2013: A Year in Review

Jan 30, 2014 by Tom Dellner

Scenes from the 2013 Commencement CeremonyFor CalSouthern, 2013 was a year marked by unprecedented expansion with an eye toward enhancing the learner experience. Talented and experienced staff members were hired and new offices were created. Nicole Lesher—a higher education compliance expert who has guided a number of distance-learning institutions through the accreditation process—was hired as CalSouthern’s new director of educational compliance and will play a key role as the university strengthens its already excellent relationship with the Distance Education and Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and to ensure that the university achieves initial accreditation with Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). Dr. John Minchin was named the university’s chief academic officer, duties previously handled by university president Dr. Caroll Ryan. As part of this critical role, Dr. Minchin will focus closely on the institution’s assessment, measurement and continuous improvement of all of its academic programs.

Higher education veteran Stephnie Hopple was tapped to lead CalSouthern’s new Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning. In this role, Stephnie will make sure CalSouthern faculty mentors have all the tools and resources they need to deliver the best educational experience to their learners, as well as ensure that the faculty is actively involved in university governance. In another important personnel move, Frances Simmons was named the university’s learner success advisor where she will do what she does best: developing training protocols and student-success resources—working one-on-one with learners as needed—to best position our learners for success in their academic programs university-wide.

A number of learner resources were added in 2013, as well. Perhaps most notably, Microsoft Office 365 was made available to all CalSouthern learners at no additional charge. Office 365 is an invaluable solution that provides access to Microsoft’s most popular productivity tools, including Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote. Since it’s cloud-based, you can access these applications—and your saved work—from anywhere, on virtually any device. All you need is an Internet connection. You don’t even need to have the software loaded on your device—it’s all in the cloud!

Also new to CalSouthern in 2013, LiveText is an assessment-management system that allows the university to measure and continuously enhance the effectiveness of our degree programs, while providing learners the opportunity to build a portfolio of their work.

The School of Behavioral Sciences has integrated the Taylor Study Method (TSM) into its master’s programs. TSM—previously available only in the PsyD program—is an innovative learning system that helps students better synthesize and retain core coursework, a great asset for all students and also extremely beneficial to those who ultimately will be taking licensing examinations.

Also new to the School of Behavioral Sciences is the doctoral project boot camp. Held in August and November with a third scheduled for February, the boot camp brings together (in person or virtually) doctoral students and the doctoral faculty. Dr. Linda Fischer, a doctoral writing advisor at the University of Southern California, has served as a moderator for the program, which provides guidance and inspiration to PsyD learners who are working on their doctoral projects—whether the learner is just beginning the process or preparing for the project’s defense.

The psychology department also introduced the Pre-Baccalaureate Certificate in Addiction Studies. The program has been approved by and meets the educational requirements of both the California Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (CAADAC) and the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC).

The CalSouthern School of Law received terrific news last spring—and more good news in the fall. Pass rates for CalSouthern JD graduates taking the California Bar Examination continue to climb. The School of Law is thrilled to announce that 57 percent of its first-time takers passed the bar in 2013. The California bar is a notoriously difficult exam and this is a fantastic result. You can read in-depth and candid interviews with two of our bar passers here.

CalSouthern continued to bring nationally renowned scholars, authors and practitioners to our learners. Tommy Tunson, chairman of the criminal justice department, organized an exclusive interview between CalSouthern’s editor of university publications and Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks of the Santa Monica Police Department. Chief Seabrooks is one of the country’s rising stars in law enforcement, and she was extraordinarily candid and informative. If you are interested in criminal justice and haven’t done so already, we hope you’ll read parts one and two of the interview.

Last year was a record-setting one for CalSouthern’s Master Lecture Series, with more than 1,500 current and prospective learners attending MLS events in 2013. Business lecturers included executives from such iconic organizations as IBM and Marriott, as well as the innovative entrepreneur Wing Lam. Psychology lecturers included Jill Epstein, executive director of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, Drs. Gerald Corey and Jamie Bludworth, Katherine Whitaker, director of clinical services at the Matrix Institute on Addictions, and Dr. Jeffrey Zeig, the acclaimed author and psychotherapist and the architect of the Evolution of Psychotherapy Conferences.

Dr. Zeig has long been a great and valued friend to the university and in June, he graciously accepted the title of Distinguished Professor, stating “I am both honored and humbled to be designated Distinguished Professor at California Southern University, a school I avidly support for its innovative approach to post-secondary education.”

In December, CalSouthern served as co-sponsor of the Evolution of Psychotherapy Conference, which Dr. Zeig founded in 1985 and which is now unquestionably the world’s largest and most important conference devoted to psychotherapy. Dozens of CalSouthern learners, faculty and staff attended the event, held in Anaheim, California and drawing many of the preeminent figures in psychology today. The CalSouthern contingent also gathered at a “meet and greet” at the conference, a great opportunity to interact face to face and compare notes on what was truly a remarkable and inspirational event.

Perhaps the highlight of 2013 was CalSouthern’s 35th annual commencement ceremony. Held August 3 at the spectacular Irvine Barclay Theatre, the ceremony was not only a moving graduation ceremony, but also a wonderful celebration of the accomplishments of CalSouthern learners, alumni and faculty. After stirring remarks from university president Dr. Caroll Ryan and a rousing speech delivered by DBA graduate Dr. Michael Morris, attendees were treated to an inspirational keynote address by Dr. James Shaw—a member of CalSouthern’s faculty and an author and nationally renowned scholar who has appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America and CBS News, among many other television and radio programs.

Enid Richey of the university’s School of Behavioral Sciences received the 2013 Faculty Mentor of the Year Award (please see our Q&A with Enid), while Dr. Caelan Kuban—a 2013 PsyD graduate and director of the National Center for Trauma and Loss in Children—was honored with the President’s Award for Doctoral Project Excellence for her dedicated and innovative work in the treatment of childhood trauma.

One of the most moving moments of the afternoon came when MA graduate and current PsyD learner Freddie Williams was presented with the 2013 CalSouthern Difference Award. His story of overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles in an effort to fulfill his calling to help others is extraordinarily powerful. Watch the video that brought the audience to its feet to applaud Freddie as he accepted the award.

While the year 2013 will go down as a momentous and memorable one in university history, we’re confident that the new learner resources and programs introduced this year will provide the groundwork for an even more successful 2014.

>> Please click the links below to view some videos from the 2013 CalSouthern Commencement Ceremony:








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