CSUN faculty and staff honored for mentoring students

The first honored, Professor Jeanine Minge accepted her award despite tears after being nominated and introduced by three of her students. Three out of 14 total nominees were honored at the 2010 Don Dorsey Excellence in Mentoring Awards Tuesday. Photo Credit: Katie Grayot / Staff Photographer

Three CSUN “campus treasures” were recognized for their time and dedication to mentoring past and present students.

More than 40 members of CSUN faculty, staff, family and friends gathered for the “2010 Don Dorsey Excellence in Mentoring Awards” Tuesday evening in the Whitsett Room

“Mentoring is very powerful for students and a lot of times it’s not really recognized on this campus,” said Glenn Omatsu, Asian American studies professor, an EOP member and the coordinator of the Faculty Mentoring Program.

He said this award is unique because someone takes the time to nominate and many of the nominations come from students

The awards were presented to Jeanine Mingé , communication studies professor, Jane Santoro, nurse practitioner at the Klotz Student Health Center and Rie Rogers Mitchell educational psychology and counseling professor.

“What usually ends up happening is students in going through their college experience, they don’t remember subject matter from their classes, but more people, they remember faculty and staff,” Omatsu said. “They usually remember kindness.”

After mingling for 30 minutes, Omatsu called guests to their seats and commenced the ceremony with opening comments.

Omatsu and Michael Silvia, developmental math professor, who was also one of last year’s awardees, read excerpts of support letters for this year’s 11 nominees.

Various Mingé’s students were called to share  testimonies of how Mingé has changed their lives.

“I am the woman I am today because of Jeanine,” said Emelie Castillo. “And I’m still becoming that woman today because of Jeanine.”

Castillo added Mingé interacted with students and pushed them go beyond what they were doing.

“She (Mingé) had this way of inspiring me,” Castillo said.

Mingé, who is in her fourth year at CSUN, said a few words.

“It’s reaffirming and humbling,” Mingé said. “I learn from my students as much as they learn from me.”

She said her students learn to balance their personal experiences with knowledge and analyze it.

“When I think of mentorship, I think about their ownership of their lives,” she said. “When I think about this award, it’s really about them.”

Klotz Student Health Center Director Yolanda Reid Chassiakos and Professor Louis Rubino were called to speak about Santoro.

The two emphasized Santoro’s dedication and service to educate and mentor thousands of students at the Klotz Health Center for more than 20 years.

Chassiakos  and Rubino also spoke of the time Santoro gave to coordinating the Clinical Access Shadowing Experience (CASE), which gives students interested in becoming medical professionals the chance to experience hands-on training through rotations at the health center.

Santoro, who came to CSUN in 1987, said she felt honored and is indebted to the staff at the Klotz Health Center.

“I truly appreciate this validation of my efforts, of being myself,” Santoro said.

After Santoro’s speech, EOP Director José Luis Vargas gave a presentation on Mitchell, educational psychology and counseling professor for outstanding service to EOP and mentoring.

“She’s an individual that over the course of many years, has woven herself into the fabric of this institution (CSUN),” Vargas said.

She embraced the concept of mentoring. She practiced and integrated it and changed many policies on student services, he added. She especially dedicated her time to many in EOP.

“I am so touched by this,” Mitchell said. “We worked on this wonderful team to increase mentoring and I think we did it.”

Mitchell, who has been at CSUN since 1970, said she had wonderful mentors when she was at UCLA.

“I wouldn’t be a good faculty member if I didn’t have them,” she said. “It’s how we teach.”

Mitchell said teaching is unique at CSUN.

“Other universities don’t put as much emphasis on mentoring as we do at CSUN,” she said.

In 1998, the Don Dorsey awards were established by the Faculty Mentoring Program and the Educational Opportunity Program, Omatsu said.

The awards are named after educational psychology and counseling professor emeritus, Don Dorsey , who helped developed CSUN’s first mentor training program and mentored many students, he said.

“It’s (mentoring) a way of life, of living, of respecting others,” Mingé said. “I don’t think it’s a profession. I think students should recognize CSUN faculty and staff are all mentors.”

She added students should ask for advice, to find and cultivate relationships

“CSUN faculty and staff are willing to be there,” Mingé said.