Carol Casten: 2014 Excellence in Service

Carole CastenIf there’s a committee, task force, or project at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH), or within her academic department or professional community, professor of kinesiology and recreation Carole Casten has more than likely been on it, maybe more than once.

That happens with 42 years in your profession—35 at CSUDH— but it’s also just Casten’s way.

“I required myself to do it,” Casten said. “I’m self-driven and I really enjoy being involved.”

In other words, Casten likes to be active, which is perfect for someone who started out as a physical education and dance teacher and now is an expert in the pedagogy of physical education who has written five textbooks on the subject.

It wasn’t a path Casten had sought for herself when she started college at University of California, Los Angeles. She wanted to be a dancer, but upon her mother’s concern that dance was an impractical career choice, Casten chose to double major in dance and elementary education. She eventually transferred to Purdue University and got her bachelor’s degree in physical education, health and elementary education to “keep my options open.”

“It just turned out to be a true blessing in disguise that I moved into the education focus,” said Casten, who would go on to get her master’s from Purdue and a doctorate in physical education and dance administration from the University of Southern California.

At the behest of emeritus professor of physical education and recreation Rob Pestolesi, Casten came to Dominguez Hills in 1979 after teaching in Indiana for five years, and at Redondo Union High School and part-time at EL Camino College upon her return to southern California from Indiana. She joined the then-named physical education department as a lecturer, working her way to full professor.

At CSUDH, she found her place.

“I like the environment here, I like the students, the faculty, the administration. I like the culture of Cal State University, Dominguez Hills,” she said, describing it as “caring, helpful and meaningful.”

Through the years, Casten has certainly contributed to that culture.

She has served on the Academic Senate, including as vice chair, the Leaves and Honors Committee, and Technology Advisory Council,  college and departmental retention, tenure and promotion and curriculum committees, and faculty and administrative search committees, just to name a few. For many years she served as adviser to her department’s student club, taking them to conferences, where they often would win awards, and as adviser to a mentoring program that coined the phrase “Touch the Future, Be a Teacher.”

“I’ve spent many, many, many, many extra hours during the week, at night, weekends, vacations to help our students,” Casten said. “I thought it was the right thing to do to help our students as much as I could.”

Outside the university, she has held numerous offices in professional organizations, including as the first female president of the Western Society for Kinesiology and Wellness, and been active presenting at conferences. She also serves as the director of physical education and athletics at California Academy of Math and Science, the high school on campus, where she developed the physical education curriculum and earned an award from Arnold Schwarzenegger, then chair of the Governor’s Council of Physical Fitness and Sport.

“It’s been very important to me throughout my professional life that I can walk my talk,” she said.

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