Five recipients from CSUSM are among the 2011-12 honorees selected for CSU Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive, a unique forgivable loan program for students who demonstrate strong interest in applying and competing for CSU instructional faculty positions after completion of their doctoral degree.

This year’s CSUSM awardees, along with the focus of their doctoral study and CSU faculty mentor, include April Anderson (English, mentored by Dr. Susie Lan Cassel), Elvira Dominguez-Gomez (Nursing, mentored by Dr. Denise Boren), Holly Gerrity (Political Science, mentored by Dr. Elizabeth Matthews), Gina Merchant (Public Health, mentored by Dr. Kimberley Pulvers and Dr. Marie Thomas), and Tom Springer (Computer Science, mentored by Dr. Rocio Guillen).

The largest program of its kind in the nation, the Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program received 85 applications for the academic year, of which CSU Chancellor Charles Reed approved 60 candidates for the forgivable loan program.

Established in 1987, the purpose of the program is to increase the pool of doctoral applicants with the qualifications, motivation and skills to teach the diverse student population within the 23-campus system. As of July 2010 the elite program has loaned more than $40 million to 1,826 doctoral students. Nearly 1,000 of these participants have already successfully earned doctoral degrees, and subsequently 60 percent obtained CSU faculty positions.

“Teaching at a CSU campus is more appealing to me than teaching at a private liberal studies university,” said Anderson, who earned her Master of Arts in Literature and Writing from Cal State San Marcos in May. “I want to be able to help students from diverse or disadvantaged backgrounds pursue their dreams of higher education, and in turn make a difference in their communities and the world.”

The first awardees from CSUSM to receive the prestigious distinction as a program recipient were Guillermo Jimenez and Carlos Ulloa, who began their doctoral study in 1994. Since then, more than 35 CSUSM alumni and part-time instructors have been accepted into the forgivable loan program, with 2011-12 being the largest awarded year.

Although awarded by CSU, the highly competitive program does not require applicants to be CSU graduates. The program application is open to all new or continuing full-time graduate students enrolled in a doctoral program at any accredited university within the United States, with the caveat that all candidates must have a CSU faculty advisor. The aim of the advisory mentorship is to help a student become more familiar with the internal workings of higher education institutions and the faculty labor market, in addition to supporting the student in his or her doctoral study.

“I want to make higher education teaching my career,” said doctoral incentive recipient Tom Springer, who has worked for Boeing for more than 20 years developing avionics software for NASA’s space shuttle program. While employed as an engineer, Springer has also been teaching computer science courses at CSUSM as an adjunct faculty member since 1995.

“While I feel a definite sense of accomplishment knowing that every time a shuttle flies it’s due in part to the software I helped develop,” he added, “it is something altogether different to know that I have made a difference in someone’s life through teaching.”

Springer and School of Nursing lecturer Elvira Dominguez-Gomez are both part-time instructors at CSUSM and are among the five recipients admitted into the forgivable loan program. Both are on track to compete for a position as a full-time faculty member after completing their respective doctorates.

Through the forgivable loan program, graduate students may borrow up to $10,000 per year, with a maximum of $30,000 awarded within a five-year period. Students who complete their doctoral studies and obtain a full-time teaching position within in the CSU system will have their loans forgiven at the rate of 20 percent for each year of instruction; those who do not obtain a CSU faculty position are required to repay the loan at an interest rate comparable to other graduate student loans. After five years of full time faculty service, the entire loan amount is forgiven.

To learn more about applying for the Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive, contact the CSUSM Office of Graduate Studies and Research at 760-750-4066.

The largest program of its kind in the nation, the Chancellor’s Doctoral Incentive Program received 85 applications for the academic year, of which CSU Chancellor Charles Reed approved 60 candidates for the forgivable loan program.