CSUN Mentors Recognized by EOP


CSUN recognized the winners of the 2015 Don Dorsey Excellence in Mentoring Award. From left: Marty Gonzalez, sister of the late Raul Aragon; William Watkins; Sean Murray; and Edward Jackiewicz. Photo by Lee Choo.

“Part of my job is trying to get students to dream big,” said professor Edward Jackiewicz, chair of California State University, Northridge’s Department of Geography, one of the four recipients of the 2015 Don Dorsey Excellence in Mentoring Awards.

Jackiewicz, along with professor Sean Murray, Department of Biology, and William Watkins ’74 (Urban Studies), vice president for student affairs and dean of students, were presented with the award Dec. 7. In addition, a special posthumous award was presented to the family of Educational Opportunity Program co-founder and leader Raul Aragon.

Glenn Omatsu, coordinator of CSUN’s Faculty Mentor Program and the awards program, said it’s Jackiewicz and the other honorees’ commitment to making students’ dreams come true that won them the honor.

“Mentoring is defined as a reciprocal relationship, and our four award recipients model what that means in practice,” Omatsu said. “They show us that mentoring involves both giving and receiving the gift of wisdom from those we interact with.”

The Dorsey mentoring awards were established in 1998 by the Faculty Mentor Program and EOP. The awards are named after educational psychology and counseling professor Don Dorsey, who helped develop CSUN’s first mentor training program and devoted himself as a mentor to innumerable students.

The annual awards recognize faculty and staff who have made exceptional contributions to mentoring of past and present students; who take a holistic approach to mentoring, including academic and personal support; and who demonstrate proactive involvement in the university’s commitment to the success of students of diverse backgrounds and communities.

Jackiewicz has taught at CSUN since 2001 and holds a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University, a master’s degree from Temple University and a doctorate from Indiana University. He is a specialist in migration, transnationalism and tourism development. He also serves as faculty athletics representative, to help promote the academic success of student-athletes on campus.

Murray has been teaching at CSUN since 2007. He earned his bachelor’s degree in biology and psychology from Montclair State University, his master’s degree in biology in 1999, his M. Phil. in 2000 and his Ph.D. in 2003 from Yale University. In 2004, he won the Spangler Nicholas Prize for best Ph.D. thesis in molecular, cellular and developmental biology. He believes that “everyone has something important to contribute” in his lab.

“Students are key collaborators on all projects, which I supervise as a coach instead of as a boss,” Murray said. He added that mentoring is a “two-way street, where the mentors learn from their students and students learn from their mentors.”

In 2014, Watkins celebrated four decades of service to CSUN. He worked his way up the ranks, serving as a mentor, adviser and advocate for students. As an undergraduate, he served as the first African-American student body president and also received the Outstanding Graduating Senior Award. He earned his master’s in public administration from USC and his doctorate in education leadership from UCLA.

Watkins said he has benefited from great mentors during his academic and career journey.

“I have attempted to return the favor by being there to help guide current students and university employees,” Watkins said. “Being selected to receive the Don Dorsey Mentoring Award is humbling and a great honor.”

Aragon, who passed away in 2009, grew up in the San Fernando Valley. He received his bachelor’s degree from CSUN, and he earned a graduate degree in political science from Claremont Graduate University. He devoted his professional life to the mission of EOP and to the lives of EOP students, serving for many years as EOP assistant director.

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