The year 2014 was one of remarkable growth for California Southern University, by virtually every objective measure. Perhaps most obvious, the student body grew by 15 percent over that of 2013. Twelve new mentors joined CalSouthern’s faculty across all schools (including, if you’ll pardon our name-dropping, two Harvard graduates and a Stanford alumnus). Additional full-time academic staff were added, as well, including Dr. Gregory D. Herbert, dean of the school of business and psychology academic advisor Gia Hamilton, and Dr. Stacie Dilts-Harryman was brought on full-time to provide three technology-driven programs to assist PsyD learners with their doctoral projects. Mentor Michael Schwartz will also take on an expanded role, helping learners across the university to improve their academic writing skills.
Several new academic programs were added, including the first-of-its-kind Master of Science in Law Enforcement Executive Leadership. In addition, healthcare and leadership concentrations were added to the MBA and BBA programs, respectively.
University events experienced growth, too. The 2014 Master Lecture Series was the best and most well-attended to date. Close to 2,500 learners, alumni and guests from 45 countries registered to attend events live—whether in person or via live video stream. And, in August, CalSouthern faculty and staff celebrated with more than 600 graduates, family members and guests at the university’s 36th annual commencement ceremony at the spectacular Irvine Barclay Theatre.
However, while these empirical statistics are significant and augur well for the university’s future, we prefer to measure the year’s success by the accomplishments of CalSouthern learners, alumni, faculty and staff. The following is a non-exhaustive sampling of some of these achievements.
The school of law was pleased to report a 66-percent pass rate for first-time takers of the California Bar Examination. This is a fantastic outcome, and follows a 57-percent pass rate in 2013; we are thrilled at the consistency of these results. (To learn more about the challenges JD graduate Virginia Marsh overcame to earn her degree and pass the bar, read her inspiring story here.)
Psychology graduates also passed licensing exams. In addition to those CalSouthern graduates who passed licensing examinations in the state of California, we would like to congratulate Michael Meister (who became a licensed professional counselor in Oklahoma) and Dr. John Getz (who was licensed as a clinical psychologist by the Virginia Board of Psychology).
CalSouthern is also proud to recognize MA learner Donna Hutcheson, who was awarded a California Educational MFT Stipend of $18,500 for the 2014-15 academic year. As part of the stipend program, Donna, who currently serves at Placer County (CA) Mental Health for her practicum placement, will commit at least one year of paid or volunteer service in county mental or behavioral health.
Many members of the CalSouthern community were published in 2014. Examples include psychology mentor (and dream study expert) Dr. Jacquie Lewis, who edited and contributed a chapter to Weaving Dreams into the Classroom: Practical Ideas for Teaching About Dreams and Dreaming (you can learn more about Dr. Lewis and her book here).
Mark Lawler, a general education faculty member, co-authored Modern Instructor: Success Stories for the Online Professor. Also, Dr. Iren Fellegvari, a 2011 PsyD graduate, published her first book, an in-depth exploration of emotional transformation therapy titled, Slow Down, I’m Getting Well Too Fast.
Finally, and worthy of special recognition, is Dr. Greg Mabry, Captain, Army Medical Service Corps, whose article “In Memory of the 33: Reflecting on the Experience of Empathy” was published in the Journal of Healthcare, Science and the Humanities. Dr. Mabry (a PsyD graduate) wrote much of the article—about his experience transitioning from a combat support officer to an army therapist in Afghanistan—while flying to forward operating bases in eastern Afghanistan to see patients. We thank Dr. Mabry for his service and will be writing an article detailing his experiences in an upcoming edition of the CalSouthern Sun.
We are likely to soon see a wealth of published work from MA graduate Laura Hout. Laura, who also holds a master of professional writing degree and is a licensed marriage and family therapist with a private practice working with clients struggling with compulsive eating disorders, was named to the Clinical Editorial Council of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.
Psychology mentor Dr. Kate Andrews was recently awarded a $15,000 grant for her research project, “The Relationship between Mentor and Learner Opinions of the Importance of Mentor Competencies in the Online Doctoral Project Process.” Dr. Andrews also won a 2014 Global Ebook Award for her contribution to Refractive Thinker: Vol VII: Effective Research Method & Design for Doctoral Scholars.
CalSouthern learners, alumni and staff presented at conferences across the country and—in some cases—around the globe. Curriculum developer Dr. Bob Weathers was an extremely prolific lecturer throughout the year, perhaps most notably at the Lifestyle Intervention Conference in Las Vegas, where he spoke about the role of shame and stigma in addiction and addiction recovery. Tommy Tunson, chairman of the Criminal Justice Department, participated in an impassioned panel discussion on “Policing and Race Matters” alongside some of the country’s most respected authorities on the topic, as part of the University of California, Irvine’s New Narratives lecture series.
Katheryn Whittaker (who delivered the student address at the 2014 CalSouthern Commencement Ceremony) represented CalSouthern at the 22nd World Family Therapy Congress in Panama City, Panama, with two presentations: an overview of DSM-5 as well as a discussion of the Matrix Method for the treatment of addiction. Fellow CalSouthern graduate Luisa Contreras (MA) delivered a lecture at the University of California, Davis, regarding parent-child interaction therapy for traumatized children. And current PsyD learner Karen Jaggers delivered a presentation at the National Autism Conference titled “Surviving and Thriving with Autism.”
In 2014, members of the CalSouthern community also received honors and awards for their work. The university traditionally presents three awards at each year’s commencement ceremony. The recipient of the 2014 CalSouthern Difference Award was 2011 MSL graduate, Judge David Widmaier, in recognition of his excellence on the bench and for his work to improve the administration of justice for citizens in Arizona and throughout the country. PsyD graduate Dr. Boyd Brooks was honored with the President’s Award for Doctoral Project Excellence for his work studying the far-reaching negative effects of reactive parenting styles. And Dr. Barbara Lackey was the deserving winner of the CalSouthern Faculty Mentor of the Year Award.
A Mentor of the Quarter award program was also launched late in the year. The first recipient was business mentor Joan Saunders, who was recognized not only for her responsiveness and dedicated to her students, but for her tireless work on a variety of departmental and university-wide committees.
Other faculty and staff recognized for outstanding achievement in 2014 include Dr. Toby Spiegel, associate dean of psychology, who received an Excellence in Advising Award from the National Academic Advising Association for Dr. Spiegel’s contributions to her students and to the advising profession as a whole. Dr. Stacie Dilts-Harryman was named Woman of the Year for 2013-14 by the National Association of Professional Women for her commitment and contributions to the field of counseling. And, in another extraordinarily impressive professional achievement, criminal justice faculty mentor Mark Yokoyama was named president of the California Peace Officers Association—the largest police association in America!
CalSouthern itself was recognized, as well, named an Orange County “Top Workplace” by the Orange County Register, as well as one of Orange County’s “Best Places to Work” by the Orange County Business Journal. Both of these awards celebrate the university’s unique organizational culture of mutual caring and respect—a culture that we practice in our day-to-day work and which we hope extends to our relationship with our learners and alumni.
CalSouthern thanks all of its learners, alumni, faculty and academic staff. It’s by your dedicated work (in your courses, professions and communities), achievement and commitment that the university ultimately measures its success. As reflected in this article, your accomplishments have made this a landmark year for CalSouthern.
Here’s to an even greater 2015!