Stephanie Sterling Brasley became library dean in 2014. Photo courtesy.
By Andrea Espinoza, Staff Reporter
Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series on CSUDH’s nominees for the Wang Family Excellence Awards. In two weeks: Dr. Ximena Cid, who was a nominee for outstanding faculty innovator.
Stephanie Sterling Brasley had always been encouraged to be a life-long learner, to strive for excellence and not perfection. One of her great aunts had become the first Black certified public accountant in the state of Oklahoma. She also had other family members who became educators and taught at one level or another. Brasley in no way doubted that she would follow their path and become an educator herself. But she never considered it.
“It seemed like they just went to meetings. But I said, ‘ok this looks like something that I might really enjoy doing’ because it still allowed me to pursue my passion for teaching and connecting with students,” Brasley said.
But one fateful conversation with a sorority sister after she graduated with her bachelor’s degree in Spanish literature at University of California, Los Angeles. Brasley soon discovered that there were other career opportunities than the ones she was considering. This decision led her to apply to graduate school to receive her master’s in library science. In 2014, she became Dean of the California State University, Dominguez Hills Library.
Her commitment to hard work resulted in being named a finalist for the 2021 Wang Family Excellence Award in outstanding staff performance.
The awards were established by a former CSU Trustee Stanley Wang. Each year nominations are given in four faculty categories and one staff category across the CSU.
Although she did not claim the $20,000 check given to the winner this year, Sterling-Brasley said that the nomination was a win in and of itself.
“It was almost surreal,” she said. “I knew about the Wang because Dr. Franklin and Dr. Hamden had received the award. So, really, I felt like I was already in rarified air just being nominated. Reflecting [on] this nomination has given me the opportunity to look at the accomplishments the library team has made and where we need to go to ensure that we are helping our students to succeed.”
Brasley wasted no time once she was appointed Dean. She secured professional development for library faculty and staff. She gradually restored funds lost during the economic recession and channeled resources towards acquiring new library materials, as well as mentoring library faculty, staff and students among her other accomplishments.
“I’ve just been doing what I was hired to do,” Brasley said. To work with and collaborate with the library staff and faculty to make sure we have a good vision and an action plan. And to be an advocate for the resources we need to be an excellent academic support unit for our students,” Brasley said.
Since receiving the nomination, Brasley said she is more determined now to continue to gain more resources for the library collections and gaining work with the advancement division. She would also like to continue to work on the Student Advisory Committee in the future (meetings had to be postponed with the pandemic and students not being able to be on campus).
“The recognition was an honor and was humbling but the fire to do more remains,” Brasley said.