14:29 PM

Psychology Professor Receives CSU Faculty Innovation Award

Cal State San Marcos psychology professor Sharon Hamill is among 25 faculty and staff members being recognized by the California State University system with Faculty Innovation and Leadership Awards for their commitment to student success, particularly in courses or areas with traditionally low success rates or persistent equity gaps. 

In this period of remarkable institutional transformation, CSU faculty and staff are at the center of innovative thinking in redesigning courses, advancing innovative student support programs, effectively using data to address equity gaps and collaborating beyond their campus boundaries to improve student outcomes. This year’s awardees are exemplary faculty and staff leaders who have implemented such innovative practices.

“The CSU’s world-class faculty continue to advance bold, creative solutions to enrich student learning, despite the daunting and unprecedented challenges facing higher education,” CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White said. “The awardees have demonstrated brilliance, ingenuity and adaptability, and their steadfast commitment to student success is at the very core of the CSU’s educational mission.”

A selection committee composed of faculty, student representatives from the Cal State Student Association and staff members from the CSU Office of the Chancellor reviewed hundreds of nominations to identify the awardees.

Awardees 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. Funding for the awards is provided by generous grant support from foundation partners.

Hamill is recognized for her leadership in palliative care education and innovative approach to raising awareness about completing advance directives for health care.

As a founding faculty director of the CSU Shiley Institute for Palliative Care at CSUSM, Hamill created and continues to direct the What Gives Your Life Meaning (WGYLM®) annual campaign. Held over the past five years, the campaign raises awareness for students, staff and faculty to advocate for their own health care, including planning for advanced directives. The campaign features guest speakers, a resource fair, films and discussion panels, and a pledge drive to increase the number of students completing advance directives.

WGYLM® allows students to take leadership in educating the community. For example, students developed a website to support children and young adults who serve as family caregivers and lead workshops on palliative care. Other projects include the St. Francis Soup Kitchen, at which students provide weekly health education to low-income and homeless diners, and the Youth Resiliency Project in which students train high school peer counselors and young caregivers in resiliency skills.

WGYLM® is now trademarked and is serving as a model for palliative care education for other institutions, including the UC San Diego hospital system. The campaign has been picked up by PBS, and other CSU campuses have also used Hamill's materials as a model for palliative care instruction and awareness.

"Dr. Hamill is a true leader and innovative thinker," said Elizabeth Matthews, interim dean of CSUSM's College of Humanities, Arts, Behavioral and Social Sciences. "Her WGYLM® campaign provides students, faculty, staff and community members guidance to advocate for their own health care. She does not shy away from the important topics in palliative care –– often issues people do not want to think about. But through her leadership, addressing the tough issues about health care and end of life becomes an easier reality for many. She is one of the most respected members of our community and an amazing asset to the CSU."

Faculty innovation is crucial to reaching the ambitious student success goals outlined in the CSU's Graduation Initiative 2025. This university-wide effort advances specific goals to eliminate equity gaps and significantly improve degree completion.