Fontaine Lauded for Faculty Leadership
Professor Named 2011-12 Collegial Governance Awardee
Feb. 24, 2012
Known for her inclusive working style, Sheryl I. Fontaine, chair and professor of English, comparative literature and linguistics, has been named this year’s recipient of the Cal State Fullerton Faculty Leadership in Collegial Governance Award.
“This prestigious award, proposed by your colleagues, recognizes your exemplary leadership and lasting contributions to shared governance, and acknowledges the value and enduring impact of your role in promoting consensus and collegiality,” Willie J. Hagan, interim CSUF president, told Fontaine at a Feb. 23 meeting of the university’s Academic Senate, where he made the surprise announcement, handing her a plaque, a $300 check, a congratulatory letter and balloons.
“Sheryl’s unfailing respect and value of the opinions of others, coupled by a humble approach and affinity for group rather than personal recognition, appropriately merit utmost regard and praise by peers,” he said, adding that Fontaine is skillful and successful in all her leadership roles universitywide.
“Your service has advanced collegiality, benefitted and impressed colleagues and improved the campus,” Hagan told Fontaine. “Your colleagues and I agree Cal State Fullerton is a better university because of your leadership in collegial governance.”
Fontaine thanked Hagan and the Senate, saying: “I’m honored and touched.”
She said her plaque ought to include the name of “everyone in the room, for collegial governance only works if you have colleagues who work together.”
In the room were university administrators, staff members, professors and past recipients of the Collegial Governance Award, including Albert Flores, emeritus professor of philosophy; A. Scott Hewitt, professor of chemistry and biochemistry; Keith O. Boyum, emeritus professor of political science and interim executive assistant to the president; Diana W. Guerin, professor of child and adolescent studies; John W. (Jack) Bedell, emeritus professor of sociology and Academic Senate chair, Jane V. Hall, professor of economics; Sandra Sutphen, emeritus professor of political science and coordinator of the university’s Social Science Research Center; Barry Pasternack, chair and professor of information systems and decision sciences; and J. Vincent Buck, emeritus professor of political science.
Fontaine, who has served as Chair of the English, Comparative Literature and Linguistics Department since 2009, joined Cal State Fullerton’s faculty in 1990. Her leadership service has included:
- serving as contributing writer of the university’s strategic plan in 2011;
- chairing the Planning, Resources and Budget Committee in 2009-10;
- chairing an ad hoc steering committee for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences since 2009;
- co-authoring the college’s mission statement in 2009;
- coordinating the Writing Center from 2002-07 and from 1991-1999;
- coordinating university teaching and learning from 2005-07 and university research in 2004-05 for the Faculty Development Center; and
- directing the University Learning Center from 1999 to 2002.
Fontaine presently serves on the university’s WASC Steering Committee, WASC Writing Task Force and WASC College Wide Planning Task Force, as well as CSUF’s Early Start Program Advisory Board; Planning, Resources and Budget Committee; and Writing Board.
“Sheryl’s ability to create clear, reasoned written expression in areas typically viewed by others as vague and potentially contentious has had an enduring impact, particularly in support of PRBC’s efforts, development of an Integrated Strategic Plan for the university, and in authoring three comprehensive reports required for campus reaccreditation,” Hagan said. “Further, Sheryl’s commitment to collegiality and insistence on collaboration supported ongoing use of a shared leadership model for the WASC Steering Committee across multiple changes in membership during a six-year period.”
In a four-page letter of support for Fontaine’s award nomination, Ellen M. Caldwell, associate professor of English, comparative literature and linguistics, wrote, in part:
“I have seen Dr. Fontaine effectively bring her administrative, organizational and writerly talents to bear upon a range of challenges. She has a knack for leading by means of consensus; she includes all constituents and is often able to resolve differences of opinion or controversies with skilled negotiations. ... I cannot think of one more deserving for this award.”
Fontaine’s published work includes authoring, co-authoring or editing the following books: “Writing Your Way Through College” (Boynton/Cook, 2008); “Lenses on Composition Studies” (Parlor Press, ongoing); “A Guide to Collaborative Writing in Composition” (Wadsworth Publishing, 2004); Writing with Peter: A Collection of Essays in Honor of Peter Elbow (Utah State University Press, 2002); “Shoptalk for College Writers (Harcourt Brace, 1999); “Foregrounding Ethical Awareness in Composition and English Studies” (Boynton/Cook, 1998); “Writing Ourselves Into the Story: Unheard Voices from Composition Studies” (Southern Illinois University Press, 1993); and “Nothing Begins with N: New Investigations of Freewriting” (Southern Illinois University Press, 1991), as well as 25 book chapters and articles on topics related to teaching writing, writing program administration and professional development.
For Fontaine, serving as chair of her department and leader of various campus committees has been rewarding because the people she’s worked with on campus “like each other and respect one another.”
She said that being chair is “the center of my efforts in collegial governance.” It also is gratifying, she said, because “we have faculty here who participate and care about what they’re doing and care about their students. It’s rewarding to watch junior faculty thrive and see students succeed.”
Fontaine, who has a Ph.D. in English and American literature from UC San Diego, has been awarded a number of teaching and research grants since she arrived on campus. She’s also made more than 25 presentations at regional and national conferences over the past two decades.