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Chico State

Professor’s Compassion, ‘Collaborative Spirit’ Creates Sense of Community in School of Education

Ben Seipel posed for portrait in front of a chalkboard
(Jason Halley / University Photographer)

This story is one in a series spotlighting eight exceptional faculty members who were recognized with 2023–24 Outstanding Faculty Awards, selected by the University’s Faculty Recognition and Support Committee.
These awards—among the highest honors at Chico State—celebrate faculty excellence in the categories of Outstanding Professor, Teacher, Academic Advisor, Research Mentor, Faculty Service, Lecturer, Lecturer in Bringing the Profession to the Classroom, and Early Career Faculty.

Outstanding Professor Award (OPA): Ben Seipel 

Ben Seipel is known for using quick wit to lighten difficult tasks for colleagues and students. However, it is his warmth and collaborative spirit that have fostered a strong sense of community in the School of Education.

Colleagues say Seipel leads with intelligence, intuition, empathy, and action. He continually evaluates the latest best practices in education and applies them to his courses on online learning and his engaging teaching style that resonates with today’s students. He routinely makes complex concepts accessible and understandable to learners of all backgrounds.

Besides serving as the coordinator of the master’s program for the School of Education since 2019, Seipel is a dedicated mentor in Chico State’s Raising Educational Achievement in Collaborative Hubs (REACH) program. He strongly advocates for underserved communities and actively seeks ways to make classes inclusive of all people and support students facing barriers to higher education.

“I have always been intrinsically motivated by curiosity, understanding, and accomplishment,” Seipel said. “I think that is why I enjoy all aspects of research, learning, and teaching. When students pose, refine, investigate, and answer their own research questions, it is very rewarding. I live for the ‘aha’ moments! However, the time, space, and resources necessary to engage in those rewarding academic endeavors have become more of a privilege. Current social and economic pressures limit students’ access and ability to participate in meaningful ways. Consequently, and increasingly, students are treading water to survive. So, we as a faculty and institution must continue to be innovative with our pedagogy and be persistent in pursuit of finding financial support for students.”

While at Chico State, Seipel has played a primary role in securing $17.1 million in grants and monetary research awards. He is the principal investigator of the Growing Responsive, Equitable, Adaptable, and Transformative (GREAT) Teachers Pipeline grant, which increases access to higher education for students in the North State. The grant has significantly impacted the number of first-generation, low-income students of color who have enrolled in the school.

Seipel has authored 27 peer-reviewed journal articles and multiple book chapters. He has had over 100 conference presentations. He led efforts to create an online master’s program, which has been approved. Through his leadership as the chair of the Institutional Review Board, Seipel works diligently to promote the scholarship of both faculty and graduate students.

Seipel holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology, Spanish education, and music education from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, and master’s and doctorate degrees in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota.