Mark Carrier, professor of psychology, believes that good campus synergy results in abundant student and faculty achievement, and that’s why he has not shied from taking on distinctive leadership roles that have helped foster a collaborative learning environment on campus.
Taking note of Carrier’s devotion to the university community, California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) has named him the 2019 recipient of the Excellence in Service Award. The honor recognizes faculty contributions to university governance and development, and acknowledges that service, both on and off campus, is an essential component of CSUDH’s mission.
Carrier’s service paid dividends last year when CSUDH achieved the highest level of Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) reaccreditation – a full 10 years. He played a significant role in the accomplishment through his tireless work as co-chair of the WASC Senior College and University Commission Steering Committee, which was a major consideration for his faculty award.
“I feel touched by my colleagues’ recognition of that work, and I’m really proud that we earned 10 years of reaccreditation,” said Carrier. “Most people don’t see all the work that is put into that. It takes you out of the classroom, puts you behind the scenes, and requires a lot of writing and data analysis. It’s very important for the university, and certainly worth it.”
Since arriving at CSUDH in 1998, Carrier has put service to the campus community as a top priority, which he has manifested in several forms—educator, admired mentor, department and committee leader, and cutting-edge research partner.
In 2014, he was selected CSUDH’s director of assessment. In that position, he chaired the University Student Learning Outcomes Assessment Committee, which was established in 2002 to oversee the university’s academic program assessment plan. During his time as chair, the committee moved the assessment process onto a computer-based system, increased the participation rate of academic programs, and instituted a new rating system that could evaluate the university’s progress toward its assessment goals.
“Outcomes assessment is another aspect of the university’s function that students are completely unaware of, but essential to maintaining its quality,” said Carrier. “I enjoyed bringing CSUDH students from all majors into this process by creating an ‘Assessment Laboratory,’ where students received credit for being trained to work with academic departments on assessment-related projects.”
Carrier has been chair of the Department of Psychology a total of eight years, serving his last stint from 2012 to 2014.
His goals as chair were to create robust teaching schedules that served the needs of all academic programs and students, and to encourage and support faculty research. “Being chair is a hard job. Each semester brings new opportunities to grow and enhance the department, but also new and unexpected problems to solve,” Carrier said. “It turned out that being chair was a stepping stone to taking on larger, university-wide, service roles.”
A persistent supporter of student-faculty mentorship and research, Carrier managed or co-managed CSUDH’s annual Student Research Day (SRD) from 2012 to 2014. He set a single goal—to increase the number of student presenters each year. To increase his chances, Carrier recruited a team of psychology students who helped him find more would-be student researchers from across campus in a variety of fields.
Carrier also added the arts to SRD’s competition categories, and helped secure additional funding through the president’s office to grow and improve the conference overall. “After I won the Outstanding Professor award in 2011, I started getting asked to do various tasks across campus,” he said. “I was particularly excited to run Student Research Day because I had loved every minute of the competitions that I had attended in the past.”
Several students whom Carrier has mentored have placed well in SRD, including winning top honors. He has a long history of engaging with students and peers in cutting-edge psychological research.
“I’m proud of the students who I have personally mentored,” he said. “Each one comes with a different story or background, and their own strengths and weaknesses. I really enjoy my role in trying to help them use them to their advantage, or convert them into something that they can take with them to graduate program, or to get a job.”
Much of the student mentorship Carrier engages in takes place in the George Marsh Applied Cognition Laboratory (GMAC), which he supervises with his research partners, Communications Professor Nancy Cheever, Emeritus Psychology Professor Larry Rosen, and Management and Marketing Professor Thomas Norman.
The lab is an active base for award-winning research in the field of applied cognitive psychology, a branch of psychology that focuses on information processing–memory, learning, thinking, decision making, language, and consciousness–and their application in real-world contexts.
The team’s research in the GMAC, particularly on the habit-forming effects of smartphones, has garnered them and the university international media attention, including a story on “60 Minutes” with Anderson Cooper. Carrier and Cheever are now in the early stages of developing national research on “fake news” and how people process it online.
“These collaborations have been beyond successful—more than I could have ever imagined,” said Carrier. “It became clear that we were going to achieve a lot more than we could have individually, and what we have accomplished still blows my mind to this day.”