Professor Wassmer wins public policy award for academic excellence

Rob Wassmer Photo by Steve McKayRobert Wassmer, Ph.D., Sacramento State Professor of Public Policy and Administration, Director of the Master’s Program in Urban Land Development, and Doctorate in Educational Leadership faculty member, is the winner of the 2017 Chester A. Newland Academic Excellence award from the Sacramento Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration.

The award is presented to a college student, teacher, administrator, or organization who has demonstrated scholarship and leadership in public administration or a closely related field of study, or has made a noteworthy contribution to the education of public administrators. The awards will be presented at the ASPA Annual Dinner on May 4.



Governor appoints EdD Alumnus to Community College Board of Governors

phanGov. Jerry Brown has appointed Man Phan, Ed.D., a cohort 4 alumnus of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership program, to the California Community Colleges Board of Governors.

His two-year term ends January 15, 2019. He is a faculty member at Cosumnes River College in Elk Grove, working directly with our students as a professor of business and marketing since 2012.

“We are thrilled the governor has selected Man Phan to join the Board of Governors,” said CCC Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley in a statement. “Man is highly regarded by colleagues and students alike and is dedicated to our system’s mission of expanding access, improving graduation rates and increasing our students’ social mobility. He will be a strong leader for our system and advocate for our 2.1 million students. I am pleased to welcome him to our board.”

In addition to Phan’s work at Cosumnes River College, he was a business development manager at Steinberg Architects from 2008 to 2012 and at Carrier Johnson and Culture from 2004 to 2008. Phan also served as a legislative assistant with the San Diego County Board of Supervisors from 2001 to 2003 and the San Diego City Council in 1998. Prior to receiving his doctorate at Sacramento State, Phan earned a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of San Diego School of Business.

Outstanding dissertations showcased April 7

Honoring the authors of three outstanding dissertations completed as part of the requirements for the Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.) degree, the College of Education and the College of Social Sciences & Interdisciplinary Studies will host the Fourth Annual Outstanding Dissertation Showcase Panel from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, April 7, in the Foothill Suite of the University Union. The event showcases the critical research being done by doctoral candidates and graduates, and is open to the public.

The 2016 awardees are: Rachelle Cypher, Ed.D.; Jeffrey Mrizek, Ed.D.; and Joseph Williams, Ed.D. Dissertations were chosen based on the quality of the research design, the written analysis and summary, and the potential of the dissertation results to transform schools or colleges.

RachelleFoxDr. Cypher’s dissertation, “An Analysis of How Teacher Education Programs Prepare Teachers to Meet the Instructional Needs of English Learners,” which found that more is needed than just “good teaching” preparation if teachers are to enter the classroom able to understand how to instruct English learners.

Dr. Rachelle Cypher worked at the Center for Teacher Quality for ten years analyzing survey data regarding teacher preparation at the university level. After completing her dissertation, she wanted to learn more about the K-12 system and accepted a position as Coordinator of Research and Data at Natomas Unified School District. Still in her first year at NUSD, she is excited to continue sharing her dissertation findings with site and district leaders to help close the achievement gap.

JeffreyMrizekIn the research for his dissertation, “Assessing Collective Impact for the Emergence of Competency Based Statewide ‘Public to Public’ Civil Service Career Pathways,” Dr. Mrizek found that a shared meaning of “career readiness” through policy and curriculum alignment is still needed to form competency-based career pathways as a strategy to overcome the growing skills gap due to the rising tide of retiring Baby Boomers.

Dr. Jeffrey Mrizek is a passionate educational leader focused on developing all student’s competency to both teach and learn for social mobility and success in the 21st Century workforce. His unique experiences as a civil service manager, professor, and entrepreneur supports his leadership calling to act as a systems integrator. As Dean of Career Technical Education for the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, where he leads the internal operations, a team of grant monitors, develops educational policy, and ensures prudent fiscal management of the Workforce Economic Development Division’s $900 million budget of State and Federal funds.

Joseph Williams

Joseph Williams, Ed.D., in “California Superintendents: Leading District-Wide Change to Advance Student Success,” examined the leadership training gaps of California Superintendents and recommended policy changes that must be made to better prepare California school leaders to engage the change process and advance student success.

Dr. Joseph Williams is the Founding Principal of Benjamin Holt Middle School in Stockton, CA. As founding principal, his school will continue to experience growth, which includes two sections of students for the next two years. With this growth also comes leading a growing staff and an expanding campus that is still undergoing construction. Joseph is currently working on writing a book review for the Teacher’s College Record at Columbia University and hopes to expand upon his dissertation when things gradual slow down with the number of challenges that accompany leading a new school.

Read more about the outstanding dissertations and RSVP.

Debate Series: Charters and Vouchers

Sac State Debate: Charters and Vouchers are the answer

The Doctorate in Educational Leadership program at Sacramento State will host a Cambridge-style debate at 6-7:30 p.m. on March 20 in the University Union Hinde Auditorium. The debate will be live-streamed on Facebook at

The motion: “Charters and Vouchers are the Answer”

FOR the motion: Chris Stewart, Director of Outreach and External Affairs, Education Post

AGAINST the motion: Julian Vasquez Heilig, Professor of Education Leadership and Policy Studies, Sacramento State

Moderated by Kitty Kelly Epstein, host of the Education Today radio program on KPFA.

Dr. Vasquez Heilig is a Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and the Director of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership program at Sacramento State. He serves as the California NAACP Education Chair and blogs at Cloaking Inequity, consistently rated one of the top 50 education websites in the world by Teach100.

Chris Stewart is Director of Outreach and External Affairs for Education Post, a nonprofit publication covering public schools. He blogs at Citizen Ed, a weekly education reader. He is a former executive director of the African American Leadership Forum and has served on the Minneapolis Public Schools Board of Education.

Moderator Kitty Kelly Epstein has a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley and is the author of A Different View of Urban Schools: Civil Rights, Critical Race Theory, and Unexplored Realities. She previously served as Education Director for Oakland Mayor Ronald Dellums and now hosts Education Today, a bi-weekly radio program on KPFA.

Sac State study of dropouts identifies contributing factors

screen-shot-2017-03-03-at-4-28-11-pmWhat causes students to drop out of college? Is it mental health concerns, finances, social pressures, health concerns, keeping up with coursework, the demands of family and work, or a combination?

Suspecting that personal and academic factors play a large role, researchers at California State University, Sacramento (Sacramento State) spoke with former students to identify specific reasons many are leaving the university, either temporarily or permanently.

Searching for insight that could lead to new policies to help prevent students from dropping out and increase their odds of success, the researchers reached out to 14,000 former undergraduates who disenrolled either permanently or temporarily between 2009-2015. Personal interviews and focus groups were conducted with 549 former students from Spring 2015 through Fall 2016.

“It is our hope Sacramento State uses the captured sentiment, voices, and suggestions of student participants to improve degree completion, particularly among the most vulnerable students,” said the report, co-authored by Dr. Carlos Nevarez, Ph.D., and doctoral candidate Katrina Pimentel. “Illuminating Personal Factors Contributing to the Trajectory of Student Dropouts and Stopouts” was published in Volume 6.1 of the Journal of Transformative Leadership and Policy Studies.

The first of two reports from the study examined the students’ mental health, economic, social, and health concerns. The second report focuses on the academic factors leading to student dropout and stopout.


Nearly half of the students (47%) indicated that they almost always to frequently felt overwhelmed, which may be attributed to not having the correct information or guidance to help them prepare for college. Such students rarely took advantage of support services available on campus, perhaps because they didn’t know about them.

Twenty percent of the students said that they frequently or almost always worried about their mental health, with 21 percent occasionally worried. Estimates on the prevalence of mental health issues on college campuses are as high as 30 percent. The authors recommended taking steps to reduce the stigma of seeking care for mental health issues and scaling up mental health related services.

Depression, and to a lesser degree suicide, also need to be addressed with efforts to make students aware of counseling and wellness services, and by training faculty and staff to recognize the warning signs.

While the majority of study participants were neutral to very satisfied with their financial aid, 14 percent did have enough trouble receiving sufficient aid that they were unable to cover their living expenses and tuition. Notably, 42 percent of the students reported that their jobs interfered with their studies, making it difficult for them to stay on track academically. Offering more courses in the evenings and on weekends, or online, as well as child care, were recommended, as was encouraging faculty to offer working students more flexibility in meeting class requirements.

Loneliness and other concerns about their social life were less of a problem for the students, but more than half (58%) admitted worrying about family issues that made it difficult to concentrate on their studies. The majority of study participants said they never or rarely used alcohol or drugs, which could be attributed to their age or the university’s strict policies.

The authors said they recognize Sacramento State has made deliberate efforts to provide effective mental health services to students. This report confirms the need to continue extending campus-wide efforts to support students in distress. This study makes it clear the primary reason students are dropping out and stopping out. It is not for academic reasons—it has to do with students’ mental/emotional health, said Dr. Nevarez.

The full report is available at, under the JTLPS Journal tab.







JTLPS Journal launch party March 8

screen-shot-2017-03-02-at-12-31-15-pmThe Sacramento State Doctorate in Educational Leadership is pleased to invite you to the Journal of Transformative Leadership & Policy Studies Issue 6.1 Launch Party at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 8 in the University Union Walnut Room.

Please RSVP here.

The journal, sponsored by the California State University’s Chancellor’s Office and the system’s 16 Education Doctorate programs, publishes peer-reviewed studies for the educational leadership and policy community in California and beyond.

We invite you to join the doctoral community and editors of the Journal as they launch the latest issue. The event also honors the contributions of Dr. Juliana Raskauskas, co-author of one of the issue’s reviewed books on the topic of bullying.

For any questions, please contact the Doctorate in Educational Leadership at or call (916) 278-2282.

Free events for Equity Week March 1-3

Students, faculty and guests are invited to three events March 1-3 during an Equity Week hosted by the Doctorate in Educational Leadership.

Wednesday, March 1
Brown Bag Lunch Series: Rose Borunda
Noon-1 pm, Eureka Hall 223
Based on the doctoral dissertations of Fermin Irigoyen and Viridiana Diaz, this free bilingual story download tells of several families’ experience with the educational system in the United States. Dr. Borunda will provide an overview of the story and the elements that are critical for families to know so they can, in turn, promote their children’s success.


Thursday, March 2
Free movie screening: “Stolen Education”
5:30-7:30 pm, Solano Hall 1010
“Stolen Education” documents the untold story of Mexican-American school children who challenged discrimination in Texas schools in the 1950’s and changed the face of education in the Southwest. This event is co-sponsored by Dr. Enrique Alemán Jr., the President’s Office, the Serna Center and the Doctorate in Educational Leadership.

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Friday, March 3

One World Initiative Speaker Christine Sleeter
2-3:30 pm, Mariposa Hall 1000
“Global Perspectives on Inheritance”
Christine Sleeter, Professor Emerita in the College of Professional Studies at California State University, Monterey Bay, will discuss her novel, “White Bread,” a multifaceted work in Critical Multiculturalism and Ethnic Studies through the lens of one teacher’s journey. Presented by One World Initiative at Sacramento State.


Friday, March 3

Leaders in Education Speaker Series: Darrick Hamilton

5-6 pm, Mariposa Hall 1001
In “The Political Economy of Race and Education: Why Economic Disparity Persists Even for High Achieving Black Americans,” equity expert Darrick Hamilton, Director of the Doctoral Program in Public and Urban Policy at The Milano School of International Affairs, The New School in New York, will discuss how paternalism and public policy negatively impacts poor and black Americans.


Faculty, student and alumni perspectives about the Sacramento State Doctorate in Educational Leadership Program