Dr. Bernard Luskin—a pioneer in education and technological innovation
March 20, 2014
The more things change, the more they stay the same—a saying that can define the life of one very prominent man at Moorpark College. Interim President of Moorpark College Dr. Bernard Luskin has been a pioneer in technological innovation, education and psychological analysis since his early days here in California.
A winner of two Emmys and many life-time achievement awards, Luskin has accomplished more in his life than any man could dream. Luskin began his education at Ventura College during his time in the Navy at the age of 17. He was first inspired by education in his early years of community college, and despite all of his achievements he always retains a humble appreciation for where he believes his lifelong journey began.
“That was a turning point [going to Ventura College],” said Luskin. “I got started and haven’t looked back since.”
From the outside, students will see Luskin for only a glimpse of who he is, which is a caring individual that strives to help students obtain a proper education in any way that he can. It only takes one quick scan of his office to see that our Interim President is much more than that. Many chapters of his eventful life are chronicled in the pictures that hang on the walls.
To the left, a picture of the Navy ship U.S.S. Norton Sound—the Navy’s first guided missile ship—rests on the wall. Directly to the right of that picture is a photo of one of the men that was stationed on that historic ship–that man was none other than Luskin himself.
When describing his experience in the Navy, Luskin recalled a memory that had stayed with him for years to come. The memory involved an officer that would always explain that he went to Grove City College to get to where he was. Luskin was around 18 years old at the time and all that he knew was that this man was an officer and he wasn’t, so he eventually sat down and asked the officer, “Where’s a college?”
After that, Luskin decided to attend Ventura College, and when he was sent to Long Beach in the Navy, he then went to Long Beach City College.
“Education in those days was a way of upward mobility,” said Luskin. “How do you get to where you want to go? You go to school.”
In his initial college years, Luskin decided to focus on business and teaching, which resulted in him earning a 1961 Bachelor of Arts in Business from California State University at Los Angeles, a 1964 Master of Arts in Business Administration from California State University at Long Beach, as well as a 1970 Doctorate in Education and Technology from the University of California at Los Angeles.
“Teachers were towering figures in my life,” said Luskin. “That’s why I wanted to be a teacher.”
After his college years, Luskin went on to teach business at Costa Mesa High School and then returned to his community college roots to teach accounting, computers and business at Orange Coast College.
“Ventura and Long Beach City College had opened my life and I felt very indebted from being there,” said Luskin.
Looking along the rest of the walls of Luskin’s office, it’s easy to notice just how many achievements that he has been awarded throughout his life. From the lifetime achievement awards that he has received for his contributions to media and education from the UCLA Doctoral Alumni Association, California State University in Los Angeles, The University of Florida Institute for the Future, The Society of Media Psychology and Technology of the American Psychological Association (APA), The Irish Government and The European Commission, to even becoming a licensed psychologist, the amount of programs and subjects that Luskin has been involved in is incredible.
Luskin went on to gain his Masters in psychology at California State University in Long Beach, and eventually became the Dean of Admissions and Counseling at Orange Coast College.
He also eventually studied computer systems at UCLA, since he found himself very interested in technology and the many possibilities of its use in classrooms.With his knowledge of technology, he began developing ideas for the use of media in the classroom and how hecould use these tools to benefit the learning experience.
As the Vice Chancellor of the Coast District, Luskin was involved in the development of the first telecourses in community colleges, striving to provide distance education to students. In this work, he became a founding executive of KOCE-TV, serving as the educational development Vice President for the station. His extensive work at KOCE is what resulted in him winning two Emmys.
Through his work in interactive education, Luskin even developed the first interactive Sesame Street, as well as Grolier’s and Compton’s encyclopedias. As the former president and CEO of several Fortune 500 companies, which include Philips Interactive Media and PolyGram New Media, he even had a role in the technologies that made this new form of interactive learning a possibility.
“I’ve always believed that you learn any way that you can,” said Luskin. “I’m a classroom teacher so I always understand that.”
On top of his achievements in media, Luskin also developed his own company known as Luskin International, which deals in business and education consultations, program development, and applications.
Luskin is still the CEO of Luskin International, and with his continued work in psychology and media, it’s amazing to think how he can even keep up with all of it.
“I’m very task oriented and very focused,” said Luskin. “When I see something I say, ‘What do I have to do to get this done?’”
Directly below the picture of the U.S.S. Norton Sound rests a photo of Luskin and Muhammad Ali, which is right beside a pair of Ali’s boxing gloves encased within a glass box. These are memorabilia of Luskin’s involvement in the production of The Rumble in the Jungle, which was the historic fight between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali.
“I worked a lot with Ali during that time, and he gave me those gloves,” said Luskin. “If I were to think of some of the most memorable times in my life, then that would be one of them.”
Luskin’s career as an educator and psychologist is extensive enough to be mistaken as blended together segments of the lives of many people, but Luskin begs to differ. He describes all of his accomplishments as a very synergistic blending of many different programs and subjects that he has studied throughout his life.
“It came together as what I consider a perfect storm,” said Luskin. “The bringing of technology, learning, psychology, teaching, community colleges. It’s all made perfect sense to me.”
Even though most of his life was based on tremendous self-accomplishment and intellect, Luskin humbly relates all of it on the opportunity that community colleges gave him, as well as that young officer that convinced him to strive for a higher education.
“Community college gave me my whole adult life,” said Luskin. “It’s the only unique American contribution to higher education. It helps people, like me, be who they want to be.”
Luskin explained that most of his current goals rest on maintaining the success of community colleges, with the continued improvement of Moorpark College being his most recent goal.
In a way, Luskin is now right back where he began. When he started community college, he was living off of the G.I. Bill for his military benefits. Throughout his entire life, he has worked to improve the educational system and has developed and innovated on the already strong community college program where he began his education. Now that he’s at the head of a community college institution, he’s seeing a lot of veterans going through exactly what he did. Except, now they have a new G.I. Bill to help them along, and the world around them has changed. The years went on and technology continued to advance, so Luskin continued to utilize technology to improve the way that we learn.
In this way, the world seems to have changed before Luskin’s very eyes, but in reality most aspects of the world and education have stayed exactly the same.
Mostly nothing has changed in Luskin’s eyes. Even though information and learning is everywhere, he explained that the classroom of the mind is still the best there is.
“Learning is a function of motivation,” said Luskin. “Knowledge is more accessible than ever, however knowledge is the lower level of capability.”
According to Luskin, knowing something is fine. Using what you know and analyzing it is a step up. Using what you have learned and analyzed and applying it is a tremendous step.
Luskin says, “However, synthesizing and creating new knowledge to advance what you know. Well, now that is something.”
Luskin is currently wrapping up his interim as the president of Moorpark College, and is making way for the new permanent president to take office. This college has impassioned Luskin, and in return he has inspired us. We are lucky to have seen such an astounding man leading the way towards the continued improvement of this great campus.