Campus: CSU Long Beach -- May 23, 2005

Cal State Long Beach Presents 3 Faculty Members with Campus' 2004-05 Outstanding Professor Award

Cal State Long Beach Professors Jana Echevarria, Clair Martin and Ramses Toma have been named recipients of the 2004-05 Outstanding Professor Award, the university's highest faculty honor.

Established in 1980, the Outstanding Professor Award is designed to reward and publicly acknowledge outstanding professorial performance. It is the only honor given by Cal State Long Beach that recognizes excellence in three specific areas -- instruction and instructionally-related activities, scholarly and creative activities and professional service.

All three recipients were recognized and presented with their awards at the 2005 University Achievement Awards. The three will also be honored this week at their respective college's graduation ceremonies, which will be held May 25-27 at the CSULB campus.

Echevarria has taught everywhere from a small Mexican village to a Taiwan classroom where she taught English while learning Mandarin Chinese. That experience goes a long way toward explaining her recognition as a recipient of this year's Outstanding Professor Award.

"It really is an honor," said Echevarria, a professor in the Educational Psychology, Administration and Counseling Department. "My first reaction was to feel very humbled that my colleagues would select me. It almost doesn't seem right to receive an award for doing something I love to do anyway."

Her professional experience includes elementary and secondary teaching in general education, special education, English as a Second Language (ESL) and bilingual programs. She has lived in Taiwan and Mexico where she taught ESL and second language acquisition courses at the university level, as well as in Spain where she conducted research on instructional programs for immigrant students.

Echevarria, who joined the university in 1993 and served as department chair from 2002-04, feels one reason she was recognized was the balance she has struck between teaching, scholarship and service.

"I love teaching and I've always had good feedback," she said. "Sometimes, I feel I was born to teach. Through some research grants I've had, I've been able to keep my research agenda going. In the last few years, I've published a model of instruction for English learners that, to my surprise, has really taken off nationwide. I've consistently tried to perform a lot of service here. Perhaps my greatest service came in the midst of the budget crisis when I gave up my love of teaching and served as department chair for two years."

Echevarria's work from a seven-year grant project (1996-2003) -- "The Effects of Sheltered Instruction on the Achievement of Limited English Proficient (SIOP) Students" with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) and National Institute on the Education of At-Risk Students (NIEARS) -- resulted in development of a model of instruction for English learners, the SIOP Model, currently used in all 50 states and several countries.

Echevarria earned her bachelor's degree in liberal studies in 1978 and her master's degree in bilingual studies in 1984 from Cal State Long Beach before acquiring her doctorate in education from UCLA in 1993.

A member of the faculty since 1988, Martin believes a keen sense of intellectual balance between teaching, scholarship and service to the university is one reason for her Outstanding Professor Award.

"This is what I've always wanted to do because I am equally interested in teaching, research and service," said the Argentine-born-and-raised expert in 19th and 20th century Spanish American literature. "Truly a third of your career commitment goes toward meaningful service. There are so many ways to influence curriculum decisions, programmatic changes and professional development. I have taken advantage of different kinds of opportunities afforded to faculty here at CSULB - workshops, team teaching, grants, fundraising and faculty governance. It is difficult to say no to all those opportunities. I think that is the nature of my accomplishment, to balance out all three, because I truly want to be involved in all of them."

Being trained as a language teacher has helped her in the classroom.

"Being in a language classroom necessitates your being very well prepared and well organized," said Martin, a Spanish professor. "The idea is not to do all the talking. The classroom has to be very interactive. To be interactive, you have to think about each activity and what the goal will be. In the classroom, what I like to do is work with the text, paragraph-by-paragraph, sentence-by-sentence, word-by-word, so that we get to the meaty part of it. It is in those shared moments that teaching and learning fuse and become meaningful to the professor and the students. I truly love teaching."

Martin is especially pleased to be named an outstanding professor. "It's always wonderful to be acknowledged by your peers," she said. "To be nominated by people I work with, I respect and admire makes it even better. It feels very good."

Martin earned her B.A. and M.A. in Spanish from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (1980-83) and her Ph.D. in Spanish from Yale University in 1988.

For more than 20 years, Toma has shown time after time that he is a "student's professor" at Cal State Long Beach, and perhaps it is that reputation which stood out most when the professor of food science and nutrition was selected as a recipient of this year's Outstanding Professor Award.

Sue Stanley, chair of the Family and Consumer Sciences Department, quickly pointed out that Toma's nomination was completely initiated by his students, which is not the norm. She said the professor is a "very special" faculty member and "extremely deserving" of the award.

"I am absolutely thrilled. This is the highest honor the university can give in recognition of a professor's work," said Toma, who joined the CSULB faculty in 1984. "I am also pleased to received the award because it is good recognition for the campus' Department of Family and Consumer Sciences and College of Health and Human Services."

One of the best examples of that dedication to his students came last spring. At the beginning of the semester, with class assignments and course offerings already set, Dr. Toma agreed to take on and additional course - Recent Advancements in Food Science - despite his already full teaching load because students needed the class for the master's work.

"Dr. Toma is an outstanding professor (who) continually supports the dietetic and food service students in their educational careers," wrote Laura Woiemberghe, one of the students from that reinstated course, in a letter of nomination on Toma's behalf.

"He works endlessly and wholeheartedly to guide, support and open doors of opportunity for those (who) hold him as not only their professor, but as their mentor and friend as well," read another letter that was signed by more than 40 of Toma's current students.

Toma received a bachelor's degree in 1959 and a master's in 1965 from Ain Shams in Cairo before earning a master's in 1969 and a Ph.D. in 1971 from Louisiana State University and a master's in public health and nutrition from the University of Minnesota in 1980.

Media Contacts:
Rick Gloady, 562/985-5454,
Shayne Schroeder, 562/985-1727,

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