Cal State Long Beach Professors Patricia J. Clark and Craig R. Smith have been named recipients of the 1999-2000 Outstanding Professor Award, the highest faculty honor bestowed at the university.
The two were selected after an exhaustive nomination process that highlighted the efforts and achievements in their academic careers both inside and outside of the classroom, especially the work during their tenure at Cal State Long Beach.
With an academic career that expands more than 40 years, Clark says she has always been involved in arts education. She began her career and spent 15 years at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls, where she was a tenured faculty member and arts administrator.
In fact, arts administration became a benchmark in her career for numerous other interesting appointments, all of which emphasized multi-arts or a cross discipline/arts programming.
Clark spent four years as a director and executive director at USC's Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts, and in 1985, she accepted an appointment with the California State University Chancellor's Office as associate director of special program. She was responsible for implementing a cross-discipline seminar that became known as the CSU Summer Arts Program, an intensive four-week summer program that features world-class performing and visual artists.
"Developing the Summer Arts Program for the CSU was an extremely exciting experience for me, but after 10 years of being an administrator, I desperately wanted to get back to teaching again," Clark recalls. "When I worked at the Chancellor's office, I really did have the chance to visit every campus, and I chose Cal State Long Beach as the one I would most like to work at because of its attention to professionalism and scholarship. Also, the Art Department was one that had been in long-standing and the student work was just incredible."
Clark first came to CSULB in 1988 on a two-year lecture assignment with the Art Department. At the time, the university was searching for a department chair, and after a national search, her experience was evaluated for the position and Clark was appointed chair of the Art Department in 1990.
Because her desire to get back into the classroom with students brought her to CSULB, it seems only fitting that her nomination for the Outstanding Professor Award came from a student. She called the nomination very "heartwarming" as were the more than 30 letters of support from faculty members on campus at other campuses.
She credits the nomination from the student to her openess as an art professor, and she believes the support from her colleagues comes from her understanding and fairness as a department chair.
"As a professor, I look at all aspects of various art forms and don't really try to impress my particular style or energy into any student's work," says Clark, whose specialty is drawing and painting with an emphasis on scientific type of drawing. "I allow students to have their own stylistic freedom and interpretation. I also follow through on several different levels from the classroom to the exhibition area to the professional life after they leave school.
When Clark chaired the Art Department from 1990 to 1995, times were tough. There were numerous and devastating cuts in each area of the department, but through it all, she and her colleagues always tried to make sure the integrity of each curriculum was maintained. In the process, she says, the faculty bonded as they tried to push forward to maintain a department of excellence.
"We were all in the same boat together, and I think they respected the fact that we were trying very hard to make it work even though we had those disastrous cuts at the time," Clark explains. "I think they appreciated my sense of fairness and the fact that I was always listening and trying to make things work."
Clark's efforts in the community and with outside organizations have also been recognized and kept her busy. Her work in the Long Beach community earned her the "Art Educator of the Year Award" from the city's Public Corporation for the Arts in 1995. She has also been a member of Phi Beta Delta, an honor society for international scholars, since 1993.
There has also been her work on "the canvas," work she has exhibited both nationally and internationally. In 1993, her work was shown in an invitational exhibition in Seoul, Korea, and from 1994-96, she was an invited participant every year in major out-of-state or regional exhibitions. She also exhibits every other year in faculty biannual exhibitions sponsored by CSULB's University Art Museum.
Still, all of the outside experiences go back into the classroom in her teaching, where she gets most of her fulfillment.
"I've never been bored a day in my job, and I've always known what I wanted to do," Clark points out. "I feel extremely sad for people in today's market and society who don't know what they want to do, who have no footing. So, I what I try to do is help my students find that footing."
Smith's career spans more than 30 years and actually began with the CSU in 1969 as an assistant professor of speech communications at San Diego State University. From there, he went to the University of Virginia and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he was chair of the Communication Arts Division.
However, Smith has also had some interesting occupations outside academia, delving into both politics and business. He was a speechwriter for President Gerald R. Ford during the nation's bicentennial, director of Senate Services for the Republican Conference of the United States Senate (1979-80), deputy director for the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee (1981-82), and in 1982, he served as a speechwriter and public policy analyst for Lee Iacocca, chairman of the Chrysler Corporation.
It was Smith who talked Iacocca into giving a speech to a joint session of the Michigan Legislature on the need for a mandatory seat belt law. Michigan became the first state to pass the law, and the rest is history. Thousands of lives have been saved.
In 1983, Smith became president of the Freedom of Expression Foundation, founded in Washington, D.C. at the behest of a number of media giants who were concerned that there were content controls that were being placed on the broadcast media that were unconstitutional. It was this group that eventually brought Smith to CSULB.
The foundation won its battle in 1987 as the content controls placed on the broadcast media were repealed, and the Supreme Court upheld the FCC's actions. The board liked the research the foundation conducted and wanted it to continue, and since the foundation's work was going to focus on research, Smith wanted to set up base on a university campus. Cal State Long Beach was selected.
"I had the choice of going to a University of California campus," Smith remembers, "and I decided to come to Cal State Long Beach because my experience, having taught at San Diego State early in my career, was that the CSU is a place where we do things. We're very hands on, very pragmatic.
"The University of California is a place where they think about things, and that's nice," he adds. "I could do that in my books and my articles, but when I'm dealing with students and I'm dealing with the real world, I really think it's important to be more pragmatic that to be philosophical."
The foundation is its own entity and continues its involvement in court litigation on behalf of broadcasters. It also funds the Center for First Amendment Studies at CSULB, which was established in 1988 with Smith as the director and a professor of communication studies at the campus, returning him to academia.
Since joining the CSULB faculty in 1988, Smith has chaired three different academic departments and served on numerous campus committees. He has proven himself to be a prolific writer, producing 50 scholarly articles and 12 books, and a valuable professor to his students, mentoring them outside as well as inside the classroom.
These efforts earned him the Distinguished Scholarly and Creative Activity Award from the university in 1994 and the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1997.
As an academic, Smith considers himself an "anomaly." A conservative Republican who opposes the death penalty and favors gun control, he is also a religious existentialist who is not afraid to talk about God and inspiration. In
Addition, he regularly leaves his ivory tower to work in the vineyards of public policy debate and action.
Along those lines, Smith is most proud of his recent efforts in converting into legislation an initiative that requires the recording of barrel markings of handguns, a kind of fingerprinting for the weapons.
"I think I was nominated because of my outside work-the work for First Amendment law and the work on gun control," says Smith, who was nominated for the award by his department chair, Sharon Downey, and Political Science Department Chair Gerry Riposa. "That's what made me stand out above other people they might have thought of."
He also believes his teaching and work with students contributed to the support of his colleagues. In her nomination letter, Downey wrote: "…his course preparation and class presentation reflect vigor, creativity, challenge and an uncanny ability to apply history and theory to current events and students' lives." Adding later: "…he has emerged as students' first choice for an instructor and a colleagues dream."
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