Associate Professor Dany Doueiri was starting his class on the World of Islam on March 9 when the doors to the nearly full lecture hall opened and in walked Cal State San Bernardino President Tomás D. Morales, accompanied by more than 20 colleagues.
Doueiri, who is in the university’s department of world languages and literatures, initially looked startled, then smiled as Morales approached him. He raised his arms then turned to face the wall, saying, “I didn’t do it. My name is Dany, not Osama, guys,” making Morales and the entire class laugh.
A beaming Morales spoke to the class.
“We have this wonderful tradition of honoring outstanding teachers, our outstanding scholars,” Morales said. “So we’ve come to interrupt your class to let you know that thanks to your feedback, those that have studied with Dany – I know you call him by Dany – that’s he’s been awarded this year’s Golden Apple.”
“The Golden Apple is CSUSB’s highest teaching award, and most of the colleagues that you see against the wall, most of them, have actually been the recipients of the Golden Apple. So as part of the tradition, they come together as we identify the Golden Apple awardee of this year,” Morales said.
Doueiri was honored for his teaching, his work with students and with the university’s Summer Language Intensive Program, which he helped to grow from its initial offering of three beginning-level courses taught in six sections during the 2001-2002 academic year to a burgeoning program currently offering 55 different courses in 75 sections, serving more than 1,000 students from across the nation per year, Morales said.
The program, which features instruction in Arabic, Chinese, Korean and Persian, also grew from one part-time lecturer to having three full-time faculty and six adjunct faculty, some of them teaching at a nearly full-time load during the academic year while others join the program during the Summer Language Intensive Program.
Doueiri, who joined Cal State San Bernardino in 2001, has a bachelor of science in international agricultural development from Cal Poly Pomona, a master’s degree in education from UC Davis and a Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from UCLA.
Tom Long, chair of the Golden Apple Selection Committee and last year’s award winner, wrote in a nominating letter to Morales that Doueiri and the program are a source of pride to the department of world languages and literatures, the College of Arts and Letters and the entire CSUSB family.
“CSUSB has the distinction of being the only CSU campus to offer an Arabic Language B.A., and one of two in California to offer such a degree along with UCLA. Doueiri and the Arabic program have also successfully generated an exceptional level of external grants to support our financially-challenged student population. And this is reflected in how he has stewarded the growth of the Arabic program,” wrote Long.
Last fall, the Arabic program enrollment exceeded that of UCLA, which has one of the oldest and most established Arabic language programs in the U.S. It surpassed UCLA on all fronts: The program enrolls 30 percent more students, holds 15 percent more sessions per quarter, and 2 percent of CSUSB students take Arabic classes compared to 0.3 percent at UCLA. Also, CSUSB devotes a higher number of instructional faculty to the program — 150 percent more.
All of these accomplishments in a campus that is 40 percent the size of UCLA in terms of full-time students, said Long.
Doueiri and the Arabic program have received rave reviews outside the university. A recent external evaluator who had researched more than 150 Arabic programs around the nation concluded: “Cal State San Bernardino’s Arabic program is offering one of the most vibrant and rigorous undergraduate major and minor programs, on par in many respects, with programs offered at some of the most respected Arabic programs across the country at institutions such as Princeton, Yale, Georgetown, Urbana-Champagne, UT Austin, Brigham Young University, University of Arizona, Michigan State University, and at the renowned Middlebury Language Schools.”
“Doueiri, as coordinator of the program and also the director of its Summer Intensive Session, is the embodiment of a professor who is the living example of CSUSB’s commitment to its students [who can] ‘come here and go anywhere,’” wrote Long.
Doueiri’s students also praised their professor. One student wrote in Doueiri’s Student Opinion of Teaching Effectiveness survey: “I gained a great deal of insight into the Muslim community, enough to want to delve into the culture even deeper. The material was introductory … but it answered many questions I had prior to attending. … And even more important, Dr. Doueiri inspired me to reach deeper and further to learn even more. Next year, I start graduate school and I owe it all to Dani Doueiri.”
Another student wrote: “Dr. Doueiri is passionate about what he teaches and it shows in his lectures. I enjoyed class because of his anecdotes and lesson structure. Plus, he is just an amazing professor who inspired me to be the best I can be. He is so amazing and I am so much better off having studied with him. Now, I am in my second year of graduate studies and I am prepared and exceling because Dr. Doueiri taught me more than just Arabic.”
“Dani’s SOTEs reflect his level of commitment to the learning experience of his students,” Long wrote. “Clearly, their comments also reflect Professor Doueiri’s high level of rigor, which is also supported by his virtually tireless efforts to be available to all of his students. One need only pass by his office to see the enthusiastic students either chatting with him or waiting to do so.”
“Professor Dani Doueiri is the embodiment of the core values of CSUSB, to challenge, teach and inspire our students and to enrich their educational experience and by extension, their lives. Dani is truly a treasured member of our faculty and we therefore are honored to bestow upon him Golden Apple,” Long wrote.
After Morales spoke, a smiling Doueiri walked over to a small, battered electric piano at the front of the class. Doueiri talked of how there were 14 pianos similar to the one he got for the class, and how it was very important to share culture and music. He encouraged his class and visitors to get the pianos to schools that could not afford them.
Then Doueiri began playing “It’s a Small World” and got the entire class, as well as Morales and the visitors, to sing the first verse.
Afterward, a grateful Doueiri said, “Thank you so much everybody, thank you so much. You have all been an inspiration in my life. There are much more deserving teachers.”
As Doueiri spoke, one of his students, Mujahid Huq, smiled. “I think he deserves it, I think he’s one of most deserving faculty members in this campus.”
For an electronic image of Dany Doueiri and more information on Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Strategic Communication at (909) 537-5007 and visit news.csusb.edu.