(Victor Valley)– – Todd Jennings, a professor of education at Cal State San Bernardino, has been named the university’s Outstanding Professor for 2011-2012.
Jennings, who has taught at Cal State San Bernardino since 1990, “has established himself as one of the most popular, albeit challenging, professors in the College of Education,” wrote professor Stephen Tibbetts, who led the outstanding professor selection committee that recommended Jennings to receive the award.
“Jennings stood out from the other nominees due to his exemplary teaching and instructional activities, his consistent publishing record, as well as his stellar service record to his department, his college, many other colleges/organizations at the university, and to the local community,” Tibbetts wrote.
Jennings learned of the award while teaching his class on Tuesday, Feb. 21, when CSUSB President Albert Karnig “stormed in,” accompanied by a group of 25 people which included previous winners of the outstanding professor award, along with colleagues and administration officials who were all there to offer congratulations to Jennings on winning the university’s top faculty award.
Karnig embraced a surprised Jennings and then explained to Jennings’s students why their professor was being honored.
“The outstanding professor is somebody that combines excellence in teaching, excellence in scholarship and excellence in being a good public servant—helping others, and this year, it’s Todd Jennings,” Karnig said. “He’s been an extraordinary colleague.”
Karnig also told the students, “It’s because of you, your comments, your impressions of him and his teaching. It’s the principal reason we don’t call or send a letter about the award. You’re the ones we want to celebrate his excellence with.”
A sheepish Jennings, still surprised at the award, thanked everyone.
“I’ve been able to do something I really love and I’ve able to do something that is really fun where I’ve had the opportunity to be with amazing people, whether it’s my students or my colleagues,” Jennings said. “I’ve also had a real rare luxury. I’ve never gone to bed at night having to wonder if what I was doing mattered. That’s a tremendous luxury.”
As the Outstanding Professor, Jennings will receive $1,000 along with $3,000 in professional development support. He will also be recognized at the March 29 Mayor’s Golden Apple Awards banquet, along with Amanda Wilcox-Herzog, an associate professor of psychology, who was named winner of the 2011-2012 Golden Apple Award for excellence in teaching.
Within the Cal State San Bernardino College of Education, Jennings teaches courses in developmental psychology, educational psychology and diversity issues within educational contexts. He also teaches undergraduate courses related to gender and sexuality. He is the current director of the CSUSB Gender and Sexuality Studies Program.
In the area of teaching, Jennings recently taught eight different courses, including courses in other departments, such as psychology. He also teaches in the CSUSB educational leadership doctorate program.
Jennings’ students give him high marks as well.
In an evaluation of Jennings, one student wrote, “He not only teaches the material but helps us apply this knowledge to our life and career. Through his teaching you can see his passion for teaching and you can see that he wants all of his students to succeed. Another reason why I like Dr. Jennings so much is he brings up topics and scenarios that would happen in our future classrooms that I would never have thought about. He helps us understand the broader context of teaching.”
Another student wrote, Jennings “tells his students like it is, not to scare us, but to make sure we are prepared when we go out in the classroom … I think that he is one of those rare professors that genuinely cares about his students and puts time and investment in us.”
Another key area that is considered for the award is in professional development. In that area, Jennings has published at least 25 scholarly pieces, one edited book, five book chapters and encyclopedia entries, and presented 37 papers at various professional meetings or conferences across the country. His work has also been cited hundreds of times in scientific and academic literature.
Jennings has served on many CSUSB committees, and his record of service to the university has also been extensive. It includes:
- acting chair, department of educational psychology and counseling;
- chair, College Education Evaluation Committee;
- faculty adviser: CSUSB Amnesty International Student Group;
- faculty adviser: CSUSB Equality Coalition;
- Women’s Studies Program Advisory Committee;
- Facilities/University Planning Committee; and
- CSUSB Faculty Senate
His service off campus is also extensive and shows his commitment to human rights. Since 1992, Jennings has been a member of the Regional Planning Group for Amnesty International and also serves on the Human Rights Education Steering Committee for Amnesty International. For the past three years, he has served as a volunteer consultant in Human Rights Education for Human Rights Watch.
Prior to joining the CSUSB faculty, Jennings taught throughout Asia, Central America and South America.
Jennings holds a bachelor’s degree in humanities from Biola University, a master’s degree in landscape architecture (2002) from Cal Poly Pomona, a master’s degree in education and doctorate degree in developmental and educational psychology from Claremont Graduate University.