A student relaxes on a wall outside a building on the Cal U campus.A student relaxes on a wall outside a building on the Cal U campus.

Odeese Ghassa-Khalil


A native of Syria, Khalil joined the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures in the fall 2008 as a part time faculty to teach Arabic language and culture. In the remarkable and diverse environment of Cal U, she witnessed a great deal of growth in her professional life and career; she currently serves as the Arabic Instructor and Program Coordinator of the B.A. in Arabic Language and Culture online program, a one of a kind, offered at Cal U!

Khalil also taught Arabic language and culture at Chatham University, in Pittsburgh, and have taught in various colleges and universities in the Pittsburgh Area. Examples of her teaching experiences in higher education include teaching Arabic Language and Culture at the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, and the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC), where Arabic was offered for credit for the first time, after Khalil proposed the Arabic credit courses. She also taught Computer Assisted Drafting and Design and Engineering Drawing for the Department of Engineering at CCAC.

Professional Accomplishments:

Developing of a Bachelor of Arts, Minor and Letter of Completion Programs in Arabic Language and Culture:

Odeese Ghassa-Khalil is the faculty member who proposed Cal U’s online Bachelor of Arts in Arabic Language and Culture program. This program is considered to be the first online B. A. program in Arabic Language and Culture, in America, to be offered online by a public university!

Currently serving as the program coordinator, Khalil is responsible for the development of the Arabic Language and Culture Program at California University of Pennsylvania. She was hired as the first full time Arabic instructor in 2010 and was charged with developing a fully online bachelor’s degree in Arabic Language and Culture.

Khalil developed all syllabi including catalog description, course objectives, outlines, teaching methodology, assessment of learning, course contents, and rational. Furthermore, she assisted in the development of the formal program proposal.

Together with the course syllabi, the proposal was presented to and approved by the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures, the Liberal Arts College Council, the University Curriculum Committee at California University of PA, the Board of Governors and the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

International Cooperative Agreements:

On behalf of the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures, and as the Arabic program coordinator, Khalil helped in reviewing the MOU for and attended the signing of the Articulation Agreement between the University of Sharjah and California University of Pennsylvania, in Sharjah, UAE, on June 8th, 2011. The agreement permits Cal U students who are pursuing studies in Arabic language and culture to attend the Arabic Language Institute at UOS. It assists Cal U students in securing housing during their stay at UOS and allows them to enjoy the same services as UOS students such as library and  lab usage, tutorial services, counseling services, sporting events, plays/concerts, club and society participation, and lectures.

Designing and teaching 100% online courses in Arabic Language and Culture:

As the current Arabic program instructor and coordinator, Khalil designed the current online courses, using Desire2Learn, the learning management system used collectively by the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

Initiating Arabic Credit Courses at Community College of Allegheny County:

Working with the Dean of Academic Affairs at South Campus, Khalil was the faculty member at CCAC who proposed offering the first two courses in Arabic Language and Culture to be taught for credit, at Community College of Allegheny County.

Education and Skills

Odeese Khalil is an experienced instructor in online teaching, course delivery and course design; she is also a Desire2Learn and Blackboard certified online instructor.

She graduated from California University of Pennsylvania with a Master’s degree in Education and a B. S. in Technology Education. She became a Pennsylvania - certified Arabic Language Instructor in June 2007, and a certified Technology Education Instructor in 2006. She also is a certified trainer for I-Safe America, internet safety program.

Before joining Cal U, Khalil earned an A.S. in Civil Engineering Technology and a certificate in Drafting and/or Surveying in December 1996, from the Community College of Allegheny County, Boyce campus.

Research and Publication

As the Arabic Language and Culture Program developer, Khalil conducted extensive research in program and course development and course design. She also conducted research and market analysis on the current needs of Arabic language in the nation and the world.

Focusing on Arabic, Khalil is interested in studying the effectiveness of current technologies in teaching the less commonly taught languages in an online environment and in studying Applied Linguistics and current methods for learning and teaching new languages. She is also interested in Women’s studies and socioeconomic roles of women in different cultures.

Her Master’s degree major project focused on women in technology and engineering and the issues of the underrepresentations of females in these two fields. Odeese examined the issue from personal, local, state, national and international prospectives. Her interest in the area of female representation and involvement in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) also continues.

She also published the article “Arabic Culture,” featured in the December of 2011 issue of The Word Magazine, a member of The Associated Press, Ecumenical News International, and the Orthodox Press Service and the official news magazine of the Antiochian Archdiocese.

Service Learning / Students Multicultural Awareness:

In addition to advising her students in the Arabic B.A., minor and Letter of Completion as well as coordinating and marketing the program, Khalil is well known for her volunteer work and activities that she designs especially to widen students’ horizons and cultural awareness. She served as the Event/ Cultural Activities Coordinator for the Pittsburgh Middle East Institute during the summer of 2011; She also planned cultural outings and dinner parties every semester for students and departments to expose them to the Arabic and Middle Eastern cultures at Cal U and other schools. Examples of her activities were planning campus-wide guest speaker events at California University of Pennsylvania, bringing a Moroccan Fulbright scholar to share her presentation titled “Women in Contemporary Morocco” with the campus community and also at CCAC during the fall of 2010. Khalil also worked with the International Club at Cal U to host the event “Kaleidoscope: Cultures of the Middle East” in March 2009. She also supervised students at Cal U while conducting their research. The student were invited to participate and presented at CERIS (The Consortium for Educational Resources on Islamic Studies) sponsored Undergraduate Research Symposium by Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. Khalil also served as a CERIS judge during the spring of 2012 and currently acts as a representative to CERIS.

Khalil’s professional involvements and activities extend beyond teaching the Arabic language and culture at Cal U. She serves on the review committee for the Technology and Engineering Teacher magazine and served as the faculty advisor of the Society of Women Engineers Interest Group and the Society of Women Engineers Club at the Community College of Allegheny County, where she also served on the diversity sub-committee at South Campus and was involved in planning Diversity Awareness Day in April 2009.

Khalil is also serving on the Cal U Globalization Task Force, whose purpose is to increase Cal U's international student population and enhance opportunities for Cal U students to think and act as global citizens.  She is leading the International Exchange Student Sub-Committee within the this task force as well.

Awards and Honors


  • During the summer of 2011, Khalil received $21,411, through the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Collaborative Equipment Grant, to promote collaboration among PASSHE schools and to enhance online instruction in Arabic Language and Culture using MediaSite.


  • Odeese Ghassa-Khalil was nominated and elected to serve on the Executive Board of the National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages (NCOLCTL), Member-at-Large.
  • As a student, Khalil was the recipient of the Faculty Award for Excellence in the Pursuit of the Bachelor of Science Degree in Technology Education from the Department of Applied Engineering and Technology at California University of Pennsylvania in May of 2007. She graduated Summa Cum Laude (with highest honors) in 2006 and 2009, with a GPA of 4.0/4.0.
  • Khalil was also named a Presidential Scholar at California University of Pennsylvania, during the spring of 2006 and 2007; was a second place essay winner. “Women’s Issues in the Global Village,” in 2006; and was on the National Dean’s List in 1994, 1995, 1996, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009.


Professional Memberships and Presentations

As a current member of numerous professional and non-profit organizations, such as NCOLCTL (the National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages), MESA (The Middle East Studies Association), MLA (Modern Language Association), AATA (American Association of Teachers of Arabic), World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, ITEEA (International Technology and Engineering Educator Association), Phi Theta Kappa, International Honor Society of the two year colleges, and an honorary faculty Member in Alpha Mu Gamma honor society at California University of PA, Odeese Khalil conducted her fair share of regional, national, and international professional presentations.

Odeese Ghassa-Khalil presented “Honestly, Can Languages Be Taught Online?” at the 2013 National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages Conference (NCOTLCTL) held in Chicago, April 25-28, 2013. Khalil presented and served as the chair of the session.

Khalil also presented that topic at the 6th Annual PASSHE Summit: Inclusive Excellence and International Education Charting the Future Together, on November 16 and 17, 2012, at Slippery Rock University.

She presented as a panelist at “Unique Careers for Education Majors” networking event on Thursday, September 27, 2012.

Moreover, on an international scale she presented “Thinking Outside of the Box… Really? Can Languages Be Taught Online?” at “Languages in the Globalised World (LGW) International Conference” hosted by the School of Languages at Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds, United Kingdom, on September 5 and 6, 2012.

Working in conjunction with the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, she presented “The Arabic Culture” at Avonworth Middle School, in February of 2012. She was also the presenter of “Families, Women and Children of the Middle East,” at the Intercultural Dialogue Group, (in collaboration with the VIH Program for Women in Global Leadership) at the University of Pitt in November of 2011, at “Kaleidoscope: Cultures of the Middle East,” in March 2009 at Cal U and at CCAC, South Campus Diversity Day in April of 2009.

In the Area of Technology and Engineering Education she was a presenter at ST&ME - Science Technology & ME, Girls Scout of America Camp in May 2008 at Millersville University, Millersville, PA and of a special interest session “Technology and ME” at TEAP, Technology Education Association of PA, Conference in Camp Hill, PA, in November 2008, where she was also the presenter and facilitator of a "Train the Trainer" Premier Professional Development Program for "i-safe America" Internet Safety Program in November 2007.

Furthermore, as a Cal U graduate student, who was completing an internship with the Children Museum of Pittsburgh, Khalil presented “How People Make Things" traveling exhibit project of Children Museum of Pittsburgh at the 69th ITEA, International Technology Education Association, Conference in San Antonio, TX, during the spring 2007.

Professional Development Activities

Khalil is a strong believer in life-long learning. In her spare time, she seems to enjoy learning more and more every day and makes it a habit to take advantage of professional development opportunities as they arise. She has attended numerous literary evenings, lecture series, public policy discussion events and career related conferences.

A few examples of her professional development activities include recently attending the Middle East Studies Association meeting in November of 2012, in Denver, CO, where she also attended the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Convention, in November of 2011, Other examples include attending the Pittsburgh Middle East Institute Fourth Annual Conference (PMEI), held on October 26th, 2011, 2011, Northeast Association for Language Learning Technology (NEALLT) conference, the Leader in Me Global Education Summit, 2011, August 3 and 4th at California University of Pennsylvania.

Khalil also participated in the 2009 National Education Summit, many professional development workshops, such as the Stephen Covey Seven Habits of Most Effective People that took place at Cal U and Arabic language workshop at Pittsburgh University called “Teaching with Al-Kitaab”, conducted by Dr. Mahmoud Al-Batal, co-author of the Al-Kitaab, a text book for teaching Arabic Language to the English speaking population. She also attended the PSMLA (Pennsylvania State Modern Language Association) pre-conference workshop in October 2008.

As a certified technology Education Teacher in Pennsylvania, Khalil participated in the Governor’s Institute for Technology Education, Millersville University, Millersville, PA, July 22 – 27, 2007, Attended the International Technology and Engineering Association conference in March of 2010, Charlotte, NC and many state and national conferences.

She continues to pursue further education degrees and professional development activities.

Academic Department(s)

  • Department of Modern Languages and Cultures

Academic Program(s)

  • B.A. Arabic Language and Culture
  • Letter of Completion Arabic Language & Culture
  • B.A. International Studies


“I love working with my students. When I teach online, the world is my classroom, which I love to think of as a garden — the more colorful and diverse, the more beautiful it is. I love being the gardener in that garden. It feels great when my students experience that ‘ah-ha moment’ and realize that 'different' can also be very beautiful!”

Annual International Club Dinner: Kaleidoscope Cultures of the Middle East

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