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Cal State San Marcos professor wins 2019 Division II faculty award

Bennett Cherry honored for his continuous support of student-athletes

By Ashley Beaton

The national Division II Student-Athlete Advisory Committee has selected Bennett Cherry of Cal State San Marcos as the winner of the 2019 Dr. Dave Pariser Faculty Mentor Award.

Bennett Cherry of Cal State San Marcos

The award, named after a Bellarmine physical therapy professor who died  in 2013, recognizes faculty members at Division II institutions for their dedication to supporting and mentoring student-athletes, as well as their commitment to Division II student-athletes’ lifelong learning, competition and well-being. Cherry will receive the award Jan. 24 at the Division II Faculty Mentor Award Presentation and Reception during the 2020 NCAA Convention in Anaheim, California.

“This year, national SAAC is focusing on the Total Package Student-Athlete,” said Tayler Stover, internal operations coordinator of Division II SAAC and former women’s soccer student-athlete at Rogers State. “Dr. Cherry helps encourage this concept with all of his student-athletes, through his focus on education and preparing for the future to setting up programs to easier incorporate student-athletes into college. Dr. Cherry embodies the spirit of this award. We are so glad to present it to him this year."

Cherry is a professor of entrepreneurship and management at Cal State San Marcos. His specialties include creativity in business, entrepreneurship and new venture creation, human resources strategy, workplace climate assessment and service delivery strategy.

Cherry has been involved with the Cal State San Marcos athletics department since he started at the school in 2000. He was appointed as the institution’s faculty athletics representative in 2004 and continues to serve in that role. His impact is felt beyond the institution, as he serves on the California Collegiate Athletic Association Executive Council and served on the steering committee for the 2019 Division II FAR Fellows Institute.

Cherry puts the students and student-athletes at Cal State San Marcos first. He emcees the institution’s scholar-athlete luncheon each spring and meets annually with the Cougars’ Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. He even has helped new student-athletes move into their campus dorm. He also regularly participates in the “Cougar Kickoff,” where he discusses academic achievement, inclusiveness, being an ambassador for the university and promoting campus pride to incoming student-athletes.

“In the recruiting process, I always ask the prospective student-athletes, ‘Why are you here?’ to get them to say to get a college degree. Seeing the student-athletes graduate makes me proud,” he said.

He makes a point to attend as many athletic events as possible, including practices, to show his support and learn more about how the student-athletes interact with each other.

Cherry mentioned that being the faculty athletics representative is one of the best parts of his job. “Someone saw the joy I have and the efforts I take to try to do my best,” he said.

That joy has carried over into seeing Cougar student-athletes succeed in all aspects of their college career.

“I love seeing them in their gear. It reminds me of the hard work they put in and how they spend hours working hard athletically and academically. It’s so impressive,” Cherry said.

As someone who recently helped Cal State San Marcos transition into the NCAA and Division II, it is no surprise Cherry embraces the division’s “Make It Yours” mantra and relates it to the college experience.

“College is a new frontier, and you can create it to be whatever you want it to be. It’s super freeing. You are able to make choices that benefit you long term and viewing yourself as a person that can contribute to society and a team,” he said.