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May 7, 2004 :: No. 242

Exemplary Teacher Named Cal State Fullerton Outstanding Professor

Richard Wiseman’s colleagues in the Department of Human Communication Studies like to joke that even if he taught a class entitled “Yellow Pages 101,” it still would be one of the most popular courses on campus.

Wiseman, professor of human communication studies and a resident of Yorba Linda, is this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Professor Award at Cal State Fullerton—the highest honor awarded to a faculty member.

Wiseman will be recognized at the university’s May 28 Honors Convocation.

Thursday afternoon, while he was teaching a class on intercultural communication, Wiseman was surprised when CSUF President Milton A. Gordon, accompanied by various university administrators, made a visit.

The group entered Wiseman’s classroom carrying balloons and a crystal globe. The globe represents Wiseman’s research in intercultural communication. As the 2003-04 Outstanding Professor, he will receive a $4,000 cash award from the President’s Associates and carry the mace to lead the faculty at this month’s commencement ceremonies.

As is tradition for Cal State Fullerton’s Outstanding Professor Award recipients, Wiseman will present a public lecture next spring.

“Dr. Wiseman embodies the finest qualities of our faculty at Cal State Fullerton and in the California State University system,” said Gordon, while announcing the honor to Wiseman’s class.

“Watching Rich teach a class is like watching Wolfgang Puck in the kitchen or Tiger Woods on the golf course,” said Robert H. Gass, professor of human communication studies. “‘Take Wiseman!’ is a familiar refrain that you’ll hear among students on campus.”

“Teaching is absolutely the best profession I could dream of,” said Wiseman. “Much of my life revolves around teaching, and I love it. I love the students, their energy and willingness to learn. I don’t spoon-feed information to them. They’re more than willing to accept responsibility for their learning experience, and that makes my job such fun.”

Another faculty member, Hallie Yopp Slowik, professor of elementary and bilingual education and recipient of the Outstanding Professor Award for 2000-01, remembers her own student days at Cal State Fullerton and the encouragement provided by Wiseman.

“After I received my master’s degree at Cal State Fullerton and was working toward my doctorate at the University of California, I needed computer assistance with some statistical problems,” she recalled. “Rich Wiseman’s name was mentioned by several faculty members. I contacted him, and he was most willing to assist me with my analysis. To this day, I vividly remember his willingness to meet me on a Thanksgiving morning in the mid ’80s so I could complete one more analysis! I measure my own support of students against the standard that he set years ago.”

“After Rich came to campus in 1978, he immersed himself in campus life,” said John Bedell, chair and professor of sociology. “Rich is completely dedicated to the campus and community. We have shared many students and they all, to a one, see him as vigorous and genuinely interested in their personal and professional success.”

“I believe that the most important factor in students’ classroom learning is to involve them in its content,” Wiseman said. “If students get involved with the material, then the learning will be long-lasting and have a greater potential to make a difference in how they apply that knowledge.

“As an instructor, I try to get students involved through classroom discussions, providing additional readings, supporting their participation and providing resources that may be helpful to them.”

That attitude may have something to do with the outstanding evaluations Wiseman receives from his students. In fact, in teaching evaluations, his average mean score is 3.85 out of 4. Yet, his teaching isn’t restricted to the classroom. Students are often lined up outside his office door, seeking consultation and advice. In fact, he has the largest number of undergraduate and graduate advisees in the College of Communications.

In addition, Wiseman publishes, on average, at least two scholarly and three conference papers each year. Over the past 24 years, he has published nine books and authored 58 journal articles or book chapters, most of them focused on intercultural communication.
He has been recognized as the third most prolific scholar in the area of intercultural communication (Myers, 2004), and he is frequently cited as an expert source in journal articles.
He has served as editor of International and Intercultural Communication Annual and as guest editor of Intercultural Communication Studies (Winter 2004).

His record of service extends to professional associations, the community and the university. Notable among his accomplishments: he is a founding fellow of the International Academy for Intercultural Research (1998); he was chosen for Cal State Fullerton's Teacher/Scholar in Residence Program (2003); and he was recognized for Outstanding Service to CSUF Students and Student Leadership (1997-98), Outstanding Service to Cal State Fullerton (1997) and Outstanding Faculty Scholar (1995). In addition, Wiseman has served as faculty marshal at commencement for the College of Communications in 1994, ’97, ’98 and 2003.

He also has been awarded more than 25 grants to support various research projects.

On campus, Wiseman chairs the University Curriculum Committee and serves on the Institutional Review Board. Over the course of his campus career, he has served on dozens of committees, ranging from curriculum to research to academic standards.

He also volunteers for a number of community organizations, including the Girl Scouts of America, the Boy Scouts of America, American Youth Soccer Organization and Placentia Cultural Arts Commission.

Wiseman, who earned his doctorate in speech communication at the University of Minnesota, was recommended to the university president for this honor by a multidisciplinary committee of faculty members chaired by Kurt E. Kitselman, chair and professor of human communication studies.

Media Contacts: Richard Wiseman, professor of human communication
studies, at 657-278-3902 or
Valerie Orleans, Public Affairs at 657-278-4540