Sac State professor receives lifetime achievement award

Kaitlin Bruce

The Livingston Award, an honor given to faculty who have distinguished themselves above others, was presented to geography professor Thomas Krabacher for his many years of dedicated and creative service.

The award was created at Sacramento State in 1958 to honor government professor John C. Livingston, who taught here for 27 years.

Krabacher highlights many of the qualifications of the award through his creative and powerful role in the university. His zest for geography has earned him much respect here at Sac State.

“I enjoy the aspect of culture and environmental interactions, and the way people shape their physical landscapes,” Krabacher said. “Geography has always been a passion for me.”

To be nominated for the award, a candidate must play an active role in the university, display constant collegiality and show a strong commitment to students while maintaining active participation in creative and scholarly activities.

Cheryl Johnson of the Faculty Senate at Sac State was on the board for the elected nominees, and was one of the decision makers who selected Krabacher.

“He brings people together, listens to them, proposes solutions to problems, listens some more, and ends up with wide support for a thoughtful outcome,” Johnson said. “His skillful service has been a great force for building community on our campus,” Johnson said.

After he found he was receiving the award, Krabacher was delighted.

“I think the award is probably the most satisfying award that a faculty member can win on this campus,” Krabacher said. “It has a tradition that goes back 50 years, and it gives the member a chance to speak to the university on issues that he or she finds particularly important.”

Other than advocating for main educational issues, Krabacher finds working with the students to be his main reason for coming to work every day.

“I enjoy the stimulation that comes from interacting with students and the opportunity to engage with them on an intellectual level,” Krabacher said. “I enjoy when we can get students off campus and see the real things we talk about and discuss in the classroom.”

This is not the first time Krabacher has been recognized by the university. In 1994 he received the National Council for Geographic Education Outstanding Teaching Award, in recognition of his exceptional teaching.

“You’re nominated for your work, not just in teaching but in deviating teaching material, and working to improve geographic teaching,” Krabacher said.

Another factor was Krabacher taught inmates at the Old Folsom Prison for four years, helping them reach their degree.

“Some are in for decades or life, I just found it interesting because it’s a segment of society that one doesn’t get to see firsthand. Initially I did it out of curiosity, but actually came to really enjoy it.”

In 2005, he won the Outstanding University Service Award by the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics for his cumulative service on the state-wide academic senate as well as various campus senate and committee work.

“It feels really neat. It’s sort of a validation for what we do at the university,” Krabacher said.

Krabacher has shown a great deal of hard work, and has a hand in many activities on campus, as well as for the state.

“I am heavily involved in service activities on and off campus, including system-wide for the 23-campus California State University system,” Krabacher said.

He was also the chair of the Faculty Senate for two years, which makes recommendations on academic policy to the president and academic administration. Along with his service on the senate, Krabacher has served on a variety of committees and worked with the California State Department of Education.

“I’ve worked at the Department of Education in developing a geography component for their history social science framework for the K-12 level,” Krabacher said, “Also, for more than a decade I was one of the Sacramento representatives to the system wide Academic Senate.”

He also chairs the Fiscal & Governmental Affairs Committee of the Academic Senate of the CSU, coordinating lobby efforts in the Capitol.

“We are advocating for faculty and academic issues with the state,” Krabacher said. “We identify the issues that we think are important to carry out and bring them to Legislature.”

After winning the award, he was invited to host a lecture about a topic of his choice.

His speech, titled “The Public University as a Public Good,” will highlight the public university’s struggle with the change in public attitude on our institutions, the implications, and strategies we can adopt to address it.

“What can I say? I’m a bit nervous because given the presentations by previous lecturers, it’s a high bar to live up to. I certainly hope that people find what I have to say of interest,” Krabacher said.

Kaitlin Bruce can be reached at [email protected]