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Leadership Fellows Incorporate Research in their Projects

Faculty Research - April 2016

In Fall 2013, the Leadership Fellows Program was created by Interim President Donald Para and Interim Provost David Dowell to develop the next generation of university leaders, respond systemically to critical issues in higher education, and advance CSULB’s strategic priorities and goals. The program has been recognized nationally by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities for excellence and innovation in leadership development and diversity.

The Leadership Fellows Program provides selected faculty and staff with a platform for professional development through personal leadership assessment, environmental scanning and reflection, and mentoring. Led by Dr. Karen Nakai and Dr. Dan O’Connor, the Fellows meet frequently throughout the academic year as a cohort to develop a deep understanding of internal and external systems through active engagement in creative problem solving and collaborative work. In their second year, the Fellows engage in a project demonstrating leadership through research, development, implementation, and assessment resulting in the advancement of one of CSULB’s strategic priorities and goals.

Below are just a few examples of those impactful projects completed by a few Cohort 1 members:

Dr. Carolyn Bremer snapshot

Dr. Carolyn Bremer

Project: "Creating a Community"read more about this project

In Creating a Community, Dr. Bremer worked with Vice President Andrea Taylor and the Division of University Relations & Development to measure how effectively departments used social media to keep in close contact with alumni. Dr. Bremer found that creating a community through social media resulted in more alumni returning to campus for events. Additionally she discovered that current students found that alumni can help them work as musicians after graduation, and that reading about the successful careers of alumni gave them confidence that they could succeed.

Dr. Laura Portnoi snapshot

Dr. Laura Portnoi

Project: "Provost’s Task Force on Graduate Student Success"read more about this project

The central goal of the Provost’s Task Force on Graduate Student Success was to foster graduate student success through data and recommendations to the University for developing evidence-based initiatives at the department, college, and university levels. Working primarily under the jurisdiction of Academic Affairs, the task force included representatives from each academic department, as well as two graduate students and two staff members who work with graduate students.

Dr. Portnoi and Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies Cecile Lindsay co-chaired the task force. Data from the task force, collected via surveys and focus groups, have been shared with the campus community and many of the recommendations for improving graduate student success are already in the implementation phase, creating a lasting impact on graduate studies at CSULB.

Dr. Richard Marcus snapshot

Dr. Richard Marcus

Project: "Degree Value Student Opportunities"read more about this project

Higher education in California—and CSUs in particular— are under fire for insufficiently addressing employment sector needs. The national focus on Degree Value centers on "major," "earnings," and "unemployment rates." Dr. Marcus’ study aims to identify the skills gaps in southern California and determine the best tools for closing those gaps. Under Academic Affairs and under the mentorship of Interim Provost David Dowell, Dr. Marcus’ project resulted in the creation of two department level advisory boards to help bridge the skills gap.

Dr. Malcolm Finney snapshot

Dr. Malcolm Finney

Project: "Access, Recruitment, Retention and Graduation of African American Students at CSULB"read more about this project

Dr. Finney explored possible reasons for the steady decline in African American students being offered and accepting admission at CSULB in spite of multiple initiatives by the Chancellor’s Office & CSULB. Results (from review of admissions data, faculty/ student surveys and interviews, visits to other campuses) indicate that CSULB’s impacted status, campus climate, and perception that CSULB is hard to get into, may have been contributing factors.

The study also indicates that a more intentional community outreach and recruiting effort, highlighting what CSULB has to offer underrepresented students may increase the number of African American and other underrepresented students on campus. Dr. Finney worked with Student Affairs under guidance from Vice President Carmen Taylor and input from Associate Vice President Jeff Klaus, with additional support from Valerie Bordeaux, Director of University Outreach & School Relations.

Dr. Babette Benken snapshot

Dr. Babette Benken

Project: "Utilizing Educational Partnerships and Networks to Prepare High-Quality K-12 Teachers within STEM Disciplines"read more about this project

For her project, Dr. Benken accomplished three primary goals:

  1. Establishing new systems through which Long Beach Community College, the Long Beach Unified School District, and CSULB can collaboratively seek funding for recruiting and preparing K-12 teachers within STEM disciplines
  2. Facilitating the generation of priorities for future and current funding opportunities across the three institutions, and
  3. Overseeing the development of and doing most of the writing for two funding proposals for which $750,000 has already been garnered.

In the long term, current initiatives stemming from her project will help to prepare teachers for effective STEM teaching, increase the number of teachers in STEM disciplines, increase the value of a CSULB degree/credential, and expand and support collaborative faculty research across institutions. Dr. Benken worked primarily with College of Education Dean Marquita Grenot-Scheyer.

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