California State University, Long Beach
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O’Lawrence Recognized as Educational Specialist of the Year

Published: November 17, 2008

Dr. Simon Malcomber

Photo by Victoria Sanchez
Henry O’Lawrence

Professional Studies’ Chair Henry O’Lawrence recently capped his eight years at CSULB with his recognition as Educational Specialist of the Year for 2008 in the field of career and technical education (CTE) by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT). O’Lawrence, who joined the university in 2000, was cited by the ACCSCT at their annual Professional Development Conference held Oct. 5-7 in Bethesda, Md.

“I was surprised to be named,” said O’Lawrence, who came to Long Beach from Pennsylvania after graduating from Penn State in 2000 with a Ph.D. in workforce education and development with emphasis in research methods and community college leadership. “It wasn’t something I was expecting and none of it seemed real until I actually arrived in Bethesda. At the end of the day, I felt very grateful. It made me feel appreciated for what I’ve been doing.”

College of Health and Human Services Dean Ron Vogel saluted O’Lawrence’s distinction.

“Henry O’Lawrence is a committed educator who is deeply committed to his profession,” he said. “The honor has been bestowed on one of our scholars who is dedicated to our students as well as the international community.”

O’Lawrence was toasted for his contributions since 2003 to the ACCSCT’s mission of ensuring quality education for the more than 22,000 students who annually pursue career education at the 800-plus ACCSCT-accredited institutions. With a background in career and technical education including his doctorate, O’Lawrence was asked to participate in a series of on-site evaluations for the ACCSCT including six in 2007 and 21 since 2003. His service was commended by top CTE experts and O’Lawrence believes their recommendations played a major role in his selection.

O’Lawrence thinks one reason for his naming was his expertise in measurement and program evaluation.

“It means I understand the curriculum that is being used out there,” he said. “I understand the served population through my research into the role of community colleges. I received my AAS from Guilford Tech in Jamestown, North Carolina, in 1989, so I know how important community colleges can be.”

O’Lawrence went on to earn his bachelor of science degree from Winston-Salem State University in 1990 and his master’s from the University of North Carolina in 1992.

As chair of Professional Studies, O’Lawrence traced the rise of his department to universities nationwide that offer advanced degrees in career and technical education.

“CSULB did not want to miss the opportunity to train industrial education teachers and began to offer degree programs in this area as early as CSULB was established in 1949,” he said. “Under the leadership of Dean Ron Vogel, the former department of vocational education in the College of Health and Human Services was expanded to include programs that accommodate the needs of working adults in the field. The dean offered the department a new name, Professional Studies. The dean deserves a huge thank you for his visionary leadership for our department and his vision to serve veterans in California.”

The ACCSCT has been recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a reliable authority for the establishment of educational standards since 1967. The ACCSCT’s scope of recognition includes the accreditation of private, post-secondary, non-degree-granting institutions and degree-granting institutions in the U.S., including those granting associate, baccalaureate and master’s degrees, that are predominantly organized to educate students for occupational, trade and technical careers, as well as institutions that offer programs via distance education.

O’Lawrence believes the mission of Professional Studies is identical with that of the ACCSCT, to serve as a reliable authority on educational quality. He feels both organizations promote enhanced opportunities for students by establishing, sustaining and enforcing valid standards and practices which contribute to the development of a highly trained and competitive workforce through quality career-oriented education.

“As a strong department in the field of CTE, I feel it is our role to encourage more scholars to serve on such national committees as the ACCSCT in order to better market our programs,” he said.

He believes his award honors Professional Studies as much as it honors him. “It says Professional Studies must be doing something right,” he said. “I don’t want CSULB compared with online schools that make a present of their degrees. It is my job as an educational specialist to make sure degrees aren’t just being given away. Our programs in CTE in the department must be taught by faculty who own the right academic degrees and scholarship in the field. This award lets me walk with my head up because I know I have done my job.”