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Melinda Blackman and Carol Barnes

Carole Barnes, left, and Melinda Blackman

Her Dream Job

Melinda Blackman wins CSUF's Carol Barnes Excellence in Teaching Award for 2006-07

June 25, 2007

By Mimi Ko Cruz

As a child, Melinda Blackman loved to see her parents work and was inspired to follow in their professional footsteps. Both teachers, they were her greatest mentors.

“My dad taught high school agricultural science and my mom taught kindergarten,” said Blackman, associate professor of psychology. “I used to sit in their classrooms and watch, so I learned a lot.”

That might explain her knack, her students say, for explaining difficult material in an easily understandable, enthusiastic manner. Her students 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.

So, said Thomas P. Klammer, dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, it is no surprise that Blackman has been awarded the university’s top teaching honor — the Carol Barnes Excellence in Teaching Award for 2006-07.

“Dr. Blackman earns stunningly high student ratings and glowing student comments,” Klammer said. “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.”

Graduate Zelida S. Keo, who received her master’s degree in psychology in May, agreed: “Dr. Blackman is always ready to teach. I took two of her classes and she was always smiling, happy and eager to help students, and she makes you feel comfortable.”

Blackman said she is just doing her job.

“I adore my job,” she said. “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.”

That love and commitment make her “a model for all of us who teach here,” said Joe Arnold, associate dean of the College of the Arts, who chaired the university’s Outstanding Professor Committee that recommended Blackman for the Carol Barnes award.

The award was inaugurated last year and Raphael J. Sonenshein, professor of political science, was the winner. Barnes is an emeritus professor of elementary and bilingual education. In 1994, she was named CSUF’s Outstanding Professor, the university’s highest honor for a faculty member.

Blackman, who holds a doctoral degree in social/personality psychology from UC Riverside, was hired to teach at CSUF in 1996.

Besides teaching, Blackman has written two teaching manuals — the 2006 “GradeAid” and a manual to accompany Elliot Aronson’s “Social Psychology.” While on sabbatical last semester, she wrote a book that publishers are reviewing for publication. 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, 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.”

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