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Faculty Spotlight: Robert Phelps, new associate director

  • April 12, 2011

Professor Robert Phelps has been named the interim associate director for the Concord Campus.

Phelps received his B.A. from San Diego State University before completing his Ph.D. at the University of California, Riverside, in 1996. The author of numerous articles on the history of California and the American West, he joined Cal State East Bay’s faculty in 1998. He is currently an associate professor in the Department of History.

A past recipient of the Concord Campus's "Professor of the Year" award and the former chair of the Academic Senate’s Concord Campus Advisory Committee (CCAC), Phelps has taught at the Concord Campus since 1999. He was lured by the campus’s small class rooms, beautiful grounds, and unique location. Phelps was also impressed by the dedication and professionalism of the campus staff. “Branch campus staffs are relatively small, compared to their home campus, and at Concord, the staff knows you, you know them, and you always get a rapid response when you have administrative needs.”

However, Phelps states that for him, the main attraction of teaching at the Concord Campus is the students, whom he’s found exceptionally dedicated and talented. As a past CCAC Chair, Phelps is very familiar with campus statistics, and he relates his statistical knowledge to his own personal teaching experience.

The overwhelming majority of Concord Campus students are juniors and seniors, and as Phelps points out, the average age of the undergraduates he teaches is 30. Many are returning to college after some time away from school, individuals who entered the workforce straight out of high school. About 70 percent are female, many pursuing their educations while working and raising a family. The campus’s lowerclassmen are all in the pre-nursing program, most recent high school graduates who have already decided on their life’s calling. Concord Campus students are, Phelps concludes, “very serious about their education.”

Teaching students who are so committed to their goals and so passionate about excellence is truly a pleasure for Phelps. “I’ve especially enjoyed teaching the Liberal Studies Teacher Preparation cohorts,” Phelps says. “It’s really rewarding playing a role in training the next generation of teachers, on whom so much of our future depends.”

Phelps was appointed last fall. “Like most of the faculty who have taught at Concord, Phelps has “really developed a lasting affection for the campus. I’m looking forward to working with Executive Director Brizendine, and the rest of the campus staff, to solidify the programs already in place, and expand our educational presence in Contra Costa County.”  

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