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Communication studies instructor surprised with Outstanding Lecturer Award

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Donna Gotch, a full-time instructor in Cal State San Bernardino’s Department of Communication Studies, was preparing her class on ethical aspects in communication for a quiz when university President Tomás D. Morales, accompanied by a delegation of faculty members, administrators and staff, stepped into her classroom to make a surprise announcement.

“We have this wonderful tradition at Cal State San Bernardino where based on student feedback, the feedback of our colleagues, we identify several faculty every year who are just outstanding citizens at this institution,” Morales said. “Donna Gotch, you are the lecturer of the year.”

Her class of 27 students cheered loudly at the president’s announcement chanting “Donna, Donna.”

“She is the outstanding instructor at both the undergraduate and graduate levels,” Morales said. “She teaches a pretty broad range of courses and has received consistently over the years, very, very positive feedback from students who have studied with her.”

Gotch, who began teaching at CSUSB in 1991 as an adjunct faculty member and became a full-time lecturer in 2002, became teary-eyed.

Morales went on, reading comments from Gotch’s fellow faculty members quoted in the nominating committee’s recommendation.

“Donna’s passion for her students and for her teaching shows in everything she does. She has demonstrated exemplary skill in teaching. She’s truly one of a kind.”

The president also read a comment from a student.

“Gotch always makes the class interesting and relevant. She’s one of a handful of professors I have had in my college education that I can say I will always remember. If you look up ‘perfect’ in the dictionary, it will be a picture of Donna.”

Morales concluded, “Provost (Shari) McMahan and I join the University Awards Committee in saying how proud we are and how blessed we are to have you as a colleague.”

McMahan was equally effusive about Gotch.

“We’re so honored to have you with us so we can support our students because it’s all about your education and to provide you the best. That’s got to be a good feeling for all of you. It certainly is for us,” McMahan said. “So thank you for all you do to contribute to our university.”

When it was Gotch’s turn to talk, she was still in awe of the news.

“I’m overwhelmed by this honor. I really am. The fact the university is recognizing my teaching and the high standards that I set for my students means more than I can say,” Gotch said choking up.

“I love teaching at CSUSB and it is my students who I actually want to thank. I think acknowledgements of any good teacher is because of great students like this in my class,” Gotch said. “I know they inspire me. I learn from my students. They challenge me and I have a lot of fun in a classroom exchanging ideas and learning from them.

“Many people may not know this about me, but the thing I have in common with a majority of our students, I think 80 percent of the CSUSB students are first-generation college students, and I am a first-generation college student,” Gotch said. “I’m a product of the CSU system so I feel a strong connection to my students; maybe that is why I enjoy so much what I do.” 

In a letter to the president, the nominating committee wrote, “Our lecturers play an essential role in CSUSB’s mission to provide a high quality educational experience to our students. Ms. Gotch has demonstrated exemplary skill in teaching; her devotion to her students is indefatigable.”  They also singled out her “outstanding instruction at the undergraduate and graduate levels.”

Gotch has taught a wide array of courses at CSUSB. The nominating committee highlighted that “she has developed and taught fully online courses and courses in distance learning formats, reflecting her skills in adapting her courses to fit the mode of instruction.” They also singled out her mentoring of graduate students as a thesis committee member and as a supervisor in the Communication Studies Teaching Practicum.

She has received positive student comments and high ratings in evaluations by her students. A graduate student who nominated her for this award summarized her contributions in this way:  “Donna’s passion for her students and for teaching shows in everything she does. She is always well-prepared for lectures, detailed in her assignments, accessible outside of class, and is always open to listening to student problems. She is one of a handful of professors that I have had in my college education that I can say I will always remember. She truly is one of a kind.”

She has previously received the College of Arts and Letters Outstanding Lecturer Award (2016-17) and the CSUSB Panhellenic Council’s Faculty Recognition Award (in 2014 and 2016).

Her service to CSUSB includes facilitator in her department’s Community of Practice, graduate teaching associate coordinator as well as member of a variety of department, college and university committees. She is deeply committed to her local Pasadena community and is a member of the nonprofit Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts and the neighborhood women’s group Linda Vistans.

Gotch received her undergraduate and graduate education at Cal State Los Angeles, with both her B.A. and M.A. in Speech Communication. Also named Cal State LA Graduate Student of the year.

For an electronic image of Donna Gotch and more information on Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Strategic Communication at (909) 537-5007 and visit inside.csusb.edu.


TAGS:Donna Gotch, communication studies, College of Arts and Letters, Outstanding Lecturer Award, faculty award, Tomás D. Morales, Shari McMahan, provost, students, Top Stories

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