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  • Professor Khan's innovation, leadership earn CSU recognition


    Sacramento State Professor Ghazan Khan, one of 19 faculty members throughout the CSU system honored with a Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award for 2019, calls his job "one of the best and most worthwhile in the world." (Photo courtesy of Ghazan Khan)

    By Dixie Reid

    Ghazan Khan, associate professor of Civil Engineering, has received a prestigious 2019 Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award from the California State University (CSU) Chancellor’s Office.

    Khan is one of just 19 faculty from the 23 CSU campuses to be honored for extraordinary leadership in boosting student achievement. The CSU employs 27,000 faculty.

    The Chancellors Office announced the award winners Monday, Aug. 26.

    “I am truly humbled by this award,” said Khan, who teaches in the College of Engineering and Computer Science. “I feel blessed to have the opportunity to play a part in the development and success of future generations of civil engineers.

    “Watching students learn, grow, and succeed on campus and then in ‘real life’ makes my job one of the best and most worthwhile in the world.”

    Award recipients each receive a $5,000 cash prize, with an additional $10,000 allocated to each recipient’s academic department to support ongoing innovation meant to engender student success. Funding for the awards comes from a College Futures Foundation grant.

    The 19 FILA recipients will be recognized during the fourth annual Graduation Initiative Symposium, scheduled for October in Sacramento.

    Khan’s teaching and research are concentrated on transportation engineering, traffic operations and safety, statistics, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

    During the Spring 2019 semester, Khan assigned the 121 students in his transportation engineering courses to evaluate Olli, the autonomous vehicles that operated as transportation shuttles on campus for three months. The Olli test project hinted at possible solutions for institutions such as Sac State considering how to reduce their carbon footprint.

    Related story: "Despite wrinkles, Olli experiment judged a success"

    Before arriving at Sac State in 2013, Khan worked as a researcher at the Traffic Operations and Safety (TOPS) Laboratory, at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

    FILA recognizes individuals such as Khan who have implemented innovative practices in teaching, course design, or support programs that significantly improve student outcomes.

    Hakan Ozcelik, a College of Business Administration professor, was one of 26 CSU faculty to receive a 2018-19 FILA.

    The 2019 award recipients have a broad range of expertise, from science education, to public health, to speech-language pathology.

    “These outstanding faculty consistently engage with students with innovative practices, and (they) foster stimulating and equitable learning environments that support these students on their path to graduation,” CSU Chancellor Timothy White said.

    Sac State colleagues offered praise for Khan and his work:

    • “Professor Khan represents everything we look for in our faculty. We are proud to work alongside him and look forward to seeing what he can accomplish in the future.” – Steve Perez, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.
    • “Dr. Khan is an innovative curricular leader and an untiring advocate for student success.” – Ben Fell, professor and chair of the Civil Engineering Department.
    • “His work has paved the way for continuing innovative practices required to improve student success, and his peers have demonstrably benefited from his excellent leadership.” – Masoud Ghodrat Abadi, assistant professor of Transportation Engineering.

    FILA honorees were picked by a selection committee made up of faculty, staff from the Chancellor’s Office, and representatives of the California State Student Association. The committee reviewed more than 200 nominations. The 19 honorees included a two-person faculty team.

    “As much as for my personal efforts,” Khan said, “this award is a recognition of the tremendous support I have received from my mentors and colleagues in the department and the college, in addition to the inspiration I derive every day from our incredible students.”

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