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In The Community

Campus Members Form Club To Enhance Sense of Community

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From Dateline (November 6, 2003)

Faculty workdays are filled with activities: classes, committees and departmental meetings, projects, research, answering questions and preparation for classes, presentations or conferences.

On a large, busy college campus, like Cal State Fullerton, that leaves little time to get to know your peers other than through brief conversations between classes and meetings, over quick cups of coffee or a lunch in the Titan Student Union.

When the university was first established, the campus community was small and there were potlucks and other activities in which people gathered, remember long-time faculty and staff members. In the more recent past, faculty clubs were established and held in several locations, such as what is now the Golleher Alumni House and the upper level of the campus bookstore.

“A university club is a great way to promote a sense of community on campus,” said Andi Stein, assistant professor of communications, echoing the sentiment of others. “It gives people a chance to get to know each other socially, as well as professionally. On a campus like ours where everyone is so busy, it’s nice to have an opportunity to interact with people in a more relaxed way.”

Recently there have been discussions of establishing a club somewhere, including in the Pollak Library, but “we decided to not wait for a physical location to organize a club,” said Vince Buck, professor of political science.

In the last year, campus members have come together for a series of social, cultural and intellectual events “where faculty and staff members from all over the university have the chance to come together,” Buck said, adding, “the events usually draw from 20-40 people, which is a good size to meet other people.”

“Our initial mailing to the campus community early this fall brought several hundred responses from every place on the campus,” noted Sandra Sutphen, professor of political science and director of the Faculty Development Council. "President Gordon has been a member since we started last year and now our membership is about 300 people.”

Among the activities: a theater night in which participants attend a play, then meet at a local restaurant to hear a talk by someone involved with the production; a book club; walking and museum tours; and social gatherings at individual’s homes. Every third Thursday of the month from 4-6 p.m., members meet at the Off-Campus Pub.

This spring, club members are organizing tours of downtown Fullerton and a Buddhist Temple in Hacienda Heights; a visit to the Tibetan art exhibit at the Bowers Museum; additional bike rides and potlucks.

“It’s gelling because there is a need to see colleagues in a different light,” said Norman R. Page, chair and professor of human communications studies. “You discover that people have similar interests.”

“We’re really interested in getting junior faculty involved and would like to reach out more to other groups like emeriti and alumni,” said Buck. “An active community has many benefits. Research has shown many times over that the social component of work is essential for job satisfaction and important for the effective functioning of organizations. It’s important for us to know other faculty members - it has a lot to do with morale and shared governance...shared knowledge.”


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