Top Cal Lutheran teaching honor awarded

Professor works with students to address civic issues

Since joining the Cal Lutheran faculty in 2005, Haco Hoang has worked to engage students in experiential learning. 

Photo: Brian Stethem

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – May 30, 2019) A political science professor who sends her students into the community to study issues and advocate for solutions has received California Lutheran University’s highest teaching honor.

Political science professor Haco Hoang received the 2019 President’s Award for Teaching Excellence. The award was created in 1995 to recognize professors who are held in high esteem by their peers, students and the rest of the university community. A committee of past honorees selected her to receive the honor.

“She has an impressive record as a scholar with numerous publications and presentations, but more importantly, she’s a dedicated teacher committed to her students and their learning,” said President Chris Kimball.

Since joining the Cal Lutheran faculty in 2005, Hoang has worked to engage students in experiential learning. Her class projects require them to observe what is happening in the community, interview people, collect data and propose solutions to challenges. In her advocacy class, students learn strategies to promote change within their chosen causes. She mentors them on their research and invites them to work on her projects.

“I have learned over my nearly 20-year career that the key to teaching is building strong relationships with students, inside and outside of the classroom,” the Topanga resident said. “Without a rapport with students, it doesn’t matter how prepared I am to teach or even the course content.”

She has worked with both undergraduate and graduate students in collaborative multidisciplinary research into the neurobehavioral effects of pesticide exposure in Oxnard, farmworkers’ awareness of health-related risks, and promoting social justice in low-income communities of Ventura County, with funding from the California Wellness Foundation. She and students have presented their work together at conferences and in peer-reviewed publications. She has spent the last academic year on sabbatical working with a student to develop recommendations on improving access to health-related resources for communities exposed to pollution and other environmental risks. 

The Fulbright Scholar has extensive experience in bringing about policy change. She has worked on policies related to education, budgets, female gangs, youth civic engagement and neighborhood councils in Los Angeles. Her policy work and research have been profiled in the Women’s Policy Journal of the Harvard-Kennedy School of Government, Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education and SAGE Publications.

Born in Vietnam, Hoang immigrated to the United States with her family as a toddler in 1975 at the end of the Vietnam War. This summer, she and her husband will take their 10-year-old son to Vietnam for the first time to visit the areas where her family lived.