Faculty Center Uplifts Belonging and Quality of Beach Education

This 2023-24 academic year, CSULB’s Faculty Center is making strides to support our faculty and uplift the quality of a Beach degree. An integral component of Faculty Affairs, the Faculty Center cultivates an environment where ALL instructors can thrive in teaching, scholarship, and service. Managed by Interim Director and Associate Professor of Child Development and Family Studies in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences, Dr. Nancy Dayne, the center serves a range of part-time lecturers and full professors, facilitating their professional development and growth opportunities. Dr. Dayne proudly collaborates with our faculty to ensure the center fulfills its mission to promote an inclusive space, bolster our diversity, equity, inclusion, and access (DEIA) efforts, and encourage faculty wellness. 

Fostering a Student-Ready Approach 

The center launched new additions, programs, and opportunities that continue to monumentally impact Beach faculty. Its recent collaboration with Academic Technology Services (ATS) for a website revamp amplifies teaching, research, and resources for how to best serve students. The center also partnered with the Bob Murphy Access Center (BMAC), Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), and Basic Needs to launch the New Faculty Academy, a program designed for first-year faculty to acclimate to the role, explore campus resources, and build community. A brand-new resource, the academy hosts monthly convenings that explore different student-ready topics. 

The Beach Mentor Program is another example of the center’s commitment to CSULB’s student-ready roots. An opportunity for faculty to learn and practice inclusive mentoring, the Beach Mentor Program aims to supply faculty with engaging training resources to promote student success through positive and inclusive mentoring practices. The program includes interactive video and re-enactment scenarios based on real stories collected from our campus community. A successful initiative, participating mentors have already helped 270 graduates prepare for the workforce feeling empowered, supported, and geared for success.  

Quality Professional Development  

Professional and career advancement are also at the focus of the center’s mission to support instructors through significant milestones. Launched at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Faculty Formative Feedback Project has been an instrumental professional development effort, fruitfully cultivating community, building confidence, and fostering instructional and personal growth.  

A voluntary effort, the project encourages faculty members from distinct disciplines to pair up and embark on a non-evaluative observation of one another. The program is still active and continues to produce favorable results. 

Testimonials to Remember 

Beach faculty have greatly benefitted from the center’s eclectic services and are excited to share about their personal experiences and growth.  

Assistant professor of earth science, Dr. Jillian Pearse, began her journey at The Beach in Fall 2022. Upon her arrival, she immediately signed up for the “Coffee and Community” workshops to meet other professors from a wide range of disciplines and vet the center’s offered support. 

“For me this was an excellent resource and support system. I was able to ask questions about academic schedules, university procedures and platforms, and also about the specific training programs the Faculty Center offers,” says Dr. Pearse, “In general, the Faculty Center has helped me connect to other faculty members, learn new pedagogical techniques, and in general, they have made me feel welcome and included within the university community.” 

Since then, Dr. Pearse also enrolled in the Beach Mentor Program and the Faculty Learning Community’s "Examining and Incorporating Inclusive Pedagogy in Higher Education” for the Fall 2023 and upcoming Spring 2024 session. The Beach Mentor Program helped her find ways to more effectively communicate with students, mentees, and structure students’ research projects. Additionally, the Faculty Learning Community taught her how to implement inclusive pedagogy through redesigned activities, evaluations, and syllabi, which aim to improve student learning outcomes.   

Jodi Morinaka, a full-time lecturer in the department of child development and family studies, is another recipient of the Faculty Center’s benefits.  

“Being a full-time lecturer on campus can be overwhelming at times and having a place to find resources and connect with other professors and lectures is much needed,” says Morinaka, “I did not really know much about the Faculty Center until a colleague of mine, Nancy Dayne, started to work there. It is really nice to meet with others who have similar experiences with different programs and see how they are using the information from the program in their classes.” 

Much of Morinaka’s pedagogical growth comes from the Faculty Formative Project, which inspired her to implement interactive media pieces in her classes to bolster engagement and participation. She also attended a yoga session on behalf of the center in the Earn Burns Miller Japanese Garden for an encouraged moment of relaxation. Today, she actively scouts new events and programs to meet more people on campus and further her sense of belonging at The Beach.  

Professor of biological sciences and Director of the Environmental Science and Policy program, Dr. Christine Whitcraft, also shares her memorable experience with the center. Her participation in the Faculty Formative Feedback Project in Fall 2021 was a fantastic experience, where she was able to professionally flourish thanks to constructive feedback on her teaching methods and approaches. She was able to reflect on her teaching style, identify strengths, and focus on areas for improvement. In the midst of a normal semester's rapid pace, she would rarely have time to do this, so the structured program and check-ins were essential for her.

"One of the best aspects of the program was getting to meet and interact with a faculty from a different discipline on campus. We could collaborate around teaching ideas, share classroom experiences, and learn from each other," says Dr. Whitcraft, "Our collaborative discussions led us to talk about more effective teaching strategies for this class but also led to a greater sense of community on campus among faculty and to the discovery of a supportive colleague."

Celebrating Wins and the Exciting Journey Ahead 

The Faculty Center’s greatest victory this academic year is the compassionate community it is building. The Coffee and Community workshops, for instance, expose faculty to meaningful networking opportunities and fruitful friendships. Dr. Dayne shares her philosophy IS “relationships first and everything ELSE second.” An inspiring leader, she makes the effort to personally know faculty and support them and their needs through building relationships. 

This Spring 2024, the Faculty Center will continue to connect faculty to imperative resources and encourage self-care. To support this, the center plans to connect lecturers to campus through faculty yoga to foster relaxation and belonging.  

Additionally, the center strives to provide events that generate excitement and build community, like a new workshop titled “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek's Optimism company. This workshop's purpose is to discover what inspires faculty and those around them.

The center is also working on a new Canvas resource hub for its faculty. A one-stop-shop for resources at The Beach, the page will equip faculty with the proper information to assist students, their community, and themselves.  

“I believe we have had great success in relationship and community building with our programming, which includes multiple faculty learning communities, New Faculty Academy, the Beach Mentor Program, and Coffee and Community,” says Dr. Dayne, “I am looking forward to a fruitful Spring 2024 semester with more opportunities to build relationships and provide professional development that will help support student and faculty needs." 

The center’s services prepare faculty for success, fosters belonging, and creates the infrastructure to enrich and deepen the impact of a Beach education.