what you need to get through.’ Service is whatever you will do to get your students through that door… That’s what service means to me.”
Faculty Years of Service Awards
College of Business Administration and Public Policy
10 Year: Theodore Byrne; David Hoopes; Elena Kulikov; Hamid Pourmohammadi; and Bingsheng Yi
15 Years: Clarence A. Martin
25 Years: Richard B. Malamud
35 Years: Burhan F. Yavas
College of Arts and Humanities
5 Years: Scott S. Morris
10 Years: Dana Belu; Randolph Cauthen: Salim Faraji; Jonathon Grasse; and Vivian Price
15 Years: Timothy S. Chin
20 Years: Mark D. Waldrep
25 Years: William R. Deluca and Thomas J. Giannotti
College of Education
10 Years: Ann Selmi
15 Years: Kamal Hamdan
20 years: Caron I. Mellblom
College of Health and Human Services
10 Years: Lee Hancock and Eric J. Hwang
20 Years: Cynthia G. Johnson
25 Years: Cheryl Jackson-Harris and Pamela Krochalk
30 Years: Mary L. Cappel
35 Years: Carole M. Casten
College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences
10 Years: Matthew Mutchler; Keisha Paxton; John Price; Sohaila Shakib; LaTanya Skiffer; Carl Sneed; Alexander Stanoyevitch; John R. Tomlinson; and Tieli Wang
15 Years: Ralph Saunders and Ashish Sinha
25 Years: Michael Durand; Kenneth S. Ganezer; Silvia Santos; and Marek A. Suchenek