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Applauding Outstanding Teaching
Melinda Blackman and President Milton A. Gordon

Melinda Blackman received a surprise visit and announcement from CSUF President Milton A. Gordon that she is the recipient of the Carol Barnes Excellence in Teaching Award.

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Psychology professor receives Carol Barnes Excellence in Teaching Award

April 27, 2007 :: No. 185

“I am shocked. I am honored. I am delighted. I am overwhelmed!”

That was Melinda Blackman’s response to her surprise visit Thursday from Cal State Fullerton President Milton A. Gordon and an entourage of colleagues, delivering the news that she won the university’s Carol Barnes Excellence in Teaching Award for 2006-2007.

“This is quite an honor,” Gordon told Blackman, as he handed her a crystal apple. “You have been selected for your great reputation as a teacher on this campus.”

“You are a model for all of us who teach here,” added Joe Arnold, associate dean of the College of the Arts, who chaired the university’s Outstanding Professor Committee that recommended Blackman for the award.

Barnes, emeritus professor of elementary and bilingual education, will join Gordon in formally recognizing Blackman during a commencement ceremony on May 20.

The award was inaugurated last year when political science professor Raphael J. Sonenshein was chosen as the first honoree. In 1994, Barnes was named CSUF’s Outstanding Professor, the university’s highest honor for a faculty member. Having served in many leadership roles on and off campus, she also has been recognized as a distinguished educator on the state level and has received numerous other accolades.

“I adore my job,” said Blackman, associate professor of psychology. “This is the best job in the world. I’ve wanted this job since I was in the fourth grade. I’ve always loved to teach, and it’s nice to get this grand feedback that I’m doing a good job.”

Blackman said her greatest mentors were her parents.

“Both my parents were teachers,” she said. “My dad taught high school agricultural science and my mom taught kindergarten. I used to sit in their classrooms and watch, so I learned a lot. I think I have a certain knack for explaining very difficult material in an easily understandable, enthusiastic manner.”

Her students strongly agree.

Psychology majors rate her so highly that they’ve awarded her Professor of the Year honors five times — in 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006. Her peers also chose her as the winner of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ Award for Outstanding Teaching in 2005 and the Outstanding Service to Students Award in 2006.

“Dr. Blackman is always ready to teach,” said Zelida S. Keo, a candidate for the master’s degree in psychology. “I took two of her classes, and she was always smiling, happy and eager to help students, and she makes you feel comfortable.”

Blackman, who holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Stanford University and a master’s degree and doctorate in social/personality psychology from UC Riverside, was hired to teach at CSUF as a part-time lecturer in 1996. Two years later, she became an assistant professor and, in 2003, was promoted to associate professor.

“Dr. Blackman earns stunningly high student ratings and glowing student comments, while assigning rigorous grades appropriate for the type and level of classes she teaches,” said Thomas P. Klammer, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. “As is very clear to everyone who knows her, Dr. Blackman is a teacher who cannot hide her very evident joy in working with students. Having reviewed her work multiple times in my role as dean, I concluded long ago that she and her students enjoy a reciprocal love and respect that goes far beyond the ordinary. … As appropriate for a star performer, reviews of Dr. Blackman’s teaching based on direct peer observations have consistently given her the highest possible evaluations throughout her years on the Fullerton faculty.”

In a letter recommending Blackman for the Barnes Award, Arnold wrote: “Dr. Blackman has distinguished herself through her sustained record of excellence in teaching and her commitment to the educational mission of our university.”

Blackman’s colleagues also wrote letters of support. In them, they tout her impressive energetic and motivational teaching style that has made her a favorite among students.

“Our students like her, value her instruction and respect her commitment to their learning,” Diana Guerin, chair of the Academic Senate, wrote about Blackman. “Her teaching evaluations are always well above the department’s average and exceed the ratings received by other instructors teaching the same classes.”

David Perkins, emeritus professor of psychology, said he’s received numerous unsolicited comments about Blackman’s excellent teaching skills.

“Dr. Blackman, in my opinion, has the rare combination of qualities which make her an outstanding teacher,” he said.

Besides teaching, Blackman, who lives in Newport Beach with her husband and two children, wrote two teaching manuals — the 2006 “GradeAid” and a manual to accompany Elliot Aronson’s “Social Psychology.”

She serves as the graduate coordinator and an undergraduate adviser in the Psychology Department.

While on sabbatical this semester, she wrote a book about the psychology behind sticking to a diet. Publishers are reviewing it for publication.

Meanwhile, Blackman said, the book — “Mind Your Diet: The Psychology Behind Sticking to Your Diet” — outlines the mental skills required for dieting. One chapter, titled “Mental Gastric Bypass,” offers ways to visualize your stomach as a small compartment in an effort to lose weight by eating small portions of food.

“On Amazon.com, there are about 6,000 diet books, but I don’t know of any that talk about the mental skills to stick to them,” Blackman said. “The point of my book is to make you conscious about eating.”

Blackman’s expertise goes beyond diet psychology. She also is often called upon for her expertise in industrial/organizational psychology, employee work-related behavior, employment interviews, accuracy of personality judgments and self-esteem issues.

 


Media Contacts:

Melinda Blackman, Psychology, 657-278-3569 or mblackman@fullerton.edu
Mimi Ko Cruz, Public Affairs, 657-278-7586 or mkocruz@fullerton.edu


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