Page 1




When alumnus K ent Twitchell paints the town, he goes big.






Robert J. Lopez


Jocelyn Y. Stewart EDITOR



J. Emilio Flores WEBSITE


Hannah Bowen Cynthia Alvarez Gwendolyn Gabrielle Madeline Tondi LeAnn Zuniga Steve Lopez EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS

Margie Low Irwin Medina

Forward inquiries and submissions to: Cal State LA Office of Communications and Public Affairs 5151 State University Drive Los Angeles, CA 90032-8580 Phone: (323) 343-3050 Email:


Office of Communications and Public Affairs




05 UNIVERSITY NEWS 16 UNIVERSITY EVENTS 20 L.A. STORY The sky is no limit for John Griffith,

Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez learns a lesson when he’s recruited as an instructor for a writing course at Cal State LA.


Engineering students put classroom learning into practical application during a trip to Mexico.


Cal State LA celebrates the groundbreaking of a new bioscience incubator and the renaming of a college. Both were made possible through a generous gift from the National Rongxiang Xu Foundation.


Artist Kent Twitchell has earned an expansive audience by making art intended to live outside. His signature murals, painted on the walls of stores, schools and freeways, are enjoyed by thousands of people daily as they make their way around Los Angeles.

an Honors College student who has his sights set on becoming an astronaut.

34 THE SHELF LIFE 40 ATHLETICS The Golden Eagle basketball program is set

to soar under the wings of two new coaches, Cheryl Miller and Jim Saia, guided by the new Executive Director for Athletics Daryl Gross.

44 ALUMNI NEWS 46 CLASS NOTES 54 PROFILE IN GIVING Alumna Marquita Grenot-Scheyer has

established the Dr. Mary A. Falvey Leadership Development Fund to honor the professor emerita of special education.

The Inbox


We want to hear from you. Email your thoughts and feedback to the editor at Not all correspondence will be published. We reserve the right to edit submissions for style, length and clarity. IMPRESSED Thank you so much for sending me the [alumni magazine] from Cal State LA where I graduated a very long time ago. I was very impressed with the great content of the magazine. Keep up the good works, friends. Best wishes to all of you. Tri Ta (’97) Mayor, City of Westminster

PROGRESS I want to congratulate the editors of the most recent issue (Spring 2015) of [the alumni magazine], which I just received. It is a big progress from previous issues, and it makes you feel proud to be a member of the Cal State LA community! This issue truly reflects what [Cal State LA] has been over the years, and it is comparable in quality and coverage to other publications I receive from first-class universities (e.g., from USC, my alma mater). Bravo, good job, keep up the good work! It really shows we have a new, visionary direction. Domnita Dumitrescu, Ph.D. Professor of Spanish Linguistics, Emerita


(Photo courtesy Juan Palma Rodriguez)

University News

Former Los Angeles Dodger Steve Garvey accepts the L.A. Sports Legend Award from Cal State LA President William A. Covino and Billie Jean King at the Billie Jean King & Friends Gala.

Billie Jean King & Friends Gala honors three for exemplary contributions to community


uring the 19th Billie Jean King & Friends Gala, Cal State LA honored two outstanding student-athletes and recognized the contributions of three individuals who have left a lasting legacy. A world champion athlete and global advocate for social justice, King has helped raise more than $3 million in scholarships for student-athletes through her gala. She opened the event at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena with a moving tribute to her former Cal State LA coach and longtime friend Joan Johnson, who passed away on Oct. 14. “She was really a special human being,” King told the more than 500 people who filled the hotel ballroom on Oct. 22.

King, who won her first Wimbledon title while she was a player on the Cal State LA women’s tennis team, credited the University with providing a transformative experience. “It changed my life to be a student-athlete at Cal State LA,” she said. Cal State LA President William A. Covino thanked King and fellow tennis great Rosie Casals for their unwavering support of the University’s student-athletes. “With a great team of perennial supporters, Rosie and Billie have helped transform the lives of so many students, informed the ethic that drives the University to greatness, and shown us what our motto—pushing boundaries— really means,” Covino said.


The 20th Annual Billie Jean King & Friends Gala

Among those who attended the gala were Congresswoman and alumna Maxine Waters, California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo, Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, CSU Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs Loren J. Blanchard, CSU Assistant Vice Chancellor for Advancement Services Lori A. Redfearn, East Los Angeles College President Marvin Martinez, Los Angeles Community College District Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez and alumnus, former Assemblyman and former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alatorre. George L. Pla, a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist whose business and civic activities have helped communities across California, was honored with the 2016 Joe Shapiro Humanitarian Award. A Cal State LA alumnus, Pla is president, CEO and founder of Cordoba Corp., a nationally recognized civil engineering,

Oct. 21, 2017 Langham Huntington Hotel, Pasadena



program and construction management firm specializing in transportation, education, and water and energy infrastructure. Cordoba Corp. transported the Space Shuttle Endeavour through the streets of Los Angeles in 2012 as more than a million cheering bystanders watched the historic event. Pla was introduced by Waters, who noted that he has dedicated his life to helping others. The Joe Shapiro Humanitarian Award is presented in memory of Joe Shapiro, who taught at Cal State LA and was known for working enthusiastically to help student-athletes reach their educational and athletic goals. “I am honored to be mentioned in the same breath as Joe Shapiro,” Pla said as he accepted the award. The University paid tribute to President Emeritus James M. Rosser, who directed the University for 34 years until his retirement in 2013. During the gala, it was announced that the University plans to name a building in Rosser’s honor. Rosser credited students, faculty and staff for helping make Cal State LA a great institution and accepted his recognition on their behalf. “I stand here on the shoulders of Golden Eagles and Diablos,” he said. Los Angeles Dodgers great Steve Garvey was honored with the L.A. Sports Legend Award. Garvey, a National League MVP

From Left: George L. Pla, First Lady Debbie Covino, President William A. Covino, Billie Jean King, Executive Director for Athletics Daryl Gross, Steve Garvey and President Emeritus James M. Rosser.

and 10-time All-Star, is one of the most successful Major League Baseball players of all time. Playing first base, he was part of a stellar Dodgers infield and helped lead the team to a World Series title in 1981. “I’ve been blessed,” Garvey said, adding that “the greatest gift is to give back.” Khallifah Rosser, a liberal arts major and one of the top hurdlers in the nation, received the Billie Jean King Scholarship. Rosser, no relation to James M. Rosser, had an extraordinary junior season on Cal State LA’s men’s track and field team. He won the NCAA Division II Championship and qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., where he narrowly missed advancing to the

BRAND NEW For decades, Cal State LA’s brand served it well. But we’ve entered a new era at Cal State LA. The University is growing and evolving. We needed a new brand, a visual representation that embodies who we are today. Cal State LA has launched a new University logo and mascot design. The new marks were a culmination of more than a year of development and were produced with input from faculty, staff, alumni, students and the community. You’ll see the new logos everywhere—on apparel, athletic uniforms, banners, buildings, emails, publications, online and more—including in this magazine, formerly known as Cal State L.A. Today. In this issue, you’ll see a new look and design, as well as more engaging visuals and expansive storytelling that is inspired by the spirit of the new brand. Visit our website to learn more about the story behind Cal State LA’s new brand.


finals by two-hundredths of a second. Psychology major Iris Raileanu received the Joe Shapiro Scholarship. In her junior season on the women’s tennis team, she posted one of the conference’s best singles records with a 15-5 overall mark, and picked up 12 victories in doubles. She earned Academic All-PacWest recognition for the second time and was honored with the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Scholar-Athlete Award. “Thank you all for being here tonight, and for being part of the Cal State LA team,” Covino said. “With your support, we will continue to graduate future leaders who will transform our world.”


Climbing Up the Ladder of Success

Cal State LA tops nation in upward mobility rates. FROM STAFF REPORTS


Cal State LA has long viewed itself as an engine of social mobility because of its success in educating its diverse students, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college. And a new study shows that no university does it better.

Now three degrees and two decades later, Maddox (’91, ’95 M.S.) is the special assistant city attorney for the city of Los Angeles.

Cal State LA is ranked number one in the U.S. based on the upward mobility of its students, according to the study, Mobility Report Cards: The Role of Colleges in Intergenerational Mobility.

apri Maddox arrived at Cal State LA in 1988 with everything she owned in two well-worn suitcases. The 17-year-old had spent two years on her own with little money, crashing in the homes of various family friends, and working part-time jobs to afford necessities like toothpaste.

“Cal State LA was definitely the difference-maker,” says Maddox, who earned a juris doctor from Pepperdine University School of Law.

Highest Upward Mobility Rate Colleges Percent of students who come from families in the bottom fifth and reach the top fifth of income distribution







Cal State LA


Pace University-New York CUNY System


Glendale Community College

7.1% 6.8%

University of Texas at El Paso Average College in the U.S.






“This research confirms that Cal State LA provides a transformative educational experience,” says Cal State LA President William A. Covino. “We’ve long known this to be true. Now the nation knows.” The study was developed by The Equality of Opportunity Project, a group of high-level academic researchers from institutions including UC Berkeley, Stanford, Harvard and Brown universities. The study made national news, with stories appearing in The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio and dozens of other news organizations. The research is based on anonymous tax filings and tuition records from the federal government following 30 million college students from 1999 to 2013. Records from more than 2,000 colleges and universities were studied.

“Education has the power to change the lives of all students, regardless of where they begin in life,” says Cal State LA Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Lynn Mahoney. “Our outstanding faculty and staff understand well the transformative role of public universities. They know what is needed to take students from where they are to where they need to be.” One such student was George Pla, who grew up in Boyle Heights. His two brothers were handy like their father, a construction worker, but Pla wasn’t. “My father put his arm around me and said, ‘son, you need to go to school’,” he recalls. Pla graduated from Cal State LA in 1972 and went on to earn a master’s degree from USC. Years later, he started Cordoba Corp., a multimillion-dollar civil engineering firm that specializes in major infrastructure projects in the transportation, energy, water and education sectors.

Researchers compared the incomes of college graduates in their 30s from low-income families with that of their parents. The research focused on universities and colleges in the U.S. with more than 900 students born between 1980 and 1982 who attended school at some point between the ages of 19 Above Left: Capri Maddox, left, and a classmate stand outside the University Club at Cal State LA in 1988. Above Right: Before becoming the special assistant city attorney and 22.

“Public higher education is vital to the success of our nation,” Pla says. “Cal State LA is absolutely golden.”

In order to help other low-income students make the same transition, Pla for Los Angeles, she served as a deputy city attorney in the central trials, Neighborhood Prosecutor program, complex litigation and general counsel units. The study defines a supports higher education college or university’s through philanthropy and mobility rate as “the fraction of its students who come from a serves on educational advisory committees, including Cal State family in the bottom fifth of the income distribution and end up in LA’s President’s Council. the top fifth.” According to the study, Cal State LA’s mobility rate While highlighting the success of institutions like Cal State LA, is 9.9 percent, while Pace University- New York ranked second the study also underscores the need to research the means by which with a rate of 8.4 percent. high mobility rates are achieved—and why some universities do it “This study…really lays the groundwork for future study on how places like Cal State LA can be emulated,” says Robert Fluegge of Stanford University, one of several researchers involved in the study. “We want to understand exactly what is going on at places that look really good by our metrics.” Cal State LA’s mobility rate is higher than Ivy League universities and others that admit a scant number of students from low-income families. Making higher education accessible to all, especially low-income students, has been core to Cal State LA’s mission since its founding 70 years ago.


better than others.

“At Cal State LA we focus on what matters most—our students,” says Vice President Jose A. Gomez. The support of our programs, faculty and staff not only elevates the students as individuals, Gomez explains, but it also elevates their families and the communities we serve. “Cal State LA taught me about the importance of giving back, which shaped my interest in public service,” says Maddox, who also serves on the President’s Council. “I wanted to feel the way the folks at Cal State LA felt. They were making a difference and changing lives.”


NEW TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD Cal State LA opens learning center in the heart of downtown. BY CYNTHIA ALVAREZ


al State LA has opened a new facility in downtown Los Angeles to provide university programs to a vibrant and rapidly developing section of the city.

“Our mission is to provide high-quality teaching in the heart of Los Angeles,” says President William A. Covino. “We will bring the resources of Cal State LA to students downtown, where they work and live.” Cal State LA Downtown opened in January of 2016 at West 8th Street and South Grand Avenue. The 21,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility at the edge of the Financial District is located in a neighborhood that is undergoing a residential development boom, with thousands of apartments under construction or in the pipeline. A short distance from important downtown commercial centers including The Figueroa Corridor, Arts District, Fashion District and Civic Center, Cal State LA Downtown will strengthen the University’s ties to industries that drive our local economy.

“The downtown facility enables us to work closely with local businesses, government agencies, and nonprofits to build relevant and timely programs to meet the challenges facing our great city,” says Dean of the College of Professional and Global Education Eric Bullard. “Cal State LA Downtown will enhance the lives and further the careers of even more Angelenos through higher education. They will be better prepared to be the leaders who will help our region’s economy to continue to thrive.” Cal State LA Downtown offers undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as professional certificates and personal development. Several programs incorporate Los Angeles-specific elements, including urban issues, sustainability and diversity. Providing students with educational opportunities closer to where they work and live is a key component of the learning center’s mission. The programs are focused on meeting the needs of working professionals, those seeking personal enrichment or career transition, such as Cynthia Castañeda.



From Left: Dean of the College of Professional and Global Education Eric Bullard, State Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, President William A. Covino, Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, and Assemblyman Ed Chau participate in the Sept.19 ribbon-cutting ceremony at Cal State LA Downtown.

Castañeda was taking paralegal courses in the mid-2000s until she received an incredible offer for a full-time job. Several years later, that position was outsourced and she was laid off. After assessing her options, she decided to resume her education and is now enrolled in the certificate program in paralegal studies at Cal State LA Downtown.

Mayor’s Youth Advisory group.

“It was a second chance for me,” says Castañeda. “I then applied for a scholarship, and I won. It was a confirmation I was on the right track. It felt good to do something for myself.”

Gomez, who represents the 51st Assembly District, says the development boom and population growth signal the revival of downtown Los Angeles as a strong urban core with a strong sense of community.

The flexible course schedule fits well with her full-time job at USC, as well as her responsibilities as a mother, she says. Cal State LA Downtown has also become home to Civic University—a joint certificate program between Cal State LA and the city of Los Angeles that educates community activists about the civic process. The program gives Angelenos the tools they need to understand, engage and influence City Hall to become effective advocates for their neighborhoods and interests. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti visited the closing session of a recent Civic University course, which was attended by about 100 people, including approximately 80 board members from the Los Angeles neighborhood councils and 20 members of the


At the ribbon-cutting ceremony in September, Covino welcomed elected officials and community leaders, including Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, Assemblyman Ed Chau and Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez.

“Downtown LA is experiencing a transformation that not many urban centers in the United States have experienced recently. The placement of a Cal State LA campus in downtown highlights that the future of Los Angeles is in downtown,” says Gomez. “People are going to be able to work downtown, live downtown and go study downtown. It could be amazing.” Cynthia Alvarez graduated in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a focus in management and a certificate in marketing.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris, left, and Rep. Loretta Sanchez trade jabs in the lively debate held in Cal State LA’s University-Student Union Theatre.

U.S. Senate candidates face off in nationally televised debate at Cal State LA Cal State LA was in the spotlight during election season as it hosted the only scheduled debate between then California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez in the race for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat. The two candidates squared off for 60 minutes inside the packed University-Student Union Theatre. Harris ultimately won the election to fill the seat that had been held by Sen. Barbara Boxer since 1992. The Oct. 5 debate was sponsored by the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State LA, KABC-7 TV and the League of Women Voters California Education Fund. The candidates fielded

questions from ABC Eyewitness News anchor Marc Brown and a three-person panel representing the sponsoring organizations. Associated Students, Inc. President Kayla Stamps asked Sanchez and Harris what each could do to encourage college students to vote and use their political power. The debate was aired live by KABC and streamed on the Cal State LA YouTube page. C-SPAN broadcasted the event to a national audience. The audience included reporters from news organizations across California, including the Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee, KQED Public Media, and KPCC Southern California Public Radio.

State Assembly Speaker kicks off lecture series at University’s Theatre California State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon visited Cal State LA to launch the Speaker’s Lecture Series. Rendon took part in a discussion on “California Leading the Way” with Raphael J. Sonenshein, executive director for the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State LA, in front of a standing-room-only crowd in the University-Student Union Theatre on Sept. 8. Rendon spoke about the importance of civic engagement, gave an update on state legislation, and took questions from the audience. The event was organized by PBI and the Center for California Studies at Sacramento State University.

Pat Brown Institute Executive Director Raphael J. Sonenshein, left, in conversation with State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon at the Speaker’s Lecture Series.



Covinos start Mind Matters initiative to support student well-being, health President William A. Covino and First Lady Debbie Covino launched the Mind Matters initiative to provide resources and programs to help students navigate the demands of academic excellence, family responsibilities, and jobs. The Mind Matters initiative comes at a time when college students nationwide are experiencing high levels of stress, including problems caused by sleep deprivation and anxiety about adjusting to university life. The President and First Lady realize that without mental and physical well-being, there is no academic success.

and activities throughout the year to promote well-being. Students have had visits from therapy dogs during final exams, attended guest lectures, were led through guided meditation in the Reflection Room, received health screening at an event with the Clinton Foundation and the Women’s Heart Alliance, and even participated in the Pokémon GO Health Walk, which incorporates key locations on campus from the popular gaming app. Mind Matters also produces videos that include information on managing time and stress, and a podcast series on elevating mood and memory. The videos and links to the podcasts can be found on the University’s Mind Matters web page.

To help ensure student success, additional counselors were hired President William A. Covino and First Lady Debbie Covino tour the library for the Student Health Center The initiative has also increased with a therapy dog in an effort to help students de-stress during finals. and the center was renovated the number of peer health educators to accommodate the additional counseling. on the Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC). These volunteers help educate students about health and wellness issues. The University hosts numerous events, workshops

University works with Clinton Foundation to fight heart disease

Cal State LA has partnered with the Clinton Foundation and the Women’s Heart Alliance in a nationwide campaign to take action against cardiovascular disease, which claims nearly 400,000 women’s lives each year. U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy participated in a heart disease awareness and health screening event at the University in October 2015, which included a forum with Cal State LA President William A. Covino, National Council of La Raza President Janet Murguia and Rita Redberg, professor of medicine and director of Women’s Cardiovascular Services at UC San Francisco. “The key to preventing disease is a healthy lifestyle,” Murthy said at the forum. “There are everyday steps you can take to lower your chance of developing heart disease by eating a healthy diet; being active and exercising regularly; and staying tobacco free.” The event launching the #GetHeartChecked campaign was sponsored by the Women’s Heart Alliance, Clinton Foundation and Cal State LA, which was the first university selected to participate in the initiative. Another screening is scheduled for April.


U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy visits with students from the Student Health Advisory Committee during the Get Heart Checked event.


Cal State LA looks toward future success with new Strategic Plan President William A. Covino kicked off the Fall 2016 semester with the unveiling of the University’s new Strategic Plan. “Our new Strategic Plan is a road map for Cal State LA, created by Cal State LA,” Covino said in his Fall Convocation speech in August. The Strategic Plan is a guiding document used to set shortand long-term priorities for the University to focus energy and resources and ensure all stakeholders are working toward common goals. The Strategic Plan creation was spearheaded by Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Lynn Mahoney and a Strategic Planning Coordinating Committee comprised of students, faculty members, administrators and staff. The University gathered input from more than 2,500 stakeholders through planning workshops, surveys and town hall meetings. After gathering feedback and analyzing the data, the committee refined the University’s mission, vision and value statements. Committee members also identified key strategic priorities and established outcomes that can be measured and tied to action plans. During his address, Covino explained the new Strategic Plan’s mission, vision and values, as well as four strategic priority areas: Engagement, Service, and the Public Good; Welcoming and Inclusive Campus; Student Success; and Academic Distinction.

SCAQMD hails Cal State LA as a national leader in sustainability The South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) lauded Cal State LA as a national leader for its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint by using zero-emission groundskeeping equipment. Agency board member Michael Cacciotti said the University is one of the first in the nation to rely on battery-operated electrical landscaping equipment. The weed-eaters, lawn mowers and chainsaws are used daily by Facilities Services personnel across the 176-acre campus. The University’s use of the equipment was made possible by a grant from the SCAQMD, and plays a key role in the agency’s efforts to improve air quality across the region, Cacciotti said at an August news conference.

The lawn equipment is just one of several initiatives that Cal State LA has launched to contribute to a healthy and sustainable planet, according to Cal State LA President William A. Covino. The University’s award-winning and cutting-edge Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility has been a leader in California’s efforts to promote the use of zero-emission vehicles. Cal State LA reduced its water consumption by 31 percent. Covino also joined more than 200 other college and university presidents in signing the White House American Campus Act on Climate Pledge. “As a public university, Cal State LA must be a leader in this effort,” Covino said. “The issue of sustainability affects us all—where we live, work and play.”



Star Trek star George Takei flashes the Vulcan hand salute during his speech at the 69th Commencement ceremonies in June.

Commencement celebration studded with star guests

George Takei, three prestigious alumni bestowed honorary doctorates.


eorge Takei, a noted actor and tireless advocate for community engagement and social justice, encouraged the graduates of the Class of 2016 to continue pushing boundaries in his keynote speech at the 69th Commencement ceremonies in June. “Let us learn from the lessons of history and, as our founding fathers did, shape a new nation to fit the ever-advancing, constantly innovating, dynamic challenges of the 21st century,” Takei told the audience. “Let us boldly go where we have never gone before and may the Class of 2016 live long and prosper.” Takei grew up near Cal State LA in Los Angeles’ Boyle Heights neighborhood and is best known for playing Sulu in the original, award-winning television series Star Trek. He received an honorary doctorate during the Commencement ceremony. A record number of Cal State LA students—nearly 8,000—received diplomas during the three days of celebration. As he has in previous years, President William A. Covino shook the hand of each graduate who marched across the stage.


“Your success reminds us what matters most: students come first. Your future is at the heart of our initiatives, plans and projects,” Covino told the graduates. “Your success is our success.” Covino announced the naming of the Rongxiang Xu College of Health and Human Services during the college’s Commencement ceremony. The gift establishes the first named college at Cal State LA and is the largest gift in the University’s history. The National Rongxiang Xu Foundation made the gift to commemorate the contributions of Dr. Rongxiang Xu, a surgeon and expert in regenerative medicine who passed away in 2015. Three Cal State LA alumni were also honored and gave keynote addresses: • Maria Contreras-Sweet, an accomplished entrepreneur who served on President Barack Obama’s Cabinet as the administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, received an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters during the College of Business and Economics ceremony.

• Ofelia Esparza, an esteemed artist and educator who has been widely recognized for her contributions to the arts, education, community and cultural pride, received an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters during the Charter College of Education ceremony. • Kent Twitchell, an extraordinary artist whose murals have beautified Los Angeles and cities across the nation, received an honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts during the College of Arts and Letters ceremony. Former judge Michael Nash, director of the Los Angeles County Office of Child Protection, gave the address for the undergraduate ceremony of the Rongxiang Xu College of Health and Human Services. Alumnus and longtime Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich gave the keynote address at the ceremony for the college’s graduate students, as well as graduate students from the College of Natural and Social Sciences.



University Events Cheech Marin speaks at the opening reception for Richard Duardo—Artist and Master Printmaker at the Fine Arts Gallery.

Cheech Marin celebrates Richard Duardo and Chicano art at Cal State LA FROM STAFF REPORTS


Graphics, and then helped found Centro de Arte Público in Highland Park, which became a focal point of art and political activism. He later established Modern Multiples, a print studio that was integral to the growing downtown Los Angeles art scene.

“Richard was a great artist,” Marin told the audience. “You are very privileged to have this show here.”

Duardo utilized pop culture and political figures, featuring images of Che Guevara, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and Mao Tse-Tung, among others. He used serigraphy and a graphic sensibility to reflect his interest in capturing the energy of sub-cultures such as punk, rave and street art. As a master printmaker, Duardo produced for such acclaimed artists as Banksy, David Hockney, Shepard Fairey, Keith Haring and Gary Panter.

ctor and art collector Cheech Marin visited Cal State LA to celebrate the life and works of renowned artist and master printmaker Richard Duardo.

Marin spoke at the Oct. 10 opening of an exhibition of serigraphic artworks by Duardo and artists he worked with as a master printmaker. The exhibit, at the University’s Fine Arts Gallery, was filled with guests who appreciated the vibrant and moving works of Chicano artists and heard Marin discuss his longtime friendship with Duardo, who passed away in 2014.

Marin owns one of the largest private collections of Chicano art in the world and is the author of the book Chicano Visions, which features 96 dynamic and poignant paintings from more than two dozen artists. Marin is also the author of the recently published Papel Chicano Dos: Works on Paper from the Collection of Cheech Marin. Duardo was born in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights, just a short distance from Cal State LA, and he graduated from Franklin High School in Highland Park. He is credited with creating “Latino Pop” and was a pivotal figure in the Chicano art community. After graduating with a Master of Fine Arts at UCLA, Duardo returned to the Eastside and worked at the iconic Self Help


Duardo’s exhibit at the Fine Arts Gallery featured works from leading Chicano artists, including Cal State LA alumni Carlos Almaraz, Chaz Bojorquez and Frank Romero. The exhibit is an impressive array of work that highlights the social and cultural underpinnings of the Chicano community. Marin noted that Duardo was always willing to support young artists, especially Chicanos from the Eastside neighborhoods served by Cal State LA. “He was a great artist, and he came from this neighborhood,” Marin said. “You can be at the center of your community and the world at the same time.”

Joe Lovano


8 p.m. April 8 The Luckman Theatre

Northwest Dance Project 8 p.m. April 29 The Luckman Theatre

Idan Raichel

Northwest Dance Project

8 p.m. May 6 The Luckman Theatre


8 p.m. May 19 The Luckman Theatre

Chucho Valdés 8 p.m. May 20 The Luckman Theatre

Chucho Valdés

For more information or for tickets, visit or call the Luckman Box Office at (323) 343-6600.


Guest Column

The city through his students’ eyes

Los Angeles Times writer Steve Lopez returns to the classroom, this time as a teacher. BY STEVE LOPEZ


can’t begin to recall how many classrooms I’ve visited in more than 40 years as a journalist. Dozens for sure. More than a hundred, perhaps. Everything from grade school to graduate school.

I did it because as someone who writes frequently about education, it couldn’t hurt to do a little honest homework. And I did it because I’m a graduate of the Cal State (San Jose State, 1975), and I believe in it.

But my knees wobbled when I was offered a chance to teach an evening class at Cal State LA last year.

The mission is the same as ever—offer a quality education at a reasonable price—although tuition has spiked in recent times. Every year, tens of thousands of graduates, many from humble means, help drive California’s economy when they go into healthcare, business, technology, social sciences, engineering, law enforcement, communications and teaching.

Why? Because visiting a class to answer a few questions and offer a few tips—never to return again—isn’t that big of a challenge. But a teacher has to actually teach. And I didn’t know how to do that, even though I was pretty familiar with the subject: How to find and tell stories.

(Photo courtesy of Monica Almeida)

Still, I took a leap.

So I asked teachers for some advice, and David Olsen, chairman of Cal State LA’s communications department, helped me put together a syllabus that offered something to aspiring journalists, TV/film majors and students interested in polishing their writing skills.


And then on a Monday night in January of 2016, I found myself standing before 20 upperclassmen and grad students, all of whom looked at me expectantly. It was the first of 10 classes in the winter quarter, each one from 6:10 to 10 p.m., which struck me—as I passed out my syllabus—as an eternity. That’s a lot of teaching for a flat-footed rookie, and I loosened my collar, feeling the heat. What if I ran out of things to say? My students, I soon learned, do a lot of juggling. Most of them work, some of them full time, and care for families. They save money, take classes when they can afford them and keep pursuing the dream of a college degree, even if it takes six or eight or 10 years to earn the paper. I owed them something, and I made it through the first session encouraged not so much by my performance but by my students’ engagement. With the exception of one young man who may or may not have been awake—I couldn’t tell for sure, and he later dropped the class—they listened, and spoke up, and we began to get to know each other through a shared love of words. I followed all the advice I’d gotten from real teachers: Split the students into groups, have them read each other’s work, find ways to spark class discussions and bring in guest speakers. My appreciation of teachers is now greater than ever. Two students sitting next to each other might have vastly different skill levels, and you’ve got to find a way to address their very different needs. Meeting one-on-one during office hours helps. But I’ve come away from this experience even more convinced that packing 30 or 40-plus students into a classroom—the norm in public K-12 schools—is insane. It’s a burden on teachers and a disservice to students. The 10-week course ended just as I was getting to know my students, and realizing that while I may have helped them find ways to shape stories, they were teaching me things about the city I cover. Daniel Noriega wrote about his grandfather riding through East Los Angeles on a bicycle, collecting discarded toys for a backyard shrine, believing that each toy represents “the lost spirit of a child.” Noriega wrote that his mother took this idea to the next level, caring for troubled, wayward children. When one later died, she paid for his coffin, and then “La Mamá de East L.A.” started a nonprofit to buy coffins for other families that couldn’t afford proper burials for loved ones. Brandon Winfield—a full-time student and laborer—would often hustle into class a few minutes late, just off work from laying underground wire. His term paper was an account of the culture shock his African American family endured when his mother, determined to keep her kids safe, shepherded her brood out of South-Central and into the San Gabriel Valley. Former teacher Claudia Mercado took care of her parents,

worked several jobs and commuted 30 miles to school in pursuit of her master’s. She wrote a poetry-infused tribute to a Northeast Los Angeles women’s activism and art collective—Mujeres de Maíz—where kindred spirits have connected through stories of personal struggle and cultural pride. Gus Ugalde Jr.—my oldest student, in his 50s—told me how upset he was about the demolition of the 6th Street Bridge in February, because it held special memories of his youth in Boyle Heights. Then tell me a story, I told him. And he did, writing that in his memories, the days are long and never turn to night, and he is riding his bike across the bridge or crossing it on foot, holding his grandmother’s hand. “I can still hear the sound of my corduroy pants rubbing against each other like that of clothes being scrubbed on an old-fashioned washboard. It was perpetual summer. I could still see grandma holding her parasol overhead to shield herself from the unyielding rays of the sun.” I made it through the winter quarter and then spring, and now the fall semester. I have a lot to learn as a teacher, but I have a little more confidence now. My students are writing, we’re talking, and we’re getting to know each other. Maybe I’ll teach them a thing or two, and maybe they’ll return the favor. This is an updated version of a column first published by the Los Angeles Times.

Steve Lopez is a California native who has been a Los Angeles Times columnist since 2001. He has won more than a dozen national journalism awards for his reporting and column writing, and was a 2011 Pulitzer finalist for his columns on elder care. He is the author of three novels and a non-fiction work called The Soloist, which was a Los Angeles Times and New York Times best seller, winner of the PEN USA Literary Award for Non-Fiction, and the subject of a movie by the same name.


L.A. Story

READY FOR BLAST OFF John Griffith wants to be an astronaut, but first he’ll serve as an officer in the U.S. Marines. BY GWENDOLYN GABRIELLE


ohn Griffith has been reaching for the stars since before he can remember.

At just 19 years old, he is in his final year of study at Cal State LA, and he is well on his way to becoming an officer in the United States Marine Corps. His ultimate goal is to become an astronaut and to explore the vast unknown. “Earth is nothing compared to the billion-light-year expanse of blackness above our heads,” Griffith says. “But I don’t see that as a reason for accepting insignificance. I see a challenge.” Griffith rocketed straight from middle school to Cal State LA through the University’s Early Entrance Program (EEP), which is a unique opportunity that allows gifted students as young as 11 to enroll in college. Though he was only 14 at the time, Griffith says it wasn’t an overwhelming experience for him. The program provided a likeminded peer group—and a supportive environment. He excelled as he had done in middle school. “The only difference was the material.” Military service runs in the Griffith family. His father, uncles, grandfather, and great grandfather all served. Griffith’s father was a Marine attack helicopter pilot during


Desert Storm, and his grandfather was an Air Force communications officer stationed in a top-secret outpost in Laos during the Vietnam War, he says. Griffith “displays a maturity and sense of self-awareness beyond his years,” says Capt. Edison Feisal, Griffith’s Officer Selection Officer (OSO). Griffith says his maturity is a reflection of his parents and the way he was raised. His father, now retired from the Marines, works in his own law office as an aviation and spaceflight attorney. His mother works in her husband’s office and at the 2nd District Court of Appeals. She also owns a talent agency. “They raised me to…carry myself in a dignified and professional way, which conveniently the Marine Corps really emphasizes,” Griffith says. Griffith has already graduated from Marine Corps Officer Candidates School, a 10-week program he completed during summer break in Quantico, Va. Candidates go through a series of evaluations of academic ability, physical fitness, and leadership skills. Griffith says it was a humbling experience. He learned how he responds to pressure and how he can make mistakes he wouldn’t ordinarily make.

When he first started the application for the Marine Corps, Griffith says he was “by no means qualified.” He wasn’t physically prepared for the training required by the Marines. But he pushed himself to get in better shape and gain weight. He is now an avid hiker and has scaled Mt. Baldy twice. After he completes his mechanical engineering degree at Cal State LA, Griffith will be commissioned as a second lieutenant and return to Quantico for six months of Basic School. From there, he will attend flight school in Pensacola to become a naval aviator. “Based on his character and drive, I can foresee John achieving a myriad of things,” Feisal says. “His determination and dedication for excellence, combined with keen competition he will face within our organization, will set the stage for him to assume roles of greater responsibilities and reach higher levels of leadership.” Griffith will use his military career to eventually launch his space flight career. He has long-dreamed of becoming an astronaut. His mother worked in the casting department for Apollo 13, which became one of his favorite movies and further inspired him to pursue a career in space flight.

Earth is nothing compared to the billion-light-year expanse of blackness above our heads. But I don’t see that as a reason for accepting insignificance. I see a challenge.

— John Griffith


While in middle school, Griffith received a tour of SpaceX from a family friend who worked with the aerospace manufacturer. Awed and inspired, he built up his résumé over the next few years, working with Paragon Space Development Corporation when he was 16 and building his own projects. He and a friend built a weather balloon and conducted experiments. “It went up to 100,000 feet,” Griffith recalls. “We got some pretty good photos out of it.” All of his work paid off when he received his dream internship with SpaceX. He was fortunate enough to work with the company two summers in a row. He printed 3D plastic avionics boxes and hooked them up to hardware or electrical lines to test them out. He also analyzed workflow on composite pressure tanks that held high pressure helium; he identified any bottlenecks and worked them out with the manufacturing teams. “I couldn’t work on anything that flew up in space, unfortunately,” Griffith recalls. “But it was a pretty fun summer.” Griffith returns to his middle school almost every year to run a rocket workshop for eighth graders. The students build rockets over the course of a few days and launch them from the school’s baseball diamond. Griffith says it’s been a successful program that teaches the fundamentals of Newton’s laws and allows the kids to be creative. “It’s a fun project, and I enjoy running it every year.” He runs the workshop with eighth grade science teacher Simon Constantinides.

Says Constantinides: “I have been a classroom teacher for 20 years and I would have to rate John as one of my most creative students who has a knack and interest in extraordinary and unique ideas and approaches to design and engineering…I believe [John] will have a very successful future and will achieve his goals because of his work ethic and the belief that nothing is given, it is earned.” Griffith says he’d be in a totally different position than where he is now without the University. Because of the Early Entrance Program, Griffith is on track to accomplish his goals at a younger age than most people. Being the youngest person in a lot of situations makes him stand out—for better and for worse. “You get on the radar of recruiters and people you want to know you,” he explains. “But it makes it a little harder for other people to relate to you since your experiences are different.” Through the difficult moments when he worried about grades, Griffith says he never considered quitting. Whenever those feelings occur, he always picks himself up and pushes forward toward his goal. “I think a lot of people would be surprised by how far ambition and drive can carry you,” he says.

When Griffith journeys into space, he will join the ranks of other Cal State LA alumni who have worked in space exploration:  Samuel T. Durrance (’72, ’74 M.S.),

 Seymour Liebergot (’63),

NASA flight controller

 Adriana Ocampo (’83),

science program manager, NASA; Space Science Flight Missions, including New Frontiers Program Juno, New Horizon and Osiris-Rex

 Arthur V. Amador (’86),

Curiosity mission manager

 Ed Bennett (’68),

Gwendolyn Gabrielle is a graduate student majoring in television, film and theatre with a focus in dramatic writing.

payload specialist, Space Shuttle Columbia, Space Shuttle Endeavour

configuration management engineer

 Dina El Deeb (’99 M.S.),

strategic engineer support for mission assurance management, Mars Exploration Rover project

 Bill Kert (’79),


Curiosity contract negotiator


University News


Power to the People BY KATE KEALEY

Driven by a desire to help people in isolated communities, a group of students and a professor travel south of the border for a project that puts their engineering skills to the test.



vergrown shrubs lashed the red pickup as it bobbed up and down along the serpentine dirt roads of Oaxaca, Mexico. In the back of the truck, Ted Nye and his former students, Vianey Mateo and Tae Kyun Kim, were tucked in with groceries and cans of gasoline. The cramped ride was not part of Nye’s original plan, but the terrain required an off-road vehicle. They were relieved when the police officers they met in Santiago Jamiltepec just hours earlier offered to give them a lift on their supply run. After the convoy reached the hilltop and came to a stop, Nye, Mateo and Kim hopped down from the truck to size up the location for their project at Escuela Primaria Bilingüe Niños Héroes in El Huamuche. Though the school was named for the Boy Heroes of the Battle of Chapultepec, the buildings inside appeared in need of rescue. Barred windows were the only decorations on an otherwise plain classroom building painted in cream and faded mustard. The trio had passed probably 25 schools on the 10 hour trip up from the state capital, and any one of them could benefit from a solar power system and computers.

Mateo spent months working through back channels with educators that serve poor, isolated indigenous communities of the region to identify the school of greatest need. And this was it. Nye and his engineering students would construct a sustainable power system to connect this remote community to the modern age. All equipment would need to be trucked in, as well as a generator to power the tools. Food and water would have to be delivered from outside so that the team doesn’t lose members to illness during the tight construction schedule. And the only available lodging is an abandoned police outpost. But solar power and a classroom full of computers for the 109 children attending the elementary school would mean a big change in this agricultural community. The proposition seems risky. But the trio has decided to go for it. After all, they’ve already seen the success of this project in a similar community.

“How did you find this place?” Nye asks Mateo. “Well,” she responds, “you said to get the worst of the worst.”


Ted Nye retired after 29 years at Northrop Grumman, where he worked as the director of Space Technology, running a research group developing advanced technology for satellites. As a Cal State LA faculty member, Nye makes it his mission to create opportunities for students to learn problem-solving skills and gain practical experience that will be essential in their careers. The university’s chapter of Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW), a nonprofit network of students, faculty and professionals, is part of that mission. From the beginning, the students in ESW wanted to apply the skills they learned in engineering classes in a place like El Huamuche. “The vision was to install a big power system in a community that has few resources to help their people achieve higher education,” says Kim (’15), a graduate student in electrical engineering and former president of Cal State LA’s ESW. With the vision of the project set, the team needed to select a location. In the summer of 2014, Nye, Kim and Mateo travelled south of the border to recruit partners and scout a location for the pilot project. They were pointed in the direction of a town high up in the mountains, but accessibility and language barriers were obstacles too big to manage for their first project. Then Nye proposed another option: Mateo’s hometown of San Juan Teitipac. Mateo told them many stories about where she came from throughout the school year. How she was raised in an adobe house with a dirt floor. How her family’s stove was fueled by corn cobs and pieces of wood. “That was great back in the 1800s, but in today’s world, that’s amazing,” says Nye. “The feeling was that if we spent a little bit of energy down there, we could make a huge impact.”

A man rides his ox-drawn cart through the dirt roads of San Juan Teitipac, Mexico.


SAN JUAN TEITIPAC San Juan Teitipac lies in the Valles Centrales region of the state of Oaxaca. It’s a very old town that predates Spanish colonization. Many of the 2,000 residents still speak the language of their Zapotec ancestors who ruled the region from nearby Monte Albán, which is now a well-known archaeological ruin and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site. Communication within the town happens face-to-face or blasts from loudspeakers hung haphazardly in the tree line. The day’s announcements are shouted with the urgency of a morning traffic report. Only the messages are about birthdays, upcoming rodeo contests or who in town has a bull for sale. The cell signal is so weak that townspeople use their smartphones to take pictures instead of calls. Dialing a friend means a 15 minute walk outside of town on bumpy dirt roads. Yet the people of San Juan Teitipac have a strong desire to connect with the outside world—and to make progress.

As a child, Mateo witnessed first-hand the self-sufficiency that drives a lot of the progress in the community. “My family always talks about trying to do things for the betterment of the community. So I suppose that’s where I get it,” says Mateo, the fourth of six children. Her dad was a stone grinder who made molcajetes used to mash and grind the grain harvested from nearby fields. Her mom ran a diner, serving up steak, rice, beans and salsa verde, Mateo’s favorite. In 1999, her dad was elected vicepresidente, and had the privilege of representing the community in government matters. In this role, he would meet with regional leaders and petition the government for grant money to improve the infrastructure of the town. Listening to her father and seeing the daily struggles of the people in her community inspired Mateo to become an engineer. “We can ask for things, but the government doesn’t do a good job. So I thought maybe we can do it ourselves,” she says. “The schools are a good place to start because that’s where you can influence the children.”

THE SCHOOLS IN SAN JUAN TEITIPAC When Nye, Mateo and Kim first visited the elementary school in the summer of 2014, the plan was to build a system to power LED lights for a classroom. But one look at the sun shining through the wide open windows at midday and it was clear that dark classrooms weren’t the biggest problem.

“That’s the whole reason we probably want to do it,” Nye says. “It would break the mold. They go from three typewriters to Windows 10 with a wireless Ethernet network and state-of-the-art computers. It would blow their minds.” San Juan Teitipac was ideal for the pilot project. Many of the people in town speak Spanish, making communication relatively easy. Although most of the townspeople have received little formal education, the parent-teacher association is active and very committed to providing a better education for the next generation. And because Mateo came from this town, and her sister Maria still lived there with her family, it was easier to establish trust with the townspeople. “You can’t just walk into a place and say ‘I’m going to do this.’ You don’t know the people. They don’t know your intentions,” says Mateo. “I spoke to the officials of the town. I explained who we were, what we wanted to do and we convinced them we had good intentions. They accepted.”

During media class, the schoolchildren take turns learning how to type on three manual typewriters in hopes that they will someday operate a working computer.

Maybe there’s something smarter we could do, Nye suggested as they continued on their tour of the campus. The trio had entered the library when Nye spotted a relic from the past. Sitting on top of one of the wooden desks was a beat up manual typewriter. He asked Mateo about it. The children practice typing on them, Mateo explained. Nye thought for a second. “How about we think about putting in computers? That would be neat.” The proposal was pretty bold. For starters, many of the elementary students hadn’t yet seen a computer.


MEXICO 2015 Any concerns about the community’s commitment to the project quickly diminished once the Cal State LA team arrived in June 2015. The town was ready for Nye, Mateo, Kim and four other students—Alejandro Cordova, Moises Hernandez, Benny Garcia Sandoval and Ernesto Camacho. “Before we got down there, they moved the bookcases and books from the library and had completely emptied it out, painted the room, washed and waxed the floors. I could tell this was sinking in pretty hard. They were going to protect those computers with their lives,” says Nye. During the visit, the townspeople showed appreciation to the Cal State LA students and made them feel at home. Homemade lunches were often accompanied by entertainment from student dance groups, singers or children in traditional dress. The mayor invited officials from other towns and local dignitaries to show off the work being done. The town even held a parade with hundreds cheering from the sidewalks—an unexpected hero’s welcome. “Although they have few resources, they were very generous with how they shared them. They opened their homes,” says Kim. “People walking by would find out what we were doing and immediately offer to help. Sometimes it would be as easy as cleaning up, or stripping wires or just making shade for us. Very simple, but they were happy to do it.” The team spent five days in town. They brought along a project plan, which had been reviewed by engineers in the Los Angeles

Department of Water and Power and Northrop Grumman. The plan focused on two schools. At Escuela Primaria Valentin Gomez Farias, the town’s elementary school, the Cal State LA students installed a roof-mounted solar panel system, 13 desktop computers, three color inkjet printers and one wireless modem. For Escuela Secundaria Técnica No. 99, the middle school, they stabilized an existing power source with a transformer that would protect the computer lab from power surges, installed 22 desktop computers, four printers and a wireless modem. Combined, the schools serve 550 children in the community.

When those computers got turned on for the first time, the screen savers mesmerized them. Seeing their text come up on the screen as they typed, that was thrilling enough for them.

Schoolchildren observe Ernesto Camacho as he constructs a solar panel at Escuela Primaria Valentin Gomez Farias.


— Ted Nye

The installation provided the team from Cal State LA with an opportunity to apply what they’d learned in the classroom. They also had to consider ways to make the systems less intimidating to the school employees and technician, since they would be responsible for its day-to-day operation. “We anticipated some sort of fear, so we engineered a lot of protection, both automatic and passive, so they have full control,” says Kim. Lower voltage batteries were selected to store the energy, reducing the chance of electrocution and making it easier to find replacements at the Wal-Mart in Oaxaca. High voltage equipment was secured in conduit and out of reach of small hands. Red, yellow and green status lights indicate how much power the system has left. The labels and data logs were so simple and clear that even the middle school students could understand them. And the team outfitted the rooftop mounts with a grid of cables to shield the panels from soccer balls bouncing up from the playground. “In school, you get real good exposure to the analytical tools and theory and math, but you don’t get any exposure to the practicalities of running conduit, how to wire up electrical fixtures. So this was a good experience for them,” says Nye. As the system hummed to life, it became the capstone of the Cal State LA students’ education, but the beginning of a new era of education for the students of San Juan Teitipac. “When those computers got turned on for the first time, the screen savers mesmerized them. Seeing their text come up on the screen as they typed, that was thrilling enough for them,” says Nye.

The Cal State LA team members, aided by town police, lift the solar panel mounts before fastening them to the roof.

The computers have enhanced classroom instruction, allowing teachers to present subject material in a way they were never able to before. The new computers boot up inside the media room.


“It is so different to just read about the cycle of water and how it becomes rain than to see it on a screen with audio and other visuals,” says the elementary school principal, Fidel Vargas. “The visual impact is so much greater. The students are so excited they don’t want to move on to other parts of their daily schedule.” A crucial element of the project’s success was Mateo’s role in serving as project organizer, says Nye. “She’s come back, and she’s investing in their community. I couldn’t tell if it was inspiring the students, but I could tell it inspired the parents. You could see it in their faces,” says Nye. After the group left Mexico that summer, Nye and Kim returned to Cal State LA, and Mateo went to Canada to begin work on her master’s degree in power systems at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. She’s been working remotely with the team ever since. Vargas sends regular updates to Mateo. They share ideas on how to improve the school curriculum and find new teaching resources. “We are very grateful for all her help,” Vargas says. “We don’t have any money to pay her and it seems her only satisfaction is seeing that the children have access to all this… the only way we have been able to have learning tools is thanks to this partnership with Miss Vianey and Cal State LA.” The hope is that as the students become more familiar with

computers, they will ignite and feed a curiosity that shapes the students’ lives and inspires their community in a positive way. The project and trip cost a little under $60,000 and was funded by Nye and his wife, Ann, who graduated from Cal State LA in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and also retired from Northrop Grumman. “Ted and Vianey’s vision for how our engineering students could bring their classroom knowledge into the field, and into a community that impacts lives right here, right now is invaluable,” says Emily Allen, dean of the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology. “Ted has brought this kind of energy to the entire senior design program for the college, which has benefited from his experience as a practitioner, as well as his compassion and astounding dedication to our students and their communities.” In the year since the installation, the system has not failed once. In June 2016, Nye, Mateo and Kim reunited in San Juan Teitipac for a maintenance check of the system. It’s producing so much power that Nye purchased more computers for the schools. Vargas says the first and second grade teachers have been scanning books and projecting them on screens to showcase images, videos and audio for an interactive experience. Meanwhile, the older elementary students are being introduced to software programs, including the Spanish-language version of Microsoft Office, and using the Internet to build virtual libraries.

Costumed schoolchildren perform traditional dances as a thank you during lunch for the Cal State LA team.


WHERE TO NEXT? After their success in San Juan Teitipac, the team started to think about its next major project. “I told Vianey ‘pick out the worst of the worst school,’ ” says Nye. “We want the ones that are really off the grid. Neglected. That are just hopeless. That’s what we’re after.” Most students in El Huamuche don’t make it past the ninth grade, because there’s no high school in town. A new group of Cal State LA students is designing the system for El Huamuche this school year. The project will again involve installing the solar power system and computers at the elementary school. This time, ESW will forgo the printers and instead add a projector and screen. They will also provide the junior high school with 10 laptops. In June 2017, the team will travel south of the border for the installation. The community has greater need and the project is more ambitious, but they’re ready for the challenge. “This one here is probably going to be the hardest of the hard,” Nye says. “If we can do this one, we can probably take on anywhere that they need it.” J. Emilio Flores assisted with translation for this report. Illustrations: Nery Orellana. All images courtesy of Cal State LA’s Engineers for a Sustainable World.

A classroom at Escuela Primaria Niños Héroes in El Huamuche, Mexico.




n the final day of Commencement, President William A. Covino stood on stage at the University Athletic Stadium and made the kind of announcement no other president before him had made. “I’m proud to announce that the College of Health and Human Services has been renamed the Rongxiang Xu College of Health and Human Services,” Covino said to an audience of thousands last June. The gathering of soon-to-be graduates, friends, family, faculty and staff erupted in applause. Several officials, including Congressman Xavier Becerra, California Treasurer John Chiang, Congresswoman Judy Chu and Chinese Counsel General Liu Jian, were also in the audience. That announcement marked the start of a new era in giving for the University. The Rongxiang Xu College of Health and Human Services is now the first named college at Cal State LA. The naming recognizes the largest gift in the University’s history. “That gift will enable Cal State LA to realize many dreams, including constructing the Rongxiang Xu Bioscience Innovation

Center, the building that will house LA BioSpace,” Cal State LA Vice President Jose A. Gomez announced at the groundbreaking for the center. The LA BioSpace incubator will allow startup bioscience companies to collaborate with Cal State LA students and faculty to develop new technologies. The gift from the National Rongxiang Xu Foundation commemorates the extraordinary contributions of Dr. Rongxiang Xu, a scientist, surgeon, inventor and humanitarian, who passed away in 2015. Xu’s breakthroughs helped alleviate the pain and improve the outcomes of countless burn patients. “To heal patients and eliminate their suffering was my father’s greatest dream,” says Kevin Xu, a business leader and entrepreneur who is the son of Xu. “Through this commitment, I want a new generation of professionals to inherit my father’s spirit of saving others from suffering and pain.” Kevin Xu and his mother, Dr. Li Li, were awarded the Presidential Medallion at the 2016 Commencement. Xu grew up in a poor family in rural China. When he was

From left to right: California State Treasurer John Chiang, Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, MEBO International CEO Kevin Xu, Grifols Biologicals Inc. President Willie Zuñiga, President William A. Covino, National Rongxiang Xu Foundation Chairman Dr. Li Li, former Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, and Cal State LA Vice President Jose A. Gomez.


Above Left: Dr. Rongxiang Xu developed an innovative therapy to treat burn victims. Above Right: President William A. Covino awards the Presidential Medallion to Xu’s widow, Dr. Li Li.

3 years old, he was so malnourished he almost died, according to his biography. A village cadre helped save Xu’s life by sharing his ration. That early experience fueled Xu’s desire to help others. After high school he studied medicine at the Qingdao Medical College in China. “He didn’t have a lot of resources and opportunities to become a success,” says Kevin Xu. “Eventually the people who believed in him provided him the opportunity and the platform [to succeed].” After witnessing the pain and scarring burn patients endured, Xu set out to discover a less painful treatment approach. Through innovative research in tissue repair, Xu developed a burn therapy for patients that restores the structure and function of the skin, resulting in less pain, illness and death. “My father spent every day of his life dedicated to helping others,” recalls Kevin Xu, who refers to his father as a true hero. In 1987, Xu’s research led to the founding of MEBO International, which is the operational base of Moist Exposed Burn Ointment, the world-renowned regenerative medical technology for burns, wounds and ulcers. Today, more than 200,000 doctors around the world use MEBO technologies and products. Three U.S. presidents—Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and George H.W. Bush—have recognized Xu’s groundbreaking achievements. USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology will be home to the Rongxiang Xu Center for Regenerative Life Science. Harvard Medical School houses the Rongxiang Xu, M.D., Center of Regenerative Therapeutics within Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The National Rongxiang Xu Foundation is also a major supporter of the Rongxiang Xu Bioscience Innovation Center at Cal State LA. The groundbreaking for the new center was held on Nov. 18.

Hundreds attended the ceremony, including several industry leaders, as well as elected officials Congresswoman Lucille RoybalAllard, Chu, Chiang, Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez and former Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, who helped secure the first major grant for the bioscience incubator. Wilfred Marshall of the Economic Development Administration, which provided a grant to the incubator, was also present. “LA BioSpace will give our students and faculty the chance to work with entrepreneurs to put Los Angeles at the forefront of the bioscience industry,” says Vice President Gomez, who chairs the LA BioSpace Advisory Board. “This will create jobs and new opportunities for the communities we serve.” For Kevin Xu, the gathering marked the birth of a “bioscience ecosystem,” a collective of organizations and institutions committed to building a flourishing industry. “This…is an ecosystem that will be able to work together, and that way we can truly turn around the community,” Kevin Xu says. The center will support pioneering research and innovation. Inside the two-story, nearly 21,000-square-foot building, students, faculty and local entrepreneurs will work together, sharing their expertise and knowledge. The Rongxiang Xu Bioscience Innovation Center will become a resource for scientists and innovators, and it will help Cal State LA become a leader in the region’s growing bioscience industry. The center, along with the newly named college, will continue Xu’s legacy. The spirit of a hero never dies, Kevin Xu says: “Their spirit is passed down as a heritage that transforms generation after generation.” Gwendolyn Gabrielle is a graduate student majoring in television, film and theatre with a focus in dramatic writing.

School of Nursing named for alumna Patricia A. Chin In December the University announced that it has received a $7 million gift that will name the Patricia A. Chin School of Nursing and establish the Chin Family Institute for Nursing. This transformative gift comes from Dr. Patricia Chin and her husband, William Chin, M.D. Patricia Chin is a Cal State LA alumna who earned her bachelor’s degree in 1980 and master's degree in 1984. She was also the director of the Cal State LA School of Nursing and was named emerita faculty upon her retirement from the University. Patricia Chin has been a strong supporter of the University for more than 30 years. William Chin was a founding partner and executive medical director of HealthCare Partners, LLC. The Chins’ gift will endow the Chin Family Institute for Nursing and create a state-of-the-art nursing simulation lab in the Rongxiang Xu College of Health and Human Services. “As U.S. health care evolves to improve the quality and access to patients and reduce the waste in our health care system, it is nursing that will be the catalyst for this change,” Patricia Chin said. Cal State LA President William A. Covino thanked the Chins for their generosity. “Their assistance will enable the University to continue to be a national leader in nursing education and ensure student success and academic distinction for years to come,” Covino said. Ron Vogel, dean of the Rongxiang Xu College of Health and Human Services, noted that the nursing master’s degree program has been ranked consistently during the past decade as one of the best in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. “This extraordinary gift will allow our prominence to grow,” Vogel said.


Faculty Authors


This book examines indigenous education from diverse Asian perspectives. Edited by Jun Xing, professor of liberal studies and Pak-sheung Ng.

Using clinical wisdom, real stories, and checklists, this book provides readers with an honest landscape of pathological narcissism. Ramani Durvasula, professor of psychology.


This collection of original essays surveys long-term patterns of everyday life for Russians through the post-Soviet present. Edited by Choi Chatterjee, professor of history, David L. Ransel, Mary Cavender, and Karen Petrone. Afterword by Sheila Fitzpatrick.

This anthology contains newspaper articles that provided hope and courage to readers during WWII. Edited by Gary Best, professor emeritus of special education.

Using both practical and inspirational approaches, this book helps recent graduates of music programs navigate the world of professional singing. Susan Mohini Kane, professor of music.

Professor Pamela Regan and her co-author explore human sexuality and its impact on students’ lives today. Pamela Regan, professor of psychology, and Bruce M. King

Cover Story

Real Life: THE ART OF

Kent Twitchell 35

Artist Kent Twitchell in his studio with a sketch of Ed Ruscha. The new Ed Ruscha mural will appear on the American Hotel in the Arts District of Los Angeles. (Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Times)

Walls that Live and Breathe BY JOCELYN Y. STEWART


rtist Kent Twitchell (’72) knows Los Angeles. He knows the city’s energy, its wild mix of people, its aesthetics, and especially its walls.

That knowledge comes from decades of working on the streets of the city, creating murals. Twitchell gave Los Angeles those elegant orchestra musicians who overlook the 110 Freeway; the enigmatic Bride and Groom on the side of a downtown bridal shop; the Freeway Lady, draped in her colorful afghan, who once stared out from a freeway wall.

Los Angeles is his open-air gallery, housing a lifetime of his work. Making art that is intended to live outside, and is intended to become an integral part of civic life, has earned Twitchell an expansive audience. Generations of city residents who may never have visited an art gallery or museum have enjoyed rich art experiences through his murals. Twitchell’s signature pieces are now part of the city’s history.

“He’s one of the greatest…living muralists in the world,” says Eric Bjorgum, president of the board of directors of the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles. “It’s good to have someone like that in the community. He has painted [works of art] that are inherently indicative of Los Angeles or Southern California.” His work has been collected by the Smithsonian, the Chicago Art Institute, the Long Beach Museum of Art, the Boise Art Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The institutions hold large drawings he creates before embarking on a mural. “He’s not the first person to do this, but he’s one of the major ones doing museum quality work outside,” says Bjorgum, who is an intellectual property rights attorney. “It’s not spray cans; it’s serious art being done outside.” Twitchell’s highly visible art has changed the nature of the urban outdoors, imbuing walls with life and meaning. The Los Angeles Times once wrote of Twitchell: “The city shaped him as much as he shaped its urban landscape.”

Previous page: Ed Ruscha Monument by Kent Twitchell (1987). The mural at 1031 S. Hill St. in Los Angeles was illegally painted over in June 2006. (Photo courtesy of Kent Twitchell)


Above Left: The Bride and Groom by Kent Twitchell (1976), at 240 S. Broadway. Above Right: Twitchell’s first outdoor mural, Steve McQueen Monument (1971), at 12th and Union in Los Angeles. (Photos courtesy of Kent Twitchell)

This reciprocal relationship had its start at Cal State LA. For Twitchell, the University was the perfect incubator—a public university, in the heart of the city, with an art department faculty open to new ways of seeing art. Back then, the idea of painting museum quality work on the sides of buildings was still unusual. “This was 1971. This really wasn’t done much,” he says, recalling his days at the University. “It really was that environment that

enabled me to do it. The art instructors there were really so amenable to thinking outside of the box.” Twitchell was born in 1942 and raised on a farm in Michigan. By high school he was earning money as an artist with the lettering skills an uncle taught him. In 1960, at the age of 17, Twitchell enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and served as an illustrator. Of his five years in the military, three and a half were spent in England. The nation’s castles and cathedrals left him awestruck.

He’s one of the greatest…living muralists in the world. — Eric Bjorgum

President of the board of directors of the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles.

Below: Marathon Runners (1988) was originally painted on the 405 Freeway. It was relocated to the 5 Freeway in 2006. (Photo courtesy of Kent Twitchell)


Harbor Freeway Overture (1993), viewed daily by thousands of commuters on the 110 Freeway, was painted to promote the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra. (Photo courtesy of Kent Twitchell)

“There was something about them that changed me forever,” he recalls. “The spires going up into the sky; something so monumental and uplifting. It was an inspiration. I wanted that to be in my art.”

And then, in a true Hollywood moment, their house became famous. Suddenly the portrait of McQueen was showing up in publications everywhere, from the Los Angeles Times to the London Times.

After his discharge Twitchell moved to Los Angeles. University study was not in his plans; the idea intimidated him.

“It was just ridiculous...I thought I was the next Andy Warhol,” Twitchell quips.

“But I had the GI bill and I thought, ‘someday I’m going to wish I had done it,’” he told graduates of the College of Arts and Letters in 2016.

One good thing led to another and another. The art department at Cal State LA received a postcard from an admirer offering Twitchell the opportunity to paint a mural on his East Hollywood building on Fountain Avenue, an offer Twitchell accepted. He created a portrait of Strother Martin, the actor from the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, who delivered the classic line— “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate”—after kicking Paul Newman into a ravine. Martin called after seeing and enjoying the mural.

At East Los Angeles College, Twitchell earned an associate’s degree, but after a few years he decided to enroll at Cal State LA. His fears of academia gave way to delight. He explored his interests, taking classes in cinema, drama, industrial arts. The idea to go big came to Twitchell as he sat in an illustration class at Cal State LA taught by Roy Walden, a tough military veteran and a master teacher. Walden was teaching about values, the lights and darks that create form in a painting. Walden’s method was to simplify the world by turning it into black and white, determining its values, and then later adding color and detail. That method allowed Twitchell a mastery he had not had before. That’s when it hit him. “I figured whatever I was doing in his class, I could make it bigger,” says Twitchell, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art.


When he was a senior at Cal State LA, Twitchell created The Freeway Lady. The portrait is believed to be the first mural painted on a freeway wall, he says. “There were magical things happening to me when I was a student there,” Twitchell says. It wasn’t just that his professors were supportive of his huge endeavors. They gave him University credit for them. That official endorsement validated his work and encouraged him.

“I always loved Mt. Rushmore,” he says. “I remember seeing pictures of it in books when I was a kid. I dreamed of being a sculptor and doing giant sculptures.”

On the streets, reaction was mixed. “Hippies” loved it; other people didn’t know what to make it of it—until later when the media began featuring him in stories. But Twitchell was doing what he loved in the place he loves. He immersed himself in the communities where he created murals.

Making murals was more economical. But Twitchell needed an appropriate canvas. Cal State LA classmate Rebecca Yoon (’71) offered the first: a house her family owned in the Pico-Union district of downtown Los Angeles. When Yoon told her parents Twitchell was painting a “star,” they expected to see a celestial body. They were surprised to return home and find a portrait of actor Steve McQueen covering an outside wall of the home.

Now 74, Twitchell is known as a master of portraiture in its purest form. Often his work depicts a lone figure looking directly at the observer.

“I take very seriously the place that I’m in and I think like an architect,” he says. “I want the piece I’m making to fit naturally on the wall, as if it had always been there and for it to be a part of the trees, and the signage, and the street lights.”

“Kent’s work traverses the styles of Pop, Photorealism, and Postmodern Realism,” says Mika Cho, chair of the Department of Art at Cal State LA. His subjects range from the well-known to the unknown. One of Twitchell’s heroes, Norman Rockwell, was known for using people in his town as the subjects of his illustrations for The Saturday Evening Post. Following in that tradition, Twitchell paints the people of his town, the movie stars and the super stars and the regular folk of Los Angeles. Early in his study of art, Twitchell noticed a strain of elitism that he’s bucked against ever since. At the core of his devotion to public art is a belief that art should be egalitarian. “I’m a simple farm kid,” Twitchell says. “I wanted to do as good a job as I could and do it out in the street where it’s vulnerable.” Whether it’s the Statue of Liberty, or a mural in a Metro station, art in public spaces redefines that space. Advocates of public art say it engages, sparks dialogue and can strengthen community. Fellow alum, Mark Steven Greenfield (’87), who has been commissioned to create a mural at the Metro station on Broadway, said public art reflects “an investment in a community.” Yet, for all its benefits, public art must sometimes fight for the space it occupies. Twitchell’s latest project is re-creating a work of his that was the subject of a landmark lawsuit. From a studio in Long Beach he has created the sections that together will form his new mural of L.A. artist Ed Ruscha. The mural will live on the side of the American Hotel in the Arts District of downtown Los Angeles. His original mural of Ruscha lived on the wall of a governmentowned building and was finished in 1987, after a decade of work. The homage was white-washed in 2006 by a crew that was working on the YWCA Job Corps Center. That action disregarded a law that

protects the rights of artists, requiring that they are informed and given an opportunity to preserve their works. The lawsuit settled for more than a million dollars, said Bjorgum, who litigated the case. The outcome was more than a personal victory for Twitchell; it helped raise awareness about public art and its vital role in civic life. In fact, by the 1980s Twitchell could see that public art needed advocates. His work, and that of other muralists, was strangled by graffiti, making it difficult for people to see its value. “They began to equate public art with ugliness,” Twitchell recalls. Twitchell co-founded and sits on the board of directors of the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles. The conservancy is dedicated to restoring, preserving, and documenting the murals of Los Angeles. Working with Caltrans, the California Department of Transportation, the conservancy has helped to keep new graffiti off murals and to restore others. Since its inception the nonprofit has also helped increase appreciation for public art. Last year, Twitchell received an honorary doctorate degree from the CSU Board of Trustees and Cal State LA “in recognition of his distinguished career, his contributions to the beauty of urban landscapes, and his role as an advocate for public art.” Twitchell has heard the stories of people who grew up with his murals, seeing them on the way to school, or while shopping downtown. “When they get older…it takes on other kinds of meanings,” he says. Those stories are the ones he remembers because they confirm his decision to place his art on city walls, for the people of the city to enjoy. No admission required. “I wanted it to be outside where real people are, and to be a part of real life.”

The New Freeway Lady (2015) is located on the campus of Los Angeles Valley College.



TAKING FLIGHT With new basketball coaches and a new executive director for athletics, the basketball program is ready to soar. FROM STAFF REPORTS


nside the University Gymnasium, the Golden Eagles basketball program is entering a new era. A sense of excitement and optimism fills the gym as balls bounce on the hardwood floor and players on the men’s and women’s teams race across the court. The teams are led by two new coaches with impeccable credentials: Cheryl Miller and Jim Saia. Miller is a basketball legend, Olympian and Hall of Famer who has been a successful coach and sports broadcaster. As the head coach for the women’s team, her goal is to improve upon last season’s record. Saia is a skilled tactician who has turned around basketball programs at three universities during 30 years of coaching. He will direct a men’s team that reached the semi-finals in the 2016 CCAA Championship Tournament. Miller and Saia are rebuilding their squads as new Executive Director for Athletics Daryl Gross seeks to elevate Cal State LA athletics to greater prominence. “I look forward to building on the program’s foundation and carrying the torch in a way that is truly extraordinary,” says Gross, who came to Cal State LA from Syracuse University. “Our goals will include graduating our student-athletes while providing them a championship experience that will help them become leaders who make an impact on society. They will carry on in the tradition of alumni such as the great Billie Jean King.” As a teenager, Miller spent summers in the U.S. Olympic development program, held in the Cal State LA gym. “The first college I played at, literally, was Cal State LA,” she says. “I’m glad to be back.”



(NAIA) ranking in two seasons as head coach. She brings a wealth of playing and coaching experience to the University—and a clear sense of purpose. “Graduating and developing women of inspiration and substance is my goal,” Miller says. “Cal State LA is the perfect place for that mission.” Saia is a deft recruiter and offensive mastermind whose teams have been known for putting points on the board. He spent seven years as the top assistant coach at UCLA, recruiting talent that helped land the nation’s top-ranked recruiting classes in 1998 and 2001. During his time in Westwood, the Bruins featured a potent offensive attack. His teams made five appearances in the NCAA “Sweet 16,” one “Elite 8” appearance and won three Pac-10 championships. Saia mentored 10 Bruins who went on to the NBA, including Baron Davis, Dan Gadzuric, Earl Watson, Jason Kapono and Jerome Moiso.

Cheryl Miller

Jim Saia

Considered one of the greatest basketball players of all time, Miller led USC to two national titles in the 1980s and was twice named National Collegiate Athletic Association Tournament Most Valuable Player. In 1984, the dominating forward guided the U.S. Olympic team to a gold medal at the Summer Games in Los Angeles.

During his year as interim head coach at USC, Saia started two freshmen and a sophomore, including Nick Young, who now plays for the Los Angeles Lakers. They became known as the “Big 3,” fueling a high-scoring Trojan offense. Recently, he served for five years as head coach at Cal State San Marcos, where he started from scratch and turned the program into a basketball powerhouse. Under his leadership, the Cougars won more than 30 games in back-to-back seasons, made repeated trips to the NAIA Championship and won back-to-back Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) championship tournament titles. Basketball Times named Saia National Coach of the Year in 2014 and 2015. He was also twice named A.I.I. Coach of the Year.

After knee injuries ended her playing career in the late 1980s, Miller embarked on a successful career as a coach and television reporter and analyst. Miller was the head women’s basketball coach at USC for two seasons, taking the Trojans to the NCAA tournament both years. She also served as head coach and general manager of the Phoenix Mercury of the Women’s National Basketball Association, guiding the team to the league finals in 1998.

“I came to Cal State LA to teach studentathletes to be successful on the court, in the classroom and in life,” Saia says. “We’re going to win championships and graduate young men who will embody the University’s mission of engagement, service, and the public good.”

Prior to Cal State LA, Miller was the head coach of the women’s basketball team at Langston University in Oklahoma, where she led the Lions to a No. 18 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Daryl Gross



SET FOR SUCCESS She was a star on the court and in the classroom; now she coaches other students. BY GWENDOLYN GABRIELLE


lumna Iona Lofrano credits her success to her unstoppable drive, which serves her on the volleyball court and in the classroom.

One of the top outside hitters in the country, Lofrano was the first three-time All-American at Cal State LA and led the Golden Eagles in kills during her junior and senior years. Now, she is developing new skills as a volunteer with the volleyball team. “I’ve always had a lot of goals for myself, and I don’t like to settle,” Lofrano explains. “I always think that I can do more. Even [after] what I did here the last three years…I still want more.” Wanting something more—and something different—is what landed Lofrano at Cal State LA. She was raised in a soccer family in Northern California’s Meadow Vista. Her father Fred Lofrano, now a referee, was her soccer coach when she was growing up. Her mother, Gillian Lofrano, was also hands-on with her daughter’s soccer career, and Gillian still plays a few nights a week. Lofrano was a shoo-in to continue playing soccer in high school and college. But during her junior year of high school, Lofrano told her family she planned to play volleyball instead of soccer. “I think I broke my dad’s heart,” she recalls. Though he disagreed with her choice, he didn’t try to stop her. While attending high school, she also played with Cal Synergy Volleyball Club and Force Volleyball Club. Lofrano had never heard of Cal State LA until she was approached by a recruiter. As soon as she stepped foot on campus, she fell in love. The campus felt warm and welcoming and Lofrano felt comfortable moving here, six hours away from her parents. Southern California’s warm weather also helped sway her decision. But the awards and recognition Lofrano had grown accustomed to did not follow her to Cal State LA—not right away. Like all freshmen, she spent her first year on the bench as a redshirt. She went from accolades to silence. “It’s really hard [to go through that]. But obviously I wasn’t going to quit.” She spent the off-season improving her game, and when she got the chance to play during her sophomore season, she racked up the accolades and led the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) with 513 kills.



As a senior, the exercise science major received the 2015 Cal State LA Billie Jean King Scholarship. She was named to the 2015 Academic All-America Division II Volleyball Team, which recognizes the nation’s top student-athletes for their performances athletically and in the classroom.

Serving as a volunteer with Cal State LA’s volleyball team allows her to learn more about game tactics, recruiting, and creating practice plans based around opposing teams. She loves working with teenage players and is considering a future career in volleyball coaching.

Lofrano credits much of her success to former Coach Randi Smart and former Assistant Coach Jeff Alzina.

But the drive to serve and spike has not diminished. This spring, Lofrano is participating in the University’s first beach volleyball team.

“They have both given me so much, not only in volleyball, but in life.”

“[Cal State LA] has a small community feel,” Lofrano says. “I’ve always had good relationships with all of my professors. Everyone is willing to get you what you need, and then they give you more. I’ve been fortunate to be so successful here.”

She considers them mentors as well as friends. Lofrano is grateful to have had two coaches who continuously educate themselves in order to educate their team. Smart and Alzina dedicate time to their players, even during the offseason. Alzina says Lofrano’s biggest strength is her focus. “She doesn’t want to be good at whatever she puts her time into. She wants to be the best.”

Gwendolyn Gabrielle is a graduate student majoring in television, film and theatre with a focus in dramatic writing.

Lofrano always enjoyed learning, and she found a way to balance her class work and her team responsibilities. “You have to set your priorities,” says Lofrano, who maintained a 3.64 GPA her senior year. Lofrano is currently working on a Master of Science in kinesiology with an option in exercise science. Because of connections she was able to make through her coaches, Lofrano has had the opportunity to coach a few teams of her own.

[Cal State LA] has a small community feel. I’ve always had good relationships with all of my professors. Everyone is willing to get you what you need, and then they give you more. I’ve been fortunate to be so successful here. — Iona Lofrano


Alumni News President William A. Covino welcomes alumni to a special reception in the City Hall rotunda.

Alumni return to Cal State LA for 25th and 50th Reunion celebrations BY HANNAH BOWEN


To kick off the celebration, alumni from the 1960s joined their former classmates at the Golden Eagle patio for a social gathering. Guests reminisced about the music, fashions and automobiles of the time while perusing Cal State LA yearbooks, photographs and memorabilia from the 1960s. For many, it was the first time back on campus since their graduation ceremony 50 or more years ago.

On Oct. 7, the Alumni Association hosted reunions for the Class of 1966 and Class of 1991.

James Oaks and Nida Alex recalled taking engineering classes together in the late 1950s, when the University was comprised of just a few buildings scattered across the hillside terrain. They marveled at how the University had changed.

ommencement marks the completion of a degree, but it is also the beginning of life as an alumnus of the University.

In 2016, the Cal State LA Alumni Association organized two reunions and other special events to bring alumni together to reconnect, reflect, and share the many ways that the University has influenced their lives.

Nearly 100 alumni and their guests gathered at Cal State LA to rekindle friendships and sustain their relationship with their alma mater. The event was a testament to the bonds of community and the lasting impact that a university experience can provide. “Welcoming alumni back to the University inspired new connections and networking opportunities to support student success and foster university pride,” says Maria Ubago (’98, ’06 M.S.), executive director for Alumni Relations.


“It’s almost breathtaking,” says Oaks, who graduated in 1960 with a bachelor’s degree in engineering. As the guests entered the Golden Eagle Ballroom for lunch, they were welcomed with popular tunes from the 1960s performed live by a student band. Throughout the program, alumni mingled with their classmates and shared their fondest campus memories. “Cal State LA was a real special time in all of our lives,” said Félix Gutiérrez (’65), who was the keynote speaker for the 50th Reunion. Gutiérrez, emeritus professor for journalism and communication


Alumna Capri Maddox speaks at the 25th Reunion celebration.

Alumni show off their new caps during Cal State LA Day at Dodger Stadium.

at USC, credited Cal State LA with providing an affordable and quality education that prepared him for future success.

“My life was built here.”

The 50th Reunion continued with the celebration of an important milestone. Alumni from the Class of 1966 were inducted into the University’s Half-Century Club, which honors alumni who graduated 50 or more years ago. Inductees proudly accepted the Half-Century Club lapel pin, symbolizing the history and legacy of Cal State LA. Later that afternoon, alumni from the 1990s enjoyed refreshments and hors d’oeuvres in the Soriano Room at the Golden Eagle. The alumni took a trip down memory lane as they viewed photographs of the campus from the 1990s. “It was wonderful reminiscing with classmates and seeing others reconnect at this year’s reunions,” said Sylvia Martinez (’82, ’87 M.A.), president of the Cal State LA Alumni Association Board of Directors. “The alumni participation displays the lasting impression that a student’s experience at Cal State LA can make.” The keynote speaker was Capri Maddox (’91, ’95 M.S.), who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and master’s degree in public administration. Maddox is a special assistant city attorney and senior advisor to Los Angeles City Attorney Michael N. Feuer. “Thank you for building lives at Cal State LA,” Maddox said.

In addition to the class reunions on campus, the Alumni Association provides alumni engagement opportunities at some of the most iconic Los Angeles landmarks. In September, alumni and their guests enjoyed an exciting night of dance performances accompanied by Conductor Ludovic Morlot and the Los Angeles Philharmonic at Classical Thursdays at the Hollywood Bowl. In August, they met at Dodger Stadium to cheer on the home team as they played the Chicago Cubs. Alumni enjoyed shaded seating, peanuts and Cracker Jack as they sported new Cal State LA baseball caps. In March, the Alumni Association held a special reception in the City Hall rotunda, where they networked and learned about Cal State LA’s vision for the region. The Alumni Association is committed to preserving the University’s traditions and building community among Cal State LA alumni. “Cal State LA alumni strongly influence our University’s future. I encourage you to get involved with the Alumni Association and your alma mater so you can be part of these special events,” says Ubago.

For more information regarding our upcoming events, please contact the Alumni Association at (323) 343-2586 or

70 Anniversary th

Cal State LA celebrates an important milestone this year: The University’s 70th anniversary. Throughout 2017, you’ll see this special mark on our website, select alumni mailings, and at events. The mark was created to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Cal State LA. We invite everyone to participate in our celebrations. Watch your mail for invitations and news.





STANFORD OKEN (’52), a former Fresno County supervisor, received the Fresno Chamber of Commerce’s Leon S. Peters Award for service to the community.

1960s DICK BRUICH (’69) was inducted into the California Interscholastic FederationSouthern Section Hall of Fame after 43 years in education and 32 years as head football coach. He led his teams to a combined 20 league championships and one national championship. CARLOS MUÑOZ, JR. (’67), professor emeritus of Chicano/Latino Studies at UC Berkeley, received the University of California 2015-16 Edward A. Dickson Distinguished Emeriti Professorship. JEANNETTE OAKES (’69 M.A.), senior fellow in residence at the Learning Policy Institute, was nominated by former President Barack Obama to the National Board for Education Sciences. TOM RIVERA (’62, ’68 M.A.) was reappointed to the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board.


GILBERT VASQUEZ (’64), managing partner at Vasquez and Company LLP, was named Latino Business of the Year in the small private company category by the Los Angeles Business Journal.


STEVEN GELLATLY (’78) is the pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in West Milton, Ohio. ALAN HELLER (’72) is president of Duarte’s Public Access Channel, DCTV. GARY ROBERT JOHNSON (’76 M.A.), a wildlife artist, had several of his artworks on display at the 11th annual ArtWalk @ Liberty Station in San Diego. ISAAC LARIAN (’78), chief executive officer of MGA Entertainment, has launched a line of STEM-focused dolls. Larian was featured in Larian the Los Angeles Times and was honored as a keynote speaker at Cal State LA’s 68th Commencement Ceremonies.



professional boxing debut at the historic Olympic Auditorium. After boxing, Muniz taught for more than 20 years at Riverside Rubidoux High, where he also ran a youth boxing program. PAUL PITINO (’72) is the mayor of Arcata. GEORGE PLA (’72), president and CEO of Cordoba Corporation, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Business Journal’s 2016 Latino Business Awards. He Pla was also honored with the 2016 Joe Shapiro Humanitarian Award during the 19th Billie Jean King & Friends Gala. MARTIN B. SAKLAD (’71) marked 20 years as president and CEO of HMC Inc., an electronic manufacturers’ representative firm that serves markets in California and Nevada. MITCHELL THOMAS (’76, ’78 M.B.A.) is chief financial officer for Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Hospital. Thomas

GLENN THURKOW (’73) is board chair of the South Coast Education Services District in Coos Bay, Ore.

JADEANE (JADY) VON DER LIETH (’78 M.A.) retired after 45 years with the Santa MonicaMalibu Unified School District. JANE LYON (’75) was inducted into the Chino Valley Unified School District’s Richard Gird Educational Hall of Fame for her exceptional service.

1970s DUANE M. CARTER (’79), owner of Centerpoint Music and director at Dinc Multimedia, has published his first novel, No Promises.

JAIME ESCALANTE (’73, ’90 Doctorate of Humane Letters) was posthumously honored by the United States Postal Service with a Forever Stamp. He was the subject of the critically acclaimed 1988 film Stand and Deliver.


ANDREW MANLEY (’76) wrote his second book, Urban Bully. The novel explores the rationale for the bullying epidemic in inner-city schools and its effects on the larger society.

ARMANDO MUNIZ (’71), a retired professional boxer, owns Armando Muniz Bail Bonds. Muniz was a member of the 1968 U.S. Olympic boxing team and made his


DIEMLAN “LANNIE” TONNU (’79) is chief financial officer for Orthopaedic Institute for Children.

1980s JEAN CARANDANG (’87) has been named chief financial officer at Suncrest Bank. JULIAN GOMEZ (’88) received an Emmy nomination in the outstanding picture editing for reality programming category for his work on CBS’ The Amazing Race.


ONDINE GROSS (née GREER LITZ, ’81 M.S.) is a nationally certified school psychologist. Her book, Restore the Respect: How to Mediate School Conflict and Keep Students Learning, was released by Brookes Publishing Co. EDWIN HORTON (’87), camera operator, won an Emmy Award for his camerawork on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. Horton has amassed a total of 11 Emmy nominations and four wins for various shows, including American Idol, The GRAMMY Awards, and The Oscars. VICKEN KASSARDJIAN (’86) is energy manager at the Imperial Irrigation District. KATHERINE KLEINE Kassardjian (’89) was appointed president of the Tournament of Roses Foundation in 2015. JOHN LYNCH (’81) is head of production and operations for Amazon Studios, which won a 2016 Golden Globe for its comedy series Mozart in the Jungle. ARA MALOYAN (’84) is the new director for Pasadena’s Public Works Department. SAMSON MENGISTU (’88, ’94 M.S.) is deputy executive director for administration at Los Angeles World Airports.

JOSEPH PEILA (’88), a high school math teacher and water polo referee, was selected to referee in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. ROBERT J. PEREZ (’87), former CEO of Cubist, joined the board of directors for Flex Pharma and was appointed as a senior advisor to PureTech Health. KAREN PRICEGHARZEDDINE (’89 M.S.) is chief executive officer at San Gabriel Valley Medical Center.


JEFFREY C. MYGATT (’87), director of photography at Entertainment Partners, received an Outstanding Alumni Award from Cal State LA’s Department of Television, Film, and Media Studies.

ADRIANA OCAMPO (’83) was named the National Hispanic Scientist of the Year by Tampa’s Museum of Science and Industry. She has worked 40 years as an engineer with NASA and is now the lead scientist exploring Venus.

FRANCES WEISSENBERGER (’84), principal of Hamilton Elementary School, has been named Elementary Administrator of the Year by the Association of California School Administrators Region XV. A.C. WOOLNOUGH (’82 M.A.) is vice chair of the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation’s People with Parkinson’s Advisory Council.



DAVID QUAN (’89) is senior director of music publishing at Angry Mob Music. MOHAMMAD RASIAN (’83) has been appointed to senior vice president of underwriting at Bibby Financial Services. SALVADOR RIVERA (’84), a professor of history at the State University of New York (SUNY), has published a book, Latin American Unification: A History of Political and Economic Integration Efforts. NOELIA RODRIGUEZ (’86) is managing director of communications for the Port of Long Beach.


CHRIS UNGAR (’85 M.A.), a retired school speech pathologist and a trustee for the San Luis Coastal Unified School District, was elected to serve as president of the California School Boards Association for 2016.

CASSI ALTER (’95 M.A.), a certified speech language pathologist, is founder and owner of LA Speech Therapy Solutions. HECTOR BECERRA received the Distinguished Journalist award from the Society of Professional Journalists. At the Becerra Los Angeles Times, Becerra is morning assignment editor for the California Section and was part of the team of reporters that covered the city of Bell corruption scandal and the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, both of which won a Pulitzer Prize. Becerra was editor of the University Times in the 1990s.


BARRY RONDINELLA (’87) is the director of Orange County’s John Wayne Airport. Bell


ANITA ROSENFIELD (’83, ’87 M.A.) has published a book, Flame: A Cautionary Tale. VICTOR THOMPSON (’88 M.A.) is director of student support services for the Los Angeles County Office of Education and president of the Association of Los Angeles County Office of School Administrators.


JAMES A. BELL (’97) has been elected to Apple’s board of directors. Bell is the former chief financial officer and corporate president of The Boeing Company. CARMEN CUBA (’94) was casting director for The Martian, which won Golden Globe Awards for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy and Best Actor for the movie’s star, Matt Damon.



C LASS NOTES MICHAEL C. FLORES (’96 M.A.) was elected to the board of trustees of the OntarioMontclair School District. Flores


JULIO GALLUD (’91) is senior vice president, director of information technology and information security officer at Preferred Bank.

CHAD GHOSN (’95) is vice president of IT infrastructure and security for Wayfair, Inc.

GINA OROZCO-MEJIA (’91), vice president of gas operations at Southern California Gas Co., was honored as a “Latina Corporate Pillar” by the California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce for being one of the highest-ranking Latinas at a Fortune 500 company.

ANN OUELLETTE (’96 M.B.A.) is vice president and general manager of WCCO, the CBSowned station in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Ouellette

GARY FRANCIS POWERS, JR. (’91), founder of The Cold War Museum, was appointed president of the Tysons Regional Chamber of Commerce in Tysons, Va.

RUBEN C. GONZALEZ (’91) performed in a one-man play, La Esquinita, USA, at the Alisal Center for the Fine Arts, where he depicts the former residents of a robust black and Latino town in decline after a big factory employer leaves for China.

MARIO RUEDA (’91) is chief of the Verdugo Cities Fire Command, overseeing the three independent fire departments in San Gabriel, San Marino and South Pasadena. For the last 15 years, Rueda served as deputy chief with the Los Angeles Fire Department.


RICARDO LEMVO (’94) and his band Makina Loca performed at UC Santa Barbara’s Multicultural Center.



2000s SULTAN AHMED AL JABER (’01 M.S.) is the United Arab Emirates minister of state and chairman of Masdar, a company that specializes in Al Jaber renewable energy. He was honored by USC Viterbi School of Engineering with the Global Leadership in Engineering Award. DANIEL BAGBY (’03 M.A.) is principal of Eugene Field Elementary School. ERIC G. BARBER (’01 M.A.) is an insurance partner in the litigation practice group at Michael Best & Friedrich LLP.

JOE SHAW (’94) is associate director of the LUX Center for the Arts in Lincoln, Neb. EDWARD KEITH TOMES (’94 M.A.) is the superintendent of Trona Joint Unified School District. ARADHNA TRIPATI (’96) appeared as a guest on CNBC to discuss climate change at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change. Tripati is an associate professor in UCLA’s Department of Earth, Planetary, and Space Sciences. KIRK WELLS (’90) retired after 31 years of service as division chief for the Orange County Fire Authority.


SUJATHA LOWENTHAL (’96 M.B.A.) served as councilwoman for Long Beach’s 2nd District from 2006 to 2016.

DR. TIMOTHY YEH (’96) made partner at Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Park in the Department of Family Medicine.

DAVID MONTOYA (’92), a composer and high school music teacher, brought his fivemovement “Magdalene” to Sing Napa Valley for its California premiere.

FRANCES GIPSON (’98 M.A.), chief academic officer for the Los Angeles Unified School District, delivered the keynote address at Cal State LA’s 55th Honors Convocation.

DEBRA HAMMOND (’94 M.A.), executive director of the University Student Union at CSU Northridge, was recognized by the CSU Board of Trustees with the Wang Family Excellence Award.

LING-LING WU (’93) is executive director and chief financial officer of Asia Cement (China) Holdings Corporation.



JONATHAN P. BELL (’02) is on the board of directors for the California Association of Professional Employees.

BRADY BLAIR (’09) is executive assistant to Bell the president at the California Association of Community Managers. Blair also works as an operations management consultant for Advantis Law Group. STEPHANIE L. CHAN (’08) is a post-production coordinator at Fox 21 Television Studios. Chan worked on the second season of TNT’s Legends.


HAVE NEWS OR AN ACCOMPLISHMENT YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE? To submit news or view more class notes, go to RICSON CHUDE (’08) is an engineer at Southern California Edison. CRISTIN EMBREE (’07), an archaeologist, Chude is working with a team on a large prehistoric site in Elgin, Texas, that contains artifacts that date back 10,000 years.

ALYSIA ODIPO (’03 M.A.) is the assistant superintendent of instructional services for the Laguna Beach Unified School District. MAURICIO ORTEGA (’01) is the principal of Goleta Valley Junior High School.

SAYDA FINK (’07) is a second-year resident at the Yuma Regional Medical Center.


LAMONICA PETERS (’02 M.A.) is a reporter and video journalist for Time Warner Cable News in Buffalo, N.Y.

MARY FORNEY (’06) is executive director of Fink the Thoroughbred Owners of California (TOC). She served as director of operations since 2004, and has worked in the California horse racing industry for more than 30 years. WENDY KARSTEN (’06 M.A.) is chief executive officer of Care N’ Care Insurance. JOSEPH LILLIO (’05) is the finance chief for the city of El Segundo. DAVID LINNEVERS (’07 M.B.A.), director of admissions at Cal State Monterey Bay, was awarded the Joseph P. Allen Human Relations Award from the Western Association of College Admissions Counseling for his efforts to increase student diversity during recruitment and admission.



ANGELICA RUBIO (’08 M.A.) represents the 35th District in New Mexico’s House of Representatives. CARLOS SAMANIEGO (’02) is director and founder of Mariachi Arcoiris de Los Angeles (Rainbow Mariachi), which bills itself as the world’s first LGBT mariachi band.

STEPHON LITWINCZUK (’05) is a senior video specialist at Screen Actors GuildAmerican Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAGAFTRA).

JANET L. MITCHELL (’00 M.A.), an associate adjunct professor at Pasadena City College and an adjunct at Citrus College, was selected as Professional of the Year 2015 by Strathmore’s Who’s Who. GERARDO (ROD) MUNOZ (’05) is a technical supervisor at Dish Nation.

FELIZA ORTIZ-LICON (’09 Ed.D.), senior director of K-12 education for the National Council of La Raza, serves on the California State Board of Education.



LUIS TRETO (’05), general assignment reporter at KVEA 52 (Telemundo), received an Outstanding Alumni Award from Cal State LA’s Department of Television, Film, and Media Studies. ANHVINH WRIGHT (’04 M.S.) has launched Kraftlove, a charity that delivers crafting kits to hospitalized children.

2010s YASH AHUJA (’14) is a software engineer at Google.

SOPHIE AVEDIKIAN (’14), ARIEL RICHARDSON (’14), CANDICE CLASBY (’15 M.F.A.), and KIRBIE PUESTOW (’15) were cast as supernumeraries in the LA Opera production of Pagliacci. ARSINE BAGHDASARIAN (’15) is a cognizant system engineer at AECOM’s Hanford Nuclear Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant in Washington. She is the lead author of a 2015 American Society of Mechanical Engineers conference paper.

The Baghdasarians

MELINE BAGHDASARIAN (’14, ’14 M.S.) is a cognizant system engineer at AECOM’s Hanford Nuclear Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant in Washington. She is an author of a 2014 article published in Physics of Fluids. NADINE BEDROSSIAN (’14) is a human resources and production administrator at the LA Opera. JOAQUIN BELTRAN (’10) is chief executive officer and co-founder of the Awemaze app. JEREMY BLAIRE (’14) is a flight systems development engineer at Millennium Space Systems.


JULIA BUDNIAK (’13 M.S.), assistant track and field coach at Cal State LA, finished third in the 31st annual Los Angeles Marathon.

STEPHANIE COFFEY (’15 M.A.), a high school science teacher at Downtown Magnets High School, was chosen by the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation as a member of its 2016 cohort of teaching fellows. ELVA CORTEZ-COVARRUBIAS (’15 Ed.D.) received the Outstanding Dissertation Award from the American Education Research Association Hispanic Research Issues Special Interest Group.



C LASS NOTES ALANNA DEDEK (’14) is pursuing graduate studies in sustainable design and construction at Stanford University.

MAYRA MOLINA (’15 M.S.) was selected as a California Sea Grant State Fellow.


The Dedeks

GENNELLE DEDEK (’14) is pursuing graduate studies in structural engineering at Stanford University. KEVIN DEEGAN (’11), co-founder of Hope4Hollywood, received a Master of Divinity from Fuller Seminary. He works as a chaplain for Providence TrinityCare Hospice.


FANSHEN COX DIGIOVANNI (’13 M.F.A.), writer, producer and actor, received an Outstanding Alumni Award from Cal State LA’s Department of Television, Film, and Media Studies.

RAHUL DOSOAR (’10) is senior associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers. MARICELA GUZMAN (’12, ’14 M.S.), a Navy veteran who served overseas from 1998 to 2002, was honored in the state capital by Assemblyman Chris Holden (AD-41), as the 41st Assembly District’s “Veteran of the Year” for 2016. CECILIA LARA (’11), a teacher with the Glendale Unified School District, received Sigma Delta Pi’s Gabriela Mistral Award for her academic achievements and for her leadership and initiative within her Sigma Delta Pi chapter. SARNICA LIM (’10) was cast as Pilita Santos in the world premiere of the play, As Straw Before the Wind, at Ruby Theatre’s The Complex in Hollywood. RICARDO MEJIA (’14) is a veteran specialist at Veterans Community Services.


SEAN MORAN (’12) is a noise abatement analyst at Hayward Executive Airport.

DAGOBERTO MORENO JR. (’12), a former U.S. Army staff sergeant who served in Afghanistan and as a squad leader in an infantry rifle platoon in the U.S. Army, was honored in September as the Military Hero of the Game at a Los Angeles Dodgers-Arizona Diamondbacks game at Dodger Stadium. STELLA MURGA (’10 M.S.) received the 2015 Racial Justice Award from the YWCA of Pasadena-Foothill Valley.

BRADLEY PIERSON (’11 M.M.) is director of choral activities at the University of Toledo Department of Music. CAITLIN REARDEN (’10) joined Arkansas’ KARK/KLRT news team as a reporter. She previously worked as a reporter and anchor in Spokane, Wash., and Bakersfield. STEPHANIE RUIZ (’12) was selected as “Young Careerist for 2016” by East Los AngelesMontebello Business and Professional Women. Ruiz is a program coordinator at MERCI, a nonprofit that assists people who are developmentally disabled. MICHAEL SONKSEN (’14 M.A.), poet, author, and educator, hosted the “Three Generations on a Stage” poetry performance in Venice. Sonksen


CHRISTOPHER SORENSEN (’13) released an anti-bullying music video, “Balloon.”

AARON NAKAMURA (’14) is manager of business operations and vice president for finance at Milo Adventist Academy in Oregon. CHINGASIYENI (SANDRA) NDUNA (’12, ’15 M.A.) is a contract administrator at Dick Clark Productions. Nduna founded Zimbabwean Nduna Child, which provides educational materials to underprivileged schools in Zimbabwe. VIMAL PATEL (’11 M.S.) is scientific director for large molecule bioanalysis at Eurofins Bioanalytical Services.


JESS PELÁEZ (’10 M.S.), chief executive officer of the nonprofit Blueprint Earth and fellow at The Explorers Club, can be seen in the Discovery Channel’s survivalist science series Trailblazers.


YESSENIA TOSCANO (’14) is a design engineer at General Motors. TANYA TUNG (’13) is international recruiting coordinator at Internet Brands. LEA M. URPA (’11) completed the International Master of Translational Medicine at the University of Helsinki. She has been accepted to the Institute for Molecular Medicine, Finland (FIMM), where she plans to get an International Ph.D. in molecular medicine and bioinformatics. SALVADOR ZÁRATE (’10 M.A.) was awarded a Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship to fund a research project with Mexican and Central American domestic workers and gardeners in Orange County.


IN MEMORIAM STAN ABBOT (’65) was an assistant professor at the Missouri School of Journalism at University of Missouri in Columbia. Abbot worked for the school’s Abbot Columbia Missourian as a city editor, where he mentored hundreds of young journalists. Abbot also served as executive editor of the Anchorage Daily News, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1976 in the public service category with Abbot at the helm. In 1999, Cal State LA honored Abbot with the Distinguished Alumni Award for his service as a journalism educator and newspaper editor.



FRANK R. BALLE, professor emeritus of civil engineering, proposed the first graduate level civil engineering course at Cal State LA. Balle also served as department chair and associate dean of engineering. JIMMIE LEE (JB) BARNES (’73) was a multi-sport athlete, Army veteran, and law enforcement officer at the California Youth Authority.

DOROTHY BRIZENDINE (’60) was a primary grade teacher in the San Gabriel and Hemet Unified School Districts for more than 20 years. ROBERT G. CATHCART, professor emeritus of speech, was recognized as Outstanding Professor in 1965-66 and in 1966-67 and was the campus nominee for the statewide award in 1965. GARY DIMKICH was an athlete, restaurant owner, actor, and avid horseracing fan. Dimkich played football at Cal State LA and led the conference in punting for one season. He worked in the food service industry and eventually purchased the popular eatery, Delacy’s Club 41. Dimkich also pursued an acting career, appearing on LUCK, The Mentalist, Sons of Anarchy, and other television shows.

GARY ERNST (’82) worked as a mortgage broker and was city treasurer for Oceanside. FRANK FENTON (’66) was former mayor of Beverly Hills and served as a city council member, the city treasurer and as a Beverly Hills Unified School District board member. LOUIS GREEN (’65, ’68 M.A.) was an economics professor at San Diego State University. ERNEST GUTIERREZ (’62) and OLGA GUTIERREZ (’81 M.A.). Ernest was former mayor of El Monte and served as one of El Monte’s first Latino councilmen. He was a teacher and school counselor at a number of schools in Los Angeles County. Olga was a teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District, El Monte City School District and taught for a year at UCLA. Together, the Gutierrezes founded La Historia Society Museum, which celebrates the rich cultural history of El Monte. MICHAEL S. HARPER (’61, ’63 M.A.) was a poet and English professor. Two of his poetry collections were nominated for the National Book Award. WILLIAM (BILL) THOMAS HOLLINGER (’66) was a ship coordinator for the U.S. Oceanographic Research and Development Branch in San Diego. JOHN IACONO (’53) was founder of the Boys and Girls Club of the Mountain Communities. After serving in the Army from 1945-47, he was director of physical activities at the Los Angeles Times Boys’ Club. LARRY E. KITCHEN (’61) was a lifelong learner, entrepreneur, and traveler. JONATHAN J.J. LEWIS (’82 M.B.A.) was director of university dining at Ball State University.


BILL LOVELADY (’49) fought in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. At Cal State LA, Lovelady met his wife of 65 years, Betty McCann. In 2012, he published a book of poetry, Half-Blind Mirror.

JOAN JOHNSON devoted her career to developing women’s intercollegiate tennis as a professor, administrator and coach at Cal State LA. Johnson joined the Cal State faculty in 1955 and soon helped to pioneer the Southern California Women’s Intercollegiate Tennis League. As coach of the women’s tennis team from 1959 until 1975, Johnson played a key role in the development of tennis legend Billie Jean King, who won her first Wimbledon title while she was attending Cal State LA. Working closely with longtime men’s coach Cameron “Scotty” Deeds, Johnson and Deeds saw the value in practicing the men’s and women’s teams together, which greatly influenced King’s thinking about her career and various social issues. Johnson was the chair of the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women’s tennis committee from 1977 until 1980 and director of the AIAW Division II national tennis championships that Cal State LA hosted in 1980. She was also a professor emeritus in the Department of Physical Education, and served as the chair of the Women’s and Co-Ed Intercollegiate Athletic Board. Johnson, Deeds and King were charter members in the inaugural Cal State LA Hall of Fame class in 1985. In 2013, Johnson and Deeds were honored with the Joe Shapiro Humanitarian Award at the Billie Jean King & Friends Gala.



I N MEMORIAM ROBERT JOAQUIN MIMIAGA (’62, ’73 M.S.) was a civil engineer, endowed donor, and active volunteer. Mimiaga was a partner at Mimiaga Harris & Associates engineering firm for over 37 years, until his retirement in 2003. At Cal State LA, Mimiaga created a self-funded endowment: the Engineering Family Support Scholarship.

BILL JONES was a celebrity photographer who documented the rise of Black Hollywood. One of few African American photographers on the red carpet, Jones charmed celebrities with his Midwestern manners. He documented the careers of many African American actors, actresses and musicians including Halle Berry, Denzel Washington, Quincy Jones, Whitney Houston and Eddie Murphy. His work appeared in Ebony, Jet and Sister 2 Sister magazines, the L.A. Watts Times, the Los Angeles Wave and L.A. Focus. Jones captured some key moments in history on film, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s visit to Los Angeles in 1964, Nelson Mandela’s release from a South African prison in 1990, and Berry and Washington winning Oscars in 2002.

WILLIAM (BILL) MATTINGLY (’74, ’76 M.A.) was an optician and low vision specialist. Mattingly

LAJOYA MCCOY (’06, ’10 M.S.) was an accountant with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and owner of a clothing boutique in Monterey Park.


ROY MOORE (’63 M.S.) was a Brea City councilman for 16 years, including time as mayor. Moore also held financial management Moore positions at Rockwell International and was chief financial executive at Reuland Electric Company for five years.



VICTOR PROPES (’70) was a civil rights strategist, advocate, and educator. Propes was the executive director of Minnesota’s Council on Black Minnesotans. DONALD LYNN RANS, professor emeritus of accounting, taught advanced accounting classes and served as acting chair of his department.

ROBERT MORNEAU, JR. (’72 M.A.) was professor emeritus of criminal justice, and also taught courses in computers. DAVID MUNIZ-HARRYMAN (’86) was an actor and singer. He performed the title role in Cal State LA’s production of Finian’s Rainbow. STUART NISBET (’59 B.A.) was an actor and cofounder of the casting agency Baker-Nisbet, Inc. He guest starred in such shows as Happy Days, Route 66, and Hogan’s Heroes. He also appeared in several films, including In the Heat of the Night and Casino. KRISTAPOR PAKRADOUNI (’68 M.A.) was editor of Asbarez Newspaper for nearly 10 years. After leaving the paper he taught high school French and English until his retirement in 1999. CHARLES H. PALMER JR. (’53, ’60 M.A.) was a committed educator in the Los Angeles Unified School District for more than 40 years in roles ranging from teacher to regional administrator. He served as president of the California League of Middle Schools, and was honored with the National Urban League’s Educator of the Year award, as well as the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce Principal of the Year award.

CAROLYN SEE-SPUARK (’57) was an author, book critic, and professor at UCLA and Loyola Marymount University. See wrote more than a dozen books and is best known for her novel Golden Days, a dark comedy set in Topanga Canyon. She was the recipient of several honors, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Getty Center fellowship. See’s sense of humor permeated through to her work, both fiction and nonfiction. In her 1995 memoir Dreaming, Hard Luck and Good Times in America, she detailed her upbringing and her own wild streak with humor and understanding. As a leading literary figure in Southern California, See shared her knowledge of the literary world with others who were just getting started.


LEWIS (LOU) RIGGS (’76) taught sports broadcasting, mass communications, and speech at Santa Monica College. Riggs

PAUL H. ROSENTHAL, professor emeritus of information systems, taught a variety of courses in several departments, including accounting and management. Rosenthal is credited Rosenthal as the initiator and incubator of the information systems master’s degree program. SR. HELEN SCHEEL was an educator and social justice worker. Sister Helen taught at San Juan Capistrano elementary school and later became the Scheel school’s principal. She later served as local superior at Monrovia and regional superior of the United States Western Region. MARK SINGER (’71) was a contemporary architect in Laguna Beach.




BENJAMIN W. SMITH, professor emeritus of political science, taught American government, political psychology, and political philosophy. Smith was heavily involved in committee service on campus and is credited with negotiating Cal State LA’s first faculty exchange. LARRY STAMMER was a journalist for the Los Angeles Times. In 1991, Stammer was

ROBERT VAUGHN (’56, ’64 M.A.) became an international TV star for his role as Napoleon Solo in the 1960s series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Vaughn’s acting career spanned 60 years. He appeared in more than 70 films, including The Magnificent Seven, and The Young Philadelphians, which earned him an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor. He won a supporting actor Emmy for his role in the 1977 mini-series Washington: Behind Closed Doors, and was nominated for best supporting actor for his portrayal of President Woodrow Wilson in the 1979 miniseries Backstairs at the White House. Vaughn also gained notoriety in the 1960s as an antiwar spokesman. In his 2008 autobiography, A Fortunate Life, Vaughn attributed his career achievements to “a modest amount of looks and talent and more than a modicum of serendipity.”

honored with a Sierra Club Award for his environmental coverage. YOLANDA TORRES (’57) was an educator, mentor, and activist. Torres served as director of Pacific Oaks Children’s School, founding Torres director of the employer-sponsored childcare center for Huntington Hospital, and commissioner on the Los Angeles County Commission for Children and Families. She

MAL WHITFIELD (’58) was a threetime Olympic gold medalist and an American goodwill ambassador promoting sports and physical education abroad. During World War II, Whitfield was a member of the acclaimed Tuskegee Airmen. Nicknamed “Marvelous Mal,” he was the Olympic champion of the 800-meter event and a member of the gold medal team in the 4 x 400 meters relay at the 1948 London Games. At the 1952 Helsinki Games, Whitfield repeated his 800-meter victory. In 1954, Whitfield became the first African American athlete to receive the James E. Sullivan Award as the nation’s outstanding amateur athlete. Following his Olympic career, Whitfield spent almost 50 years as a goodwill ambassador, coach, and athletic mentor in Africa on behalf of the United States Information Agency and through his own foundation.

co-directed the Family Day Care Project at Pacific Oaks College and co-authored the book, I’m Not Just a Sitter. GEORGE R. VICK, emeritus professor of philosophy, was an expert in multiple philosophical disciplines, such as metaphysics, phenomenology, existentialism, philosophy of religion and medieval philosophy. GARY LEE WALKER (’69) was a Navy veteran, educator, and ordinance worker in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.


Profile in Giving BY JOCELYN Y. STEWART


n the desk of Marquita Grenot-Scheyer sits an old blackand-white photo of the elementary students she tutored in the 1970s.

Back then, Grenot-Scheyer was a freshman at Cal State LA, trying very hard to reach students with disabilities: those with autism, severe mental retardation, and behavioral challenges. In the end, the students taught Grenot-Scheyer a lesson that became a central tenet of her career, one that a beloved professor later helped hone.

a national authority on inclusive education for students with and without disabilities. Falvey and the college played a key role in Grenot-Scheyer’s career. It was not a career she envisioned for herself as a child growing up. In high school Marquita Grenot-Scheyer was seen as an average student. Guidance counselors didn’t view her as university material, so they never placed her in college preparatory classes. “I wasn’t the smartest kid in the class,” Grenot-Scheyer recalls. “But I persist. I don’t give up.”

“They taught me what it means to be a teacher, i.e., believing every child can After high school, Students tutored by Marquita Grenot-Scheyer in the 1970s. (Photo courtesy of learn,” says Grenot-Scheyer. Marquita Grenot-Scheyer) Grenot-Scheyer followed an “It’s my responsibility to older sister’s footsteps and enrolled at Cal State LA; here her life ensure that each and every student has the opportunity to learn.” was transformed. First, she discovered her passion for teaching Today Grenot-Scheyer holds a Ph.D. in special education and children with disabilities while tutoring as part of her participation is an author and leader in the field. In 2016, she was appointed in the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) on campus. Then assistant vice chancellor for Teacher Education and Public Grenot-Scheyer discovered Falvey. School Programs for the California State University Office Early on, Falvey saw Grenot-Scheyer’s potential. of the Chancellor. “[Dr. Grenot-Scheyer] was extraordinarily passionate about Fueled by gratitude and a desire to help others succeed as she meeting the needs of students with disabilities, especially the kids has, Grenot-Scheyer and her husband, Kraig, have created the with multiple disabilities,” Falvey recalls. new Dr. Mary A. Falvey Leadership Development Fund. The gift Falvey sparked Grenot-Scheyer’s interest in university teaching, honors Falvey, who is a professor emerita of special education at the encouraged her to pursue a Ph.D., and became her mentor and University, a former dean of the Charter College of Education, and


life-long friend. The lesson Grenot-Scheyer learned from those early students blossomed and developed under Falvey’s tutelage. “She is a phenomenal teacher/scholar,” says Grenot-Scheyer. “She very much inspired me.” Grenot-Scheyer and her husband created the Dr. Mary A. Falvey Leadership Development Fund through a bequest to Cal State LA. The new fund will support student projects, programs, supplies, and eventually scholarships. “I was overwhelmed and tremendously honored and thrilled for the Charter College of Education,” Falvey says. The gift will help the college offer other students the same opportunities Grenot-Scheyer received, says Cheryl Ney, dean of the Charter College of Education. “Since many of the students in the Charter College of Education are working adults with families, additional support for their education allows them to ‘aim high’ and achieve their leadership potential in their chosen profession within education,” Ney says. The Charter College of Education has prepared generations of education professionals since the early years of L.A. State College, now Cal State LA, who have returned to their local communities. Cal State LA alumni are making an impact on the lives of children and youth and contributing to the development of their communities, says Ney. “Alumni, exemplified by Dr. Grenot-Scheyer, ensure that this proud and important tradition will continue long into the future,” she says. “We in the college are grateful for the lasting impact of our alumni.” Grenot-Scheyer received her B.A., M.A., teaching and administrative credentials and a Ph.D. (in a joint doctoral program with UCLA) at Cal State LA. For many years, she served as dean of the College of Education at Cal State Long Beach. Her husband is a graduate of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. With this gift Grenot-Scheyer pays forward the support she received from Falvey and others. Grenot-Scheyer is still grateful to her first students for the lesson they taught her and to Cal State LA’s Charter College of Education, where she learned how to reach them. She and her husband are strong supporters of the CSU because they’ve witnessed and experienced its impact. “We received a great education from this system,” Grenot-Scheyer says. “The CSU really does change lives.”


Visions of L.A.

Visions of Los Angeles BY J. EMILIO FLORES Quiet mountain vistas. Vibrant city sights. Stunning sunsets and sunrises. The landscapes of Los Angeles are as diverse as its people. Whether you’re a lifelong Angeleno or new to the city, there’s always more to explore. During the fall semester, we invited student photographers to participate as guest editors of the University’s Instagram page (@calstatela). For one week, these students shared photos taken during their adventures in Los Angeles County. Viewed separately, each set of photos allows a glimpse into one student’s world. Together they represent “Visions of L.A.”

1 56

1. Wisdom Tree, Cahuenga Peak PHOTOGRAPHER: Oleksii Babenko, @Oleksii_Babenko 2. 405 Freeway


Cara Gonzales, @caragonzales

3. Downtown L.A. PHOTOGRAPHER: David Guerra, @dxvey 4. Dodger Stadium PHOTOGRAPHER: David Guerra, @dxvey



4 57

5. Broadway, Downtown L.A. PHOTOGRAPHER: Antonio Gonzalez,

6. Venice Beach


7. Signal Hill



David Guerra, @dxvey Cara Gonzales, @caragonzales




10 8. Jesse Owens Track and Field, Cal State LA PHOTOGRAPHER: Juan Palma Rodriguez, @j2dps0ul 9. Monrovia Canyon Park Hiking Trail PHOTOGRAPHER: Juan Palma Rodriguez, @j2dps0ul 10. Paletas on Vermont Avenue PHOTOGRAPHER: Karla Pena, @estefkarol_07

9 59

California State University, Los Angeles Office of Communications and Public Affairs 5151 State University Drive Los Angeles, CA 90032-8580

Lita Albuquerque Monument (1983) peeks out from beneath the Grand Avenue overpass on the 101 Freeway. (Photo courtesy of Kent Twitchell)




Cal State LA Magazine - Spring 2017  

The official alumni magazine for Cal State LA.

Cal State LA Magazine - Spring 2017  

The official alumni magazine for Cal State LA.