By Hector Gama
Bewildered, dazed and red in the face are the only adjectives to describe Criminal Justice Professor Stephen Tibbetts after he was “ambushed” during the middle of his class by CSUSB President Dr. Albert Karnig and colleagues.
As we made our ascent from the first floor of the Social and Behavioral building to the second, where Tibbetts’ office is located, there was excitement and amusement in the air.
I asked Karnig why it was that he decided to ambush professors during class to present them this particular award as opposed to presenting them with it privately.
“It’s to bring attention to the award, and in particular, the person receiving the award in front of his/her students,” he said.
Karnig was the first to arrive at Tibbetts’ door, and without the slightest warning, threw it open, surprising both Tibbetts and his students. He announced that Tibbetts had been named the university’s Outstanding Professor for 2010-2011.
Tibbetts, still looking rather confused, took the president’s hand and nodded to the applauding audience, his students.
Karnig then took center stage, addressing the classroom, revealing why it was that it was Tibbetts who was receiving the award.
It was explained that Tibbetts received fantastic evaluations from his students, who praised him for his clarity, availability, and his overall ability to make class fun and enjoyable, while not diminishing the importance of learning.
When asked about what approach he took that enabled his students to respond so well to his teaching style Tibbetts replied, “I think my approach is unique in a sense that every class period we go over current events.”
“I think that because the events are local, it helps keep students interested. In my classes it’s almost like having a constant conversation,” he concluded.
After surrendering the floor to Tibbetts, Karnig stood aside as Tibbetts expressed his delight over receiving the award.
Tibbetts seemed amazed that he was the one who had won.
“I never thought I would win this award. Most people who win this award have been here a few decades. I have only been here for 11 years,” Tibbetts said.
Tibbetts also commended his students, indicating that their passion and dedication fuel him to be the best professor he can be.
Having published six books within the past decade, Tibbetts is also the author and co-author of 39 articles in the major peer-reviewed professional journals of his field.
He also has given 36 professional presentations since joining the university according to a press release put out by the Office of Public Affairs. He will be honored by San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris on March 17 annual Mayor’s Golden Apple Awards dinner on Wednesday, April 20, at the San Bernardino Hilton.
So what did this day mean to him?
“It meant a lot to me. It was the best day of my career,” said Tibbetts.