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Cal State L.A. Names 1995 Outstanding Professors

Los Angeles, November 27, 1995 . . . California State University, Los Angeles has named its Outstanding Professors for 1994 - 1995. The recipients are: Long Beach resident Mohammad Ala, Professor of Management, School of Business and Economics; Glendale resident Helen Boussalis, Professor of Electrical Engineering, School of Engineering and Technology; South Pasadena resident Judith Hamera, Associate Professor of Speech Communication, School of Arts and Letters; and Los Angeles resident Carole Srole, Associate Professor of History, School of Natural and Social Sciences. The award is the highest faculty honor the University bestows and is granted for continuing excellence in teaching, research and contributions to higher education.

As part of this annual faculty tradition, the campus' OPA committee selected Pasadena resident William A. Cohen, Professor of Marketing and Director of CSLA's Small Business Institute, as the University's CSU Outstanding Professor. This award recognizes superlative teaching and exceptional commitment to students as well as professional accomplishments and service to campus and community. Cohen will join California State University educators selected by their campuses for this award in being honored at a CSU Institute for Teaching and Learning conference in Long Beach this coming May.


MOHAMMAD ALA, Professor of Management, School of Business and Economics

"One of the most conscientious instructors I have ever had." Glad your course was required -- because I might have missed it otherwise." "You related the subject of the course to real world situations excellently. I was really impressed with your organization." "What I feared would be a boring class was made relevant and helpful to my job." "You were interested in each individual student." "Even though I didn't do as well as I wanted in your class, I thought you were an excellent professor. All the awards you received and are hanging in your office are well deserved.

"Personal helpfulness is at the heart of this professor's appeal. The concern he has for individual students reflects his commitment to the social and moral well being of the communities in which he works and lives . . . . Relevance, in its fullest sense, is what one keeps hearing in student praise," said Peter Brier in introducing Mohammad Ala.

Mohammad Ala, Professor of Management is also the director and founder of the University's Productivity Center. He has been a faculty member at Cal State L.A. since 1985. Combining his teaching talents with public service, he has contributed significantly to the success of Cal State L.A.'s Small Business Institute, which has, for more than a decade, provided free consulting to small businesses that otherwise would not be able to afford it. Several faculty members oversee the consulting done by upper division and graduate business students, and among them. "over the past nine years, Mohammad Ala has been one of our most outstanding," writes William Cohen, professor of marketing and director of the Small Business Institute. Using "a wide variety of managerial skills including operations management, quality control, purchasing management, automation, and computer information systems," says Cohen, "Mohammad's leadership of students and the quality of consulting work for the small businesses which he has helped has always been first rate. He has brought credit to the university and himself."

Ala earned his B.S. from Tehran College of Insurance, Iran, his M.B.A. from Emporia State University, Kansas and his D.B.A. from Louisiana Tech University. He has been the recipient of the campus's 1990-91 Outstanding International Educator Award, the School of Business and Economics 1991-92 Excellence in Teaching Award, and the Cal State L.A. 1993-94 Award for Excellence in Service on University, Department and School Committees.

Between 1986 and 1989 he was honored with four University meritorious performance and professional achievement awards. He has published more than 30 refereed articles and made more than 50 professional presentations on management questions in a variety of fields, including health care, computer application, the use of robots, and international information systems. He has authored four chapters in a text, Production and Operations Management, that has gone through seven editions. Over the years, Ala has received five research grants. His latest accomplishment is receiving a certificate in TQM from the Harvard School of Public Health. He is a resident of Long Beach.

HELEN BOUSSALIS, Professor of Electrical Engineering, School of Engineering and Technology

Raymond Landis, Dean of the School of Engineering and Technology, calls Helen Boussalis "the 'superstar' of our faculty; honored by them and selected as Chair of her department." On a visit last year to the Cal State L.A. campus, NASA Director Daniel Goldin awarded a special plaque to Boussalis, Chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The award recognized her development of a major $3.8 million CSLA NASA-funded project that establishes a research laboratory for the design and fabrication of a scale model space segmented telescope. To implement this project, Boussalis organized what NASA reviewers called an "impressive partnership" with Cal State Long Beach, UC Berkeley, USC, JPL, Starlight Computing, WYLE Laboratories, TRW and Rockwell International.

This year's Outstanding Professor Award committee noted that Boussalis' unprecedented research activity has brought the University more than four million dollars in grants, and notes that this figure exceeds the total of all other grants received in the 35 year history of the School of Engineering and Technology.

"The projects funded by these grants are of national importance and have brought our students in touch with scientists and other researchers at NASA, USC, and UC Berkeley as well as JPL," said Peter Brier, chair of the University's Outstanding Professor Award committee, citing what Boussalis' peers have called her greatest strength as a teacher. "By working with graduate and undergraduate students in her research projects on optical systems, she has fueled their interest in university teaching and enabled them to take giant strides toward validation as scientists and engineers," Brier noted.

Clearly, Boussalis' rapport with and esteem for her students, whom she calls "absolutely outstanding," is mutual. Students write:

"From this professor's lectures I have learned control systems theory to design of mechanical and electrical systems, and from this professor's character I have learned that society also needs feedback control mechanisms whereby the evil nature of some people is canceled out by the kindness of others like this professor." "I remember the intellectual depth, teaching ability, dedication and willingness to help students." "My own decision to pursue a doctorate degree was largely influenced by Dr. Boussalis' words and deeds," writes one man, now a professional engineer, who goes on to note that "Professor Boussalis has, in particular, been a role model to female students. I have known women who have gotten their graduate engineering degrees -- including the doctorate -- encouraged by Dr. Boussalis' example and enthusiasm for the field."

Boussalis, who joined the Cal State L.A. faculty in 1985, received a B.S. degree from New York Institute of Technology, and an M.S. and Ph.D. from New Mexico State University. She has authored more than 50 publications on topics in her field. On campus, she is active as faculty adviser of the Society of Women Engineers. Her contributions to the campus chapter of this national organization won her an outstanding adviser award and the chapter itself the national award. Writes one colleague, "No professor could have more concern for students, or be more dedicated to providing them with an exciting and useful education."

JUDITH HAMERA, Associate Professor of Speech Communication, School of Arts and Letters

"Best class in four years at Cal State L.A. . . . the professor tied what we were learning to philosophical and social issues . . . I will carry what I learned here throughout my life." "I don't think I have ever gone to a class with such eagerness to listen to a lecture." "Logistically superior. The class was beautifully put together." "I appreciate the care with which you interact with us as students and people." "I admired your talent for answering questions." "You expect students to challenge themselves. You're great!" "The material was overwhelming, but I learned a lot. I surprised myself." "Never have I been expected to do more in a class, but I achieved more at the same time."

"Awed by a highly intelligent and articulate sensibility, students nevertheless feel empowered by this professor's skills. She transcends the distinctions of teacher, scholar, and administrator by incorporating them all in a continual act of professing the values that unite all three," noted Peter Brier, chair of the University's Outstanding Professor Award committee, in his recognition of Judith Hamera.

Judith Hamera, Associate Professor of Speech Communication in the Department of Communication Studies, School of Arts and Letters, joined the faculty of the University in 1987. A highly regarded scholar in her field, performance studies, Hamera's interests range from Cambodian dance to western ballet, from feminist theory to performance pedagogy. Author of over thirty articles in scholarly journals and fifty presentations at conferences in her field, Professor Hamera has established a reputation as a scholar whose work encompasses a vast body of knowledge at what colleagues term a "remarkable level of insight."

As Brier commented, "Those of us unfamiliar with dance theory can hear so many traces of learning grounded in philosophy, psychology, literature, rhetoric, language theory and more that we are made somewhat dizzy by the intellectual demand." Those in her field find her work equally praiseworthy. Regarded as a "professor's professor," Hamera guides other professionals in her field by providing "precise directions" to those whose articles she reviews "in a tone of voice that invariably manages to be both clear and encouraging," comments the editor of Text and Performance.

Her highly challenging classes, which require that students demand the most from themselves, and her ability to tie together numerous strands of intellectual inquiry and multiple disciplines has made her an exciting and popular classroom teacher.

Currently serving as Acting Chair of the Department of Communication Studies, Hamera has also served as Acting Chair of the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance. She continues as a member of the Academic Faculty of Art Center College of Design in Pasadena and serves as a member of the Gallery Committee of the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena. A recipient of a B.A. from Wayne State University and Ph.D. from Northwestern University, Hamera is a member of the national honor society Phi Kappa Phi, and Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars.

CAROLE SROLE, Associate Professor of History, School of Natural and Social Sciences

"The class was rigorous, demanding, mind stretching. The instructor's favorite question is 'why?'" "[Her] approach to teaching had a profound effect on me." "So well prepared for class . . . fascinating lectures . . . group discussions were superb." "Among all the classes I've taken as an undergraduate at Cal State L.A., this was probably the one from which I've retained the most: Reconstruction, Progressivism, World Wars, Cold War, Civil Rights -- her lectures were clear; ample criticism on my papers showed she gave my work a close read. Lastly, she was available, both as professor and tutor."

Speaking for a minute as a professor of English rather than chair of the Outstanding Professor Award committee, Peter Brier remarked in his recognition of Carole Srole, "You will understand why I found the following praise of Carole Srole somewhat threatening -- 'Her positive influence in this field was enough to almost make me change my major from English to History.'"

Carole Srole earned her B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. from UCLA. She joined the history faculty at Cal State L.A. in 1984. Her students continue to praise Srole for her attention to their individual needs, commenting that they are enriched by her enthusiasm for her subject. She received a CSLA Innovative Instruction Award in 1993-1994.

Srole's success in the classroom has inspired her to share her teaching approaches with colleagues. The OPA committee reported, "Her dedication to the problems of teaching history is of such fervor that she took what many might consider a professional risk. She interrupted work on her manuscript, The Wrong Sort: Class and Gender in the Feminizing World of Clerical Work, Boston 1815-1915, to devote much of the last four years to writing and speaking about teaching." Srole, who has authored numerous publications in her field, has produced over ten conference papers alone on teaching and an unpublished manual, Teaching Analytical History, which has been in demand at conferences and circulated at campuses throughout the country. In addition, she established a successful Cal State L.A. workshop for history faculty emphasizing practical teaching procedures.

Speaking for the OPA committee on the success of one of her campus endeavors, Brier said, "Single-handedly, Carole Srole revitalized Women's History Month and has helped to keep it alive for some ten years." Now, with students, staff and faculty, Srole coordinates faculty presentations and encourages participation from all corners of the University. "Other universities have watched this process and have adopted similar programs," noted Brier.

Recommending her for this year's award, Carole Srole's department Chair wrote: "I think that when faculty go out of their way, well beyond what is necessary, to try to improve the quality and success of our teaching, they are indeed contributing to the much discussed 'mission' of this university. They should be recognized for such efforts."

WILLIAM A. COHEN, Professor of Marketing, School of Business and Economics

"Thanks for your teaching genius .. the most rewarding experience of my professional and personal life." "Best class in 16 years of schooling!" "Best class I have had at Cal State L.A." "Best class in the business program" "I hardly speak in class, but in yours I talk too much." "You transfer the excitement in your subject to your students." "What I found unusual about your class was the way we all became one big family." "I learned more from you than in four years at USC, four years in government management, and one year of marriage."

Peter Brier, chair of the University's Outstanding Professor Award committee, announced William Cohen's selection as Cal State L.A.'s 1995 CSU Trustees Outstanding Professor: "This outstanding professor is famous for building the self esteem of individual students. What happens in his classes kindles the spirit of community as well."

Cohen has been a member of the faculty of Cal State L.A.'s School of Business and Economics since 1979. He holds a B.S. in engineering from the U.S. Military Academy, an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Claremont Graduate School. Formerly Chair of the Marketing Department at Cal State L.A., he is now the Director of the University's Small Business Institute, a national program that he has directed since 1979 under the auspices of the U.S. Small Business Administration and now one of the largest in the nation.

Outside the University, he has served as President of Global Associates, Advanced Technology Marketing Manager for McDonnell-Douglas Astronautics Company, and as a Project Engineer for Israel Aircraft Industries, Ltd. As an expert in marketing strategy and entrepreneurship, Cohen has been a consultant to Fortune 500 companies and the U.S. government, and has directed consulting for over 400 small businesses.

Of his four major text books, one has been adopted by 177 colleges and universities, not including foreign editions, and a text on direct marketing was the first of its kind published. He has authored 25 trade books, one, Building a Mail Order Business, is going into its 4th edition: in 1991, the third edition was translated into Chinese. He has collaborated with his wife, Nurit Cohen, a psychologist and Cal State L.A. alumna, on two books: Top Executive Performance and, in 1993, The Paranoid Corporation and 8 Other Ways Your Company Can Be Crazy. The latter was a Fortune Book Club Selection and has been translated into German and Portuguese. In 1990, Prentice-Hall published his book, The Art of the Leader. Recommended by Fortune 500 CEOs, the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, the Chief of Naval Operations and others, it was translated into German, Korean, Indonesian, Spanish, and Chinese, with an audio version in Japanese, and was selected as a Best Business Book of the Year by the Library Journal among other honors.

Cohen received a Cal State L.A. Outstanding Professor Award for 1982-3, the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge Honor Certificate for Excellence and George Washington Honor Medal for Excellence in Economic Education -- national awards of high distinction -- and numerous other awards and grants, including the Outstanding Service Award from the National Management Society.

Under his supervision, Cohen's students, too, have garnered many prestigious awards. In 1994, Cohen advised a team of students who won the National Collegiate Competition in Promotional Products and Target Marketing. As director of the Small Business Institute, he supervised the student winning the Graduate Case of the Year in a 150-case competition. This year, Cohen's students won two first and one second place awards in both California and national competitions for best Promotional Plans, competing in the national award category against 90 entries from 24 universities.

Not only a leader in his profession as an academic in the field of management, Cohen is a Major General in the United States Air Force Reserve. During the Gulf War he was called to active duty and served as Deputy Director of a Special Action Group in the Office of the Secretary of Defense responsible for psychological operations at the strategic level. He currently directs a reserve program at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas consisting of approximately 846 assigned and another 1000 attached Air Force Reservists. He has also flown in combat for the Israeli Air Force.

Cohen is listed in Who's Who in America and many other biographical dictionaries.

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