Get to know Lisa Kirtman, CSUF’s new Dean of Education

Lisa Kirtman will soon become the Cal State Fullerton College of Education’s second dean.

Kirtman – who currently serves as the college’s associate dean and professor of elementary and bilingual education – succeeds Claire Cavallaro, who retired this year.

She will begin her new role on Aug. 16.

Growing up in a family in which teaching was a popular profession, Kirtman originally decided to veer from the career path.

The Oakland native dabbled in the marketing field, but ultimately decided the pull to become an educator was too strong to ignore.

“I grew up around it and I could see the impact my mom had on children,” Kirtman said. “It was something that was sort of ingrained in me.”

“I am excited and proud to be taking on this role,” she said.

Kirtman’s career in education began in 1990 as an elementary teacher in South Central Los Angeles and the Paramount Unified School District.

It was the 1992 L.A. riots that ultimately inspired her to pursue an administrative role in the field.

“I wanted to make a bigger impact,” she said.

Kirtman joined CSUF’s College of Education in 2000; and has served as associate dean, professor of elementary and bilingual education, chairwoman of the Department of Elementary and Bilingual Education, chairwoman of the Department of Literacy and Reading Education and coordinator for the Multiple Subject Credential and the Multiple Subject Intern programs, among a number of other positions.

During the 2015-2016 academic year, the college reported more than 1,500 students enrolled in its programs.

“There is a part of me that grew up at Cal State Fullerton. It feels like family to me; it feels like home,” said Kirtman, who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology with an emphasis in business administration from UCLA; a master’s degree in educational administration from ULCA; and a doctorate degree in educational policy from UC Berkeley.

While much has changed in the 26 years since she embarked on her career, her fundamental goals have not.

“What I have been striving to do since I became a teacher is make a difference — to close the opportunity gap,” Kirtman said.

“If we are working with schools to ensure (students) have the technology and materials they need, as well as strong teachers, we have begun to do our part to close that opportunity gap,” she said.

Kirtman also hopes to do this by better preparing teacher candidates for the struggles that hinder today’s students, such as race, language, bullying and first-generation obstacles.

As dean, she plans to implement more advising services for undergraduate students who are interested in education careers and obtaining degrees from the CSUF College of Education, which does not currently offer undergraduate programs.

She wishes to develop more opportunities for the college to connect with the university’s freshman and sophomore students, she said.

“We don’t have an automatic pipeline into teaching or into the College of Education, so we have to make sure we are getting out there and getting to students earlier,” Kirtman said.

“We need more advisers and more connections to the undergraduate program to ensure the students that are interested in education programs get the advising that they need,” she said.

Overall, Kirtman aims to have a positive impact on the future teachers who will go on to lead pre-kindergarten classes through community college courses, she said.

“It has always been about making sure that we are serving our students’ needs and that is what the college is all about — being student-centered,” she said.

She hopes to bring her vision and goals into the College of Education and provide teacher candidates with the knowledge and resources needed to succeed in the education field.

“I was an elementary school teacher so this is where my heart and soul is,” Kirtman said. “I love the outreach that we do in the community — it’s a big part of Cal State Fullerton and a big part of what the college does.”

“We truly strive for excellence,” she said.

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Contact the writer: Angie Marcos, OC Register –

Teaching Strategies for Welcoming, Inclusive Schools

Educator Sharon V. Chappell is leading a Cal State Fullerton “Welcoming Schools” project for teacher credential students and local teachers to create safer elementary school climates by addressing bias-based bullying, gender inclusion and family diversity.

“Welcoming Schools,” a project of the Human Rights Campaign, focuses on implementing strategies for inclusive K-5 schools, said Chappell, associate professor of elementary and bilingual education, trained by HRC as a “Welcoming Schools” facilitator.

With grant funding from the Handel Sunrise Foundation, Chappell offered a spring “Introduction to Wellness, Inclusion and Welcoming Schools” institute for credential students. This summer, she will facilitate a July 25-27 institute, in partnership with LGBT Center OC, for interested Orange County teachers. The institute is free and teachers may receive a stipend for attending.

What are some of the issues students face?
At school, children experience on-going discrimination about their bodies, languages spoken, gender, racial and ethnic identity, sexual orientation and family diversity. Moreover, LGBTQ youth are more likely to be placed at risk due to bullying, leading to self-harm and disengagement from school. However, research suggests establishing safe, ‘welcoming schools’ for LGBTQ youth and families can prevent this harm.

Why is training credential students important?
Teacher candidates are at the beginning of their development as school professionals. They’re developing dispositions through coursework, fieldwork and professional experiences like the Welcoming Schools project, which promotes diversity in the classroom and supports learning in a caring, respectful and non-discriminatory manner. The Welcoming Schools project relates directly to what the College of Education teaches and expects of its teacher candidates — in that it helps students demonstrate a commitment to fairness and a belief that all children can learn when safe, inclusive and welcoming schools are developed.

What are the benefits for teacher candidates, as well as veteran teachers?
Learning about building safe, welcoming schools helps teacher candidates feel empowered to act. They build knowledge about LGBTQ youth, families and topics in school, including anti-discrimination laws and policies. They evaluate curriculum and identify goals for themselves as educators, such as how to create an accepting environment that celebrates differences. Project participants also learn about making classroom practices more inclusive by using gender-neutral language and examining gendered assumptions about children and their interests. Additionally, they are exposed to ways to make curriculum more inclusive by including more literature that represents gender and family diversity.

What are some key lessons for teacher candidates?
First, building safe, welcoming schools requires a comprehensive approach that includes support from educational professionals across the district and teacher education program — from the school board, administration, counselors, school support staff, teachers and student teachers to university faculty.

Secondly, we must create inclusive schools through policies, practices and curricula that prevent bias-based bullying and gender stereotyping, support transgender and gender-expansive students and embrace family diversity. Lastly, future and current teachers must support the pluralism and intersection of students’ identities, as well as take action to help others to address bias and injustice.

What is your hope for Welcoming Schools?
My hope is that by addressing discrimination, building inclusive environments and enhancing social-emotional relationships — among children, families and school staff — will support overall wellness, academic achievement and children’s growth and development.
Registration for the summer institute is available online. For more information, contact a href=””>Chappell or call 657-278-8493.

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Faculty Members Chosen for Emerging Leaders Program

The American Association of State Colleges & Universities announced June 1 that two Cal State Fullerton faculty members are among 26 candidates selected to participate in the inaugural class of the association’s Emerging Leaders Program.

Erica Bowers, chair and associate professor of literacy and reading education, and Stacy Mallicoat, professor of criminal justice and chair of the Division of Politics, Administration and Justice, will attend the three-day seminar, June 11-14, in Washington, D.C.

The AASCU program is designed for mid-career professionals and faculty leaders in higher education nominated by their presidents, chancellors or administrators, and includes hands-on practical exercises, a leadership self-assessment, and the development of a plan designed to help reach their leadership goals. After completing the program, their nominators will assign Bowers and Mallicoat projects to improve their knowledge of the university and grow as leaders using their new skills.

“I’m excited to be able to work with similar faculty and administrative partners from across the nation to learn about how their campus leaders operate, and identify ways in which I can take these tools and experiences and apply them here at Cal State Fullerton,” Mallicoat said. “To have this type of support from both our campus, as well as the AASCU, is so important in helping me define how and where I can best serve our Titan community.”

Bowers, who also serves as director of CSUF’s Hazel Miller Croy Reading Center, said it is an honor to be selected as an emerging leader and looks forward to building her leadership skills.

As part of the Emerging Leaders Program, Bowers will work with Kari Knutson Miller, dean of University Extended Education and associate vice president of International Programs and Global Engagement, and Provost José Cruz, where she will co-chair a task force to engage in a University-wide conversation regarding the next steps for CSUF’s online programming offered through University Extended Education. The yearlong project will focus on identifying programs that could better meet demand; exploring partnerships to expand the reach of online offerings; and compiling the results into recommendations.

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Teaching First-Generation College Students Subject of Center Program

Teachers helping teachers develop successful strategies to support the academic achievement of first-generation college students is the goal of a new three-day institute being offered by the Faculty Development Center.

The Aug. 9-11 program “Teaching First- Generation College Students: Simple Strategies to Support Academic Achievement” will emphasize incorporating culturally responsive instruction; fostering resilience, social integration and teamwork; and boosting student engagement, says Laura Lohman, who received a National Education Association Foundation grant to underwrite the institute.
“This is an important new form of support we will be offering for faculty,” said Lohman. “One that we hope we can grow and expand.”

Facilitating the sessions will be Maria Estela Zarate and Rebecca Gutierrez Keeton of educational leadership. Both first-generation college students.

“My concept is that each session will focus on discussing a practical application that participating faculty can then synthesize into a course that they will be teaching during the 2016-17 academic year,” explains Lohman. “The goal is to help ensure that these educators not only have a strong impact on first-generation students but also become leaders in their colleges and departments and share what they learned with others.”

In fact, as part of the program, participants follow up by leading a session or facilitating a workshop through the Faculty Development Center or through their department or college.

“I believe that from the 20 participants in this institute, at least 1,200 students will immediately benefit in fall 2016,” says Lohman. “And if all 20 participate by leading another program, we have the potential to make a significant ripple that will affect the entire faculty.”

Faculty members can register and learn more about “Teaching First-Generation College Students: Simple Strategies to Support Academic Achievement” through the Faculty Development Center calendar at or through this workshop link.

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CSUF Elevated to Doctoral/Research ‘R-3’ Designation

Carnegie Classification Change Is Milestone for University

Accordingly, the newly created R-3 designation is in keeping with that evolution and follows the established R-1 and R-2 tiers designated for institutions whose primary mission is research.

“The R-3 designation is largely in response to our recent increase in the number of doctoral degrees awarded by our institution,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs José Luis Cruz. “Our designation is driven by the work of the College of Education and the faculty of our Ed.D. programs.”

Cal State Fullerton currently offers two doctoral programs: Ed.D. (education) and D.N.P. (doctor of nursing practice). Last year, 75 doctorates overall were awarded.

Additionally, Cruz said, Cal State Fullerton garners more than $22 million in grants each year, the majority of which are federal awards.

The Carnegie Classification has been the leading framework for recognizing and describing institutional diversity in U.S. higher education for more than four decades. This framework has been widely used in the study of higher education, both as a way to represent and account for institutional differences, as well as in the design of research studies to ensure adequate representation of sampled institutions, students or faculty.

At Cal State Fullerton, this new designation also reflects the faculty’s continued commitment to engaging students in undergraduate and graduate research. For example, more than 325 proposals were submitted in the 2014-15 academic year.

In addition,  Cal State Fullerton has been identified as a community engaged campus – recognizing that in its pursuit of scholarship, the campus also is committed to its role as an anchor in the community.

“The dramatic increase in graduation rates demonstrates our student success, scholarship, and stewardship of place efforts serve to accelerate our progress in advancing our mission,” Cruz said.

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New Programs Prepare Teachers of English Learners

Janet Eyring (top) and Tonja Byrom were instrumental in launching CSUF’s new programs to prepare students to become teachers to English-language learners in California’s schools.

Cal State Fullerton is offering new programs in “World Language: English Language Development” to prepare teachers to instruct English-language learners in California’s diverse K-12 classrooms.

Beginning this spring semester, the World Language: English Language Development (ELD) subject matter preparation program is offered to undergraduates of any major planning to pursue a teaching career. A new teacher credential program focused on training candidates to teach ELD in California’s schools is scheduled to launch in the fall.

“With California’s large population of non-native English speakers, this is the first time that the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) approved such programs to train teachers specifically for this population,” said Janet Eyring, professor of modern languages and literatures, who teaches in the TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Program.

Late last fall, the CCTC approved the new subject matter preparation coursework and credential program, a collaborative effort developed between the College of Education’s Department of Secondary Education and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ TESOL Program, and the departments of Modern Languages and Literatures; English, Comparative Literature and Linguistics; and American Studies. CSUF is the first university in the state to receive approval, Eyring said.

“While our programs are unique, the ability to offer both an undergraduate program and a credential program in English language development has placed CSUF at the forefront of English language development studies and training throughout California,” said Tonja Byrom, lecturer in secondary education and world languages subject area coordinator.

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Online Graduate Programs Ranked Among Nation’s Best

Cal State Fullerton’s online master’s degree programs in business, engineering and education are among the nation’s best in their respective fields, according to 2016 rankings announced today by U.S. News & World Report.

The University’s online graduate business program ranks 11th in the “Best Online Programs” rankings; engineering programs are 16th; and education programs are 34th. This year’s rankings include evaluations of more than 1,200 distance-education programs nationwide.

CSUF’s online business program is among 91 ranked programs (excluding the MBA) and is the only California State University campus to make the list. Since 2005, the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics has offered an online master of science degree program in information technology.

The University’s online graduate-level engineering programs are among 62 such programs ranked nationally. Cal State Fullerton is the only CSU campus ranked among the top 20 and the highest ranked non-doctoral university in this category. These programs share the No. 16 rank with Texas Tech University and the University of Maryland, College Park.

The College of Engineering and Computer Science offers the master of science degree in software engineering launched in 2004, and the master of science degree in environmental engineering, offered since 2012.

CSUF’s online education programs are the highest ranked in Orange County and California. Also, the University is the only CSU campus in the top tier among 188 nationally ranked programs. CSUF tied for the 34th rank with Arizona State University.

In 2002, the College of Education launched the  master of science in instructional design and technology — the University’s very first online degree program. Today, the college also offers the master of science in education degree program with concentrations in educational technology, elementary curriculum and instruction, reading education, secondary education and special education.

More about the rankings, including methodology, can be found online.

Media Contacts:

Debra Cano Ramos, 657-278-4027
Paula Selleck, 657-278-4856

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2nd Annual CSUF Arts Education Conference: Building Inclusive Practices in and through Arts Education

The arts are at the cultural, civic, creative and critical centers of education. This year’s conference theme “Building Inclusive Practices” emphasizes that the arts offer unique opportunities to build inclusive learning environments through curricula and pedagogies that embrace communities in our full diversity. This full diversity includes youth and families across race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, family structure, first language, religion, sexual orientation, immigration/migration status, and disabilities. How can we build these inclusive environments? What contexts, issues, and strategies should we focus on? What does inclusion mean for each of us as educators and artists?

This conference will gather educators and administrators, students and faculty, and youth leaders from Orange County and beyond to participate in a day of workshops and art-making experiences. Participants will learn strategies to enhance their arts-infused practices, develop arts advocacy leadership skills, and connect with others committed to exploring the relationship between the arts, inclusion and 21st century learning.

We invite teachers, university students and faculty to submit workshop presentation proposals, considering this year’s theme as part of the workshop.

Future Teachers Give Back

Toys, Trees Collected for Elementary Students

Cal State Fullerton’s future teachers are partnering with Rio Vista Elementary School in Anaheim to make the holidays a little brighter for their young students and families.

The education students, led by Kim Case, lecturer in elementary and bilingual education, collected toys — donated by the Student California Teachers Association (SCTA) and Club TEACH — to give to the school’s students and families. The Yorba Linda High School baseball team and Wood Mountain Christmas Trees also are donating 47 trees.

The toys and trees will be delivered to Rio Vista students from 1-3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, at the school, 310 N. Rio Vista St.

“These families can’t really afford to have celebrations, so this is an opportunity to help them get a tree and presents,” said Catarina Hernandez, SCTA president and a child and adolescent studies major who plans to enter the teaching preparation program next fall.

Stefani Aldaz, SCTA vice president, who wants to become a math teacher, added: “The fact that I am now able to give back to the community I grew up in is what makes this event truly worth it to me. I believe many of our members feel the same. Since as future teachers, this event allows us to assist our future students.”

CSUF students have a history of involvement at Rio Vista, where they are conducting their student teaching, including giving science lessons and planning and facilitating Family Science Night. The third annual event is one more way for Titans to perform community engagement, said Case, who directs the College of Education’s iSTEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) partnership at the K-5 school.

“It gives them the experience of how supporting their students outside of the classroom creates a bond and a connection that often translates into success in the classroom because students feel cared about,” she added.

Case noted that of the school’s 950 students, about 88 percent are socioeconomically disadvantaged, and 58 percent are English learners.

“The partnership is an excellent opportunity for our candidates to see the issues of access and equity that exist within our educational settings so that when they join the teaching profession, they are committed to issues surrounding just, equitable and inclusive education for all students,” Case said.

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