INSIDE Chico State
0 January 31, 2002
Volume 32 Number 9
  A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico




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  Nursing’s Huston Named 2002 Outstanding Teacher

“I knew it was just a matter of time before Carol was recognized by Chico State for her achievements,” wrote Nicky McKenney, one of Carol Huston’s former students. Professor Huston was selected by the Faculty Recognition and Support Committee as Outstanding Teacher of the Year for 2001­2002.

Formerly a top-level nurse administrator at both Chico Community Hospital and Enloe Medical Center, Houston joined the nursing school faculty at CSU, Chico in 1982. She was one of seven Master Teachers for 1999­2001. In addition to teaching classes on nursing and on the health care delivery system, she has researched and designed several online courses.

One of Huston’s primary concerns as a nurse educator is the viability of the nursing profession. “The average age of nurses in this country is 47; that one fact speaks loudly of the problem. I tell nurses that they have a critical responsibility to recruit and mentor young nurses.”

Huston sees the online courses she has designed and taught as an important piece in drawing more people to the field. The courses make a profession in nursing possible for men and women of varying ages and circumstances at a time when the country faces a growing nursing shortage.

In the process of teaching online courses, Huston has become a strong supporter of online education as a teaching method. “I have discovered that I can be in much closer, one-to-one contact on a more consistent basis with my online students than I am able to be with students in classrooms. It is also easy for me to fashion opportunities for class interaction online,” Huston explained.

The positive role of the mentor in education is central to Huston’s philosophy. She co-developed CSU, Chico’s faculty mentoring program with Stephen BeMiller, Mathematics and Statistics, in 1990. She continues to treasure her own mentor, Bessie Marquis, faculty emeritus and 1991­1992 recipient of the Outstanding Teacher Award. “Bessie was my cheerleader. She always had visions for me before I had even begun to entertain them, and in her gentle way, she has urged me forward all these years.”

Huston and Marquis wrote textbooks together, taught courses in nursing management and leadership together for 15 years, and developed a four-faceted approach to teaching that is widely respected and practiced. Huston described that approach: “First, we gave up control of the classroom, lectured less, and listened a lot more. Second, we capitalized on all aspects of group process in class as much as possible. Third, we presented didactic materials that are meaningful and personalized for students in terms of their prior experience, values, goals, etc. Fourth, we made the classroom environment as safe as possible for students to engage in risk taking and problem solving.”

Marquis wrote of her colleague: “She demonstrates what is possible; she facilitates scholarly growth so that they become better than they thought they could be, a truly remarkable skill.”

Barbara Rickabaugh, R.N., M.S.N., and former student, wrote, “Huston stretches student nurses to develop and utilize their critical thinking skills while applying theoretical concepts and theory to practice. She imparts her knowledge through an uncanny ability to involve, challenge, and guide students with acceptance, confidence, wit, and credibility.”

Huston has served as a member and/or committee chair of 15 graduate student thesis committees, currently sits on five such committees, and has served on and/or chaired 31 faculty committees.

In addition to her teaching, she is the author/co-author of 11 best-selling nursing textbooks. She has also written 53 journal articles, written and administered 13 grants, and received 28 distinguished honors for her work from organizations around the world.

When asked how she has managed to meet such an enormous number of commitments with such success, she replied, “I have a wonderful life. I love everything I do. My husband and children have been wonderful sources of support all along the way. I have been fortunate to have had the unwavering encouragement and flexibility of Sherry Fox, chair of the School of Nursing.”

Huston’s ability to maintain such deep and fruitful connections to the many elements of her life is inspiring. As her student Barbara Rickabaugh said, “Carol Huston turned the lights on for me! Isn’t that what education’s all about?”

Sue Reynolds

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