SBCC Faculty Named 2013 California Professor of Year
November 14, 2013
Dr. Manoutchehr M. Eskandari-Qajar, Professor of Political Science at Santa Barbara City College, was named the 2013 California Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). He was selected from nearly 300 top professors in the United States and was the only California professor to receive a spot in the winners’ circle.
The U.S. Professors of the Year program salutes the most outstanding undergraduate instructors in the country—those who excel as teachers and influence the lives and careers of their students. It is recognized as one of the most prestigious awards honoring undergraduate teaching.
Dr. Eskandari, who joined SBCC in 1992, founded and serves as SBCC’s director of Middle East Studies Program and is chair of the Political Science/Economics Department. He is widely considered one of the Santa Barbara community’s leading authorities on the Middle East.
“I am so pleased and thrilled that Dr. Eskandari was recognized with this award,”
said SBCC President Lori Gaskin. “Teaching is the embodiment of his heart and he
is a passionate and eloquent champion of his discipline.” She added, “Dr. Eskandari
is committed to educating the whole student and has created outstanding and meaningful
co-curricular experiences that enrich students’ journey through SBCC. He epitomizes
all that is noble and meaningful about being a teacher.”
In 1996, Dr. Eskandari was instrumental in bringing the chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the national honor society for two-year colleges, to SBCC and has since seen its semesterly inductees grow from 40 to over 140 students in the Fall of 2013. As Director of the Middle East Studies Program, Dr. Eskandari has brought international speakers to campus by organizing an international conference on the Middle East in 2009, and most recently, renowned journalist Hooman Majd in October 2013.
As part of his experiential learning philosophy, Dr. Eskandari created study abroad
and internship programs for Middle East Studies and Political Science majors in Washington,
DC, Paris, Athens and Istanbul, and most recently a one-week internship in Sacramento.
Called the Sacramento Program, 26 students participated in the spring of 2013 and
learned the inner workings of the California political system by meeting and shadowing
the mayor of Sacramento and a number of state legislators including Senator Hannah-Beth
Jackson and Assemblyman Das Williams, who is a former student of Dr. Eskandari.
Among his numerous honors, Dr. Eskandari was named the 1991 Professor of the Year at UCSB, and Faculty Lecturer 1998 – 1999 at SBCC, the highest honor faculty bestow on a colleague at the college. In 2002, he was honored by the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges with the Stanback-Stroud Diversity Award for support of curriculum, programs, clubs and extracurricular activities geared to underrepresented students. He also is a published scholar and founder-president of the International Qajar Studies Association.
Dr. Eskandari received his baccalauréat degree from the Lycée Français de Vienne, in Vienna, Austria; his Magister from the University of Vienna, Austria; he received his M.A. degree and Ph.D. from UCSB.
In describing his philosophy about teaching, Dr. Eskandari said, “Like many of my colleagues who came from a teaching background at a four-year college, I made a conscious choice to seek a teaching position at a community college, because I loved teaching and wished to be at an institution that needed it and valued it most. It is not buildings but individuals who make the difference between average and excellent, and nowhere is this more evident than at the two-year college.”
He continued, “In my 20 years of teaching I have seen repeatedly students who at first
only took the introductory Political Science course because it was a requirement and
saw it as an obstacle to overcome. I have seen many of those very same students later
declare Political Science as their majors. Finally I have seen many of those former
students take positions in government at the local, state and national levels, applying
the very lessons they at first labored over in my classes and who are now following
their own calling.”
SBCC Sophomore Sam Terrell said, “The most important thing I’ve learned from ‘Doc’ is to not to do anything that I don’t want to do. He told me to love what I do and what makes me happy. He has been one of the significant guiding forces in my decision to pursue a career international/environmental policy.”
Fellow sophomore Holly Highfill said, “Through my work with him in Phi Theta Kappa, ‘Doc’ has taught me traits that can’t be learned in a classroom – how to communicate with respect and professionalism and how to be viewed as an equal with others, including individuals of all standing.”
SBCC graduate and now Brown University graduate Hanna Stromgren said, “I am surrounded by some of the best faculty in the world (at Brown) and have been introduced to professors including Nobel Laureates, well-known authors, respected economists and former governors. Despite their prestigious backgrounds and academic history, Dr. Eskandari stands out from all professors I have ever encountered.”
Former SBCC student Joshua Thomas said, “As a 38-year old student of life, I have had three men who have had irreversible impacts on my life: first is John Thomas, my father, who taught me how to be a good man; second, Staff Sergeant Hambrick of Fort Benning, Georgia, who taught me how to be a good soldier; and third is Dr. Eskandari who taught me how to be a good citizen. Dr. Eskandari has given me the confidence that no other professor has.”
CASE and Carnegie Foundation
CASE and the Carnegie Foundation have been partners in offering the U.S. Professors of the Year awards program since 1981. Dr. Eskandari was selected from faculty members nominated by colleges and universities throughout the country. CASE assembled two preliminary panels of judges to select finalists. The Carnegie Foundation then convened the third and final panel, which selected four national winners. CASE and Carnegie select state winners from top entries resulting from the judging process.
Criteria include extraordinary dedication to undergraduate teaching, which is demonstrated by excellence in the following areas: impact on and involvement with undergraduate students; scholarly approach to teaching and learning; contribution to undergraduate education in the institution, community and profession; and support from colleagues and former undergraduate students.
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is an independent policy and research center that supports needed transformations in American education through tighter connections between teaching practice, evidence of student learning, the communication and use of this evidence, and structured opportunities to build knowledge.
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Council for Advancement and Support of Education is a professional association serving educational institutions and the advancement professionals at all levels who work in alumni relations, communications, fundraising, marketing and other areas.
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