President Honors Professor Elizabeth Matthews

Professor Elizabeth Matthews with President Haynes Professor Elizabeth Matthews with President Karen Haynes at the 2014 Outstanding Faculty and Staff Awards Reception.

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Dr. Elizabeth Matthews, associate professor of political science, receives the 2014 "Harry E. Brakebill Distinguished Professor Award."

Dr. Matthews’ passion for teaching, for her students and for humanity is clearly evident in her work. She came to CSUSM in 2007, and three years later was honored with the President’s Award for Teaching Innovation and Excellence for her ability to cover complex and often difficult themes such as genocide and international relations in a manner that encourages thoughtful consideration and discussion of the material.

She is the co-director of the global studies program and has led its growth from 12 students to nearly 80. Dr. Matthews has worked tirelessly to secure grants and other funding for the program. She also offers extended mentoring, drop-in support sessions and feedback on graduate school statements of purpose for alumni.

Dr. Matthews’ students regularly cite her passion for and unique approach to teaching global studies for inspiring them to look at the world differently.

“Her classes were difficult,” said one student. “She makes you look at material beyond the surface and gives you a platform for voicing your thoughts, supported by the evidence as you see it.”

It is that fostering of a respectful classroom environment that has earned Dr. Matthews additional praise from students and faculty alike, considering the uncomfortable topics often studied. She routinely mentions the value of differing opinions and backgrounds and asks students to share their ideas and their experiences. 

Throughout her time at Cal State San Marcos, Dr. Matthews has, in addition to guiding and advising numerous students and alumni, taught ten separate courses, including seven new preparations. She is always, as a former student said, “pushing you to your limit…to become a better student.”  Her colleagues would say she does the same for them, challenging faculty to create student-centered, innovative pedagogy.

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