Celebrated for her effective blend of kindness and rigor as an instructor, along with making notable contributions to campus culture, Cal State San Bernardino lecturer of Korean Bomi Hwang has been named the university’s 2020-21 Outstanding Lecturer.

Hwang, a CSUSB alumna, was surprised with the news April 7 at the start of a virtual meeting of Korean Language and Culture in the College of Arts and Letters as CSUSB President Tomás D. Morales and about 70 colleagues joined via Zoom screen to honor her.

“This is a very special occasion, and we’re here to present to you the 2020-21 Outstanding Lecturer Award,” Morales said. “You’re receiving this award based on your exceptional instruction capacity to engage your students and just the incredible feedback that the committee received from those students that you have touched, that you have taught.”

“You’re kind, patient, but you know how to push your students, and you have inspired your students to reach extraordinary heights,” Morales said. “I just want to say to you that this award is so well-deserved.”

Traditionally, recipients learn they’ve been named CSUSB Outstanding Lecturer during a surprise visit to their classroom or lab made by the president and well-wishers including university leaders, previous award winners, faculty and staff. During virtual instruction offered throughout the pandemic, the surprise announcement has been delivered remotely during class sessions where students are also on hand to help honor the awardee.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Shari McMahan praised Hwang’s efforts beyond the classroom to help build bridges to the Korean culture.

“I really want to commend and thank you for the opportunities that you’ve brought to our campus and the larger community to better understand the Korean culture,” McMahan said. “These colorful and interactive events have allowed us to experience Korean culture through arts, food and performances, and they foster diversity and inclusion and help to cultivate knowledge of our students, our faculty and staff so they thrive and contribute to a globally connected society … Our campus community is very fortunate to have you as part of our Coyote family.”

Rueyling Chuang, dean of the College of Arts & Letters, thanked her for her work with students.

“You really help enrich our students’ experiences. You really truly transform their lives,” Chaung said. “Bomi, you are a wonderful, very meticulous instructor, and you’re also a great educator, a great artist. You’re just all around a very wonderful person. I also would like to thank you for your contributions to our Asian Faculty, Staff and Student Association.”

When it was her turn to talk, Hwang was still stunned by the surprise announcement.

“I’m shocked. I didn’t expect this at all, but it’s good to see you all and thank you so very much for the kind words about myself and what I do. It means a lot to me, and it means a lot to my students as well,” Hwang said. “I’m really, really humbled and honored to be selected to receive this award. I’ll take it as I just have to keep going and keep doing what I like to do. I enjoy being with my students. They inspire me, literally they inspire me. I learn so much from them.” 

As Outstanding Lecturer, Hwang will receive a $1,000 faculty development grant, recognition at the College of Arts and Letters Commencement ceremony and during the annual Faculty Recognition Luncheon.

In a nomination letter to Morales, 2020-21 University Awards Committee co-chairs Kimberly Cousins and Dany Doueiri said Hwang’s consistent record for quality teaching, along with active involvement in enriching the student learning experience outside the classroom, set her candidacy apart. “She is a true embodiment of CSUSB’s core mission in promoting excellence in global education at all levels,” they wrote in their recommendation to the president, noting the success of the Korean Cultural Club and annual Korean Festival among students of diverse backgrounds.

One faculty colleague observed that although none of its members are native Korean speakers, under Hwang’s leadership as advisor to the Korean Cultural Club, it ranks among the most vibrant student organizations on campus. A student described her special mix of attributes, saying: “... She is extremely kind and patient, but she also knows how to push her students hard enough to get them to do what they never thought they would be capable of achieving.”

Hwang began lecturing at CSUSB in 2013. The university’s sole instructor of the Korean language, she has been instrumental in growing the program since its inception. Not only has she developed and taught all its 12 courses – from beginning Korean to Korean Literature in English – she participated directly in the program’s Quarter to Semester transition and transformation. Additionally, Hwang played a critical role in the Department of World Languages and Literatures’ Summer Language Intensive Program and the Directed Language Study initiative.

She serves as principal investigator of a $400,000 Korea Foundation Grant, overseeing annual disbursements to grantees. She is also a member of the Asian Pacific Islander Committee and the governing board of the Asian Faculty, Staff, and Students Association and a past advisory board member and vice president for the Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art.

Hwang is a two-time recipient of the CSUSB Award for Exceptional Services to Students (2019-20; 2018-19) and Professional Life Award (2019-20; 2018-19).

Along with Cousins, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry and chair of the CSUSB Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Doueiri, a world languages and literatures professor, members of the 2020-21 University Awards Committee are: Thomas Girshin, associate professor of English; Jay Fiene, professor of education leadership & technology and former dean of the College of Education; Crystal Huang, associate professor of management; Christopher Gentry, associate professor of kinesiology; and Richard Samuelson, associate professor of history.