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Press Release Faculty

CSU Faculty Recognized for Innovation and Furthering Student Success


The California State University presents the 2020 Faculty Innovation and Leadership Awards (FILA) for innovative practices that improve student achievement.

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The CSU FILA awards celebrate outstanding faculty for their remarkable efforts in improving student success. Dr. Susan Roll, professor and director of Chico State's School of Social Work, meets with her former grad student Mona Kazemi (left). Photo courtesy of Chico State/Jessica Bartlett​


​​​​​​​​​​​The California State University (CSU) is recognizing 25 faculty and staff with Faculty Innovation and Leadership Awards (FILA), honoring those who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership to advance student success, particularly in courses or areas with traditionally low success rates or persistent equity gaps.

In this season of remarkable institutional transformation, CSU faculty and staff are at the center of innovative thinking in redesigning courses, advancing innovative student support programs, effectively using data to address equity gaps and collaborating beyond their campus boundaries to improve student outcomes. This year's awardees, including three campus teams, are exemplary faculty and staff leaders who have implemented such innovative practices.

“The CSU's world-class faculty continue to advance bold, creative solutions to enrich student learning, despite the daunting and unprecedented challenges facing higher education," said CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White. “The awardees have demonstrated brilliance, ingenuity and adaptability, and their steadfast commitment to student success is at the very core of the CSU's educational mission."

A selection committee comprised of faculty, student representatives from the California State Student Association and staff members from the CSU Office of the Chancellor reviewed hundreds of nominations to identify the awardees.

Awardees receive $5,000, as well as $10,000 allocated to their academic department in support of ongoing innovation and leadership to advance student success at the CSU. Funding for the awards is provided by generous grant support from foundation partners.

The recipients of the 2020 Faculty Innovation and Leadership Awards are:

Name Department Campus
John TarjanDepartment of Management and MarketingBakersfield
* Heather Castillo & MiRi Park Performing Arts  Channel Islands
* Susan Roll & Jennifer WilkingSchool of Social WorkChico
Cheryl McKnightAnthropologyDominguez Hills
Fadi CastronovoSchool of Engineering, Construction Management ProgramEast Bay
Archana McEligotPublic HealthFullerton
Roberto SotoMathematicsFullerton
* Matthew D. Johnson & Amy SprowlesDepartment of Wildlife ManagementHumboldt
Shadnaz AsgariBiomedical Engineering Department, Computer Engineering and Computer Science DepartmentLong Beach
James E. BradyDepartment of AnthropologyLos Angeles
Merav EfratDepartment of Health SciencesNorthridge
Patricia BackerAviation and TechnologySan Jose
Sarah DahlenLibraryMonterey Bay
B. Dana KivelRecreation, Parks and Tourism AdministrationSacramento
Kelly McDonaldDepartment of Biological SciencesSacramento
Terri NelsonWorld Languages and LiteraturesSan Bernardino
Elizabeth PollardHistorySan Diego
Jae H. PaikDevelopmental PsychologySan Francisco
Megan GuiseSchool of EducationSan Luis Obispo
Sharon Hamill Department of PsychologySan Marcos
Matthew Paolucci-CallahanDepartment of Psychology Sonoma
Cueponcaxochitl D. Moreno SandovalDepartment of Ethnic StudiesStanislaus

* Team awardees

Read bios for each awardee on the Faculty Innovation and Leadership Awards website.

Faculty innovation is crucial to reaching the ambitious student success goals outlined in the CSU's Graduation Initiative 2025. This university-wide effort advances specific goals to eliminate equity gaps and significantly improve degree completion.​

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Dr. Jennifer Wilking, Ph.D., associate professor and vice chair of Chico State's Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice, speaks to students in a multidisciplinary course. Photo courtesy of Chico State/Jason Halley​

Student Success