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Associate Professor Nelson Graff Receives Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award

SEASIDE, Calif., August 26, 2019 – California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) Communications Across the Disciplines associate professor Nelson Graff was one of 19 faculty across the California State University (CSU) system to be awarded the Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award.

The award honors faculty who have demonstrated extraordinary leadership to advance student success at the CSU. Graff is recognized for implementing the Reading Apprenticeship (RA) framework in courses across disciplines at CSUMB.

Since his first year on campus in 2015, Graff has centered reading practice as a foundation of education at CSUMB. As a response to assessments identifying reading as the most significant hurdle encountered by students, Graff brought the RA program to multiple disciplines on campus, including First-Year Seminar and freshman mathematics and statistics.

Graff transformed reading and written communication instruction when he created CSUMB's two semester “stretch" course, incorporating RA routines and strategies. Following the CSU's elimination of non-credit bearing remedial writing courses, Graff's stretch model proved to be successful, with all students of various levels of academic preparation passing the course at the same rate.

Graff's efforts have already shown a positive impact on student success: In fall 2018, pass rates for students enrolled in the co-requisite, credit-bearing support courses were 2 to 6% higher than students who had been enrolled in the remedial course during the prior semester, suggesting that the credit-bearing, co-requisite support course was more effective than the non-credit ​bearing remedial course that was eliminated by EO 1110.​

Awardees receive $5,000, as well as $10,000 allocated to their academic department in support of ongoing innovation and leadership to advance student success at the CSU. Funding for the awards is provided by generous grant support from the College Futures Foundation, who sees faculty innovation and leadership as vital to improving outcomes for California's diverse students.

“These outstanding faculty consistently engage students with innovative practices and foster stimulating and equitable learning environments that support these students on their path to graduation," said CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White. “Their commitment to deepen and enrich learning by putting students at the center of all they do is fundamental to the mission of the CSU, and is helping to transform higher education nationwide."

Faculty innovation is crucial to reaching the ambitious student success goals outlined in the CSU's Graduation Initiative 2025. This university-wide effort advances specific goals to eliminate equity gaps and significantly improve degree completion.

Award recipients will be formally honored in mid-October at the upcoming fourth-annual Graduation Initiative 2025 Symposium, hosted this year in Sacramento, California.