Over the past 25 years, Mohammed R. Forouzesh has impacted many lives through his teaching, research and professional service to the health science field.
But, the most touching moment in the career of this CSULB professor came in fall 2007 when a mother of one of his students called to thank him for helping her son remain in college and complete his degree.
“I have never received a call from a parent before,” recalled Forouzesh, a professor of health science at CSULB since 1987. “She called simply to thank me for encouraging her son toward graduation.”
Forouzesh strives to encourage his students to reach their highest potential, and he provides them with the skills necessary to change their lives and improve the lives of others. And, it is that commitment to student achievement — coupled with his dedication to giving back to students, the university and the health science field — that earned Fourouzesh the university’s 2008 Outstanding Professor Award.
Established in 1980, the Outstanding Professor Award is designed to reward and publicly acknowledge outstanding professorial performance. It is the only honor given by Cal State Long Beach that recognizes excellence in three specific areas — instruction and instructionally related activities, scholarly and creative activities and professional service.
“It is indeed an honor to receive this award, and being nominated for it by my students is an indication that I am making a difference in their lives,” Forouzesh said. “I have been teaching for more than 32 years. I love teaching and enjoy the learning that goes with it.
“In my teaching, I use the community as an experiment and the classroom as the laboratory. I strive to build a bridge between the public health community and students,” he added. “I share my vision and mission with my students and try to encourage them to reach their highest level and then inspire them to start moving higher.”
Forouzesh has served as chair of the CSULB Department of Health Sciences for three years, undergraduate program adviser for 11 years, and has been the department’s graduate director for the past 10 years. He has encouraged many students to pursue advanced degrees and formed a doctoral student interest group.
Recently, he sponsored three doctoral students, serving as their faculty mentor for the Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program. One of those students was accepted to the UCLA School of Public Health. Another is studying toward a doctoral degree in higher education leadership at Azusa Pacific University.
This past year, he proposed the creation of a Health Campus Committee to address wellness policies at CSULB. In an effort to give back to the students and the university, Forouzesh also recently established a personal scholarship through the CSULB Foundation, pledging $25,000 for professional development activities for students. Called the “Forouzesh Fund,” the scholarship provides travel, professional membership and conference costs for health science students.
“I involve students in program planning, grant writing, evaluation and policy development. I integrate leadership, personal development and thinking and reflection skills in all of my courses,” Forouzesh said. “I challenge my students to challenge themselves, to find their passion and start leading their lives.”
The focus of his research has been in the areas of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs. He has contributed a great deal to the tobacco prevention efforts both at the county and state levels. His research has given him the opportunity to work with local government agencies on tobacco prevention, education and policies. He serves on the budget committee for the allocation of $32 million in county tobacco master settlement agreement funds, and for the last seven years he has been a consultant and external lead evaluator for the Orange County Health Care Agency, Tobacco Free Communities Project.
Forouzesh has also held many national offices and is a recognized leader locally and nationally in tobacco prevention, education and policies. He also provides expertise in the area of bioterrorism and has collaborated with the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, Bioterrorism Division, and served as a consultant and evaluator for the Mass Smallpox Vaccination Exercise funded by the Office of Homeland Security.
He was the co-founder and served as chair for two years of the Healthy Orange County Coalition, which provides support for the school wellness councils in all 28 school districts. He also serves on the executive board to the Nutrition and Physical Activity Collaborative committee in Orange County, establishing nutritional and obesity policies for the county. Recently, he was honored by the American Lung Association in Orange County with the Lung Champion Award, which is given to those who have made a significant contribution to helping the community breathe easier in Orange County by preventing lung disease and promoting lung health.
“This award is an affirmation of my efforts as an educator, a researcher and an active member of the health science community,” Forouzesh noted. “I am always committed to improving the lives of young people both in my personal and professional life. I am in public health, and the mission of public health is to improve the health of the population through social justice, social health policy and self-empowerment.
Forouzesh earned his Ph.D. and his master’s degree in public health (MPH) at the University of Tennessee and earned his bachelor’s of science degree at the University of Oregon.