Chapman Magazine Fall 2017

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Fall 2017


Executive Editor:

Sheryl Bourgeois, Ph.D. Executive Vice President for University Advancement Editor:

Dennis Arp Staff Writer:

Dawn Bonker (MFA ’19) Design:

Hayden Design Editorial Office:

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ON THESE PAGES: Thrashing in currents, tons of plastic trash accumulate in gyres that some reports say reach the size of Texas. Then there’s the stuff that washes up on our shores, and that’s where Katie Peck ’17 comes in. The studio art major spent months collecting plastic debris from California beaches before transforming it into an eye-catching wave sculpture during Chapman’s well-named Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program. Peck turned data about plastic trash “into something visual and tactile to show the public through art what’s happening along our coastlines,” she says. The public is noticing, and she’s still riding the wave. Her sculpture turned heads and grabbed media attention at a recent Coastal Cleanup Day in Huntington Beach. And in April, her work will highlight a gallery show she’s curating for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to accompany NOAA’s annual International Marine Debris Conference in San Diego. A tour of West Coast beaches and projects to educate children about reducing plastic pollution are also on the horizon as Peck brings vast amounts of trash “to a level you can understand on a human scale,” she says. Photo: Dennis Arp

ON THE COVER: A father and his son are among hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants who over the past several years have landed on the Greek island of Lesvos after fleeing violence and social collapse in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and other war-torn nations. At Chapman, Professor John Hall teaches international law, but this summer he volunteered on Lesvos with a relief organization at the front lines of this humanitarian crisis. Hall’s first-person piece about his experience begins on page 16. Photo: Getty Images


2 President Struppa tracks the development of Chapman’s new five-year plan. 3 First Person: Beyond names on a list, “OC’s Wealthiest” improve our communities. CHAPMAN NOW

5 Donna Ford Attallah ’61 sows seeds of generosity that lift students’ lives. 6 The Keck Foundation’s gift propels growth in the sciences and engineering. 8 Archaeologist Justin Walsh pursues ample insights from a weightless world. 9 Anxiety is on the rise, Chapman’s Survey of American Fears reveals. 10 It’s a night of dazzling performances and deep friendships as Chapman Celebrates. 12 “Bet on yourself,” the Duffer Brothers advise during their master class. DEPARTMENTS

32 In Memoriam: Yuhua (Jake) Liang, Curt Lowens 33 Sports: The new Lastinger Tennis Center wins the hearts of coaches and players. FEATURES

20 A War and Society student helps give voice to a Silent Hero of D-Day. 22 Even in the shadows of Alzheimer’s, there are places of light and hope. 27 The world joins in the O’Connors’ moment of thanks during Commencement. 30 A journey to Guatemala unites maestro and musician, aiding students in need. ALUMNI NEWS 36 George Argyros ’59 heads a list

of Distinguished Alumni. 38 Class Notes


A 5-Year Plan Made of Concrete and Ambition uring the summer, the Board of Trustees held a retreat to pave the way for a new five-year strategic plan for Chapman University. Our institution is, in this sense, quite remarkable. Most universities, like corporations, prepare glossy strategic plans that are rich in rhetoric but not always in substance. These strategic plans speak highly of the ideals of the university but often lack the concrete aspects of how those ideals will be upheld. Chapman University has a tradition of putting together very concrete and focused strategic plans. The concreteness is expressed in a series of tables, in which we describe how much money will be necessary to achieve any of the stated goals, and how those resources will be obtained. In the most recent plan, for example, we indicated the need for an ambitious fundraising goal, and gave ourselves a deadline of May 31, 2017, to raise the funds needed for our projects. In an exciting twist of fate, the confirmation that we had achieved that goal came with a new and significant gift made … drum roll … on May 31! But our plans are not only concrete, they are also focused, which means each of them is designed around a central theme. The strategic plan that runs through next May has focused on the development of


Officers Wylie Aitken Chair Zeinab H. Dabbah (JD ’12) Vice Chair Parker S. Kennedy Vice Chair Joann Leatherby Vice Chair James Mazzo Vice Chair Scott Chapman Secretary Zelma M. Allred Assistant Secretary Trustees Guy Abramo Richard Afable Lisa Argyros ’07 Donna Ford Attallah ’61 Raj S. Bhathal James P. Burra Michael J. Carver Phillip H. Case Akin Ceylan ’90 Irving M. Chase Hazem H. Chehabi Jerome W. Cwiertnia Kristina Dodge Dale E. Fowler ’58


Barry Goldfarb Stan Harrelson Gavin S. Herbert, Jr. Mark Hilbert William K. Hood Andy Horowitz Mark Chapin Johnson ’05 Jennifer L. Keller Laura Khouri Thomas E. Malloy Ann D. Moskowitz Sebastian Paul Musco Richard Muth (MBA ’81) James J. Peterson Harry S. Rinker James B. Roszak The Honorable Loretta Sanchez ’82 Mohindar S. Sandhu Ronald M. Simon Ronald E. Soderling Karen R. Wilkinson ’69 David W. Wilson Emeritus Chairs The Honorable George L. Argyros ’59 Doy B. Henley David A. Janes, Sr. Donald E. Sodaro

the health sciences, and the Rinker Health Science Campus is its natural embodiment. Of course, being focused does not mean that a variety of goals won’t be pursued; it means that the focus is clearly on one major item. We have been preparing to present the new plan to the Board of Trustees at the December meeting. Per the ideas that emerged during the retreat, the development of the Fowler School of Engineering will be the central focus of the new plan, which will cover the period 2018 –19 through 2022–23. At the same time, we will also continue the growth of the Rinker Campus, and we will develop strategies to adapt to the changes in student demographics, including a continuation of our efforts to create an inclusive and diverse campus. All of these ideas will be tied together by a commitment to the development of what I like to call the “Chapman Experience,” namely a coherent approach to our interactions with the various communities around us (parents, prospective students, students, alumni, employers) in a way that will create a special allegiance to our institution. While the full plan is still being completed, I consider myself blessed by being able to develop such an ambitious future for Chapman, and for having the privilege to lead our beloved University through its completion. DANIELE C. STRUPPA

Emeritus Trustees Richard Bertea Lynn Hirsch Booth Arlene R. Craig J. Ben Crowell Robert A. Elliott David C. Henley Roger C. Hobbs Randall R. McCardle ’58 (M.A.’66) Cecilia Presley Barry Rodgers Richard R. Schmid R. David Threshie Ex-Officio Trustees James E. Blalock (JD ’09) Reverend LaTaunya Bynum ’76 Reverend Don Dewey Barbara Eidson Nancy Fleeman ’86 Reverend Dayna Kinkade Melinda M. Masson Daniele C. Struppa Reverend Felix Villanueva


Officers Melinda M. Masson Chair Michael Penn (JD ’04) Executive Vice Chair Paul A. Cook Vice Chair Rebecca A. Hall ’96 Secretary Governors George Adams, Jr. Marilyn Alexander Lula F. Halfacre Andre Margaret Baldwin Bob Barry James E. Blalock (JD ’09) Deborah Bridges Brenda Carver Eva Chen Ronn C. Cornelius Robin Follman-Otta (EMBA ’15) Kathleen M. Gardarian Judith A. Garfi-Partridge Steve Greinke Galen Grillo (EMBA ’13) Sinan Kanatsiz ’97 (M.A. ’00) Casey Kasprzyk ’01 Elim Kay ’09 Dustin Kemmerer ’97 Scott A. Kisting

Dennis Kuhl John Sanders ’70 James F. Wilson Emeritus Governors Marta S. Bhathal Kathleen A. Bronstein Gary E. Liebl Jean H. Macino Richard D. Marconi Jerrel T. Richards Douglas E. Willits ’72 Ex-Officio Governors Sheryl A. Bourgeois Daniele C. Struppa PRESIDENT’S CABINET

George L. Argyros, Jr. ’89, (JD ’01) Stephen J. Cloobeck Alex Hayden ’95 Gavin S. Herbert Doug Ingram Steeve Kay Joe E. Kiani Susan Samueli Christine Sisley Ralph Stern David Stone Ken Tokita Alan L. True Emily Crean Vogler


Photo courtesy of Masimo

uch has been made lately of the inequality of income in our nation. It’s said that the millions of dollars made by a select few smack of a failed economic system – a system that rewards the “haves” rather than the “have nots.” Such thinking ignores a basic tenet of a freemarket economy. As individuals amass personal wealth, they also provide benefits for others. The problem is that these benefits are often hidden, while their personal gains are not. Recently, Orange County Business Journal published its annual OC’s Wealthiest list, estimating the wealth of certain community members. Beyond what those on the list take in, I’d like to recognize what they give back. I’m not thinking here of their generous philanthropy, to which I can personally attest. Much of their philanthropy, like their wealth, is public information. Instead, I’m thinking of the benefits these individuals provide that enhance the quality of our lives. Consider all the people who live in Irvine – a city that receives well-deserved plaudits for its quality of life. How many people know that Irvine residents benefit not only from the vision of Donald Bren but from his laser-like execution of that vision? During this time when housing opportunities have become so dear, think of all the homes created by entrepreneurs like George Argyros ’59 and Harry Rinker. How many people know that the price at the gasoline pump is lower because of an innovative way of cleaning platinum used in the refining process – a process devised by Paul Musco? What about all of the jobs created by businesses that occupy leased industrial space provided by Dale Fowler ’58? Imagine my surprise when I went to my first lesson in turning wood bowls and saw a sign on the building: “A Fowler Property.” Ten years ago, on a different continent, my son Adam and I had our blood tested at a base camp on Mount Aconcagua, ensuring sufficient

oxygen levels to summit a 22,800-foot peak. I was amazed to learn that the medical device used for the test was designed and manufactured in Orange County by the company Joe Kiani founded – Masimo. Think of the countless people whose lives have been saved or made better by Joe’s company. Ron Simon is perhaps best known for the program he created that helps disadvantaged high school students attend college. This is well-deserved recognition, but how many people know that most of the cabinetry they buy from Home Depot was manufactured in the U.S. using Ron’s innovative cost-cutting design? Because of the Business Journal list, we know of Ron’s wealth and that of 47 others. But how many people realize that the number

Famous Figures, Hidden Gains

next to each name is like a small lens that can be magnified many times to see the far greater benefits these individuals provide to us? Twenty-six years ago, when I was appointed president of Chapman University, George Argyros was my role model, my guide, my mentor and my friend. We would sit together and talk about the things we might do to make Chapman a better place, and he would often relate examples of his apartment company, Arnel. George didn’t dwell on his company’s bottom line; he didn’t talk about Arnel’s occupancy rate or tell me how many apartment units his company owned. Rather, he excitedly explained how we could advance Chapman by doing the same kinds of things he worked very hard to do at Arnel, how we could make the campus a place where people wanted to spend their time, a place that beat the competition, hands down. In that spirit, we should celebrate the members of OC’s Wealthiest. Their personal wealth is a testament to something nobler and more enduring – the priceless value of bettering the lives of others. Jim Doti, Ph.D., is president emeritus of Chapman University. A version of this column ran previously in Orange County Business Journal.

By Jim Doti

Advances in pulse oximetry have a daily impact on lives, thanks to Masimo and its CEO, Joe Kiani. F A L L 2 017 | 3




After President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, what should Congress do, if anything? • Congress should override his decision. People who’ve only ever known this country as their own shouldn’t live in fear. • Congress should let the program expire and allow illegal immigrants to self-deport. Let them reapply legally like everyone else. No special treatment.

While I was in Monaco last week shooting an episode of The Bold and the Beautiful, I met up with Professor John Boitano and his Chapman students taking a French immersion class. I randomly met John during your inauguration toast last year, and he told me about the class he takes to Nice every year. It also happens to be when we’re shooting episodes in Monte Carlo, so I invited his class over for a set visit and lunch. Their timing was perfect, because we even ended up using them as extras! Attached is a picture of the Chapman students, along with Darin Brooks, who plays Wyatt on The Bold and the Beautiful. Feel free to use the picture in Chapman Magazine or any other publications. — Excerpt from an email sent in June to Chapman President Daniele Struppa by Casey Kasprzyk ’01, producer of The Bold and the Beautiful

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• Congress needs to intervene and pass new legislation that reforms the immigration process so that people are able to achieve citizenship more efficiently. Immigrants make America great. • Congress should either reform the immigration process so that DACA can be dismantled effectively or it should keep it in effect. Immigrants are an amazing part of this country.

Jeff Pearlman @jeffpearlman • 24 Oct 2017 Awesome of @shawngreen15 to join my @ChapmanU sports journalism class tonight to chat baseball and writing.

onna Ford Attallah ’61 calls it “this little story” she likes to tell. Ever the teacher, she tells it because it contains a good lesson. It began when she was a young woman about to start college and won a $200 scholarship from Bekins Moving & Storage. When company executives met with her and a handful of other students to bestow the awards, they shared one wish: As you are able, please find a way to pay the gift forward. “They planted that seed in me,” says Attallah, now a Chapman University trustee. Attallah used the scholarship to help pay her way through Chapman, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in education and launched a teaching career that spanned 40 years. Fast forward to today and it’s exquisitely clear that the retired schoolteacher heeded that early call to philanthropy. Over 35 years, she and her late husband, school psychologist Fahmy Attallah, Ph.D., gifted Chapman University with $15.5 million, a generosity honored this fall with the naming of the Donna Ford Attallah College of Educational Studies. The couple’s dedication to Chapman previously led to an endowed professorship of education and the naming of the arts and humanities library within Leatherby Libraries, as well as the University’s iconic Attallah Piazza at the heart of campus.

“Donna’s nurturing demeanor, patience for learning and sense of humor are the special blend she brings to the teaching profession and to her friendship with Chapman. Attallah College now has that legacy for its namesake and future graduates.” Chapman President Daniele Struppa, announcing at Opening Convocation the naming of the Donna Ford Attallah College of Educational Studies.

She traces it all back to the experience of receiving that $200 gift. Such scholarship support is an ongoing interest for her, and when she meets students who have benefited, she tells them it’s a gift happily given, but one that comes with a wish for the future. “I always tell them this little story,” she says. “Whatever I give you is a gift. I do not expect you to repay me. But I do request of you that,

Photo by Challenge Roddie

Chapman University Trustee and philanthropist Donna Ford Attallah ’61 is an avid collector of angel figurines, some of which Leatherby Libraries has displayed during winter holidays.

As a teacher and philanthropist, Donna Ford Attallah ’61 sows seeds of generosity that continuously enrich the lives of Chapman students. By Dawn Bonker ( MFA ’19 )

when you can, you reach out and help someone else.” But how did two educators manage to acquire the financial wherewithal for their philanthropy? The easy-going Attallah smiles. “It was just a little bit here and there at first,” she says. “And my husband’s hobby was buying apartment houses.” First came diligent saving and elbow grease as they spruced up those early purchases. They even opted out of a world cruise for their honeymoon and used the money for a down payment on their first apartment complex, which Attallah still owns. Eventually, the investments served them well and resulted in other stories Attallah loves to tell. Turns out, her husband was no handyman, something she discovered when he tried to remove a decorative plate over an air vent, using a screwdriver like a hammer. “I heard fumbling and banging and wasn’t quite sure what was going on,” she recalls with a laugh. “I, on the other hand, had

worked alongside my dad when he built a couple of houses we lived in. So I did all the maintenance on the apartments. I enjoyed it.” Meanwhile, Attallah and her husband turned their philanthropic efforts increasingly to the teacher education programs at Chapman, ultimately endowing the Donna Ford Attallah Endowed Professorship in Teacher Education, now held by Roxanne Greitz Miller, Ed.D. Professionally, Attallah remained especially passionate about the youngest students in the Cypress School District, where she taught kindergarten and first grade. She’s convinced that the lifelong lessons of kindness, teamwork and, yes, generosity, are best taught in that short, sweet sliver of childhood. “Those are things you don’t learn later in life. You learn it when you’re young. And if you skip that part, it is very hard to get it back again,” she says. Happily for Chapman, Attallah learned that lesson early, too. And as a great educator, she’s still teaching it well. F A L L 2 017 | 5

“If y o u want t o h a v e y o u r n a me on th e b est an d h ave th e ‘Keck E ffect’ out here,


The foundation’s historic $21 million gift effects transformational momentum in the sciences at Chapman.

Robert Day, chairman and CEO of the W.M. Keck Foundation, and Julianne Argyros, member of the President’s Cabinet at Chapman, add their signatures to a pillar in the Keck Center for Science and Engineering after joining in a celebratory moment at the naming announcement.


ometimes it’s hard to imagine the impact of a transformational gift – to see the vision behind celebratory handshakes or ceremonial groundbreakings. But not so when Chapman University supporters, friends, faculty and students gathered this September to hear the announcement that the W.M. Keck Foundation had given $21 million to name Chapman’s new Keck Center for Science and Engineering.

The historic moment unfolded on Wilson Field with the fast-rising Center as a backdrop, complete with the hammering sounds of construction in the air. These are the tangible signs that a new era of science education is less than a year away from fruition. Such sights and sounds are emblematic of the energy at Chapman that led the Keck Foundation to connect with the University and name the state-of-the-art facility, said

Photo by John Saade

By Dawn Bonker ( MFA ’19 )

y o u want t o b e a t C h a p ma n .”

Robert Day, the foundation’s chairman and chief executive officer. “We want to be in Orange County. And when we looked around, we saw that Chapman is the home run of Orange County. If you want to have your name on the best and have the ‘Keck Effect’ out here, you want to be at Chapman,” Day said. The $21 million gift represents the foundation’s first major naming in Orange County and an expansion of its impact on scientific and medical research and education. Among its projects over the past 60 years are the Keck School of Medicine at USC, the Keck Institute for Space Studies at the California Institute of Technology, the Keck Graduate Institute at the Claremont Colleges and grants for projects at UCLA. “The support from Keck will help us take our place among the most established institutions in the country,” said Chapman University President Daniele Struppa. The $130 million Keck Center for Science and Engineering will be Chapman’s largest building when it opens in fall 2018. It will house most of Chapman’s science and engineering programs in the Schmid College of Science and Technology and the future Fowler School of Engineering. Situated on 2.25 acres, the complex will include two halls – the Hall of Science and the Hall of Engineering.


Robert Day, chairman and CEO, W.M. Keck Foundation

Among its features: • 18 teaching labs and 22 research labs. • State-of-the art equipment to support molecular biology, microbiology, organic and physical chemistry, biogeochemistry, environmental sciences, computer science and materials science. • Several unique collaborative areas designed to spark and cultivate teamwork and partnerships among students and faculty across disciplines. In addition, a number of informal meeting areas, lounges and glass walls with open views to working labs will grace the building. Such open-style architecture is necessary in contemporary science education, says Andrew Lyon, Ph.D., dean of Schmid College. “We understand as educators that peerto-peer and mentor-to-mentor relationships are vital to the process of learning, both inside and outside the classroom,” he says. “Having a building that has space intentionally allocated to (team) and group learning relationships, which may occur in an ad-hoc fashion, is extremely important.” The naming gift follows the February announcement of the future Fowler School of Engineering, made possible by philanthropist and alumnus Dale E. Fowler ’58 and his wife, Sarah Ann.



s designers and builders themselves will tell you, it takes time to grow an engineering school. Among other things, you have to hire faculty, develop curriculum and plan facilities. But the good news is that the elements are in place for Chapman University’s Fowler School of Engineering to have an immediate impact. Initially, students and courses from Schmid College’s thriving computational science and software engineering programs will likely seed the engineering school, along with the momentum of the Grand Challenges Initiative (GCI) launched this year. GCI is an experiential and project-based learning effort in which students from all the sciences, including software engineering, spend two years tackling a significant undertaking, question or problem. Likewise, biomedical and healthcare engineering can build from research underway in the School of Pharmacy. The aim is to help fill the growing demand for engineers in California. “Grounded in the Grand Challenges Initiative recently introduced in the Schmid College of Science and Technology, Chapman engineering programs will offer a unique multidisciplinary curriculum that will emphasize innovation,” says Chapman Provost Glenn Pfeiffer, Ph.D. “Our goal is to graduate engineers who possess the critical-thinking, teamwork and leadership skills necessary to compete in a rapidly changing career landscape.”

The Keck Center for Science and Engineering will feature specially designed spaces that foster collaboration and teamwork, bridging academic disciplines. F A L L 2 017 | 7


Photos courtesy of NASA

He’s Like the Indiana Jones of Space Archaeologist Justin Walsh pursues ample insights from a weightless world. By Dawn Bonker ( MFA ’19 ) an an archaeological study of the International Space Station’s objects, physical environment and even its trash help us improve life outside our planet’s gravitational pull? Chapman University archaeologist Justin Walsh says yes, and he has set his sights there. Walsh, Ph.D., isn’t suiting up for launch, though. He has partnered with space archaeologist Alice Gorman, Ph.D., author of “The Cultural Landscape of Interplanetary Space,” to create ISS Archaeology, the first archaeological study of a habitat truly out of this world. Together they plan to study human life in space by poking through the photographs, supplies and inventory of 130,000 items that have gone into the station since it launched in 1998. And, yes, even the trash. “I’m interested in what stays up, what comes back, what gets burned up. It says something about the values that we give to things,” Walsh says.

The work of astronauts such as Peggy Whitson, top, Terry Virts and Samantha Cristoforetti on the International Space Station informs the research of Chapman archaeologist Justin Walsh, Ph.D., who is preparing to study a habitat that’s truly out of this world.

This brand of scholarly sleuthing focuses on the cultural leave-behinds of often short-lived recent societies, such as immigrants’ trails of possessions or what landfills tell us about how a community is doing and what it is eating. What Walsh and his colleague learn might be useful to other mini working cultures in places like Antarctic research stations, long-deployment nuclear submarines or even a Mars expedition, he says. “They want to do three-year expeditions to Mars. It would behoove them to think about things that can improve society and culture in space,” he says.

Walsh proposes digging into the massive photographic record created by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) since ISS launched in 1998. Thanks to digital photography, the images carry valuable information and metadata like dates and times – digital cave paintings, so to speak, that offer glimpses into astronaut life. Ideally, Walsh would like to train an astronaut in archaeological techniques to observe and record space station material culture. Erik Linstead, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics and computer science at Chapman, and a team of graduate students are working on a program that would help read the photos and build a database that connects records and images. Aided by interviews, mission logs and social media posts, archaeologists could track changes and patterns in behavior, adaptive tool use, social relationships and even nuances related to use of personal spaces within the station, Walsh says. Ultimately, they might glean new ideas for building a working space society. And that would be something new, Walsh says. “We could actually make practical suggestions, which is an unusual thing in archaeology,” he says with a laugh. “We’re usually 2,300 years too late.”

Fieldstead Grant Boosts Series and Study new grant from Fieldstead and Company, which implements Howard and Roberta Ahmanson’s philanthropy, will support a Chapman public policy series on local government. The new grant of $330,000 brings Fieldstead’s total support to $520,000, providing funding for a new Orange County Annual Survey of political and social conditions through the eyes of county residents. • “In a society where our media are more and more centralized on a national or international basis, it is difficult to pay attention to local governments, though they make many of the rules by which we live. Their behavior, in turn, 8 | CHAPMAN MAGAZINE

is often influenced by the rules of businesses or governments on a higher level, and cultural attitudes. Our conference series at Chapman is designed to throw a greater light on local government, the limits and effects of its authority and the incentives that drive it,“ says Howard Ahmanson, Jr., who writes at • In previous years, the local government conferences have focused on the City of Bell Scandal, how local government can be made more democratic and inclusive, and what Orange County will look like in 25 years. The 2018 Conference, Housing and Homelessness, is slated for April 5. Admission is free.

Support from philanthropists Howard and Roberta Ahmanson will make possible Chapman’s local government public policy series organized by Professor Fred Smoller, Ph.D., right. This year the grant was increased to also fund the Chapman University Orange County Annual Survey.

Illustration by Ryan Tolentino ’02

Amid the Echoes of Mozart

Anxiety on the Rise, Fear Survey Finds year after the Chapman University Survey of American Fears identified undercurrents that rose to the surface in the 2016 presidential election, the 2017 Fear Survey revealed Americans are increasingly anxious and afraid. “In every wave of the survey before this, there was only one item where a majority of Americans said they were afraid or very afraid, and that was corruption of government officials,” said Ed Day, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology and one of three principal investigators for the survey. “On this year’s survey, there were five items where a majority of Americans said they were afraid,” Day said of the fourth annual report. Fear of government corruption increased dramatically, from 60.6 percent to 74.5 percent of adults in the random sample of 1,207 Americans from across the country. Most striking about results this year is that environmental fears figure more prominently than ever. Environmental issues never cracked the top-10 fears in previous surveys. Water pollution

ranks third this time, followed closely by drinking water quality. There’s also a sharp rise in Americans who say they fear climate change (No. 8), which may be linked to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. Another new fear emerged on the top-10 list. “Americans are afraid of a nuclear attack by North Korea,” said Ann Gordon, Ph.D., associate professor of political science and another of the principal investigators on the project, along with Christopher Bader, Ph.D., professor of sociology. This year’s Fear Survey also took a close look at extremist groups, with two threats front and center in the results: Islamic extremists and white supremacists. “One thing that stands out about Americans’ concerns is that as worries about national security go up, our commitment to national values (civil liberties) goes down,” Day said. For more on the survey results, visit

alzburg, Austria, was alive with the winning sounds of a Chapman University vocalist again this summer. Milan McCray ’19 became the fifth Chapman University student to win the prestigious Schloss Mirabell Vocal Competition in the historic city that was the setting for The Sound of Music. As winner of the 2017 competition, McCray performed works by Franz Schubert, Richard Strauss and Samuel Barber in Baroque Marble Hall of Mirabell Palace, where the Mozart family performed for Salzburg’s royalty. McCray has been a standout performer in several productions for the College of Performing Arts, including Opera Chapman and the 2016 Holiday Wassail concert. Other winners of the Schloss Mirabell competition from Chapman’s Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music include Marcus Paige (Class of ’15), Kevin Gino ’14, Kylena Parks ’15 and Andrei Bratkovski ’15. All are students of Professor Peter Atherton, DMA, the Robert and Norma Lineberger Endowed Chair in Music.

CU Climbs to No. Milan McCray ’19

Chapman University rose to No. 5 in its category on the annual U.S. News & World Report “Best Colleges” list released this fall. This year’s ranking is the highest earned by Chapman in the category of Regional Universities West. • In addition, Chapman was one of just five Western Region schools included in the category of “Best Undergraduate Teaching.” Chapman was listed third with Gonzaga University and Loyola Marymount University. The schools on this list received the most votes from top college administrators acknowledging their outstanding reputations for undergraduate instruction. • “Chapman University’s ascension in these rankings over the past few decades is truly remarkable,” said Provost Glenn Pfeiffer, Ph.D. • Earlier this year, The Princeton Review named Chapman one of the nation’s best institutions for higher education.

F A L L 2 017 | 9


Treasured Friends and ‘Stranger Things’ Story by Dawn Bonker (MFA ’19) Photos by John Saade

magination and fantasy were the themes of Chapman Celebrates 2017, but one more could be added to that lineup – stellar alumni. One of the great highlights of Chapman University’s annual Broadway-style stage revue and gala benefiting student scholarships is its salute to leaders in the worlds of creative arts and philanthropy. This year that tradition was especially sweet as alumni received the top awards and triumphed in the production of the show as well. The event recognized Sarah Ann Fowler and Dale E. Fowler ’58 with the Citizens of the Year Award, and Ross Duffer ’07 and Matt Duffer ’07, creators of the Netflix hit series Stranger Things, with the Alumni Achievement Award. And for the first time 10 | C H A P M A N M A G A Z I N E

the show was produced, written and directed by Matthew McCray ’98, an award-winning playwright and actor. Together, the alumni embodied the best of the University mission and vision, as well as the themes of imagination and fantasy, said Chapman President Daniele Struppa. “How appropriate it is that each of our honorees, Dale and Sarah Ann Fowler and Matt and Ross Duffer, has inspired us to use our imaginations – the Fowlers through their immense philanthropic support, and the Duffers through their award-winning talents in television production,” Struppa said. “Each of them possesses almost otherworldly abilities to transform, be it their community or their industry.”

The gala event is famously stylish, from a reception under the sparkling lights adorning Attallah Piazza to a multi-course dinner in an elegant tent positioned at the steps of the University’s historic Memorial Hall. But the honorees captured hearts with simple stories of student experiences that set the stage for their success. For Matt and Ross Duffer, it was gratitude for Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, which let them work as a team and nourished the wild imaginations that led them to the runaway hit series Stranger Things. “I can’t stress enough how important it is to have teachers who believe in you early on,” Matt Duffer told the audience. For businessman Dale Fowler, whose gifts


Clockwise from far left: President Daniele Struppa emerges from the mists of the Upside Down, in a nod to the creators of Stranger Things. Isaak Momsen ’20 and Jasmine Rodriguez ’18 perform the title song from The Phantom of the Opera. Jonah Almanzar ’20 and Emilia Bartelheim ’18 make it a jolly holiday with “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” from Mary Poppins.

Photo by Nathan Worden ’13 (M.A. ’15, MBA ’18)

“Let It Go” from Frozen gets the royal treatment by Aubree Bouché ’18 and CoPA dancers.

Above: CoPA Dean Giulio Ongaro, Ph.D., left, and Chapman Celebrates producer Matthew McCray ’98, right, enjoy a moment in the spotlight with Alumni Achievement Award winners Ross and Matt Duffer ’07. Left: Dale E. Fowler ’58 and his wife, Sarah Ann Fowler, receive the Citizens of the Year Award.

“How appropriate it is that each of our honorees has inspired us to use our imaginations.”

have named both Chapman’s law school and its future school of engineering, it was the inspiration and memory of a beloved business professor who challenged students to troubleshoot real-world business problems. Then at Commencement, the professor leapt from his seat to give Fowler an unforgettable hug. “He stood up and I thought he was going to shake my hand, but he gave me a bear hug, and I’d never had that happen before. And he said, ‘You’ll do fine, kid.’ And I’m still trying,” Fowler said.

Fittingly, the other stars of the night were the student performers from the College of Performing Arts. The 16 musical numbers in the show ranged from the campy “Song That Goes Like This” from the comic musical Spamalot to an inspiring performance of “Over the Rainbow” by Milan McCray ’19 (no relation). Since its inception, the gala event has become an over-the-top success, welcoming nearly 60,000 attendees and raising more than $35 million for student scholarships.

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Ross Duffer

“Bet on yourself,” the Duffer Brothers advise Chapman students during a wide-ranging master class that’s full of clear-sighted counsel. By Melissa Hoon ixteen million viewers around the world watched Season 2 of Netflix’s Stranger Things within the first three days of its release on Oct. 27. Of those 16 million, 361,000 viewers binged, watching all nine episodes, one right after the other. “It’s safe to say that Stranger Things has become an instant classic,” said Akin Ceylan ’90, COO of home entertainment at Lionsgate and president of Chapman University’s Alumni Association. Ceylan introduced Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer ’07 when they gave a master class in Folino Theater on Nov. 3. The day before the Duffer Brothers accepted the Alumni Achievement Award at Chapman Celebrates, they generously gave back to Chapman University and its students. Before an overflow crowd, they shared insights about their journey and offered a 12 | C H A P M A N M A G A Z I N E

range of career tips, some specific to the film industry and others that apply to any profession. Call it a top-10 list with a twist. 1. “Learn from the masters.” “Watch a lot of stuff,” Ross told the students. “Old movies, new movies, good, bad – everything.” The Duffer Brothers explained how watching a variety of shows and films helped them pick up on what works and what doesn’t. “There is a rhythm to storytelling, and you start to absorb that,” Matt said. 2. “Work hard—really hard.” “The kids who work the hardest are the ones who succeed,” Ross said. “We did most of our work when the film school was in DeMille Hall, and there was a core group of kids who were there every day, sometimes till 3 in the morning, helping each other.” So it wasn’t a surprise when a group member

found industry success. “I mean, of course Justin Simien (’05, writer/director of Dear White People) made it, because you could see it back in the day,” Ross said. The Duffers also realized they couldn’t just focus on directing; they needed to become good writers, too. “The most valuable thing to have,” Ross said, “is a script people want.” 3. “Intern, intern, intern!” “It was really important for us to get up to Hollywood and work for the production companies,” Matt said. “You get the coffee, make the copies, deliver the Christmas presents. You put in the time, you earn the respect, and then they give you more responsibilities.” 4. “Write what you want.” Did you know that the Duffer Brothers were turned down the first few times they

Below: The Duffer Brothers share a light moment with mentor Michael Kowalski, Chapman film professor and associate dean of academic affairs at Dodge College. The Duffers’ success with Stranger Things “has happened to the best possible people,” Kowalski says. The professor and others who knew the brothers when they were students share stories at, where you’ll also find a link to the Duffers’ thesis film, Eater. Matt Duffer

and “that’s how we found out what a director does,” Matt noted. “The difference between us and other kids is that we knew movies were 2 hours long, so we’d set a timer, and with about 15 minutes left, we’d say, ‘OK, better start wrapping this up.’” Also at an early age, they knew they wanted to work together. “We’re fairly dysfunctional apart,” Matt said. 7. “Don’t overanalyze why something works.” So many people want to talk about Stranger Things as a marketing vehicle, the Duffer Brothers said. And so many are now trying to manufacture the next Stranger Things. “You don’t want people sitting around saying, ‘What’s your kids-on-bikes pitch?’” Ross said. “Don’t pay attention to what’s hot in the marketplace. Do what makes sense to you.” 8. “Don’t be afraid to fail.” Accept that getting knocked down is just part of the process, Ross said. “Those who love it so much that they can’t imagine doing anything else? They’re the ones who get up and put themselves back out there.” 9. “Create your own luck.” Although their careers are young, the Duffer Brothers have endured ups and downs. There was a period before Stranger Things when they questioned their career choice. During that time, they were writing what production companies wanted. They decided to reconnect with their own storytelling passions and go back to writing tales of the paranormal. It wasn’t long before Stranger Things was born. 10. “Learn to say no.”

pitched Stranger Things to industry executives? “No one wanted the ’80s, and no one liked that there were children in it,” Ross explained. “At a certain point you have to stop listening.” 5. “Find inspiration—and keep finding it.” The Duffers were inspired by the work of filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan, and after he read their first film script, “which was very M. Night Shyamalan-like,” Ross said, the director invited Matt and Ross to meet with

him. “That invigorated us,” Matt said. “We got jobs writing for Wayward Pines (a Shyamalan TV series for Fox). We got television credits at a time when TV was getting really interesting. We took that money and developed the show that became Stranger Things.” 6. “Find and know your purpose.” The Duffers knew that they wanted to direct films when they were “tiny little dudes,” growing up in North Carolina. They saw a commercial for Tim Burton’s Batman,

The Duffer Brothers had a few early offers on Stranger Things, but they wouldn’t have been allowed to direct. Ross and Matt’s response? “We had to say, ‘Sorry, you can’t have it,’” Ross said. “That was hard. We could have said, ‘Well, we’ll just watch our baby grow from a distance.’” “At some point,” Matt said, “you have to bet on yourselves.” Their list of career tips complete, the Duffers made an admission. “Super cheesily, we were going to do 11 lessons,” Matt said, “but we lost one on the car ride over here.” F A L L 2 017 | 13


In Touch With History Two larger-than-life murals connect Chapman to its heritage, its community and to a sweeping project that explores Latin American and Latino art. Story by Dawn Bonker (MFA ’19) Photos by Dennis Arp magine being that rare college artist who gets to work on a Getty project. That’s the gig Chapman University art major Cooper Richmond ’18 landed this semester. Richmond was selected to assist renowned mural artist Higgy Vasquez in the creation of a new campus mural that is part of the University’s contribution to the Getty Foundation’s ambitious Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA. The project is a sweeping assemblage of some 70 visual and performing art shows, exhibitions and displays across Southern California exploring Latin American and Latino art. “As a painter, this provides a unique opportunity to work at a scale that’s beyond anything I’ve done before. It’s especially cool because it’s larger than life, but each detail is so important,” Richmond says. Chapman is one of just four Orange County institutions selected for the project. Participating organizations stretch west from Los Angeles to Palm Springs and south from Santa Barbara to San Diego. For Vasquez, it’s also a historic moment in his family’s history. Nearly 40 years ago, his father, Emigdio Vasquez, painted a 40-foot-long mural on the exterior walls of a small apartment complex in Old Towne Orange. Though separated by time and distance, the two murals are 14 | C H A P M A N M A G A Z I N E

A detail from the mural El Proletariado de Aztlán depicts an Aztec warrior.

together in the Chapman exhibition, connecting two generations of Southern California muralists. The first mural, El Proletariado de Aztlán, portrays generations of workers and MexicanAmerican history with depictions of an Aztec warrior, immigrant farmers, local barrio residents, the neighborhood store, car culture, revolutionary leader Che Guevara and labor leader Cesar Chavez among its scenes. It is located on the exterior wall of a small apartment complex at 446 N. Cypress St. owned and

maintained by the University. The mural was restored in 2014 by Higgy Vasquez. The new mural on the wall flanking the courtyard near Moulton Hall will be a timelinelike reflection of Chapman history, with nods to founder C.C. Chapman and significant campus events, like the 1961 visit of Martin Luther King, Jr. Painting the mural will be a semester-long project for Vasquez and Richmond, with further assistance expected to come from Orange High School students. Particular components of the mural hit home for Vasquez, who grew up near the campus. “To show C.C. Chapman and his Valencia orange trees is important to me for the fact that my family picked and packed oranges,” he says. The hardest part of the mural is the sketching and outlining, Vasquez notes as he and Richmond prepare the wall-sized canvas for the later stage when they apply the color. Some elements have been revised as many as 50 times. “We’re striving for perfection,” Vasquez says. Although he hails from a small town 3,000 miles away, Richmond also feels a special connection to the murals. “I can relate to the sense of the small-town feel and the community values because that’s a lot of what I remember growing up in Rhode Island,” he says.

Left: Artist Higgy Vasquez and student assistant Cooper Richmond ’18 work on a new campus mural that connects to Chapman’s history and to the Getty Foundation’s ambitious Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA project. Below: Mark Hilbert, co-founder of the Hilbert Museum of California Art at Chapman, chats with Vasquez during an event celebrating the Cypress Street mural painted by Vasquez’s late father, Emigdio Vasquez.

In addition to the murals, the larger “My Barrio: Emigdio Vasquez and Chicana/o Identity in Orange County” project features two studentcurated shows. • A Guggenheim Gallery exhibition features about 30 works in a variety of media by contemporary artists, including highlights from Emigdio Vasquez’s prolific oil painting career. • An Argyros Forum showcase of archival objects, ephemera and photographs focuses on Chicanos in Orange County. Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA continues through January 2018.

NOW ON VIEW Through April 7

American Illustration:

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Children at Play

California Surf Culture Art

Hilbert Museum of California Art

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167 N. Atchison St., Orange, CA 92866 714-516-5880

Tuesday–Saturday, 11am–5pm Admission is always free.

Free in any Visitor spot in front of the Museum with permit obtained at Museum front desk.

Featuring Pinocchio

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A law professor who long has fought human-rights abuses immerses himself at the front lines of a crisis, helping desperate migrants find passage to safety. By John Hall

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was on night watch with another volunteer, each of us scanning the pitch-black sea off the Greek island of Lesvos. Through night-vision binoculars, we searched for tiny boats filled with people fleeing war in Afghanistan or Syria, and it wasn’t long before we spotted a dinghy bobbing toward a beach just below us. This was the moment for which we had trained. From our promontory position, we scrambled to collect emergency supplies. Usually you can find me in a classroom, teaching Chapman University students about international law, or alongside human-rights workers in Cambodia, the Philippines and elsewhere, representing those caught in the undertow of war. This summer, I wanted to make a difference on the razor’s edge of a humanitarian crisis.

Through the night-vision equipment, we could clearly see rows of migrants huddled behind the driver of the dinghy as it swerved toward shore. We raced to meet the boat, the whine of its outboard motor and the shouts of its passengers washing over us. Volunteers are not permitted to guide migrant boats to safety; if they do, they can be prosecuted for human trafficking. So all we could do was hold our breath as the dinghy suddenly veered toward a particularly jagged stretch of coastline. We moved along the clifftop, which rises several hundred feet above the coastline to an almost vertical drop, forcing me to confront my acute fear of heights. Suddenly we heard the dinghy’s engine cut out, and women and children started screaming. It was clear the boat had foundered on rocks, but where were the people? My anxiety rising, I peered over the cliff edge and aimed my flashlight toward the shoreline. Were those bodies in the water? We followed the sounds of shouting, and after a few interminable minutes we saw the faint glimmer of a rubber boat ringed by tiny shapes moving on the beach.

ince 2015, Lesvos has been a key transit point for hundreds of thousands of people seeking safety and opportunity in Europe after fleeing the violence and social collapse of Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and a host of other war-torn nations. The scale of the crisis defies belief. During the past three years, more than 800,000 people are known to have braved the five-mile crossing from Turkey to Lesvos, most in flimsy and overloaded rubber dinghies. Over the same period, an estimated 10,000 rubber boats and 600,000 life vests have been discarded on the northern shores of this island. After doing some research, I decided to volunteer with a Swedish nongovernmental organization (NGO) called Lighthouse Relief, which provides a range of services to migrants in the tiny fishing village of Skala Sikamineas on Lesvos. It’s a picturesque hamlet of about 150 permanent residents nestled below dramatic cliffs. In 2015, the village was inundated by tens of thousands of refugees, mainly from Syria. Dinghies swamped and sank; hundreds, perhaps thousands, drowned, and local fishermen spent months pulling

survivors and bodies from the water. Long before the United Nations or the Greek government acted decisively, the local communities of Lesvos shouldered an overwhelming humanitarian burden, providing warm clothes, blankets, bedding and food. The crisis facing Lesvos during this past summer was very different in scale and consequence from the worst days of the two previous years. In 2016, the European Union reached an agreement with Turkey under which the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to help stem the unprecedented flow of migrants in exchange for financial aid. For now, Turkish authorities are trying to intercept and turn back boats, but many migrants still attempt the crossing, usually at night in hopes of avoiding detection. There remains the fear that the Erdogan regime, flexing its muscle with the EU, may decide to once again open the floodgates to those who prey on the hopes of the desperate. Such a scenario causes considerable worry within aid organizations like Lighthouse. But, then, anxiety remains a constant in the lives of pretty much everyone on Lesvos.

Kindness Amid Chaos Fowler Law Professor John Hall steadies a boat at its right during a night rescue of 21 Afghan migrants who had just braved a crossing from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesvos. These images taken from video footage show how volunteers seek to calm migrants – especially the children – and then help them get safely to refugee camps. Hall says that while he worked to give care during a time of chaos and desperation, he got much more in return. “I received the gift of a vivid awareness of our shared humanity, of the remarkable resiliency of the human spirit, and of the power and necessity of mutual kindness,” he says.

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Professor John Hall, center, shares a relaxed moment with fellow Lighthouse volunteers Stratos, a Greek law student, and Peta, an attorney from New Zealand.

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Lighthouse Relief To learn more about opportunities for support of humanitarian efforts on Lesvos, visit

quickly discovered that a ready smile also worked wonders. I passed out plenty as I crouched to the level of the children, from whom I even coaxed a bit of laughter, which seemed to further relax the adults. Cellphones sprang to life as those safely on the shore sent messages to friends and relatives. The Coast Guard decided the safest passage to the aid camp was by boat, so the Proactiva vessel approached the shore. I held the boat steady as the Afghans boarded from the beach, the baby and toddlers in the arms of adults who stepped carefully through the waist-high surf.


ow that I am back in the classroom at the Fowler School of Law, I find myself reflecting often about my summer as a Lighthouse volunteer. We get wrapped up in our own lives, our stressful problems and petty dramas. The daily pressure of modern life keeps us busy and distracted, while the myriad humanitarian crises in the world appear dispiritingly overwhelming in scale. It is too easy to respond by throwing up our hands in collective despair – to find reasons for not doing anything. The greater truth is that we can all make a difference, we can get involved, we can change the world for the better. I feel that I have an obligation as a teacher to lead by example – to help our students discover an appreciation of their lifelong potential to fully engage as global citizens. Together, we can focus less on prestige, money and the formal trappings of success, and more on our ability to use our talents to make the world a more caring and genuine place. I’m also thinking about the thousands of migrants I met on Lesvos. For many, their futures are in limbo, their needs as immediate as shelter for the night and food for their children. But at least they are safe, and skilled people who care are helping them to find safe passage to the next phase of their lives. My strongest impressions connect to the humanity of the migrants as well as their courage and optimism. They flee appalling violence, terrorism and instability, just as we would in their circumstances. They risk

Photo courtesy of Lighthouse Relief


ith the small boat now visible on shore, my fellow spotter and I radioed the migrants’ location to the Hellenic Coast Guard and to a landing team from the Spanish NGO Proactiva. But our work was far from done. My colleague started toward the beach on a steep, narrow path that was partially illuminated by her headlamp. We had discussed my acrophobia, so she understood when I said I would remain in the relative safety of our perch. But in no time I realized that just wouldn’t do. I steeled myself and started gingerly down the path trying to keep up with her pace. Finally reaching the rocks at the bottom of the cliff, we waded toward a cluster of people, now illuminated by a powerful spotlight from the Coast Guard boat bobbing alongside the Proactiva vessel about 50 meters offshore. Our new role was to calm the migrants and assess their immediate medical needs. We handed out water and biscuits while performing a quick count. There were 21 people in all, including 13 children, of whom two were toddlers and one a 6-monthold baby. One passenger had gashed his hand pretty badly, and we helped him apply a compress. Elsewhere, there were only a few cuts and bruises. Everyone was safe. The migrants were from Afghanistan, but one boy spoke English, so we asked him to translate: “You are in Greece. Stay here, and you will be taken to a safer place with hot food. You are not in danger.” For most of the migrants, the tension eased. As volunteers, we had been trained to work quickly without looking frantic, to speak in calming tones and to respect cultural norms such as not touching those of the opposite gender. I

A special sense of relief swept through the two of us still on the shoreline. We waved to those departing, returning the smiles of our new Afghan friends as we watched the Proactiva boat back away from the shore. In an instant, the Coast Guard boat turned off its floodlight, plunging the two of us into complete darkness and causing us to rethink our decision not to go along. Aided by our headlamps, we found our way to the trail and started the steep climb. When we reached the top, a peculiar thing happened. I realized I was no longer afraid of heights. These days, I can look down from atop a high rise without feeling anxious. This is one reason I look back on my Lesvos experience with my own sense of passage.

The children of migrants who land on Lesvos get special attention from volunteers.

everything, including abuse, violence, rape and robbery, to board a flimsy dinghy, all to make a new life for themselves and their children. They share a profound courage built of equal parts desperation and hope. On Lesvos I found that the more I talked with the migrants and the more I listened to them, the more the hurtful divide of “them” and “us” seemed artificial and offensive. People in distress need our assistance, our support, our respect. They do not need our pity. The migrants are not merely disembodied numbers. They are doctors, farmers and wives, mothers and professors. They are children, nurses, bureaucrats, office workers, drivers and accountants, all caught in a crisis that does not define them. They are my family and friends. They are me. They are us.


t the front of my memory are the smallest of things. The items the migrants choose to carry with them are a touching reflection of their prior lives: family photographs in ziplock bags; professional,

medical and university diplomas rolled in waterproof containers; children’s toys. One young man from Congo arrived dressed in his soccer uniform – his only clothing – with two pairs of cleats tied around his neck to keep them dry. A music student from Syria carried his kanun, a dulcimer-like instrument that despite its relative bulk clearly was too precious to leave behind. A mother clutched two bags, one filled with baby formula, the other with crayons. What would I take with me if I were forced to flee my home, abandon my current life and brave untold dangers to start anew in an unknown country? My cellphone? Photographs of my daughter? Some small reminder of home in a plastic bag? At the end of our memorable night of rescue, my Lighthouse colleague and I returned to comb the rocks and sand, where we recovered stray life jackets and cleared the beach of debris. In the spray of my headlamp I spotted something unexpected: a scarf of the finest cotton, with intricately embroidered detailing – a cherished item that survived the hazardous crossing only to become lost along a soggy shoreline. There was one

more rescue to make that night. I folded it gently and placed it in my pocket. First thing the next morning, I trekked to the camp and moved among the migrants as I held the scarf aloft in search of its owner. A boy quickly recognized it as his mother’s and directed me to her. Although she and the others from the boat had only gotten a few hours of sleep, already they were being told to collect their things for another journey, this time to a processing camp run by the Greek government. The stress put everyone back on edge, but even in her exhaustion the Afghan mother kindled a warm smile of gratitude as I handed her the scarf. She placed it on the cot next to her and gave it a gentle pat. The moment seemed as delicate as the fabric, yet there was resilience in her manner as she resumed gathering her belongings. I like to think that the scarf remains with her today, perhaps in her own plastic bag, ziplocked for safekeeping during passages to come. John A. Hall, JD, Ph.D., is a professor and director of the International Law Program in Chapman’s Fowler School of Law.

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’s T ony Story By Dennis Arp

onia Kelly and Judy Richonne (M.A. ’18) step wordlessly between rows of crosses, searching for the grave of their Silent Hero. Richonne, a teacher of high school history as well as a student in Chapman University’s War and Society master’s program, has come to Normandy to honor one of the many who gave all on D-Day more than seven decades ago. Richonne has mentored Kelly through months of research so the high school junior can tell the story of Private First Class Tony Burnett Jr., a paratrooper from Pasadena whose plane was shot down before he ever got a chance to make his D-Day jump. Later,

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By joining in a collaborative research project, Chapman War and Society student Judy Richonne (M.A. ’18) helps give voice to a Silent Hero of D-Day.

Kelly will deliver a graveside eulogy for Burnett in the company of fellow student researchers and their teachers. But first Kelly and Richonne have a hands-on plan for helping Burnett stand out among the 9,387 comrades in arms buried in the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial along the now-peaceful French coastline. They carry a bucket of sand collected from Omaha Beach, and when they reach the grave of the soldier they now affectionately refer to as “our guy,” they kneel, and Kelly begins rubbing the sand over the letters engraved in the cross. For a few moments before they wash the stone marker clean

again, Private Burnett’s name is visible all across the sands of history. This simple action gets to the heart of their journey. “It’s no longer a research project – it’s Tony – and that is the goal of the project,” says Richonne, who teaches at University High School in Irvine and is a past winner of the National History Day Teacher of the Year award. “We get a chance to make sure that this person is not remembered as a casualty, to give him a voice and ensure that he’s not a silent part of history. That makes this a powerful experience.”

Richonne and Kelly began their experience on Memorial Day, after they were selected as one of only 15 teacher-student teams nationally to take part in the Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom program of the Albert H. Small Student & Teacher Institute. They chose to tell the story of Private Burnett because he’s a Southern Californian, making it easier for them to meet and interview family members. They also comb through records during a trip to the National Archives in Maryland and other research sites. Then there’s the journey to Normandy for more research and to establish historical context for the D-Day invasion. The project connects to Richonne’s Chapman War and Society studies in deep and meaningful ways, she says. “My goal is to help my students become engaged, proactive citizens instead of passive members of society,” she says. “We’re

the Pegasus Bridge, site of a critical Allied foothold in the earliest moments of the D-Day invasion. They wade into the surf and imagine struggling toward the beach while wearing packs that double their weight. They step into craters so broad and deep that it’s hard to grasp the destructive power that created them. “No wonder so many soldiers couldn’t fathom going back to reality, because their reality had been redefined into something horrific,” Richonne says. Throughout the Normandy experience, she and Kelly do their best to place themselves and their fellow researchers in the boots of Private Burnett – as he boards a C-47 at Welford Airfield on the “day of days,” chute on his back and folded American flag in his pocket; as he and other members of the 3rd Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division take off in the last of five waves to cross the English Channel; as

Photo by Dennis Arp

“How do we say as a nation that our diplomatic choice now is to go to war? What has to happen to get to that place?”

High school junior Sonia Kelly and her history teacher, Judy Richonne (M.A. ’18), partnered on a research project that took them to Normandy, France, to tell the story of a D-Day Silent Hero, paratrooper Tony Burnett. At left, they use sand from Omaha Beach to add distinction to Burnett’s name on the cross that marks his grave. Above, they put the finishing touches on a presentation to be delivered to the Normandy Institute.

thinking about ways of shifting from a society in a state of war to one in a state of peace, and this is the part of the War and Society program that fascinates me. How do we say as a nation that our diplomatic choice now is to go to war? What has to happen to get to that place?” On the ground in Normandy, Richonne and Kelly tour homes that were occupied by the Germans during World War II. They walk

his plane gets hit by intense antiaircraft fire and crashes near an apple orchard; as he makes the ultimate sacrifice for the cause of liberating Europe from Nazi tyranny. “From his easy smile to his kind personality, Private Burnett has not been forgotten by those he affected,” Kelly says in her eulogy at his graveside. “Mrs. Richonne and I are two of those people, and from now on we will celebrate his extraordinary 20 years and remember his selflessness for his country and the world we share.” For Richonne, the bond with Private First Class Tony Burnett Jr. has become “an adopted son kind of thing,” she says. “He’s younger than my own children, a bit older than my high school kids. I could imagine sending my only son into the unknown, where the chances of him coming home are pretty slim.” These days, she is back in her classrooms – at University High and at Chapman. But in her mind, she can easily return to the rows of crosses, where she sees the names of soldiers whose stories have yet to be told. “You realize how many are still unknown, and that’s the idea of the Silent Hero program,” she says. “We’re trying to make them a little less silent.” F A L L 2 017 | 21

THE RIDDLE OF ad got lost on the way home,” Robert Heins ’18 announced one evening in 2009 after he and his father, Steve Heins, returned to the family’s Cypress, Calif., home from a Boy Scout event. For Steve, a mechanical engineer in his mid-50s, it was a life-changing moment. A diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment followed, as did early retirement from Disneyland, where he was an “imagineer.” “I didn’t think Robert had caught on,” Steve noted later. “I tried to pretend I knew what I was doing, then I asked him, ‘What’s the best way to get home?’ I did the best I could to backpedal and cover things up.” But the memory slip was just one in a string of unusual lapses for Steve, says his wife, Gincy Heins (MBA ’87). “He was forgetting names, times, places and simple computer operations he had been performing for years,” she adds. The diagnosis altered the family’s dayto-day life in sweeping ways. Today, Steve works to keep his brain sharp via exercise, college classes and civic groups such as the Kiwanis Club. Gincy has embraced the role of caregiver; she shares her compassionate, practical expertise with others as co-author of the popular book series 365 Caregiving Tips and by teaching classes on brain health, as well as volunteering with groups like the Alzheimer’s Association. “We stay positive,” Gincy Heins says. “We try to enjoy every minute we have together. And so far, we’ve been very fortunate – Steve’s MCI has not progressed to Alzheimer’s disease.” A loved one develops cognitive impairments, and a whole family adapts. The Heins family’s experience is shared by an increasing number of Americans. An estimated 14 million adults in the U.S. have mild cognitive impairment (MCI) – memory lapses and episodes of fuzzy thinking that range from the inconvenient to the downright dangerous. For some, MCI leads to Alzheimer’s disease. This degenerative brain disease, the most common form of dementia, now affects 5.5 million adults. Meanwhile, more than 15 million Americans provide unpaid care to loved ones with these diseases. 22 | C H A P M A N M A G A Z I N E


The costs – in lives, dollars, heartache and worry – are enormous. In 2017, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the nation $259 billion in medical expenses and lost productivity. Dementia steals independence, robs identity and ends lives. As the American population ages, the number with Alzheimer’s is expected to all but triple by 2050. Small wonder, then, that 35 percent of older adults in a recent National Council on Aging poll named dementia their top health concern.

But there’s also plenty of hope. The leading edge of scientific research into prevention, treatment and caregiving for MCI, Alzheimer’s and dementia is revealing surprisingly good news. Here’s the latest thinking on these important fronts, as illustrated by the insightful work, powerful research and personal experiences of Chapman alumni, faculty members and students.

NEW DIRECTIONS IN RESEARCH The contrast is stark: Despite trials of 244 promising experimental medications for Alzheimer’s from 2002 to 2012, only one – Namenda (memantine) – earned approval from the Food and Drug Administration. It joined a handful of even older medications that comprise our pharmaceutical arsenal against this sometimes fatal illness. So far, no early treatment can stop or

reverse the loss of neuron-to-neuron communication and brain-cell death that make Alzheimer’s so devastating. There is no cure, no medicine or vaccine to prevent it. Yet, when five Chapman University School of Pharmacy graduate students, research assistants and professors recently published a major overview of drug development for the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s, they struck a cautiously optimistic tone. The report

“Alzheimer’s Disease: Dawn of a New Era?” came out in July 2017 in the Journal of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences. The consensus: Thanks to new discoveries about the origins of Alzheimer’s, significant new treatments may be closer than ever. “Brain changes begin a decade or more before symptoms appear, but most studies have involved people who already have symptomatic disease,” notes first author Farideh Amirrad (MP ’17). “There’s early evidence Continued on next page

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that in people at risk or with very early disease, some experimental molecules may actually be helpful.” Drugs that emerged in the 1990s, such as Aricept (donepezil), Razadyne (galantamine), and Exelon (rivastigmine), may work for a few months or, in some people, a few years to improve cognitive function and slow brain deterioration. Called acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, these drugs work by increasing levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the brain, explains article co-author Viet-Huong Nguyen, PharmD, MPH, M.S., BCPS, an assistant professor of pharmacy practice at Chapman who specializes in neurology. Namenda works to support levels of another neurotransmitter, glutamate. “These medications were breakthroughs at the time, when the prevailing view was that Alzheimer’s is caused by an imbalance of neurotransmitters,” Nguyen explains. “That does happen, but it’s a late-stage effect. Today we know that the primary causes of Alzheimer’s symptoms are the build-up of amyloid plaque between brain cells and the accumulation of tau tangles inside cells.” Inflammation may also play a role, and other types of dementia such as narrowed blood vessels of vascular dementia can make symptoms worse. Many experimental drugs have targeted amyloid plaque and tau, but they haven’t made a significant difference in clinical trials with human subjects. The leading edge? “Treatment hasn’t been effective in moderate to severe Alzheimer’s, but researchers are

Chapman School of Pharmacy researchers, from left, Kiumars Shamloo, Farideh Amirrad, Emira Bousoik, Viet-Huong Nguyen and HamidReza Montazeri AliAbadi recently collaborated on a major overview of drug development for the treatment and prevention of Alzheimer’s.

focusing new clinical trials on people with early-stage disease and those at risk for Alzheimer’s,” Amirrad explains. “This has become possible because early brain changes can be detected with brain scans and with tests for early markers of Alzheimer’s in spinal fluid. So researchers can identify people who may be willing to participate in early-disease studies. This is an important new development.” Among the most promising new experimental drugs are passive immunotherapy agents called monoclonal antibodies and secretase inhibitors that may clean up amyloid plaque; some may also reduce inflammation. A few, with names such as solanezumab, BAN2401 and MK-8931, are now in human trials for early-stage Alzheimer’s. “It’s taken us 20 years to home in on promising targets,” Nguyen says. “I think we could have effective treatments five or 10 years from now.”



“The link between arterial health and Alzheimer’s is still unclear,” says Hillard Kaplan, Ph.D., co-director of the Tsimane Project and a visiting professor of anthropology at Chapman University. “This is the first study of a population that looks at the rate of tissue loss in the brain.” Research by Kaplan and others on the Tsimane Project team shows that a typical 80-year-old in the group has the same vascular age as an American in his or her mid-50s. The Tsimane also have few cases of diabetes and hypertension, to go with a near absence of stroke and heart attack. Villagers spend as much as seven hours a day being physically active – hunting, gathering, fishing and farming. Their diet consists largely of non-processed carbohydrates that are high in fiber, while wild game and fish provide the bulk of their protein. There’s almost no smoking.

By Dennis Arp

A diet free of processed food and lives full of vigorous activity help the Tsimane maintain the world’s lowest reported levels of vascular aging.

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An isolated population living a subsistence lifestyle in the Bolivian Amazon has already provided insights about preventing heart disease. Now researchers are hoping the indigenous group can do the same for Alzheimer’s. A $3.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health is funding a study of brain atrophy, cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease among the Tsimane, hunter-gatherers who have the world’s lowest reported levels of vascular aging.

Could the good things in life – helping others, staying active, relaxing and savoring Mediterranean-style meals (packed with good fats, fruit, vegetables and, if you like, a glass of wine) – save your brain? A convincing stack of research says that at least for some people, the answer is yes. Late-onset Alzheimer’s – the most common type, which strikes after age 65 – is caused by a complex interaction of genes, lifestyle, advancing age, gender, race and ethnicity and even environmental exposures. That leaves part of the risk in your hands. “This is one of the biggest good-news stories to come out of studies on Alzheimer’s, dementia and brain health,” says Karen Unger, MSW, Ed.D. (M.A ’74). Unger is author of Brain Health for Life: Beyond Pills, Politics, and Popular Diets (Inkwater Press 2015). “We know now that the brain is


plastic – at any age you can grow new neurons and new dendrites that send and receive signals. This can slow down the development of late-onset Alzheimer’s.” Unger’s top-line advice for nurturing brain health includes exercising for 30 minutes or more each day; consuming good fats, fruit and vegetables; drinking plenty of water; and making sure to get plenty of rest. (See the accompanying collection of her brain-health tips.) While you’re at it, add “give back to others” to your to-do list. Health psychologist Tara Gruenewald, Ph.D., MPH, associate professor and chair of the Department of Psychology in Chapman’s Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences, is at the forefront of recent research finding that altruistic actions matter. Older adults who volunteered as elementary-school tutors through a nationwide program called the AARP Experience Corps saw modest increases in the hippocampus – a brain region crucial to memory formation. Meanwhile, non-volunteers saw their brains shrink. In a 2016 study detailed in the Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences, Gruenewald led a team from several major universities that found Experience Corps volunteers got a boost in “generativity” – the feeling that they made a meaningful difference in the lives of others. This sense of self can lead to better cognitive and mental health and a longer life, related research has shown. “The warm glow of helping others leads to greater social connectedness,” Gruenewald

Exercise every day. Activity can Karen Unger, MSW, Ed.D. (M.A ’74)

Tara Gruenewald, Ph.D., MPH

says. “We know from hundreds of studies that social connection improves health and cognitive function significantly. Volunteering also gets you up and out of the house, mentally engaged with the subjects you’re tutoring and with the students and changes our thoughts and feelings about ourselves in ways that seem to benefit the brain and the body. It’s all connected.” Gruenewald is part of a team preparing to look at generativity and cognitive health in the Project Talent Aging Study. They’ll test 1,200 of the women and men who participated in the original Project Talent Study in the early 1960s. That study tracked 377,000 American teens for 11 years, looking at factors that determined their occupational and educational trajectories. Now, many have agreed to join this new look at their lives. “This is a unique and fascinating opportunity to look at factors affecting cognitive health across the life course,” Gruenewald says. “It’s very exciting.” Continued on next page

increase levels of a compound called BDNF – brain-derived neurotrophic factor – that promotes brain-cell growth.

Say yes to good fats. Start with omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts, olive oil, fatty fish like salmon and fish-oil capsules, then add other nuts, avocados, organic dairy products and grass-fed meats. Good fats are a big component of cell membranes, while processed foods increase inflammation that can harm the myelin sheath, which coats nerve fibers and promotes signal transmission.

Focus on fruits and veggies. They contain a wide range of phytochemicals that protect cells and cool inflammation. Wash them down with plenty of water – about 9 –11 cups a day. Water is a major component of brain cells, and it washes toxins from the body.

Find time to relax, then sleep well at night. Stress hormones like cortisol can damage the brain. So can skimping on sleep. Recent studies show that the waste-eliminating glymphatic system is 10 times more active during sleep.

Photos courtesy of the Tsimane Project

If the industrialized world emulated the Tsimane in diet and activity, it would save millions of lives and billions of dollars in healthcare costs, Kaplan says. “We are our own worst enemies,” he notes. Now the question is: Does the Tsimane lifestyle “create a flexible brain that ages effectively?” Kaplan adds. “Our study will provide a deeper understanding of how genetics and behaviors interact.” In October, the professor traveled from Chapman to resume field research in the jungles of Bolivia. Time is of the essence as the developed world closes in on the Tsimane. “We’re watching their lifestyles change right before our eyes,” Kaplan says. “This may be our last chance to study the natural history of Alzheimer’s in a population that still has a lifestyle similar to that of prehistoric populations.”

After extensively combing the research for four years, Dr. Karen Unger (M.A. ’74) offers some advice on reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia:

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THE JOYS OF CAREGIVING Gincy Heins agrees emphatically with both the “old thinking” and an exciting new view of caregiving that’s emerging from research studies. Once viewed as a stressful task that could threaten the emotional and physical health of caregivers, recent research underscores something that those caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia have long known: It can also bring happiness and a deep sense of meaning. “You do have to find ways to take care of yourself,” she says. “It’s so valuable to be able to carve out even a few minutes to do something that really matters to you – something creative or relaxing or social that helps you recharge. Caregiving can also bring great joy.” Heins stepped in to help care for her husband, Steve, after his MCI diagnosis. “Steve is very independent, I found I had to take over more of the jobs around the house in addition to going to work part-time,” she says. One approach that helps: Being

‘ALZHEIMER’S: A LOVE STORY’ By Dennis Arp Monica Petruzzelli ’16 has a favorite moment in Alzheimer’s: A Love Story, the award-winning documentary she produced and directed with three Chapman University student colleagues. Gregory Maire is struggling with dementia when his husband of 41 years, Michael Horvich, places headphones over his ears, allowing Maire to hear classical piano played the way he did himself as a younger man. Maire brightens and listens intently. Tears glisten in his eyes. 26 | C H A P M A N M A G A Z I N E

Gincy Heins (MBA ’87) with husband Steve Heins and son Robert Heins ’18

proactive. “You’re taking action instead of reacting to a problem,” she says. That could mean installing grab bars in the bathroom before someone falls, or staying ahead with prescription refills so you don’t run out on a Sunday night. Services, devices and appliances that make it easier are a brilliant way to be even more proactive, she adds. “I found an alarm device where I could record messages for Steve, to help him remember when he had to

get ready for an appointment, for instance,” Heins says. Caregiving can be a lonely job, she acknowledges. “Support groups can be very comforting,” she says. “I try to go to one every month. The way I see it, we’re all in our own little boats, but we’re in the same ocean when it comes to caring for a loved one with MCI or dementia. It’s so good to know you’re not alone.”

“I’m so young, it’s hard to comprehend that people could have a love story endure for so long, especially through such hardships and challenges,” says Petruzzelli, a broadcast journalism graduate who now works as a reporter and anchor at KIEM News Channel 3 in Eureka, Calif. “It was inspiring to witness that love firsthand.” Petruzzelli made the film with Amanda Le ’15, Gabe Schimmel ’17 and Riani Singgih ’18 as part of Dodge College’s Community Voices project, which links student filmmakers with local community groups – in this case the Alzheimer’s Association. The project is funded by the Dhont Family Foundation, and students are mentored by documentary film professor Sally Rubin. “From the beginning, the kids did a wonderful job of storytelling,” says Horvich, who during the film shares his life as husband and caregiver to Maire at a time of difficult transitions necessitated by the disease. “The documentary experience gave me an even stronger sense of how powerful our bond of love was.” Audiences respond to the film’s messaging “that a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s doesn’t have to be a death sentence, and that love is love,” says Horvich, who often speaks before and after screenings.

Alzheimer’s: A Love Story has been shown at more than 80 festivals, winning 30-plus awards, including two at the Cannes American Pavilion Emerging Filmmakers Showcase. The documentary is available for viewing on Amazon Prime, Vimeo on Demand and at For co-director Schimmel, perhaps the most poignant moment didn’t make the film. “All four of us on the team were in a circle, saying goodbye to Gregory, and he was having a hard time understanding,” Schimmel says. “Then suddenly Gregory looked up and said simply, ‘Thank you.’ It was so genuine and sweet. We all cried.”

Gregory Maire, left, and Michael Horvich

eeping a secret is hard. It’s exponentially more difficult when you’re paralyzed from the shoulders down and the one person you’re trying to keep the secret from is your near-constant companion and helper for your phone, laptop, email and, well, everything. So when Chapman University President Daniele Struppa welcomed MBA student Marty O’Connor and his mother Judy into his office in the months before Commencement last spring, O’Connor asked if he could meet with Struppa one-on-one. O’Connor wanted Chapman to consider awarding an honorary MBA to his mother –

“Marty’s assistant,” as she introduced herself to professors. Judy O’Connor attended every graduate school class with him – taking notes because he could not, raising her hand when he wanted to make a point or ask a question and then rolling him to his next class or driving him home. “I told President Struppa that were it not for her efforts there is no way I would be in the position that I was in, nor would I have achieved as much success,” says O’Connor, 29. The plan he proposed would require stealth. “I wanted to let them know not to email me with the subject line ‘Your mom’s

honorary MBA,’” O’Connor says. “If there was anything to talk about, I wanted them to call me or set up a face-to-face, because under my circumstances, it’s hard to maintain that kind of secrecy.” Struppa loved the idea of giving Judy O’Connor an honorary degree, but there was more to be done. “I knew that I was going to need the approval of the provost and the faculty, because we are always very respectful of the role that our different bodies have,” the president says. “But I also knew that our faculty have a very strong sense of what matters, and that they would be thrilled to help out.”

Thanks, Mom

The world joins in the O’Connors’ special moment of appreciation, which culminates one journey and launches another.

Photo by Troy Nikolic

By Robyn Norwood

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BURSTING WITH PRIDE On May 20, Commencement day for the Argyros School of Business and Economics, Judy O’Connor rolled her son up the ramp onto the stage, accepted his diploma, placed it in his lap and stepped away, trying to get out of the photo. But Argyros School Dean Reggie Gilyard, presiding over the school’s Commencement for his final time before stepping down as dean, reached out and took hold of Judy’s hand. “I couldn’t imagine why the dean was pulling on my arm,” she says with a laugh. “It was just a surreal moment. I was just bursting with pride for Marty, No. 1, and the whole family was there, and then all the kids who had been through the program were standing. I was so numb.” Judy O’Connor was caught off-guard when she received an honorary MBA from Argyros School Dean Reggie Gilyard during Commencement. She had attended every class with her son, Marty, who first broached the idea of honoring his mom. Video of Judy’s moment of surprise on stage went viral, creating a month-long media buzz.

The emotion of the moment overtook announcer Cristina Giannantonio, Ph.D., an associate professor of human resource management. Her voice choked up as she awarded the honorary degree until she finally exclaimed, “Oh, shoot!” – her reaction so genuine that news reports almost inevitably mentioned it. Judy O’Connor’s poise never seemed to break, and she blew a kiss to the crowd as she pushed her son’s chair off the stage, though she says there were tears behind that smile. The secret wasn’t a secret anymore. And within days, something unexpected happened: The story of the MBA quadriplegic and his mom went viral, becoming an international news and social media phenomenon. By the time it died down several weeks later, the O’Connors had been featured by ABC World News Tonight with David Muir, 28 | C H A P M A N M A G A Z I N E

NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt and the Today show. It was in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, People magazine and the British outlet the Daily Mail. “I was talking to people from Germany, Canada, all over world,” O’Connor says. More than 375 online and print outlets and more than 550 television and radio stations ran the story.

RIDING THE WAVE The mother-and-son media blitz didn’t end for three or four weeks, with multiple daily interviews and repeated trips to Chapman for camera crews that wanted to film the campus ambience – trips that are never easy because of the time-consuming process of getting O’Connor ready and loading him and his wheelchair into their specially designed vehicle.

“We were so happy to do that. We were riding the wave, in the moment,” Judy O’Connor says. That was the most unexpected surprise: A son’s plan for his mother put Chapman on millions of television and computer screens, and the story was shared on social media more than 15 million times. And none of it was intended or even imagined when Struppa heard O’Connor’s quiet proposal in his office. “You know, I have been around for 62 years now, and as you grow older, you tend to become a bit cynical, and all too often you see how well-intended actions are being punished or taken advantage of,” Struppa says. “So, it was truly a wonderful surprise to see that our action was not misunderstood, and was in fact hailed as a positive moment. “We only did this because we felt that Marty and his mom deserved this. We had no intention to use this for PR purposes. Our intent was, truly, innocent, and while we are pleased by the positive press, I almost wish that this had been a more intimate moment. Our staff, faculty, administrators and trustees genuinely care for our students, and our decision to award an honorary MBA to Marty’s mom is simply a consequence of that care. You ask, what does this show? I think it shows the genuine and authentic nature of Chapman.”

“Our journey together provided us with a purpose, intellectual stimulation, and one hell of a way to spend more time together.” RESUMING HIS CAREER “I’ve told him, you could make a business out of this,” Matuz says. “I think you’re a great keynote speaker. You could be selling out stadiums like Tony Robbins one day.” O’Connor drew laughter from the group when he mentioned his bottom-scraping GPA his freshman year at the University of Colorado after he discovered the nearby snow and social life. But he told the audience how he rallied to graduate on time. And then, how he metaphorically picked himself up after his crushing fall and started over. “I channeled my inner athlete,” he says. “I saw graduate school as another way to compete. Over the next two years, I kicked some (butt) and made an international honor society (Beta Gamma Sigma).”

None of it would have been possible without the choice he and his mother made to work together. “We made a decision to turn my adversity into my advantage,” O’Connor says. “Our journey together provided us with a purpose, intellectual stimulation, and one hell of a way to spend more time together. “This experience gave me an opportunity to change the direction of my life and set myself up for a future of success. I am now confident in my ability to flourish as a professional, and so much of that confidence came from the belief and encouragement I received from my mother during our time at Chapman.”

Photo by Troy Nikolic

After a nearly month-long media blitz, on top of the demands of two years in graduate school, Marty O’Connor needed a summer break. “(Grad school) took so much, not just mentally but physically,” he says. Now O’Connor has restarted his career. As vice president of business development for DivertCity, an ambitious startup that is planning a large multisport facility in Los Angeles County to engage youth in entrepreneurship and the arts as well as sports, he has connected two of his passions: action sports and entrepreneurship. For now, Judy O’Connor remains his primary caregiver, or “domestic engineer,” she says with a laugh, with assistance from her husband, Marty Sr. Judy had been teaching elementary school in Florida in 2012 when Marty was paralyzed by a fall down a flight of stairs in Newport Beach. So began the journey that took her and Marty to that cap-and-gown day in May. “Being able to help Marty in school was very therapeutic and rewarding for me,” she says. “That’s what I was able do. There was no fixing a spinal cord injury. It’s a process, is all I can say.” Marty O’Connor is navigating work with the skills he learned in graduate school, and seizing some of the new opportunities that have come his way. On a Saturday morning in September, he sat in his wheelchair in front of a small group inside a contemporary warehouse space in Long Beach. The former action-sports athlete was giving a featured talk for a session with fitness entrepreneurs and aspiring speakers organized by Mike Matuz ’07, CEO of First Step Fitness and O’Connor’s mentor in the Chapman50 alumni networking and leadership program. “Before every outcome, you always have a choice,” O’Connor told the group. “It’s how you treat those choices.” His own prospects as a speaker have burgeoned after his run as a media darling clarified that he has poise and polish to go with an inspiring message. Other opportunities have appeared, but those – including the possibility of a book about his experience – are on the back burner for now.

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WOODWINDS OF CHANGE A Guatemalan journey unites Chapman maestro and musician, uplifting a community and providing rewards to the visiting scholars. By Dennis Arp

arlos Hernandez ’17 didn’t necessarily go to Guatemala City to play his saxophone on a rooftop. But as video of the open-air jam session shows, the moment was just too emotive to keep cooped up inside. During a back-and-forth of improvisational jazz with one of his students, Hernandez displays the depth of his range, then he smiles broadly as he watches his protégé take a turn. The Guatemalan teenager beams as he riffs on his clarinet, his Nike sneakers tapping to the beat. Sometimes it takes months before a new player of jazz conjures memorable phrasing. After Hernandez had conducted just a couple of master classes with students at the Escuela de Musica Municipal, he heard traces of Miles Davis and Charlie Parker. “It was inspiring how quickly they grabbed onto that,” says Hernandez, a student of music performance and music education in the College of Performing Arts at Chapman University. “It was almost as if they needed someone to unlock what they already knew.” Hernandez journeyed to Guatemala, the ancestral home of his father, to “Translate Musical Languages and Intelligences,” as his research project title noted. Participating in Chapman’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program, Hernandez 30 | C H A P M A N M A G A Z I N E

worked with project mentor and Chapman Professor Christopher Nicholas, DMA, who has been guest-conducting orchestras in Guatemala since 2010. A scholar of the Sistema program in Venezuela, Nicholas studies how social entrepreneurship through music can transform lives. He’s seen it happen in Mexico, Haiti, Guatemala and other developing nations, and he notes that “focusing on how art changes the world can only be done by delving into this world.” Hernandez says that by teaming up with Nicholas and immersing himself in the research experience, he grew as a student, teacher and performer. “It was extremely rewarding,” Hernandez says. “Coming from an underserved community myself, I know how satisfying it is to grow personally and musically. I wanted (the students) to have the freedom to make mistakes, to refine their skills and just to get better.” Growing up in Santa Ana the son of immigrant parents, Hernandez taught himself to play the recorder, refining his skills as a member of his church band. At age 9, he took up the soprano sax.

“He provided such a great experience,” Carlos Hernandez ’17, left, says of his mentor, Chapman Professor Christopher Nicholas, who has been guest-conducting orchestras in Guatemala since 2010.

“I was very out of tune a lot of the time,” Hernandez recalls. “But I recently showed my teacher (Chapman woodwind professor Gary Matsuura) a recording of me playing, and he was very impressed. He said I played really well for someone so young who was without a teacher, even if I was out of tune.” Hernandez says he has never lacked for drive, resourcefulness or confidence. “There’s more than me in that situation – kids brimming with talent but who need help getting noticed, who need the means to get to the next level,” he says. Nicholas knew that Hernandez would thrive at the school in Guatemala, providing next-level training to musicians as part of a team approach. “He’s an extraordinarily good musician, but he’s also a great communicator,” Nicholas says. “The schedule is so packed; I’m presenting to teachers when I’m not rehearsing the orchestra

for five hours,” adds Nicholas, director of bands, woodwinds and brass studies in Chapman’s Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music. “That’s why it was so great to have Carlos, because he could do a presentation on a completely different topic while I was talking to faculty. “I’ve always wanted to involve students in Guatemala, but I knew it would have to be a special student. Carlos is that special student.” Over the eight days of his visit, Hernandez gave three presentations, did three master classes in jazz and saxophone, and performed a solo recital. Throughout it all, he benefited from being comfortable on stage and personable in the classroom. “I find it easy to connect with people, and I’m guessing that I have that in my pedagogical approach as well,” he says. Confidence also comes from working with Nicholas, says Hernandez, who praises his mentor for his patience and his dedication to helping young musicians grow as he shows them a way out of poverty. “He provided such an incredible experience,” Hernandez enthuses. For his part, Nicholas says he always returns to Chapman a better teacher and musician. And what better example is there for a professor to set for his students? “We’re examining what makes us distinctive among other great music schools, and one of those things is that students get opportunities for high-level research and scholarship,” Nicholas says. “It was great to see Carlos take advantage of this opportunity.”

A rooftop jam session with one of his Guatemalan students was a highlight of Hernandez’s work with musicians at Escuela de Musica Municipal in Guatemala City.

10th Anniversary Celebration The Chapman University College of Performing Arts is marking 10 years of transforming lives with a 2017–18 season that includes some signature events, several of which have honored or will honor special friends. For more information or to buy tickets, visit

Celebrating 10 Years of Growth Cabaret In Honor of Bette Aitken Oct. 20, 2017

Celebrating 10 Years of Collaboration Chapman Orchestra and Wind Symphony In Honor of Joann Leatherby Nov. 11, 2017

Celebrating 10 Years of Artistry Fall Dance Concert In Honor of Judy Garfi-Partridge Dec. 1, 2017

Dance Masters at Chapman A Performance with Legends Dwight Rhoden, Clifford Williams and Ido Tadmor Memorial Hall Jan. 5–7, 2018

Celebrating 10 Years of Imagination Desdemona: A Play About a Handkerchief Waltmar Theatre Feb. 15, 2018

Celebrating 10 Years of Passion Opera Chapman In Honor of Marybelle Musco Musco Center for the Arts April 20, 2018

Celebrating 10 Years of Vision 44th Annual Sholund Scholarship Concert In Honor of the Women of Chapman Musco Center for the Arts May 12, 2018

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Yuhua ( Jake) Liang

An assistant professor of communication studies and a 2017 Valerie Scudder Award honoree, Yuhua (Jake) Liang, Ph.D., passed away Aug. 11. He was 37. “The grace and strength with which Jake dealt with his cancer was an inspiration to all as he consistently thought of how it impacted others every step of his journey,”

said Provost Glenn Pfeiffer, Ph.D. “Jake specifically wanted the Chapman community to know how much he appreciated the support and love everyone showed him each and every day during this very difficult past year.” Liang arrived at Chapman in 2013 and taught in what is now the School of Communication, with an emphasis in strategic and corporate communication. His varied and lively research interests included online reviews and human-robot interaction, assisted by his faithful research robot “Casey.” Liang extended his studies of online product reviews to the site, concluding that a tactful response from a professor after a negative online review improved learning outcomes for students who read the review. “One possibility is that after reading negative reviews, students simply gave up on the idea of having a competent and caring instructor,” Liang said of his research. Presented with a professor’s reply, students were able to decide for themselves how much weight to give the original review.

Liang published more than 20 peerreviewed journal articles and had additional manuscripts under review and in progress. His other research interests included persuasion and decision-making, information diffusion, organ donation and environmental and water issues. In addition to the Scudder Award, which is conferred by faculty peers in recognition of outstanding achievement in teaching, scholarly/creative activity, and service to the University, Liang previously received Chapman’s Faculty Research Excellence and Innovations in Sustainability Education awards. He also earned top paper awards from the National Communication Association and the International Communication Association. Liang earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from California State University, Long Beach, and a doctorate from Michigan State University. He is survived by his two sons, Julian, 11, and Neo, 6; his parents, Annie and Ning Liang; brother, Ray Liang, and his beloved dog, Café.

Lowens often spoke at Chapman’s commemorations of Kristallnacht, or “Night of the Broken Glass,” marking the November 1938 violence when synagogues were burned and thousands of Jewish shops were looted throughout Germany. Lowens recalled seeing smoke rising from the Berlin synagogue where he was to have his bar mitzvah. “But the pictures of “jude” (Jew) scribbled on the glass and smashed, the looting, the mob, the screaming, was something I shall never forget,” he told a Chapman audience. While in hiding in Holland, Lowens helped save some 150 Jewish children and also rescued two American pilots who had been shot down, earning a commendation from Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. After immigrating to the United States,

Lowens became an actor, appearing in more than 100 films and TV shows, sometimes portraying Nazi characters. Harran recalled Lowens as someone “always able to find something in which to rejoice even in the most difficult of circumstances.” “He lit up any room he entered with his smile,” she said.

Curt Lowens A Holocaust survivor and World War II hero who went on to become a Hollywood actor and an important part of Chapman’s Holocaust education programs for almost 15 years, Curt Lowens passed away May 8. He was 91. “I truly think Curt loved every moment on the Chapman campus, and nothing gave him more pleasure than to be around young people and to see that his story fascinated them,” said Marilyn Harran, Ph.D., director of the Rodgers Center for Holocaust Education. “I think it was for that reason that Curt entrusted us with his extraordinary collection of documents and materials from his pre-war youth through his wartime years as a rescuer in hiding in the Netherlands and on to his service with the British Army as a translator in the last months of the war.” 32 | C H A P M A N M A G A Z I N E

The new Lastinger Tennis Center quickly wins the hearts of Chapman’s coach and players, who see good things ahead. By Robyn Norwood


or two years, Chapman University’s intercollegiate tennis players were vagabonds, practicing and playing as far as 12 miles from campus as they awaited construction of the new Erin J. Lastinger Tennis Center at the corner of Cypress Street and Palm Avenue. The wait was richly rewarded when the stylish new $6 million facility opened in the fall. “I was amazed,” says Lee Sadler ’20, a player on the men’s team. “I didn’t come visit the site last year, and when I came back I was stunned to see these beautiful courts.” Chapman’s former four-court facility was torn down to make way for construction of the new Keck Center for Science and Engineering on the Orange campus. The Lastinger Tennis Center has seven courts designed in Chapman cardinal and gray, as well as a players’ lounge, men’s and women’s locker rooms, an impressive scoreboard and shaded seating for spectators. “Oh my gosh, it is so nice,” says Raven Hampton, ’20, a player on the women’s team. “Top-quality courts, and it’s really nice that we now have a players’ lounge – somewhere where

With help from Chapman President Daniele Struppa, left, and Athletic Director Terry Boesel, Erin J. Lastinger ’88 formally opens the Lastinger Tennis Center during the Chapman Family Homecoming Celebration in October. A soccer player while an undergraduate, Lastinger continues to elevate athletics at Chapman, this time with the A. Gary Anderson Foundation’s $6 million gift to build the seven-court tennis facility. Photo by Larry Newman

we can all sit down, talk about matches, do some bonding. Even something like that is going to be a huge recruitment tool.” Chapman tennis has enjoyed glory days before. In the 1980s, the Panther men’s team won three NCAA Division II national titles under then-coach Mike Edles before the University transitioned to Division III in 1994. Coached by Will Marino since the 2000 season, the men were ranked as high as No. 22 in the nation in 2005, and the women consistently were ranked in the top 25 from 2007 to 2014, climbing as high as No. 12 in 2010.

However, the teams lost players during the two years without a campus facility. The women’s last winning season was 2014, and for the men, it was 2015. “Before we were pulled off campus, we were good, but we couldn’t get over the hump,” says Marino. The current players love the new facility, which is also being used for tennis classes and recreational play. Recruiting new players is suddenly easy, Marino says. “What do you think? It’s awesome. It pretty much sells itself when they walk in,” he says. The coach expects to see progress in the teams’ records. “It can change pretty fast,” Marino says. “I think the women should be nationally ranked this spring. I don’t want to jinx anything, but they’re good.” Harrison Bojalad ’21, a freshman on the men’s team, looks forward to the next four seasons at Lastinger. “I think both the guys’ and the women’s team will keep getting better every year,” Bojalad says. “Better courts, better players.” F A L L 2 017 | 33

Safe Kids co-founder Adam Coughran ’04 (M.A. ’10) uses an artful approach to help safeguard schoolchildren from the unthinkable. By Aaron Singh dam Coughran ’04 (M.A. ’10) recognized that incidents involving active shooters and violent intruders were becoming more common in the United States. A 20-year veteran of law enforcement, Coughran was helping parents prepare to meet such challenges, but he couldn’t answer a question posed by some teachers in elementary schools: How do we teach our youngsters to survive violent events? Chatting over the hood of a police cruiser, coffee in hand, Coughran and a friend were struck by an idea – why not make a coloring book that conveys important lessons? The simple idea of developing tools to help teach a challenging curriculum led Coughran to co-found Safe Kids Inc., an organization specializing in age-appropriate

And just where does this desire to serve others come from? Coughran recalled being a sophomore at Chapman University when the 9/11 attacks occurred. Watching from home as the country experienced one of the worst terrorist attacks in history, he knew his life would never be the same. “I had to do something,” said Coughran, whose undergraduate degree is in political science, with a minor in legal studies. His master’s degree is in organizational leadership. “If I can’t stop it from happening, I’ll help people survive instead.” From the very beginning of his venture, Coughran knew he wanted to work with people he could trust. He thought Chapman first. “Chapman has a unique family-based bond,”

Chapman graduates make up 75 percent of the staff at Safe Kids Inc. “They have the entrepreneurial spirit,” Coughran says. “They’re always finding ways to become a bigger part of whatever we’re working on.” lesson plans for children in grade school. The organization, founded in 2016, brings together a team of professionals in law enforcement, education, child psychology and other fields to teach safety strategies to elementary-school-aged children. By focusing on research-based safe thinking and action, Safe Kids came up with the H.E.R.O. program: “hide, escape, run and overcome.” Depending on the grade level, the Common Core, cross-curricular lessons are taught using coloring books, short stories and original narratives. “Because of social media and television, kids are far more connected (to news of violent events) than ever before,” Coughran said. “We want to create a generation of safe thinkers. It’s about creating a culture of safety.” 34 | C H A P M A N M A G A Z I N E

he said. He experienced that recently when he ran into Professor Gordon Babst, Ph.D., in the campus Starbucks. It had been 11 years since he’d been a political science student of Babst, but the two dived into a discussion as if the class were ongoing. “You just bond with your professors and faculty on a different level,” Coughran said. He is eager to share that 75 percent of the Safe Kids staff are from Chapman University. He notes that Chapman graduates are consistently among the best people for the job. “They have the entrepreneurial spirit,” Coughran said. “They’re always finding ways to become a bigger part of whatever we’re working on. I always knew Chapman had a great alumni base,

but I was still astonished to witness it firsthand.” Safe Kids has already reached a national level, with locations in their H.E.R.O. Network all over the United States. As the network grows, more teachers and parents will have the tools necessary to give their children specific plans so everyone can take a thoughtful approach in planning for the unthinkable.

“Think Chapman First” by recruiting Chapman students and alumni to join your organization’s team. Visit or email Chapman’s Career and Professional Development team at to post a job or internship opportunity.

hen Ana Bowen and Rosa Lardenoit presented a gift of $100,000 to Chapman University from the estate of their late brother Joaquin “Jay” Cuetara, the moment was bittersweet. The gift supports the Matthew Bowen Memorial Scholarship endowment in memory of Ana and Mark’s son and Jay and Rosa’s nephew, who died in a traffic accident during his freshman year at Chapman in 2003. After Matthew’s passing, Ana and her husband, Mark, began brainstorming ways to honor Matthew’s memory. Knowing that Matthew could never have attended Chapman without his Presidential Scholarship, Mark suggested creating a scholarship in his name. After Mark passed away, Cuetara led the charge by gathering his family’s gifts, which were matched by his company, IBM, to establish the Matthew Bowen Memorial Scholarship endowment in 2004. The goal was simple: transform Matthew’s death into a powerful opportunity to aid and inspire future Chapman students. “Family is everything. It’s our Cuban ideals,” Ana Bowen said. “We would all attend Matthew’s varsity baseball and football games. We even went to the practices; he didn’t mind.” Understanding the benefits of legacy planning, Cuetara encouraged his entire family to include Chapman in their estate plans. One by one, family members included Chapman in their will or living trust, among them Matthew’s parents, Mark and Ana Bowen, and his aunt and uncles, Kris and Rosa Lardenoit and Cuetara. Their generosity will have a powerful impact on current and future Chapman students. After a difficult journey with cancer, Cuetara passed away in December 2013. It gave him great pride to know that current students at Chapman University were benefiting from the generosity of his family and so many others who knew and loved Matthew. In fact, the scholarship has been awarded 24 times since it was established in 2004. With the addition of Cuetara’s estate gift, the endowment supporting the

Ana Bowen, center, spends a moment with Nikki Morgan ’16 and Kyle Mendoza ’16, recipients of Matthew Bowen Memorial Scholarships. Bowen holds a photo of Matthew, her son, who died in a traffic accident in 2003, his freshman year at Chapman.

The Bowen family transforms a tragic loss into an enduring legacy.

scholarship has more than doubled. Cuetara’s philanthropic spirit and kind heart will long be remembered by his family and the Chapman community. After handing the check to then-President Jim Doti in 2014, Ana Bowen and Rosa Lardenoit sat across the table from thenstudents Kyle Mendoza ’16 and Nikki Morgan ’16, two of the Matthew Bowen Memorial Scholarship recipients. Coincidentally, both are from Yorba Linda, where Matthew grew up and lived with his family. “You are going to graduate from this wonderful University,” Ana proudly told the

students, who would do just that in 2016. “It would have been great if Matthew had graduated.” Morgan shared that scholarship support through the endowed fund helped to make her Chapman experience possible, including an opportunity to study abroad in Spain. Mendoza was just as grateful. “My family’s home was foreclosed upon the year I was looking into colleges,” he said. “I didn’t think college was a possibility for me.” Although Matthew Bowen’s life and dream of joining his uncle Kris’s law practice as an attorney were tragically cut short, Mark and Ana’s vision, bolstered by their family’s financial and emotional support, has transformed their loss into a legacy filled with promise for generations of Chapman students. Through their ongoing support and commitments for the future, Matthew’s family has become a part of the Chapman Family. “Never before in the history of Chapman University has an entire family come together with estate gifts to maximize support for a single endowed scholarship,” stated President Emeritus Doti. “This is a true testament of their strength as a family, and it is recognition of Matthew’s love for Chapman University. It’s as if each of these students is building upon Matthew’s legacy. Learning about Matt and his incredible family will inspire their success.”

For information about including Chapman in your will or living trust, contact David Moore, assistant vice president of legacy planning, at (714) 516-4590 or He can also assist with inquiries about memorial gifts, endowments and more.

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George Argyros ’59 heads a list of Homecoming honorees Julianne and George Argyros ’59 are joined at the Distinguished Alumni Awards celebration by, from left, Kalista Base, grandson Ryan Mitchell and daughter Lisa Argyros ’07. In tribute to his grandfather, Mitchell, a student at Orange County School of the Arts, performed “My Way” during the ceremony.

Jennifer Backhaus

Behzad Binesh

Bettering Their Communities, Shaping Their Industries

Ken Bunt

Dr. Zeinab Dabbah

Jennifer Backhaus ’94 Instructor and Founder/Artistic Director of Backhausdance As an award-winning choreographer, Backhaus has created commissioned works for Los Angeles Ballet, McCallum Theatre, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, TDC of the Bay Area and Utah Regional Ballet, among other artistic institutions. Her work Disintegration was presented at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Behzad Binesh (MBA ’79) Vice President of Finance and University Controller, Chapman University

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Binesh came to Chapman in 1977 to pursue an MBA after earning his bachelor’s degree in accounting in Tehran, Iran’s capital city. With the onset of the Iranian Revolution, Binesh made the U.S. his new home. At Chapman, he has risen from junior accountant to vice president of finance and university controller.

Soliel K. Doman

Keith Hancock

Elim Kay

Ken Bunt ’93 President, Disney Music Group

Soliel K. Doman (M.S. ’16) FDA Pathways Student Biologist

Bunt is responsible for all of the Walt Disney Company’s recorded music as well as music publishing and live concert operations, including Hollywood Records, Walt Disney Records, Buena Vista Records, Disney Concerts and Disney Music Publishing.

Doman is one of the first School of Pharmacy graduates. While at Chapman, she was an instrumental partner in research exploring the medical properties of turmeric, which is widely used to treat inflammation, coughs, muscle aches and indigestion.

Dr. Zeinab Dabbah (JD ’12) Managing Partner at the Law Offices of Zeinab Dabbah

Keith Hancock ’02 (M.A. ’04) Choral Music Director, Tesoro High School, Grammy Educator of the Year

Dr. Dabbah began her medical career at Healthcare Partners Medical Group as a primary care physician and internist. She was also a senior partner and regional medical director for utilization management. In addition, she served as an adjunct clinical instructor at Keck School of Medicine of USC.

Hancock is a two-time Grammy Awards nominee and winner of the 2017 Grammy Music Educator of the Year Award. He is the 2012 recipient of the Secondary Vocal Music Teacher of the Year Award from the Orange County Department of Education.

A U.S. ambassador and lifechanging philanthropist. The chief medical officer at a regional medical center. An award-winning filmmaker whose breakout work created industry buzz. These are just a few of the best and brightest alumni honored as recipients of Chapman University Distinguished Alumni Awards. The 15 alumni recognized during the Chapman Family Homecoming Celebration in October have used their talents to better their communities and shape their industries, Chapman President Daniele Struppa said. “They have left their marks on literally every part of the music and entertainment world, manu-

Erin J. Lastinger

Maci Peterson

facturing, technology, health care, marketing and even higher education,” Struppa said during the festive ceremony on Bert C. Williams Mall.

RECOGNIZING LEADERSHIP Key among the honorees is the Honorable George L. Argyros ’59, who was also awarded the Bert C. Williams Lifetime Service Award, a distinction given only 15 times in the University’s 156 years. Over the years, transformative gifts from the former U.S. ambassador to Spain and his wife, Julianne, have supported Chapman’s business school, a classroom building and numerous other programs.

Dr. Richard Pitts

An accomplished businessman and philanthropist, Argyros has long been a proud supporter of Chapman, where he was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1973 and served as chairman from 1976 to 2001, becoming its longest-serving leader. “He has been a doer without equal here at Chapman and in many other places throughout the world,” Struppa said. Argyros’ work ethic is legend, Struppa added. He worked his way through Chapman as a paperboy and supermarket clerk. Eventually he would co-own AirCal, before selling it to American Airlines. He was also owner of the Seattle Mariners baseball team from 1981 to 1989.

Justin Simien

Stephen Thorne

Elizabeth Tierney

Elim Kay ’09 Founding Partner, REDDS Venture Investment Partners

Maci Peterson ’09 Co-Founder and CEO, On Second Thought

Justin Simien ’05 Director/Writer, Dear White People, a film and Netflix original series

Kay is the CEO of the Kay Family Foundation, managing director and CEO of a privately held group of operating and holding companies, and founding partner for REDDS Venture Investment Partners. Kay serves on the Board of Governors of Chapman University and Board of Counselors of the Argyros School of Business and Economics.

Peterson created On Second Thought, a messaging application that allows users to rescind text messages before they are delivered to the intended recipient’s mobile phone. A millennial entrepreneur and marketing expert, Peterson has been named “Tech’s Newest Innovator” by Essence magazine.

Simien wrote and directed Dear White People. The critically acclaimed film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, where Simien won the Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent and the film was picked up by Lionsgate/ Roadside Attractions. Simien adapted Dear White People into a Netflix series.

Erin J. Lastinger ’88 CEO, A. Gary Anderson Family Foundation Lastinger is a dedicated and enthusiastic leader who has directly impacted education, the arts and human services throughout Southern California. Assuming her responsibilities with the Foundation at an early age, she has well honored the memory of her late father, A. Gary Anderson.

Dr. Richard Pitts ’70 Chief Medical Officer, Arrowhead Regional Medical Center Dr. Pitts leads medical services at the comprehensive universityaffiliated hospital and trauma center with more than 400 physicians in training. He is board certified in emergency medicine and occupational medicine and was an associate professor of medicine at UC Irvine Medical Center for more than 20 years.

He has received the Horatio Alger Award of Distinguished Americans and the Horatio Alger Association’s Norman Vincent Peale Award for humanitarian contributions to society. Such honors are emblematic of Argyros’ passion for philanthropy, education and Chapman, Struppa said. “Long ago George challenged Chapman to ‘inspire people to dare to dream and to take advantage of the ability to think big and reach high,’” Struppa noted. “Because of George Argyros, tens of thousands of Chapman University students have done exactly that, forever changing their lives and almost certainly changing the world in which they live.”

Stephen Thorne (MHA ’94) CEO, Pacific Dental Services, Inc. Thorne leads an organization that provides business services to more than 580 dental practices throughout the United States. In 2016, he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from A.T. Still University, the world’s first osteopathic medical school.

Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks

Elizabeth Tierney (M.A. ’80) Teacher/Philanthropist While attending Chapman, Tierney provided career counseling for transitioning veterans at bases throughout the western United States. Her career included teaching journalism, English and government at the high school level, and serving as a counselor and instructor at Saddleback College. Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks (EMBA ’16) CEO and President, Earth Friendly Products Vlahakis-Hanks oversees four manufacturing facilities across the U.S. and a global sales team. She’s been internationally recognized for her highly effective leadership and influential voice in the green movement and in corporate social responsibility.

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CLASS NOT E S Email your news and photos to or mail to: Alumni Engagement, One University Drive, Orange, Calif. 92866. Any photos received by mail will be scanned and returned. Class notes are subject to editing due to space. To post class notes and photos online, visit

19 5 0 s Patricia (Moffit) Mann ’54 and Darwin Mann ’53 were married July 22, 2017, at First Presbyterian Church in Fullerton. They met at church camp in Northern California 70 years ago and dated when Patricia lived in Sacramento and Darwin in Chico. Patricia was Darwin’s date to his high school prom. They attended Chapman and sang in the Madrigal Singers group together. They lost contact after college until this year, when Darwin called from San Diego to Patricia in Orange County and, as Darwin says, “The rest is history.” Patricia says he proposed on their second date. 38 | C H A P M A N M A G A Z I N E

19 6 0 s Dr. David Rainwater ’69, received his Ph.D. from USC in 1979. He has authored more than 130 biomedical research papers and has peerreviewed many scientific papers and grants. He retired in 2011. He still publishes data and serves as a scientific member of the University of Oregon’s Institutional Review Board. Members of Chapman University’s Beta Chi Alumnae Association celebrated the Association’s 87th birthday with a luncheon May 6. Members in attendance included Esther Parish ’68, Barbara Post ’65, Salli Stockton ’73 (MBA ’92), Beatrice Mitchell ’67, Patti Meyer ’65, Mary Ann Logan ’63, Christine Eastwood ’74, Willy Hall ’64 (M.A.’75) and Christine Baker ’64.

19 7 0 s Ronald Doiron ’75 was appointed to professor of music at Florida Southwestern State College, where he teaches theory, music history and voice and piano. He also conducts

19 8 0 s the College Choir and FSW Symphony Orchestra. He continues to work as director of music at St. Monica’s Episcopal Church in Naples, Fla. “Dr. Ron” received his doctor of musical arts degree from University of Southern California. Cameron Malotte ’79, retired after 38 years in education, with 24 years as a middle school principal. His wife, Nancy (Poe) Malotte ’78 (M.A. ’99), plans to retire next June. Their son, Brian Malotte ’06, and his wife live in Orange. Cameron and Nancy’s daughter, Emily, teaches special education in the Anaheim Union High School District. Dori (Paulson) Warner ’75, met her husband on World Campus Afloat. They will travel to Sri Lanka in January to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. Dori earned her special education teaching credential from Cal Poly Pomona and has enjoyed a career as a special education teacher.

Stephen Ford ’87, holds a master’s degree in education and has taught in the public school system for more than 20 years. For the past 11 years, he has conducted a study of the correlation between fitness and academic achievement. He created the computer application Movere Fit to facilitate his study and obtain data. Matthew Hanson (MBA ’85) married Grace Wing Yan Pang on June 16, 2016, at Redeemer Covenant Church in Downey, Calif.

19 9 0 s Michael Costanzo ’98 supported his parents, Nancy and Ray, who lobbied Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) to reauthorize funds for research of congenital cardiac defects. Nancy is a survivor of a congenital cardiac defect. Jacqueline (Stickel) Goldston ’94 had a principal role in the Fox series Shots Fired. This summer, she filmed a pilot for Fox’s The Passage, for which she also has a principal role.

5 Michelle Wulfestieg (M.A. ’08)

Delivering Dignity By Melissa Hoon

Rebecca Hall ’96 is president and CEO of Idea Hall, a full-service branding, marketing and public relations agency. The agency and its clients received the following awards this year: a Bronze Anvil and Bronze Anvil Award Commendation from Public Relations Society of America, a Bronze Addy from the American Advertising Federation, and a Silver Telly Award, the agency’s highest honor. Tuan Nguyen (M.S. ’93) is president of Quoc Viet Foods, which was named Small Business of the Year by the Orange County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Felicitas (Adame) Reyes ’91 (M.A. ’96), is a teacher in Rio Rancho, N.M. She is a member of the New Mexico Secretary of Education Teacher Advisory Group. Cameron Wardlaw ’95 provided crisis counseling in Houston in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. While in Houston, he reconnected with Stan Moskowitz ’94, a teacher of English as a second language. They reflected on their time together as students at Chapman, including at Chapman Radio.


2000s Danny Aviles ’07 co-founded Football for the World’s U.S. branch. Encouraged by Marco Saglimbeni ’17, Chapman University’s men’s soccer coach Eddie Carrillo donated soccer jerseys to a Football for the World team in Danny’s father’s hometown, Progreso, Mexico. Jaclyn Barrett ’07 is working in casting on Family Guy and American Dad. She has also worked in the casting departments for Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl, among other network TV projects. Jackie also runs a private consulting business and teaches specialty classes for performers in Los Angeles and Orange counties. Kris Beverly (JD ’09) and his wife, Marisa, own Bevela Wines, a boutique winery in Santa Barbara County. This year, they celebrated the start of their fifth harvest and released their second vintage of wines. Some of their wines have been shared at the annual Chapman PILF Gala (Public Interest Law Foundation). Their son, Lucius, was born July 2.

Jason Burris ’02 (JD ’08), and Ariana Burris (JD ’09) of Burris Law hired Karina Babikian (JD ’15) as an associate attorney and Rebecca Maehara ’19. Tiffany Christian (MFA ’05) graduated in May 2017 from Washington State University with a Ph.D. in American Studies. She began a full-time, tenure-track teaching position in the English Department at Skagit Valley College in Mount Vernon, Wash. Nancy Dyste Christiano ’07 was named Most Inspirational Student at Chapman and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Nancy works with, which creates dramas to effect change in the world. She is a co-producer of TEDx Orange Coast and TEDx Los Angeles. Rachael Cianfrani ’01 is producing the revival of the 1975 Tony Award-nominated Broadway show The Lieutenant.

hen we learn to serve, we learn to live,” said Michelle Wulfestieg (M.A. organizational leadership ’08). This lesson came in college when she volunteered at a hospice facility and connected with an 84-year-old woman who was bedbound after a stroke. A stroke survivor herself, Wulfestieg bonded so deeply that when the woman died, the family asked Wulfestieg to deliver her eulogy. The woman’s son told the college student afterward that she knew more about his mother than he did. “In that moment, I knew I would dedicate my life to those receiving hospice care,” said Wulfestieg. She wanted to make sure those who are dying feel loved and cared for. Wulfestieg was 11 when she had her first stroke due to a rare lesion in her brain. Doctors told her she would not live past 30. She had another stroke when she was 25 and remembers feeling “so depressed and utterly alone” as she faced the tremendous charge of relearning all daily activities, including talking, walking and eating. Today, at 35, Wulfestieg is the executive director of the Southern California Hospice Foundation (SCHF). “I have the great privilege of working with terminally ill patients during their darkest hour, giving them a reason to smile again,” she said. SCHF provides food, clothes and shelter for hospice patients in need. It helps pay overdue bills for families that struggle financially. “I’m not providing hope for a cure,” Wulfestieg said, “but hope for quality of life, comfort and dignity with death.”

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5 Jimmy Blalock (JD ’09)

Passion for Service By Melissa Hoon


immy Blalock (JD ’09) believes that the people of Chapman University are what set it apart from other institutions. They represent a rare combination of intelligence, passion and talent, which is part of what drew him to serve as president of Chapman’s Alumni Association from 2013 to 2016. Blalock’s love of people helped lead him to become an attorney. He started his career in public relations and quickly realized it wasn’t for him. He found his calling after enrolling in the Dale E. Fowler School of Law in part because his best friend encouraged him to apply. Today he is a partner at Davidson and Czuleger, LLP, a highly respected firm in workers’ compensation law. “I absolutely love this fast-paced, clientoriented field,” Blalock said. He looks forward to helping the firm grow while keeping its identity as a “small, client-first firm.” Blalock and his wife, Janae, take pride as newly minted residents of Orange. They enjoy an active lifestyle, full of half-marathons and obstacle-course races. Blalock stays active with his alma mater, too. He serves on the University’s Board of Governors, the Law School Alumni Advisory Board and the Alumni Association Board of Directors. “The University has given me not only my education, but more importantly my friends,” he said. “The same familial environment (alumni) loved while attending is still ever-present.”

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Kara Mackie ’07 and Sean Spencer were married Feb. 25 in Laguna Beach. The wedding party included Sarah Willett Marshall ’07 and Kristin Ritchey Katz ’07.

Lauryn Claassen ’08 is completing her master’s in public health at Boston University, and received a Pulitzer Fellowship this summer to report how the Zika virus may have changed reproductive health education in El Salvador. Sorrel Geddes ’05 is senior vice president of production and events for the British Film Commission in Los Angeles. Kip Glazer (M.A. ’06) was appointed assistant principal of La Cañada High School. Erin Gonzalez ’08 won first place in the 37th AIMS Meistersinger Competition in Graz, Austria. Previously she won the 2015 and 2016 Nevada District Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, Friends of Eastman Opera Voice Competition, Bramledge Opera

Award and Robert Kuntz Scholarship. Erin received an M.M. from Eastman School of Music. She is currently pursuing her doctor of musical arts at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Jamie Martin ’08 received an Emmy this year for Outstanding Picture Editing for her work on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Adrianna (Gonzalez) May ’07 has worked for Stitch Fix as a stylist since 2015 and was promoted to lead stylist.

Matthew Greco ’05 married Dejah Anderson on March 17 at Franciscan Gardens in San Juan Capistrano. The wedding party included Robert Beaton ’05 (MBA ’07), Patrick Wood ’07, Brian Dorsey (Class of ’05), Tate Worswick (Class of ’05), Maggie Greco ’90, Melissa Greco ’07 and Megan Greco ’16. Chris Greco ’90 officiated the wedding.

Jessica (Nettinga) McHonett ’05 and husband Patrick McHonett welcomed Jack Harrison McHonett on Aug. 30, 2016. The couple also have a daughter, Charlotte.

Scott Krog (MBA ’01) became the CFO of Materia Inc. in Pasadena in May. He spent the previous 10 years in a variety of finance positions with Colgate-Palmolive in South Africa, Poland and Italy.

Ryan Porter ’09 and Heidi Ware ’09 were married Nov. 12, 2016, in Palm Springs. Bridesmaids included Jessica Springer ’09, Molly Ainsworth ’09, Jen Bracken ’09, Casey Fitzgerald ’09 and Ellen Filteau ’10.

Traci Mueller ’01 started working at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as the manager of prospect research for the Academy Museum.

Jonathan Tu ’13 5

Tubular Future


By Melissa Hoon

A Marcial Rios ’03 signed a three-year contract as a producer for The Dr. Phil Show. Kevin Staniec ’01 opened the 1888 Center on Aug. 26. The center is a regional catalyst for the preservation, presentation and promotion of cultural heritage and the literary arts in Old Towne Orange. Amber Weinke ’05 graduated from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine with high honors in 2016, followed by a clinical year at Louisiana State University. She practices veterinary medicine in Colorado.

2010s Michael Alfaro ’10 designed a millennial version of Lotería, a game of chance.

Kristine Avena ’16, a first-year law student at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, was recently awarded with a scholarship from the Philippine American Bar Association. She participated in the Washington Semester Program in 2015 and worked as a congressional intern for Congresswoman Judy Chu. Kristine worked as a law clerk at Asian Pacific Islander Legal Outreach in summer. Chris Babcock ’14 will perform in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in New York City this year. Connor Bogenreif ’15 and Michael Rushman ’13 joined Chapman University as adjunct faculty this fall, and are directing the Pride of Chapman Pep Band.

Jordan Bonadio (MFA ’13) and Garrett Gutierrez (MFA ’14) were married Nov. 5, 2016, in Paradise Valley, Ariz. They reside in Phoenix. Jessica (Browne) Boninger ’12 married Jason Boninger ’12 on April 8 in Fallbrook. Andrew Kemp ’12 officiated the wedding, Beth Parker ’12 was maid of honor and Mollie Browne ’21 was a bridesmaid. The couple lives in Scottsdale, Ariz. Michelle Brait ’16 was named the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Rookie of the Year for 2016–2017. She is a special education teacher at Reseda High School in the Phoenix Academy and assistant soccer coach for the women’s junior varsity team. She is pursuing her master’s degree in education at Loyola Marymount University. Christopher Carvalho ’14 performed with the dance group Diavolo on the season finale of America’s Got Talent.

s a Chapman University business undergraduate, Jonathan Tu ’13 stared at a photo his friend showed him of a device used in biotechnology. He knew nothing about the tiny tubes, but he was mesmerized, knowing then he wanted to work with them. “It was mind-boggling to see dozens of tubes, each smaller than a strand of hair, interwoven and connected to a plastic base that could move tiny amounts of fluid,” Tu said. “I just couldn’t believe that was possible.” Tu and his partners went on to found Fluxergy, an Irvine-based biotechnology engineering company that designs diagnostic technologies for healthcare providers – specifically, microfluidic devices. “We wanted to create laboratory-grade devices that are accessible and affordable anywhere,” Tu said. Fluxergy plans to bring these devices to low-resources areas, such as remote villages in Africa. In addition, Fluxergy is working with two large universities in Malawi and Mozambique to do HIV testing as the company also works on surveillance testing for San Diego in response to the city’s Hepatitis A epidemic among the homeless population. While Tu wears many hats at his young company, including in accounting, research and development, and strategic planning, he finds problem-solving to be the most satisfying and challenging part of his job. “You can always hire someone to figure out a problem,” he said. “But nothing beats solving problems by yourself.”

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Camille Hyde ’16 stars in American Vandal, a Netflix original series that premiered Sept. 15.

Jasmine Johnson ’15, with LeLand Johnson

‘Lemonade’ Maker

Cameron Kelly ’15 won Best Performance in the Shorttakes Film Festival 2017 for her performance in the film Swipe Right.

By Melissa Hoon


s a little girl, Jasmine Johnson ’15 walked up to strangers to ask for money for food or bus fare to get to school. She remembers feeling rejected and embarrassed, but she also developed resilience as she trudged the streets night after night with her mother and younger brother, carrying her few belongings in a flimsy black trash bag. Today, Johnson is able to reflect on her journey as a soon-to-be published author applying skills honed while earning a BFA in creative writing and B.A. in communication studies. She found direction thanks to Reaching Youth Through Music Opportunities, which introduced her to mentors who encouraged her to apply to Chapman University. When she moved into the residence halls and became a resident advisor, it was the first time in her life that she had a stable place to live. “(Through Chapman), I was able to experience things someone with my background only dreams about,” she says. At the University, she traveled with the speech and debate team; studied abroad in Australia; completed an exchange program in Italy; and was director of social programming for the Black Student Union. Now Johnson is a public speaker and the author of When Life Serves You Lemons: My Life from Tragedy to Triumph and Your Guide to Making the Best Lemonade, to be released in late 2018. “People can best help people who are homeless by first acknowledging that they exist,” she says.

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Joshua King ’10 proposed to Alejandra “Ali” Dominguez ’10 on Jan. 1. Their wedding is in November, with a wedding party that includes Sally Tran ’10, Miki Nyunoya ’10, Jessica Clarke ’08, Andrew King ’13, Robert Starr ’11, Joshua Virata ’12 and Kaleb Boultinghouse ’12. Sabina Della-Peruta ’10 launched, a beauty blog on how to maintain great skin. Andrew Edwards ’14 and Catherine Perugachi ’14 created Quipu Pallay, a brand that provides high-quality artisanal products from Ecuador to customers around the globe. Michele Gottlieb ’10 is the executive producer of #BATTLEDRIFT 2 – Baggsy vs. Daigo, a video for Monster Energy drink, which received more than 2 million views in three months. Research conducted by Tyler Hadzinsky ’11 is the first to examine surgical outcomes involving Major League Baseball pitchers who are treated for neurogenic thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS). Tyler’s research was published in the Annals of Vascular Surgery.

Ryan Massey ’12, Holly Massey (Class of ’13) and daughter Darla joined Todd Bui ’10, Diana Bui ’09 and son Tatum, along with many other members of the Chapman Family, at the Chapman Family Night with the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 26. Darla and Tatum received certificates for visiting Angel Stadium for the first time. Holly and Ryan were married on May 4, 2013, and Darla is 7 months old. Todd and DeeDee were married May 26, 2012, and Tatum is 1 year old. Kelsey Miller ’13 married Kasey Simas at the Laguna Cliffs Marriott in Dana Point on May 27. Kelsey’s maid of honor was Katie Moosman ’13 and Megan Demshki ’12 (JD ’15) was a bridesmaid.

Tatiana Miranda (M.S. ’10) is an editor of The Certified HACCP Auditor Handbook, to be published by the American Society for Quality in 2018. Shannon Mueller ’12 presented Escape, a dance performance she choreographed, at the San Diego International Fringe Festival this summer. Wesley Nomi ’11 is a dentist in his hometown of Kirkland, Wash. He graduated at the top of his class from the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health in Mesa, Ariz. where he received his doctorate in dental medicine. He was inducted into the National Dental Honors Society. He joins his father, Russ, in their family practice, providing dental services to the greater Seattle area. Lauren Nowicki ’17 was promoted to associate producer with E! Live Events at NBC Universal.

Lotus Thai ’17 is the sustainability coordinator for UC Irvine Hospitality and Dining, where she oversees more than 25 dining locations and services to ensure that they practice sustainable methods.

Sophie Pennes ’15 started a business, Urban Farms L.A., that helps clients create custom edible gardens at their homes. Megan Pulone (MFA ’15) ran production design for the film Izzy Gets the F*ck Across Town.

Bryston Ulrich and Katie (Irvine) Ulrich (MBA ’10) welcomed their second child, Arden Elyse Ulrich, on June 2. Their son, Everett Dean Ulrich, was born Oct. 29, 2014.

A song by Dylan Ragland ’11, aka DJ Party Favor, was featured in the movie Neighbors 2, starring Seth Rogen and Zac Efron. Craig Shields ’12 joined the HallMusco Conservatory of Music as an adjunct percussion faculty member this fall. He facilitates private percussion lessons to nonmusic majors and teaches the Percussion Methods course.

Alessandro Struppa ’10 and Kaitlin Struppa ’11 welcomed their first child, Adrian Pietro Struppa, on May 22. Chapman University President Daniele Struppa is enjoying being a first-time grandfather.

Andrea (Koepke) Vickery ’12 earned her Ph.D. in communications studies from Louisiana State University. Her dissertation explores the relational effects of emotional support. She is a visiting lecturer in the Department of Rhetoric and Communication Studies at the University of Richmond in Virginia.

FRIENDS WE WILL MISS John Alvis ’67 (M.A. ’72) passed away March 13. He taught at several elementary schools in the Cypress School District over 38 years. In addition, he served as a member of the Centralia School District Governing Board, and representative on the Greater Anaheim Special Education Local Planning Area Board. He was honored by the City of La Palma for his service to the community.

John Baker is third from left (kneeling).

John Baker (Class of ’69) passed away July 15 in Eagle Rock, Calif. He was a key contributor on Chapman’s 1968 NCAA champion baseball team. He earned the nickname “Golden Throw” Baker when he nailed a runner at home with a throw from deep in left field

to close out the game that advanced the Panthers to the championship round. The 1968 team has been inducted into Chapman University’s Athletics Hall of Fame. John is survived by his children, Matthew Baker and Amanda Martin.

Nicole Renard ’17

A Dream Rekindled By Melissa Hoon


icole Renard ’17 became a dancer at age 2 and competed in her first pageant while in fifth grade. Little did she know then that she’d dance across the Miss America stage as Miss Washington on Sept. 10. Soon after she began her pageant career, Renard won National American Miss. The foundation helps girls develop life skills, such as public speaking. Her passion for helping girls grow into confident women was born. She decided she’d use the “pageant world” as her platform. Renard went on to win Miss Washington’s Outstanding Teen and America’s Junior Miss, for which she was given a scholarship that allowed her to attend Chapman University. As America’s Junior Miss, she traveled the country nonstop for a year and questioned if this was the path she wanted. “I struggled and didn’t know how to take care of myself,” Renard said. “I decided I wasn’t sure I wanted to go after my dream of becoming Miss America.” So she took a year off and traveled abroad in New Zealand, where her dream was reignited and she learned the importance of self-care and becoming clear with goals. Renard returned to Chapman, where she earned a degree in television broadcast journalism while winning Miss City of Orange, then Miss Washington. Renard uses the platform of the Miss America event to speak about positive body image. She even danced to Meghan Trainor’s I Love Me for her talent.

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Ciera Ramos ’15 found adventure in Central and South America this summer. She salsa danced in Peru, surfed the shores of Costa Rica and snorkeled with nurse sharks in Caye Caulker, Belize.

Jennifer (Heide) Hall ’03 and husband Ryan Hall ’02 journeyed this summer to the jungles of Honduras and the Chacchoben ruins in Costa Maya, Mexico. They encountered the local wildlife on a jungle hike in Roatan and also learned about the ancient Mayan culture.

Karyn Planett ’70 reports: “On Jan. 28, my husband, Geoff Thompson, and I boarded The World in Tasmania and sailed Antarctica’s Ross Sea as the ship traveled farther south than ever recorded by a surface vessel, setting a Guinness World Record. Orcas, penguins, snow petrels and wandering albatross enjoyed the ship’s wake and draft. We took a Zodiac to Cape Adare, home to half a million Adelie penquins. More wildlife appeared — emperor penguins as well as leopard, Weddell and Ross seals. We kayaked among jade-colored icebergs, withstood katabatic winds and experienced the midnight sun though the aurora australis. A polar plunge into 31-degree water earned us our Ross Sea Badge of Courage.”

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Pat Elliott ’60 (M.A. ’74) and husband Tom Elliott ’60 traveled to Cuba on a cruise from Miami in April. They spent time at the local market in Havana, many restaurants and cafés and Revolution Square.

Michelle Leslie (MBA ’17) traveled to Santorini, Greece; Prague, Czech Republic, and Havana, Cuba, this year. “I have never visited a more photogenic country than Greece,” Michelle says. “Prague is a magical city, begging you to stroll all day and night. My trip to Cuba was like traveling back in time.”

ALUMNI NEWS AND CAMPUS EVENTS State of the University Address Come join in President Daniele Struppa’s enthusiasm as he looks to the exciting year ahead and considers how far the University has come.

Feb. 23, 2018, 11 a.m.

Musco Center for the Arts

Save the Date for Your Class Reunion

Chapman Family Homecoming Celebration Alumni from near and far returned to campus Oct. 6–7 to celebrate together in Panther Pride at the Distinguished Alumni Awards, class reunions, Socktober Saturday, the 8th Annual Chili Cook-Off and many more events. Save the date for the next Homecoming: Oct. 12–13, 2018.

Did you graduate in 2013, 2008 or 1968? If so, your class reunion will be held during the next Chapman Family Homecoming Celebration. Mark your calendar for these Panther Pride-filled get-togethers Oct. 12 –13, 2018. Interested in being a class representative? Contact alumni @

Alumni Brunch This popular event for all alumni returns April 28, 2018, hosted by Greek Alumni. Details are at


Join us in April 2018 for the top alumni professional event of the year. Reconnect with classmates and faculty, and make new connections with fellow industry professionals. Check back for the date and location at

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Photos by Nathan Worden ’13 (M.A. ’15, MBA ’18)

Every Wednesday evening just as the sun fades, something special happens in Old Towne Orange’s historic Plaza Park. A small group of veterans gathers to watch the flag retire for the night and pay tribute to their comrades in arms. Organizers say a few words or invite a guest to speak, and on first Wednesdays they read the names of newly fallen service members. Then a Chapman University music student raises a trumpet and fills the air with the poignant notes of taps as the veterans lower and fold the flag amid the dying light. Chapman students have performed taps since the ceremonies began a decade ago. One of the longest serving among those musicians is Matthew LaBelle ’17, who has volunteered at the ceremonies throughout his four years at Chapman. As LaBelle’s graduation day drew near, the veterans presented him with a plaque recognizing his service. The veterans treasure the unique gifts each student contributes to the tradition, says event organizer Don Blake, a retired Marine. “Just pulling the flag down all by itself is kind of empty,” he says. “The music adds a sense of specialness to the ceremony.” LaBelle, a 2017 Musco Scholar, is grateful for the chance to experience the deep bond shared by the veterans. “I’m just glad that I can serve this way,” he says.

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