Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What are the connections needed to move our region forward?

I've always thought of “knowledge” as an engine that drives innovation, individual and corporate successes and economic prosperity.  And, I believe that public universities like ours have a responsibility – really a mandate from taxpayers, as well as area residents and businesses -- to partner with industry to serve the educational and training needs of existing and emerging sectors and to help ensure successful career pathways.

For the past several years we have developed some great “customized training” programs for organizations such as Kaiser Permanente, Stone Brewing Company and Tri -City Medical Center  -- providing the training that helps facilitate career growth for thousands of employees and offering certificates that articulate achievement in disciplines such as Supervising Employees and Human Resource  Management (

We've also established Advisory Councils to offer leadership, insight and counsel as we develop programs in Cybersecurity, Water Resource Management, Business Emergency Preparedness, Environmental Leadership and Hospitality and Tourism Management. Our Advisory Council members understand their respective business sectors as only an insider could. They help us create meaningful programs, teach courses, offer internships and practicums and establish/monitor curriculum and teaching strategies to ensure our students have a competitive advantage.  

Our Hospitality and Tourism Management advisors helped us develop a unique specialization for the MBA program that launches later this year ( and they’re also helping us develop a “Business of Hospitality” Professional Certificate. Industry leaders in Cybersecurity have been the driving force for an emerging Professional Science Master’s degree in this field ( as well as stackable certificates.

We’re reaching out to elected officials, regional business leaders and existing and prospective students to ensure that we are making the connections necessary to stay on top of career opportunities and bridge the gap between the skills that area residents have today and the knowledge base that regional employers currently have and will develop in the next few years.

Do you have an idea for a new program, partnership or area of study we ought to pursue? I’d love to hear from you at

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Looking Ahead.....

As we start looking ahead towards the new year, I am very excited about the opportunities I see and the direction that higher education is heading. 

I have spent a fair amount of time this past year meeting with and surveying key stakeholders in our region and internationally including current and prospective students at different stages of their career life cycle ---  as well as business and civic leaders and the deans and presidents of neighboring colleges and universities. The one message that has been clear is that we need to “think outside of the box” and create partnerships and alliances that serve a greater good.

To that end we have worked together with the City of Temecula and Mt San Jacinto College to create a “2+2” program that enables students in southwest Riverside county to start and finish a Bachelor’s degree in four years with low student-to-faculty ratios and locked tuition and fees. We have worked with local hoteliers in San Diego county to create a Hospitality and Tourism Management certificate as well a specialization within our MBA program. We have worked with local cyber security firms to develop a Professional Science Master’s in Cyber security..,, and the list goes on and on.

To support continued growth we have brought on Dr. Al Kern as interim Associate Dean and Lori Covington as Manager of Academic Programs. Dr. Kern founded the biotechnology programs here at CSUSM and has had an extremely successful career in biotech both regionally and internationally. Lori was previously at Mesa College where she was responsible for accreditation; grant writing, management and creation of successful Continuing Ed programs and Allied Health. 

I am focused on staying attuned to the work force needs of our Southern California region, both from the perspective of prospective students who are looking to advance or change careers and from the perspective of area businesses who are looking to hire a well trained workforce.  Do you have thoughts or ideas about programs or partnerships we ought to consider? Please feel free to email me at I look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Moving Outside of the Comfort Zone

This past month I have had rich discussions with students and faculty returning to campus from a summer term spent working and studying abroad ( These discussions have revolved around how international experiences impact both the classroom experience and the community here at CSUSM, as well as the ways in which we learn.

Dr. Bonnie Bade, chair of our Anthropology department (, leads a team of students to Ecuador each year to live in the Andes with indigenous Quichua community host families and study traditional educational, health and agriculture practices. Students are taught to question clinical assumptions about the health and wellness of individuals and communities and to learn about more broadly defined illness classifications, explanations and treatments that incorporate holistic thinking, and the roles of community in health. "Students go into a bit of culture shock when they arrive," she says.  "Andean culture is not obsessed with time and accumulation as we are. Instead, a premium is place on the wisdom of the ages carried forward by elders and wise persons for whom buen vivir, or the ‘good life,’ is defined by balance of work, rest, and physical and spiritual health for individuals, communities and ecosystems. The Andean concept of ecological well-being is central to community well-being.  Just being there takes much of what our students have learned in the U.S. and throws it on its side. Homogenizing forces such as social media and movies are less prevalent; they rely on traditional knowledge and practices. Interactions between people are based on the values of reciprocity and sharing which causes our students to re-evaluate the way they look at just about everything in their lives."  

"It was good for me," says student Sam Grosso who is a vet attending CSUSM and has been to Ecuador twice with the program.  "Each time I go to Ecuador, it takes me awhile to process what I've seen and learned. It's like another deployment in that way. The difference is that in Ecuador my host family has become my family. Andean culture is very welcoming and sincere. The families, culture, and rituals have helped me heal and the connections I've made have empowered me."   

Nursing instructor Michelle Alfe's experiences in Tanzania have given her the same kind of mind-bending perspective. "I just returned from a year in Dodoma, Tanzania teaching Medical Surgical nursing students. The experience gave me insight into myself and how I can become a better teacher. My tolerance level changed enormously. I learned the importance of listening, truly respecting each student as an individual and looking for ways to actively mentor and make a difference in the lives of each and every student I interact with," she says. 

The School of Nursing, ( under the direction of Dr. Denise Boren and Dr. Pat Hinchberger, has a history of encouraging students and faculty to work and study worldwide and this practice has impacted the development of courses such as Health Promotion and Patient Teaching Strategies.   “In countries like Swaziland our students learn to make do with extremely limited resources and it gives them a broader perspective about healthcare and the many cultural sensitivities that come into play. Many of our students return with a new-found passion for serving underserved populations, " says Dr. Boren.

By moving outside of our comfort zones, and having global experiences, students and faculty at CSUSM are impacting and informing curriculum development and learning ( Do you have ideas for work/study programs abroad that would benefit our students and faculty? Please feel free to email me at I look forward to hearing from you. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Real Impact of Internationalization

This fall we will have 450 international students studying here at CSUSM representing 40 countries around the world, most notably China, Korea, Japan, Norway, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam. As education standards are rising globally, there is more interest and demand for higher education in virtually every country around the world  - 

Despite this fact, I am often asked why a public university like ours continues to admit international students:  is this contrary to our mission of ‘expanding student access to an excellent and affordable education?’

You may find the answer startling.

According to the California Colleges for International Education, “ it takes roughly 4 international students to open a section, thereby making it possible for another 30 more California students to receive college instruction.”  The bottom line is that the influx of international students allows us to better serve domestic students by offering more programs and additional sections of existing programs, to help mitigate the issues raised by impacted classes and programs.

Because international students do not qualify for government aid and most pay their own way, they bring into the U.S. literally billions of dollars each year to cover tuition, housing, food and other expenses.

But these are the dollar and cent issues. The biggest impact I see is in the lives of our students and faculty who are learning together and exploring issues from a truly global perspective.

When students from China, Saudi Arabia and Norway are engaged in a project with students from the United States, they have an opportunity to think about preconceptions, biases, and assumptions they may have never considered. I recently watched a discussion among international students regarding the roles and responsibilities of public service agencies in working with displaced populations such as refugees and immigrants. Conversations like these are where real learning occurs.

What do you think about the internationalization of our campus? To see what some of our international students think, view

I look forward to your comments; please feel free to email me at

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Importance of Global Education

A few weeks ago I started re-reading a book that really resonated with me, Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat a Brief History of the Twenty-First Century.  In my role as Associate Vice President of Global Programs here at CSUSM I’ve been thinking a lot about why a global perspective is important for our students and how it sets them up for future success.

Friedman’s perspective is that the 21st century we inhabit operates on a more of a level global playing field than ever before in terms of business and commerce…and I would argue in terms of higher education opportunities as well.  Friedman suggests that geography is no longer necessarily a driver or detractor to personal success; that a continual updating of skills, healthy curiosity and empathy and a willingness to learn and adapt are the keys that distinguish winners.

As our students are studying and working abroad, I am witnessing this trend firsthand and see how opportunities for global learning are transforming and enriching their lives.

For the past two years we’ve had a group of students travel to Ecuador to study medical anthropology with Dr. Bonnie Bade, department chair and professor of Anthropology. These students live in indigenous communities and visit hospitals and clinics where they witness and practice both traditional and clinical medicine. They learn, for example, about medical ethno botany from Quechua farmers.  Bonnie tells me that, “our students learn about other ways of thinking, doing and being. They think about new ways or relating to the environment and creating community. It opens their minds.”

The chair of our nursing department, Dr. Denise Boren takes nursing students to Swaziland each year to see patients in clinics and homes and learn about the issues that impact healthcare delivery in southern Africa.  Nursing instructor Lien Ngo-Nguyen took a group of nurses to work in Vietnam this past summer.  And, for the past several years we’ve sponsored a group of students who have visited a non-adopting orphanage in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam to observe biological, sociological and psychological factors that foster or inhibit human development. They come into the situation with a specific set of assumptions based on an American perspective and consistently report that the experience is “life changing.”

These are just a few examples of international learning and service opportunities available to CSUSM students.  Stay tuned as we continue to develop new programs that expand global awareness, insight and perspective. I enjoy hearing from you and hope you will feel free to email me at

Monday, June 9, 2014

CSUSM Students and Faculty Serving A Community Need: Speech-Language Pathology and Nursing Clinics

By establishing free and low cost clinics for community members requiring healthcare services and speech therapy, our CSUSM students are taking advantage of unique opportunities to apply theory and coursework …and are making a significant impact outside of the classroom. We currently staff three nursing clinics in Ocean Beach and Oceanside and are preparing to open a new and expanded Speech Language Pathology clinic on July 7 off-campus in San Marcos.

The CSUSM School of Nursing Student Healthcare Project incorporates the three clinics in San Diego County, both of which are staffed by nursing faculty, volunteer providers, as well as graduate and undergraduate nursing students. The Project clinics provide free medical care for acute and chronic diseases, case management, social services, health promotion and education. Students apply the theory, pathophysiology, pharmacology, and nursing or nurse practitioner skills learned in their classrooms and skills labs to provide care to underserved, unsheltered, uninsured and under-insured residents of San Diego county.

At this time, funding for the community nursing clinics is derived solely from donations and grants. In 2013 the clinics served 1,947 patients and so far this year, more than 150 nursing students have served community clinic patients. Faculty are on track to donate more than 4,000 volunteer hours to staff and manage these nursing clinics.

You can learn more about the clinics here:

Another dynamic program is our Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) clinic. For nearly five years we have been running a SLP clinic out of a dorm suite on campus and we are very excited to be expanding into a 1,600 square foot office space this summer. SLP students working in the clinical setting apply skills in assessment and treatment of individuals with a broad array of communication and swallowing disorders, relationship-based Intervention, counseling and aural rehabilitation. Students transition gradually from classroom instruction to clinic participation and their last semester is spent solely working at the clinic.

When we open our expanded SLP clinic in July, we will be providing services to individuals with stroke or traumatic brain injury completely free of charge throughout the summer months. Beginning in fall, we will provide low cost services on a sliding scale basis. Services like this are vital for those who run out of insurance or Medicare funding and still need therapy for voice and fluency disorders, deafness/hard of hearing or cleft palate. Click to learn more about Speech-Language Pathology at CSUSM.

Do you know someone who could benefit from our community clinics? Do you see other opportunities for us to be of service? Would you like CSUSM to consider developing or expanding a clinic in your community? To connect with us and share your voice, please visit us on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter or email me at  

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Developing Business Programs that Meet a Regional Need: Water Resource Management and Tourism/Hospitality

I’m energized by the impact some of our new programs are going to have.
This past semester we launched a highly successful water resource management class that will become a water resource management certificate for those interested in continuing to learn about this vital topic. The course has made a huge splash with students and the community. Here’s what Dr. Alan K. Styles, Ph.D. and Director of the Certificate in Water Management & Leadership Program, had to say about the program:
“The first offering of the Survey of Water Management in Southern California course included presentations by leaders in the local water industry. Students included technical operators, managers, regulators and members of the public. The local water industry has provided tremendous support for the development of this program and I look forward to continuing to work with them.”
We’ve also been working with leaders in the hospitality industry here in Southern California to develop a concentration in tourism and hospitality management for the new specialized accelerated MBA. With the tourism industry directly or indirectly employing more than 165,000 San Diegans and providing more than $18.7 billion dollars in terms of economic impact, the hospitality industry is critical to San Diego. We want to help train our MBA students to tap into this vital market and provide value.

To learn more about additional programs that meet workforce needs and about continuing education with Extended Learning, visit For additional ways to connect with Extended Learning and to share your voice, visit us on FacebookLinkedIn, or Twitter or email me at