Psychology professor recognized for creating teaching practices that promote inclusive classrooms

August 31, 2020
Matthew Paolucci Callahan

Professor Matthew Paolucci Callahan is in his 11th year teaching at Sonoma State and is also Faculty Fellow for Teaching and Learning at the university’s Center for Teaching and Educational Technology.

By Nate Galvan | 

A Sonoma State University psychology professor has been recognized by the CSU for improving teaching practices to close equity gaps and promote success for all students.

Matthew Paolucci Callahan, Ph.D., is one of 22 CSU faculty who have been awarded a Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award, which recognizes faculty who are leading the way to improve student outcomes in courses with traditionally low success rates or persistent equity gaps.

"Sonoma State is fortunate to have Professor Paolucci Callahan’s talent, dedication, and enthusiastic advocacy on behalf of our students and faculty,” said President Judy K. Sakaki. “I look forward to the innovative work this award will fund.”

Callahan, who is in his 11th year of teaching at Sonoma State, is also Faculty Fellow for Teaching and Learning at the university’s Center for Teaching and Educational Technology. The center supports faculty in their professional development as teachers, innovators and scholars of education. Callahan has conducted workshops for faculty on implicit gender bias and how to modify teaching practices to improve the classroom climate for underrepresented STEM students.

“In his role as Faculty Fellow, Dr. Paolucci Callahan works creatively across disciplines to promote forward-thinking connections between pedagogy, course design, and student success,” said Karen Moranski, interim provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. “He is a truly compassionate leader, providing individual attention that ensures faculty and student success in a variety of teaching modes. In spring and summer 2020 his contributions were transformative as he coached faculty to develop high quality, student-centered, equitable remote instruction. We are proud to honor him for his efforts.”

Callahan said the award is meaningful because of the type of work it celebrates — removing barriers to student success. Callahan said he was severely bullied in high school because of his sexuality, which made it impossible for him to focus on his studies, leaving him with limited options for college. He went to Salem State University in Massachusetts, a public teaching university much like SSU, Callahan said, and a place where he finally thrived.

“My professors became my mentors,” Callahan said. “That experience at Salem State is the reason for where I am now. When I joined SSU I vowed that I would do all I could to reach out and connect with students so that SSU can be a transformative experience for them too."

Faculty Innovation and Leadership Awardees will 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.

Callahan said he hopes the funds given to the Psychology department will be used to support student research opportunities, such as going to conferences. The money can help remove barriers so that those who want to go can do so without financial burden. 

As far as the award given to Callahan, he said he would like to purchase artwork from the Hawaian Islands, a place he and his partner Jeff love to visit but can't this year because of COVID-19. He would like to support the islands by purchasing original work from local artisans, he added.

For more information on the CSU’s Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award, and to see all this year’s awardees, visit the CSU

Media Contact

Nathanael Galvan