Susan Black, who joined CSULB’s Academic Advising Center (AAC) in 1999, was chosen recently by her colleagues as employee of the month.
A member of CSULB’s class of 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies, she was recognized in a special ceremony held on Friendship Walk near the University Student Union which was renamed Susan Black Lane for the month.
President F. King Alexander praised Black’s commitment to the university where she is assistant director of the AAC.
“She has been responsible for contacting 500 students who were not going to graduate due to mitigating circumstances,” he said. “Because of her dedication, 200 of them graduated and more than 125 others are in the pipeline.”
“Being named employee of the month is a very nice reward,” said Black. “I was pleased to receive such a recognition for the work I do.”
She thinks one reason for her nomination is the pleasure she takes in working with students. “People know I like our students,” she said, “and this job helps me to work with them all the time. Working with students at Cal State Long Beach has been fabulous. They are wonderful folks. They work very hard to get their degrees and some have family responsibilities and have to travel long distances to get here. They work very hard and I like being able to support them in their efforts.”
In her position, she directs two major programs – Strategies for Academic Success and Graduation Greenlight. Strategies for Academic Success is a program to help students on probation while Greenlight supports students who left the university but want to return and finish their degrees.
“The center sees the entire undergraduate population for general education advising and I work with distance learners from as far away as Europe,” she said. “I also work with CSULB students from across the U.S.”
Black’s desire to help is rooted in her service with the Peace Corps in Paraguay from 1990-92. “I happened to be on the island of Jamaica when Hurricane Gilbert hit,” she recalled. “I realized I needed to be doing something to help other folks.”
When she isn’t helping students at CSULB, Black is a self-described “travel fiend” who has stamped her passport in South America, Europe and Canada. “I don’t know where the wanderlust came from but I’ve had it since my 20s,” she explained. “Whenever I visit another country, I find something that torques my perspective. I have learned that there are a lot of different ways to do things. It makes me a better academic advisor because I can see different types of solutions to problems.”
She credits center director Marilee Samuelson with being a big reason she enjoys working at CSULB. “She is a visionary in her own right who conceived of most of the major retention programs for students on this campus. I couldn’t do what I do without her support,” she said. “A great deal of whatever success I’ve achieved lays with other faculty advisors on campus and the many staff members who work behind the scenes in Enrollment Services. This award represents a campus-wide collaboration.”
She is glad she chose CSULB. “This is a great environment and I’m glad I came here,” she said. “But best of all are the other staff members who were nominated to be employee of the month. They equally deserve this award and any one of them would have made a great employee of the month.”
Black received several gifts with her recognition including a CSULB sweatshirt, a $25 gift certificate to Parker’s Lighthouse, a gift certificate good for two admissions to a CSULB main stage or Studio Theater production, two tickets to a Long Beach State baseball game, two admissions to the Laguna Beach Festival of the Arts and a coupon for a free Whopper at Burger King.