Montgomery Van Wart, a professor of public administration at Cal State San Bernardino, was honored by the California State University with the system’s Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award (FILA).
Van Wart, who has taught at the Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration since 2005, was one of 19 faculty members from throughout the CSU who were honored on Oct. 17 with the FILA award for having demonstrated extraordinary leadership to advance student success at the CSU.  The recipients were honored during the annual Graduation Initiative 2025 Symposium, held this year in Sacramento.
Van Wart was recognized for improving program quality and student outcomes specifically in his leadership in online teaching.
The CSU FILA awards recognize faculty leaders who have implemented innovative practices in teaching, course design or support programs that significantly improve student outcomes. Award recipients have expertise in a wide range of disciplines from science education to public health to speech language pathology.
“These outstanding faculty consistently engage students with innovative practices and foster stimulating and equitable learning environments that support these students on their path to graduation,” said CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White. “Their commitment to deepen and enrich learning by putting students at the center of all they do is fundamental to the mission of the CSU, and is helping to transform higher education nationwide.”
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 the College Futures Foundation, who sees faculty innovation and leadership as vital to improving outcomes for California’s diverse students.
Van Wart’s leadership in online teaching is exemplified by his course Human Resource (HR) Management in the Public, which became the first online course on campus to earn a Quality Matters certification. His success and tireless advocacy for online learning inspired numerous faculty members to rethink their teaching in the online environment and to engage in meaningful professional development to become better online instructors.
Van Wart said he was deeply honored and appreciative of the recognition.
“I take pride in making sure that each class gets exactly what it needs. A class of 180 needs an outgoing instructor who is full of energy, organized, multimedia, and willing to walk up the aisles. A graduate seminar of 15 needs a low-key facilitator to elicit dialogue. An online instructor using a flipped classroom approach needs to emphasize learning by doing,” Van Wart said. “My job is not just to excite the best students, but simultaneously to encourage, prod, and stimulate students who are working full-time. A successful instructor is one who helps students find multiple paths to reach success.”
Van Wart’s innovative practices also extend to face-to-face teaching: He promoted the use of personal response systems (e-clickers) in CSUSB classrooms by collaborating with campus IT to invest in e-clickers for students to use. Faculty members on campus incorporated the use of clickers in their classrooms, with approximately 2,600 students saving $104,000 by using the campus-bought clickers rather than purchasing them. As a result of increased clicker use, students’ attendance increased by 20 percent, and all instructor evaluations increased by 0.2 points based on a 6-point scale.
“Monty finds important ways to improve student engagement and outcomes, student accessibility and provide customized resources while increasing the university’s reputation. His examples of innovation provide models that are used by his colleagues to increase the benefits for even more students,” said Anna Ya Ni, interim associate dean at the Jack Brown College. ​
Van Wart has written eight textbooks and received the Sage Cornerstone Author Award and Best Public Sector HR Book award from the American Society for Public Administration.
Van Wart served as interim dean of the Jack Brown College, where he also served as chair of the Department of Public Administration.
A selection committee comprised of faculty, student representatives from the California State Student Association and staff members from the CSU Office of the Chancellor reviewed more than 200 nominations to identify the awardees.
Read the CSU profile of Professor Montgomery Van Wart. For more information on Van Wart, visit his CSUSB webpage. Learn more about the Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration Department of Public Administration at its webpage.
For more information on Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Strategic Communication at (909) 537-5007 and visit