Recognition of Cal State L.A. educator earns University its second Presidential Award
Raymond B. Landis, dean of the School of Engineering and Technology at California State University, Los Angeles, was recently named one of 10 individuals selected by the President of the United States to receive the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. The award, established by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, is administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
The 1999 awards were conferred at a White House ceremony on December 6, to 10 individuals and 5 institutions from across the country whose outstanding mentoring efforts were deemed most responsible for enhancing the participation of underrepresented groups in science, math and engineering. The awardees were presented a $10,000 grant to be directed back into the mentoring activity, and a Presidential commemorative certificate recognizing them as exemplars to their colleagues and leaders in the national effort to more fully develop the nation's human resources in science, mathematics and engineering.
This is the second Presidential Award received at Cal State L.A. In 1996, chemistry professor Carlos G. Gutierrez was among the first group of honorees to receive the then newly-established honor.
Raymond B. Landis is a nationally recognized expert in student development and student retention in engineering and a strong advocate for student success courses in engineering curricula. Known as "the father of the MEP," Landis designed and implemented the Minority Engineering Program at California State University, Northridge, where he was professor of engineering from 1967 until 1985, when he joined the faculty and administration of Cal State L.A. At present, 20 engineering colleges in California alone have replicated the MEP program, now a national model for the education of economically and educationally disadvantaged students. As technical adviser for more than 60 universities across the United States, Landis continues to oversee the programs' effectiveness.
"Dean Landis has devoted his life and his career to increasing the representation of minorities in engineering," said Cal State L.A. President James M. Rosser. "His unparalleled achievements can be attributed to the combination of a unique personal commitment, a compulsive drive to make a difference, and a remarkable energy and work ethic."
In his capacity as a dean at Cal State L.A., Landis continues to teach and mentor students. Through his textbook for college freshmen, Studying Engineering: A Roadmap to a Rewarding Career, he has reached more than 32,000 students at over 300 institutions across the nation. In addition to his dedication to mentoring students, Landis has developed complementary approaches to help guide faculty members who wish to establish successful mentoring relationships with their students. Emphasizing effective communication, especially cross-cultural communication, Landis' Faculty Advisors for Minority Students (FAMES) program builds skills that faculty need in order to be the most effective teachers, academic advisor, personal counselors and role models. His newsletter, Success 101, is popular with engineering and engineering technology faculty, and more than 700 engineering educators throughout the country have benefited from his NSF-sponsored Chautauqua short course.
Under Landis' tenure as dean, Cal State L.A.'s School of Engineering and Technology has risen to the ranks of the nation's top 20 undergraduate engineering schools and has received the highest rating from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Landis has also led his School in the highly acclaimed Solar Eagle student designed and built solar car projects that culminated in several national victories and a national first-place win against major research institutions. The student-faculty-staff teams also competed successfully against major automotive teams in Australia's World Solar Challenges.
Derrick Hamilton, student team leader of the first Solar Eagle and now regional manager of Network Operations-Los Angeles for Pacific Bell, praised Landis' mentoring skills: "I cannot begin to describe how much the Solar Eagle project meant to my teammates and me. . . none of it would have happened without Dr. Landis. He guided us, taught us, encouraged us, and challenged us."
Landis began his career in engineering as a member of the technical staff at Rocketdyne, a division of Rockwell International, from 1963-67, and has continued to work with the industry as a consultant on issues related to minority engineering education. Throughout his career, he has garnered significant recognition for his work. Among his numerous awards are the 1998 American Society for Engineering Education Visiting Scholar Award, the Los Angeles Council of Engineers and Scientists' 1998 Engineering Project of the Year Award (Solar Eagle III), and the 1998 Spirit of Los Angeles Award from the Transportation Foundation of Los Angeles. In 1998, he was honored by the ARCO Foundation for his success in increasing the pool of underrepresented engineers, and in early 1999 he was among the first inductees in the National Association of Minority Engineering Program Administrators Hall of Fame. Also in 1999, Landis was honored as the first CSU administrator to receive the systemwide CSU Wang Family Excellence Award for administrative leadership.
In a statement issued regarding the Presidential Awards, Rita Colwell, NSF director, said, "No personal influence is as powerful, long lasting and positive as that of a superlative mentor."
Public Affairs Offices/Campus News