Harry E. Brakebill Distinguished Professor Award, 2017-2018
It is a tremendous honor to be nominated and receive the Harry E. Brakebill Distinguished Professor Award for 2017-2018. I am grateful to all the students, faculty, staff, and administrators who supported me for the award. All that I have accomplished here has been because I have been encouraged and sustained by the remarkable California State University San Marcos community.
Life is filled with choices and one of the best choices I have ever made was to come to CSUSM.
I first visited the University in 1991, when the campus was still in a strip mall on the north side of Highway 78. The university was scattered in offices and buildings that were sandwiched between a paint store on one side, and, on the other, Jerome’s Furniture Warehouse (hence our name for a time became “Jerome’s U”). I was teaching at a university that was more than one hundred years old and the contrast was stark. One of the search committee members drove me across the freeway to see where the permanent campus would be. All that was there, from what I recall, was brush, some trees, and a enormous vacant lot with piles of dirt. I wasn’t so sure, at first, that I wanted to take a chance on such a new and unfinished project like CSUSM.
But as the day went on, everyone I met was passionate about what CSUSM could be. They envisioned a university that offered cutting-edge curriculum and majors that would challenge students to rise to their full potential. They saw the need for a technology-rich campus, even though the internet, as we know it, was only in its earliest stages. They knew that to live in a twentieth-first-century world, students needed training in both the liberal arts and the sciences.
Best of all, they were completely committed to students. They could see you here, at a campus that was yet to be built, and they could see you learning.
So I took the chance on this new and unfinished campus and I accepted the job. I have seen the campus move from the Jerome’s site to the permanent Twin Oaks Valley site where at first there were only three buildings. Now CSUSM is a full-fledged university with a library, multiple high-tech classrooms, and dorms. The University has grown and I have continued to grow along with it. Each year, I join new students on a new journey, one where I always learn just as much as they do. The greatest lesson that CSUSM has taught me is that education is truly life’s greatest adventure.
Now you have made a choice to join the CSUSM community. I want you to know that you have made one of the best choices of your life. Like those of us who came early, you, too, will contribute to building this still evolving campus. The classes you demand, the majors you choose, and the activities you ask for will determine what CSUSM becomes. In the history of universities, CSUSM is still young. The first university in the United States opened more than 280 years ago and the oldest college in California opened in 1861. CSUSM was founded in 1989 and that makes it still a very new university filled with potential. You may not realize it but you are more than a student. You are a pioneer who will be a part of building this university. That is an amazing opportunity that most students don’t have. By choosing CSUSM, you have come to a unique place and you are doing something special that will change your life. But you are not only doing something for yourself. By being a part of creating and supporting a place where future students will come to learn, you are doing something for others.
I wish you all the best as you pursue your dreams and your education.