Physics professor, MESA adviser Dr. Nick Arnold receives state award

Dan Nelson

A City College Engineering professor was awarded the Stanback-Stroud Diversity Award, which acknowledges teachers’ abilities to go above and beyond their traditional obligations.

Dr. Nick Arnold, a seven-year Engineering professor who brought the Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement program, or MESA, to the college, was told he won the award on Feb. 18. The award recognizes teachers involved with specific activities, programs or projects on campus that accommodate a diverse body of students.

“It feels good to be acknowledged for doing all this hard work,” Arnold said. “It’s nice that other people on campus are aware of it. It puts me into the category of all those people that do so much.”

After Arnold was informed of the honor, he attended a conference on diversity to discuss the award at the Academic Senate of California Community Colleges.He learned that he was chosen as the award recipient by what he said was a “large margin.”

Arnold said he scrambled to rearrange his schedule, so he could maintain his classes and still attend the conference.

“I think that a student’s success cannot go without recognizing the help that is given by their professors,” said Elizabeth Tafoya, a Mechanical Engineering major who has taken Arnold’s Engineering 101 and 105 classes. “Dr. Arnold is one of those instructors that you look back on with gratitude for lending a hand during a rough time and like a great teacher, he inspires his students.

“Dr. Arnold is an instructor who likes to take his classroom and turn it into a comfortable learning environment for his students,” she said.

Along with the MESA program, which Arnold said “tries to help educationally disadvantaged students to succeed in the challenging majors of Engineering, Mathematics, and Science,” Arnold started the Engineering 102 class. It offers students help on the work done in Math 138, 150 and 160.

He has also created a teaching process that he incorporates into all of his classes, called “active learning.”

Arnold said it helps students pay attention and absorb the material.

“It means me not talking for more than 15 minutes at a time,” he said. “That is what’s considered to be the average attention span before people just start losing interest.”

Arnold will formally accept the award on April 16 at the Spring Plenary Session in San Francisco.