The Leadership Fellows Program at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) was honored for the second year in a row by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) this week when it was named the winner of an Excellence and Innovation Award for its work in leadership development and diversity.
The fellows program was given the Leadership Development and Diversity Award by AASCU, sharing that distinction with the University of West Georgia which was also awarded for its “Engage West!” faculty program.
The winners were announced in August of this year but were not awarded until the AASCU annual meeting this week in Austin, Texas. The association’s president Muriel A. Howard said that the honoring of this year’s winners will hopefully have positive ramifications across the educational spectrum.
“State colleges and universities have remained committed to their missions of student access and success, and regional and economic progress, and continue their dedication to advancing the quality and distinction of their institutions during the most challenging of times,” Howard said. “We believe the innovative and collaborative approaches for which these universities are being honored will inspire not only their AASCU colleagues, but all of higher education.”
The Washington D.C.-based association is made up of over 400 public colleges and universities whose members demonstrate a focus on learning, commit to helping underserved student populations and dedicate themselves to research and creativity. The criteria for bringing home an award was based on evidence of top-level support, connection with the the school’s strategic agenda and contributions to significant institutional improvements, among other criteria. It stated that the winners were schools that provided “exemplary models of public institutions that are striving to provide the best academic outcomes through engaged and active leadership.”
The Long Beach program, which was created in 2013, aims to advance the university’s strategic priorities by responding to critical issues in higher education. It offers faculty and staff an avenue to to sharpen their leadership abilities by taking part in seminars and design solutions to issues affecting higher education. The university was previously honored last year for its efforts to increase graduation rates. The school’s six-year, 60 percent graduation rate for freshmen in 2007 was a “historical high” according to the school’s most recent strategic plan.
“I’m very impressed with the Leadership Fellows Program, which is doing an excellent job preparing our next generation of university leaders and giving them opportunities to excel,” CSULB President Jane Close Conoley said in a statement. “The faculty and staff who participate in the program offer fresh ideas that will advance our mission to ensure student success.”
So far, the program, which includes 45 staff and faculty members in its three cohorts—the third of which started this month—has completed 14 projects including the initiation of a president’s scholars development fund, a graduate studies initiative and expanding alternate spring break programs. Some of the unfinished programs include those targeted at addressing first year student experiences, financial literacy for students and connecting studies abroad to career development.
The two-year fellowship program is cost-free to faculty and staff. However, it does require a time commitment, as there are 14 or so mandatory Friday seminars that can last up to four hours. The second year of the program focuses on implementation and assessing of plans to address some of the university’s strategic priorities which include student success, academic quality, service excellence, campus life and a sustainable environment.
Richard Marcus, a professor at Long Beach and a member of the program’s inaugural class that developed the “Degree Value Student Opportunities” program aimed at connecting student learning to professional priorities said that participating in the fellows fellowship was a “transformative” experience.
“As a result of the program I just do my job better,” Marcus said.
This article was updated at 17:09PM on Wednesday, October 28, clarifying number of awards the program has received and number of staff involved in the program.