La Verne’s faculty is made up of some 200 scholar-teachers that focus on creating a learning community that puts the student first. The La Verne educational experience offers close student-faculty interactions. Virtually every undergraduate student is involved in a student thesis project that involves one-on-one mentoring by a faculty member. The January interterm also provides a focused learning experience in small groups, allowing for individualized attention, in-depth scholarship, and service learning as well as opportunities for field study and international travel. The faculty prides itself on its ability to work with a diverse student population and to help them develop to their full potential.
La Verne’s approach to scholarship and education is best captured by the phrase “theory and practice.” We believe that a university can play a transformative role by bridging the gap between the abstract role of academic theory and the world of practical problems. Our faculty brings an academic perspective to these real world problems and integrates it into both research and teaching. Specific expressions of the “theory and practice” approach are:
In the CAS, the merging of theory and practice is seen through two nationally accredited programs to prepare students for lead roles in their respective professions: the Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) in Clinical-Community Psychology, and the Department of Movement & Sports Science which features a nationally accredited and award-winning Athletic Training Education Program that places qualified trainers into all levels of amateur and professional athletics. In addition, the Department of Psychology has a long-standing successful Marriage and Family Therapy (M.S.) program.
CBPM has a long tradition of engaging students in case studies of regional businesses to examine market analysis and business plans and is in the process of integrating experiential learning into the curriculum. Currently, several CBPM courses require students to actively engage in consulting with local businesses. Graduate study in public administration in the CBPM focuses on the “scholarly practitioner” model and includes the Doctor of Public Administration (D.P.A.) and a nationally accredited M.P.A. program.
The CEOL’s highly successful symposium series, “Turning Schools Around,” creates opportunities for interactions between practitioners (usually high school principals), theorists (faculty members), and doctoral students to identify the factors required to rescue failing schools.
Having recently hosted a landmark international symposium, “Afghanistan & State Building,” the COL is engaged in a public-private partnership to generate protocols for how judicial systems are instituted in new and recovering countries. This important dialogue involves academics, government officials, and members of the Afghan judicial system.
Through the past decade, the University has recognized the value of strongly promoting faculty research, scholarly, artistic, and professional activities to enhance both the educational experience and the academic reputation of the institution. La Verne is currently in a transition period where resources and expectations for scholarship are increasing. Internal support for faculty-professional activity has led to a rise in presentation and participation at local, national, and international scholarly societies. A new Office of Sponsored Research has been created to identify external funding opportunities and to assist faculty in grant preparation and administration. This office will work closely with Foundations Relations in the University Advancement to match faculty research interests with funding opportunities. To emphasize and celebrate La Verne’s scholarship, the faculty have created the “La Verne Academy” whose members select an additional new member each year. Membership is based on the faculty member’s contribution to their academic discipline, recognition beyond the university, and support of research at La Verne.
While the Office of Sponsored Research is still in its formative stages, La Verne is already seeing a strong increase in granting activity. La Verne has received more than $9 million in Title V funding over the past five years which has facilitated a broad engagement with community colleges and high schools. Title V funding has allowed the development of several innovative programs/gateway educational experiences, among them Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) summer projects for high school students, a learning enhancement center for minority graduate students, a bilingual M.B.A., and expanded support services for transfer students. Through funding from these grants, CBPM has incorporated into its business programs for traditional age students, the Rita Thakur Skills for Success Program, whereby all students are required to take a course that helps them identify their career objectives and chart a path to reach that objective. The program further supports students through an internship and a mentorship program. In addition, the College is in the process of developing the nation’s first cultural, immersive, and integrative M.B.A. program. Sizable grants from the W. M. Keck Foundation and the Fletcher Jones Foundation paved the way for the University’s Natural Sciences Division to establish a Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) facility in 2005. It provides students use of research-grade instrumentation while working closely with faculty members, better equipping them for graduate studies and professional careers.
In keeping with our focus on theory and practice, the university and its faculty hold that civic engagement and outreach is a natural role for our university. We bring our academic expertise to the community in a variety of ways. A few of which are described below:
Through its highly acclaimed REACH Summer Business Camp, CBPM fosters an interest in business and provides access to higher education. It assembles high school students from underserved backgrounds and provides the opportunity to experience college life academically as well as socially. Attendees receive instruction in business topics, take part in a group competition, and are provided college prep instruction covering admission and financial aid processes and SAT review. They stay in residence halls and eat meals on campus. Its success has led to the creation of a sister program, the STEM Summer Science Camp organized by CAS, which provides local students natural science instruction and the chance to take part in an undergraduate level research experience.
Since it opened in September 2001, the University of La Verne Literacy Center has worked with more than 750 students (grades K-12) and has had nearly 250 parents take part in literacy training, all at no cost to the participants. As part of CEOL, the Literacy Center provides hands-on literacy instruction and tutoring training to candidates in the Reading & Language Arts Specialist Credential Program, with graduate students providing one-on-one tutoring for students from surrounding school districts.
The Clinical Education Program at the COL comprises the Disability Rights Legal Center Clinic and the Justice & Immigration Clinic, reflecting the University’s commitment to social justice. Both clinics provide free legal services and are staffed by law students, providing the students community service experience and valuable real-world training.