August 20, 2007

By Wendy Soderburg, UCLA Today

Jennifer Tooley and Charles CorbettCharles Corbett is totally perplexed as to why he won the UCLA Staff Assembly's 2007 Faculty/Staff Partnership Award - which is exactly why this associate professor of operations and environmental management deserved to win it.

The award honors a faculty member who has shown a commitment to the values of collaboration and collegiality by developing partnerships with staff. Yet when staff members in six different departments of the Anderson School of Management, where he teaches, enthusiastically endorsed Corbett for the award, he couldn't figure out why.

"When I first heard about the award, I wasn't sure how to react," Corbett said. "I enjoy working with people, but I never had the sense that I was actively building a partnership. It seems like you should be doing something a lot bigger, or more lasting, than just being collegial."

The staff members who nominated Corbett, though, would say his idea of "collegial" is far above the norm. Jennifer Maldonado Tooley, program manager for the Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, interacts regularly with Corbett through their work on an outreach program called Management Development for Entrepreneurs. Tooley manages this program for owners of small and medium-sized businesses; Corbett teaches one of the courses.

"It's my responsibility to get students prepared once they've been accepted. So I work with the faculty members to get advance readings and homework materials," Tooley said. "Charles provides not only the traditional bulleted list of required readings, he also outlines why each item is valuable and how each reading will be used in lecture. This makes my job of preparing entrepreneurs for the classroom much easier and provides much appreciated support to the participants."

Mary Ann Lowe, contributing editor of Assets magazine, listed three ways in which Corbett develops good working partnerships: "First, he is very cooperative. When Charles helps me with my articles, he understands that it's to benefit the school. Second, I have always seen him treat everyone with respect and courtesy. He is a gentleman in the very best sense of the word. And third, he is supportive of his co-workers. He not only compliments me on my work, he makes sure other key people are aware of my work as well."

The soft-spoken Corbett, born in Britain, speaks with a slight accent that he attributes to his years growing up in the Netherlands. "I think the existence of the Faculty/Staff Partnership Award is wonderful, although I don't feel I'm the right role model for it," he said, laughing. "At the same time, I do believe very strongly in collegiality across the board, so if the award helps to foster that atmosphere across the campus, then I think it's a great thing.

"But it feels a lot like getting an award for doing what you should be doing anyway!"

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