Nilufer P. Medora, a faculty member at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), has been recognized as the campus’ 2012 Outstanding Professor. The award is the university’s highest faculty honor.
Established in 1980, the Outstanding Professor Award is designed to reward and publicly acknowledge outstanding professorial performance. It is the only honor given by CSULB that recognizes excellence in three specific areas—instruction and instructionally-related activities; scholarly and creative activities, and professional service.
“I feel humbled and honored to have received this award,” said Medora, who joined CSULB’s Department of Family and Consumer Sciences as a lecturer in 1986. “I wasn’t expecting it. I don’t usually believe too much in awards. But it is always nice when the work you put in is recognized. I do really and sincerely appreciate it.”
Born in Bombay, India, Medora is a global educator who attained full professorship in 1995. She developed the Family Life Education Program, one of only two certified undergraduate programs in California, and serves as its coordinator. Her passion for international education led her to create the “International Families: Families in Cross-Cultural Perspectives” course in 1998.
Since 2007, she has conducted three short-term study abroad programs in New Zealand, and in 2008, she was CSULB’s faculty representative for CSU’s London Semester Consortium. Medora participated in the spring 2010 Semester at Sea program and will set sail again this summer.
Travel plays a big role in Medora’s success. “I love to travel,” she said. “Traveling has opened my horizons immensely. I try very hard to instill this in my students. There are so many first-generation university students on this campus, and many have never been outside of California. Many have never been on an airplane. The last time I flew with 19 students to New Zealand, half of them said they had never been out of the country before. What a way to start with a 13-hour flight. I try to instill my passion for travel and curiosity in them.”
But, it is the students who keep rekindling Medora’s passion for international education. “I can see the joy in them after they finish our program,” she said. “It’s so gratifying to me.”
Her 2010 Semester at Sea voyage pooled her talents with educators from all over the world as they journeyed from San Diego to Florida as part of the non-profit Institute for Shipboard Education program that has launched 100 voyages since 1963.
Medora saw the whole trip as one long highlight. “I can honestly say that this was the most rewarding and enriching four months of my life,” she said. “I loved working with the students and the faculty. I had to work very hard because the program kept us occupied all the time, which left very little time for class preparation, but it was well worth it. Overall, I felt that my hard work was appreciated, partly because I was voted the best professor on the ship.”
Her campus leadership includes service on the International Education and Scholarly and Creative Activities Committees, and she is a Partners for Success program faculty mentor. In 2010, she received CSULB’s 2010 Most Inspirational Professor Award, which was given to her by her students.
On the national level, Medora has served on the Journal of Marriage and Family Review and the International Journal of Sociology of the Family editorial boards. She is a National Council on Family Relations and Society for Research on Adolescence member, among others. While making community presentations on Indian marriage practices and family life, she started the Pennies for Slum Children in India project. As part of this project, she does presentations on the plight of poor children living in India. She collects change and uses the funds to buy school supplies and other necessities for elementary school children who live in dire poverty stricken conditions in Western India.
Medora is an expert in cross-cultural research who received her doctorate in family studies from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln in 1983. Her research focuses on the areas of teenage pregnancy and parenting, human sexuality, adolescent loneliness, cross-cultural family studies, dating and mate selection. She also holds two masters degrees—in human development and family studies, and child development and family studies.