|Award in recognition of Lee Gilbert's advocating the rights of faculty members.
June 19, 2006 :: No. 281
by Mimi Ko Cruz
Like many college students, when Lee Gilbert was attending the University of Colorado in the 1960s, he couldn’t figure out what to study.
As a freshman, he thought he’d become an engineer, then changed his major to chemistry, then anthropology. He even spent a semester as an undeclared major. It wasn’t until his junior year that he decided on German, a foreign language to him.
“There was a two-year foreign language requirement at that time, so I studied German and found that I had some aptitude in language,” said Gilbert, who is of English and Irish descent.
“There’s no logical connection,” he said. “It was purely serendipitous.”
Perhaps it was destiny. Gilbert’s choice became his passion. The Placentia resident has been teaching German at Cal State Fullerton for the past 35 years. Further, he served a stint as resident director for the CSU International Programs in Heidelberg, Germany, in the 1970s.
Besides teaching, Gilbert has been a faculty advocate, representing the rights of his colleagues. Over the decades, he served two terms as chair of the Academic Senate, three terms as chair of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and 13 years as associate dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
For his dedication and service, the emeritus professor of modern languages and literatures was named this year’s recipient of the Faculty Leadership in Collegial Governance Award.
CSUF President Milton A. Gordon presented the eighth annual award to him in May during an Academic Senate meeting, where his colleagues gave him a standing ovation.
“Your record of accomplishments in the areas of teaching, research and service is absolutely outstanding,” Gordon told Gilbert. “I know of few other faculty members who have contributed so widely, so consistently and with such depth as you have.”
The Faculty Leadership in Collegial Governance Award recognizes faculty members who have made significant contributions to collegial governance and the mission of the California State University.
Gilbert joined the faculty in 1970, after earning his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado. In addition to the administrative roles he’s taken on at CSUF, Gilbert also served for 13 years as the university’s faculty athletics representative, chairing the Athletics Advisory Committee and overseeing certification of student athletes.
During his first term as the department chair, Gilbert led an effort to develop the bachelor of arts degree program in international business and the master of science in teaching English as a second language, or TESOL.
During his 2002-04 tenure as Academic Senate chair, the group considered a number of policy proposals, including the creation of the College of Education, the new plus-minus grading system and the new bachelor of science degree program in computer engineering.
“Receiving the Faculty Leadership in Collegial Governance Award is a tremendous honor,” Gilbert said. “It is a deeply gratifying affirmation of my service to the university, or better, to what my generation of faculty like to refer to as ‘The Fullerton Way.’
“Our university has always had a passionate commitment to collegial governance, characterized by a profound mutual respect between faculty and administration and a common desire to continue to strive together to make Cal State Fullerton a better university and a stronger community. That is what the greater importance of the award is really about in my eyes; it’s a symbol of the university’s continuing commitment to ‘The Fullerton Way.’ ”
In the fall, Gilbert will be teaching a couple of freshman German language classes and a graduate seminar in the history of the German language.
This summer, he is busy translating German-American musicals for a book being written by faculty colleague John Koegel, associate professor of music.
“German is an incredibly rich cultural language, and that was my initial fascination with it,” Gilbert said. “From there, I got involved in student theater. I played the part of a debtor in an Austrian morality play called ‘Everyman’ that the German students put on during my sophomore year. Now, I’m translating German-American musicals, dating back to before World War I.”
The musicals he is translating are by Adolph Phillip, and most deal with the German-American immigrant experience in America.
In the early 1980s, Gilbert collaborated with theater professor Jerry Pickering who staged two plays by Austrian author Arthur Schnitzler.
Today, Gilbert said he feels as though his career has come full circle. What has changed is the makeup of the students on campus.
“There is no majority population on campus now,” Gilbert said, adding that his students in the 1970s were either native German speakers or native-born Americans. Today, his classes include students from Vietnam, Bulgaria and Indonesia, among other countries.
The diversity “of our campus is really enriching for my classes,” he said. “It brings a real richness to this place that a lot of universities don’t have, and it is one of the reasons that this is such a great university.”
Lee Gilbert, 657-278-2208 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Mimi Ko Cruz, Public Affairs, 657-278-7586 or email@example.com
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