California State University, Fullerton

News Categories

Leaders Lauded for Student Service Excellence

Hoffman, Sotoa Honored at Western Regional NASPA Conference

Dec. 20, 2012


John L. Hoffman, right, accepts his NASPA award.

Two Cal State Fullerton education leaders, one a faculty member and the other a first-generation graduate student, have been recognized regionally for their outstanding service and contributions to students.
John L. Hoffman, assistant professor of educational leadership, who his peers and former students say “exemplifies what it means to be a mentor, leads by example and helps his students reach, and many times exceed, their expectations” is the recipient of the Sandra Kuchler Excellence in Mentoring Award. The award was presented recently in Hawaii at the 2012 Western Regional Conference of NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.
Named in honor of Sandra Kuchler, former dean of students at Cal State San Marcos, the award recognizes individuals for their ability to advocate and advise in administrative, organizational and professional matters, as well as for being an excellent role model for others.
“I’m deeply honored to receive this award. I could not have been successful without the support of many great mentors who have invested in me throughout my career, so it is especially rewarding to know that I have been able to pay that forward in some small way,” said Hoffman, who serves as director of the CSUF doctoral program in educational leadership.
Graduate education major Sammy B. Sotoa, who is pursuing a concentration in higher education, is the recipient of this year’s Region VI NASPA Graduate Rising Star Award. It recognizes a graduate student for achievement, involvement and potential in the student affairs profession. Sotoa also received a $250 scholarship.

The Fullerton resident, who is a student services assistant in the Student Life and Leadership Department at Rio Hondo College, is humbled to be honored by his student affairs peers: “While I am very proud of the work that I do, I also recognize that there are many others who dedicate their lives to the field of student affairs with the intent to educate students and help them grow both personally and professionally. I am only one example of the many amazing individuals who represent this rewarding field.
“This award truly affirms my purpose, my strengths and my abilities within the field of student affairs and also symbolizes the success of not only myself, but of those individuals who played a part in helping me attain this recognition. This award helped me realize that I, along with those who came before me, are doing something right to benefit college students.”
Hoffman of Whittier, who joined the faculty in 2008, has a decade of experience as an administrator in student and academic affairs, including coordinator of student development in the graduate program at Cal State Long Beach and seven years as a dean of students. He earned a doctorate in higher education and policy and administration and a master's degree in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota.
Along his career path, he has had many mentors who have helped him to achieve his academic and career goals. However, he counts his father, Clarence, as his first, and who began his career as a high school economics teacher and later became a successful business professional in rural Iowa. 
“He taught me countless lessons about the value of hard work, community, ethics and taking care of your students. Following in his footsteps, I earned undergraduate degrees in business and in education — and student affairs became the perfect place where I could draw on the best of both worlds,” Hoffman said.
“Never before has the transformational learning that comes with a good college degree been more important than it is today. At the same time, never has it been more costly for a student to try to earn a college degree and fail. If we are serious about both access and transformational learning, then I believe we must be serious about the role student affairs professionals play as co-educators in the academy. That’s why I’ve chosen this field as my professional home.” 
Sotoa, who earned a B.A. in business administration in 2010 at CSUF, also credits his mentors, including Hoffman, for guiding him during his college education. He plans to pursue both a master's in business administration and a doctorate in educational leadership.
“Dr. Hoffman is a man filled with abundant knowledge and has a teaching style that no one could ever replicate. In addition to a great faculty adviser, I have been blessed to have other colleagues and mentors in the field of student affairs that I absolutely admire,” Sotoa said.
In addition, Hoffman’s wife, Joy, director of Whittier College’s Cultural Center, received NASPA’s Mid-Level Professional of the Year Award.
“It was quite an honor to share the award stage with my wife, and with Sammy Sotoa, who has a bright future ahead as a student affairs professional,” added Hoffman.

By: Debra Cano Ramos, 657-278-4027

Tags:  Titan Pride