California State University, Long Beach
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Distinguished Faculty Advising Awards For Chelian, Vail, Wilson

Published: July 2, 2012

Michael Chelian

Michael Chelian

Computer Engineering and Computer Science

Michael Chelian supports students from the moment they step onto campus for Student Orientation, Advising and Registration (SOAR) to the day they walk across the platform to shake President Alexander’s hand at graduation.

The undergraduate adviser for the Computer Engineering and Computer Science Department for the past five years, Chelian introduces the program to prospective freshmen at the College of Engineering’s Open House and meets with students during SOAR. He has also served as faculty marshal in more than 20 commencement ceremonies.

His advising philosophy can be summed up in two words – concern and care. Encouraging, understanding and accommodating, Chelian has all of the qualities that make an adviser successful.

He often adjusts his advising hours to fit students’ schedules, even staying after hours on Friday evenings. He greets every student with a smile and a simple question, “How are things with you?”

Chelian is regarded by students and colleagues from throughout the college as extremely knowledgeable about current academic policies and procedures. Many of the students he has advised credit him with expediting their graduation and maximizing their academic experience.

“Some students go through unfortunate and extenuating circumstances,” he said. “Our role as advisers is to help those students as much as we can. It is a joy to see the students who went through hardships or who neglected their studies for a time return, complete their program and stand in line for the commencement ceremony.”

A faculty member at CSULB for 23 years, Chelian is the chair of the department’s undergraduate curriculum committee and represents the department on the college-wide curriculum committee. He served as a member of the University Graduate Council for a term and was the graduate program adviser for electrical engineering for nine years. He is also a member of the College of Engineering ABET Accreditation Committee and is preparing the self study report that will be submitted to the accreditation board.

Leland Vail

Leland Vail

Bob Cole Conservatory of Music

Leland Vail sets the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music to singing.

Over the past 16 years, he has advised Bachelor of Music students, Bachelor of Arts students, music minors, interdisciplinary majors and graduate music students. Currently, Vail serves as the undergraduate adviser for the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music.

The undergraduate music curriculum is one of the most complex at CSULB, with five options and seven concentrations – each with different course requirements. Vail has become highly effective at tracking each student’s progress and ensuring each stays on track in both major and GE classes. Since he became the music adviser, the amount of time it takes students to graduate has dropped significantly.

Vail meets with every student at least once a semester and is known to greet them with a song with clever lyrics that rhyme. He spends about six hours a day meeting with the 400 or more music students and, in addition, helps prospective students prepare for auditions and determine the correct major track before they even arrive on campus.

Vail sets high standards for academic advising and is highly respected by faculty, staff and administrators. He is seen by colleagues in the conservatory as an expert on curriculum and has been helpful in identifying curricular bottlenecks and other issues that have slowed students’ academic progress. At the university level, he has served on the Highly Valued Degree Initiative Advising Task Force that met regularly from 2009-11 to craft a university-wide advising plan. In recent years his insight into the effects of university policy and his willingness to ask difficult questions has ensured that many changes, such as the Timely Graduation Policy, did not create unnecessary burdens on already busy advisers.

A faculty member at CSULB since 1976, Vail also serves as the music director of the Forty-Niner Chorus with more than 100 singers. The ensemble combines with the Chamber Choir, University Choir and University Symphony Orchestra to perform master works. Vail has conducted each of the choirs and has taught choral repertoire, choral organization and conducting.

And he does it all with a smile on his face.

Steve Wilson

Steve Wilson

School of Social Work

Steve Wilson began his career as a social work clinician in health care and hospice. His ability to incorporate his professional experience, coupled with his use of evidence-based research and strong communication skills, have established him as among the best educators in the School of Social Work.

Wilson joined the university as a part-time lecturer in 1993 and became an associate professor in 2004. Since then, he has taken the lead on redesigning four graduate level research classes, as well as the Social Work Administration course.

He also created one of the most sought after classes in the school—Social Work Practice with Death, Dying and Loss—drawing from his experience as a hospice social worker, his academic research and relevant literature. Offered for the first time in spring 2009, the course prepares students for work with the terminally ill, their families and those who are bereaved. CSULB is one of the few schools in the nation to offer such a course and it is so popular that students have signed petitions to ensure it is offered each semester.

Wilson’s Social Work Administration class has been deemed highly innovative; he has made conference presentations on its design and published an article on its effects on graduates. His statistics classes are among the first to fill because of his reputation for excellence in teaching. Professors often seek his mentorship to improve their own teaching skills.

Wilson also serves as a thesis adviser as well as a faculty adviser to the Association of Social Work Students. His research interests and areas of specialization are in medical and geriatric social work with older adults including death, dying, and bereavement, hospice care and family caregiver issues.

Wilson received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Human Development in 1990 and his Master of Social Work in 1993 from CSULB. He earned his doctorate in Social Work from USC in 2004.