Veteran psychology professor named CSUSB Golden Apple teaching award recipient


Janelle Gilbert, an associate professor of psychology at Cal State San Bernardino, was in the middle of her organizational development lecture on Monday morning, Nov. 26, when the classroom door opened and in entered university President Tomás Morales.

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Janelle Gilbert (l), an associate professor of psychology, reacts as CSUSB President Tomás Morales presents her with the 2012 Golden Apple Award for excellence in teaching on Monday Nov. 26. Joining Morales is Jamal Nassar, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences; Jeffrey Thompson, dean of graduate studies and associate provost for research; and Amanda Wilcox-Herzog, the 2011-2012 Golden Apple award winner and associate professor of psychology. Photo: Robert A. Whitehead/CSUSB

Accompanied by a slew of faculty, administrators, students and staff that filled the small classroom and outer entrance, Morales was there to congratulate Gilbert on winning Cal State San Bernardino’s 2012-2013 Golden Apple Award for excellence in teaching.

“We’re here to recognize her (Gilbert),” Morales said. “This is kind of a tradition at CSUSB, an ‘ambush,’ because Janelle is one our truly outstanding teachers, scholars and university citizens, we’re here to recognize her.”

The president was continuing a tradition started by his predecessor, Albert Karnig, in surprising Golden Apple recipients with the award during their classes so that the winner’s students could also share in the honor.

Morales thanked the students in the class and those who had come for the ambush for their written evaluations and nominations praising Gilbert. “It’s because of you and other students before you who have written to us about her.”

She’s an innovator in her traditional classroom lecture, but also in her online distance learning teaching, Morales said. “She’s an incredible citizen who has served on countless committees – 54 master’s theses. That’s an incredible, incredible service to her students.”

Andy Bodman, the university’s provost and chief academic officer joked that “one of the lovely things about this (the ambush) is that it leaves the most articulate instructors speechless and weak-kneed.”

Janelle Gilbert (r), associate professor of psychology, is congratulated by Jenny Zorn, associated provost for academic programs, upon being named the 2012-2013 Golden Apple Award for excellence in teaching. Photo: Robert A. Whitehead/CSUSB

In seriousness, Bodman said the Golden Apple was truly right for Gilbert as an example of the quality of the university’s faculty and for her excellence in working with students.

Gilbert, who looked stunned, thanked the president.

“Wow. I can talk to them (her students) for four hours and they can attest that I go over that and know I’m a

little lost for words,” Gilbert said. “I’m truly humbled by this. Thank you.”

The Golden Apple is one of the two major university faculty awards given each year. The other honor, the Outstanding Professor Award, will be announced in the 2013 winter quarter.

Gilbert, who has taught at CSUSB since 1994, “has made a significant contribution in terms of instruction and service to students at our university. Her service, professional scholarship, and especially teaching is outstanding,” wrote Stephen G. Tibbetts, a criminal justice professor and the previous Golden Apple winner who chaired the Golden Apple Award Selection Committee.

In terms of teaching and instruction, Gilbert has taught well more than a dozen different courses ranging from entry-level freshman courses to the most advanced graduate courses, Tibbetts wrote.

Gilbert also recently developed online course versions some of entry-level and mid-level psychology courses. One of her online classes led her to winning an Outstanding Originator in Distance Learning Award from the university’s Office of Distance Learning. Tibbetts said that Gilbert is constantly incorporating innovative tools such as voice threads and student clickers into her classroom instruction.

While she works to incorporate technology into her instruction, Gilbert has not forgotten the importance of working with her students.

One of her students wrote, Gilbert “is a fantastic professor who takes the time to explain and prepare each student for the assignments … she has a great personality in the classroom.”

She is also a huge influence on the career paths of students. One student wrote that ” … she is a very helpful instructor, and she inspired me to change my major to psychology due to the impact she had on me.”

Another student said that “Dr. Gilbert was the best professor I have had in my first year at this university … I hope I get the chance to take her again.”

Janelle Gilbert

Gilbert also supervises the psychology department’s master’s graduate thesis program and has chaired 54 master’s theses committees. “This is an extraordinary accomplishment, especially given the time and effort that goes into supervising graduate students’ theses,” Tibbetts wrote.

In addition, she has served as a committee member on many other master’s theses committees, as well as mentoring more than a dozen undergraduate honor students on directed independent study projects. These research projects go a long way to preparing such students for their success in graduate programs and careers in the psychology field, Tibbetts wrote.

This type of mentoring is also related to her participation in the Gateway Program, which was a funded program designed to enhance academic experience for students who face challenges in their English communication skills, with a strong emphasis on writing and information literacy.

For her work in mentoring and the master’s theses committees, Gilbert was honored with the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences annual Outstanding Faculty Member for Teaching Award in 2009. Only one such award is awarded per academic college each year, Tibbetts wrote. Gilbert has published many scientific articles during her tenure at CSUSB, in journals such as “Leadership Quarterly and Personnel Psychology” and she has presented numerous papers at various conferences, including many with students. Her primary research area is in industrial/organizational psychology, but the many presentations and attendance at numerous professional workshops and conventions show her more eclectic range of scholarly pursuits.

“She does a fantastic job relating this range of experiences to her students, as attested to by her student evaluations,” Tibbetts wrote.

Gilbert will serve as director of the MS Industrial/Organizational Program for Psychology for the next two years and previously served as director in 2008-2010 as well. She has also served as the department advising coordinator for the last eight years, which includes directing the Peer-Advising Center. She developed a new course in peer advising that supports the internship experiences of students working as peer advisers.

In the past five years, Gilbert has served in a number of departmental committees such as the Undergraduate Program Committee, Ad Hoc Committee on Graduation Requirements, Mentor Program for MS I/O program, Outcomes Assessment-Undergraduate Program and Graduate Program Committee.

Gilbert earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from New York University and master’s and doctorate degrees from George Mason University.

For more information, contact Cal State San Bernardino’s Office of Public Affairs at (909) 537-5007 and visit