Marilyn Magaram Center

Director's Report - Fall 2016

December 15, 2016

“Marilyn’s favorite flower, the sunflower is the symbol of our Center, which represents
happiness, faith, optimism, hope, unity, vitality, teamwork and collaboration.”


The Marilyn Magaram Center’s “25 Years of Health” was a great success! Recently President Harrison in several meetings and ceremonies acknowledged our Center and indicated “It was a magnificent event and a fantastic beginning to the next 25 years and beyond!”

The evening was full of energy and enthusiasm. Demonstrators included award-winning author, Diane Worthington, and CSUN distinguished alumni, former Editor In Chief of Bon Appétit, Barbara Fairchild, and the presentation of the Local Roots hydroponics system. The MMC Wellness Kitchen included demonstrations by SoCal Gas, various Student and Dietetic Interns showcasing Let’s Cook and Move in Schools Program recipes, Chef Lisbeth and her award-winning Santee Education Complex high school student, and Paulette Lambert, Director of Nutrition for the California Institute of Health and Longevity. Guests were able to taste the Center’s Matador Marmalade and Spice Blend, view the Bod Pod, and explore the MMC Wellness Garden. We also showcased our 25 “Delicioso” short cooking videos and our MMC Wellness Kitchen Cookbook. In addition, we introduced the newly remodeled Sequoia Thieriot Lab. Master of ceremonies led a program of tributes by Sally and Phil Magaram, President Harrison and more, as well as an excerpt from a new CSUN Educational Theatre on eating disorders. Helen Butleroff-Leahy and other Broadway performers honored the Center with a special performance. We recognized our first recipients of the Tom Chen Scholarship, Cassie Berger, and our first Christine H. Smith Scholarship recipient, Frida Endinjok. The event culminated with a gift from the Joseph Drown Foundation. We were able to raise approximately $300,000.00. Please see our website and for all event photos, videos and updates.

This amazing event would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our wonderful staff and students. Our MMC staff worked tirelessly throughout the summer and continued to wrap up all event details. We had more than 75 students assisting with the event preparation and the evening. We look forward to the next 25 years and have already started a multitude of new projects.

It was a pleasure attending the Volunteer Service Awards ceremony on November 18, 2016, where Sally Magaram was recognized as the 2016 CSUN For Life Award recipient. We congratulate Sally and thank her and Phil for their continuous support of our Center and University.

Student Success is one of our main campus priorities. All our projects are planned and implemented with student success in mind. We currently supervise approximately 50 undergraduate and graduate students through our 14 MMC nutrition and food science internships, our accredited dietetic internship, and our MMC Research Lab. There are currently 13 research projects being conducted by our students, faculty and staff.

The Center is involved in building more than 13 gardens in the community through several of our research and foundation grants. We are proud of Frida Endinjok for leading and coordinating the gardens in CSUN and the community. Our Let’s Grow Healthy program is growing! We were able to train students to become “Healthy Growers” and our next training is scheduled for January 2017. The Calahan Street Elementary School special internship in honor of Dr. Christine Smith began this fall, with our students providing education and hands-on gardening to the students at the school. We are currently working on the gardens, upgrading the chicken coop and installing signs with plans for a ribbon cutting ceremony this coming spring.

We recently participated in the Nazarian College of Business and Economics’ FastPitch Competition. Our Dietetic Interns, with LACI mentorship, worked hard to develop and submit business plans for this competition. Four Teams: Matador Marmalade, Spicy Matador, Nutrient Analysis, and Nutrition Experts successfully entered the competition. This was the first time non-business majors participated in a business competition. Matador Marmalade was selected as one of the top ten pitches and we are so proud of Cassie Berger who represented Team Matador. She did an amazing job! We are excited and looking forward to the “Bullring” in spring.

On November 10th, The Education Theater introduced the script on the “Eating Disorders” play and conducted a workshop with Canoga Park High School students. Our graduate nutrition students conducted a research study and helped with the script. There will be a follow up on Dec 1st, and our plan is to expand to other high schools in the area.

Our Pop-Up Supermarket Tours have been popping up all over the university and with our super staff and students. If you have not already attended one, please sign up for one. We plan to continue educating the community on healthy cooking, budgeting, shopping and eating.

We have started coordinating the Public Policy event, which will take place on April 3rd in the Oviatt Library. Dietetic Interns will be attending a training in Sacramento in March 2017. Please mark your calendars. Several community partners are interested in collaborating and working with our sensory lab and nutrient analysis services. We have received approximately $7000 in funding to purchase new equipment and we are exploring possible lab space to conduct this exciting research with Local Roots and other industry partners.

We continue to support undergraduate and graduate research for our students by obtaining research grants, collaborations and working with the NIH BUILD PODER program. Our student research mentees and scholars were able to submit their research and present at the annual CSUN NIH BUILD PODER Conference.

We have participated in research collaborations with scholars in other departments (Psychology, Health Sciences, Communication Disorders & Sciences, Nursing, Chemistry, Armenian Studies, Journalism, Athletics, Business, Kinesiology, Theater, Recreation & Tourism Management, Sociology), with the Institute for Community Health and Wellbeing and Institute of Sustainability, different universities (CSU Long Beach, AUA, USC, UCLA), and various community partners and foundations. Other campus collaborations include the Campus Dining, Campus Health Oversight and Campus Wellness Affinity Group.

These collaborations have resulted in external funding, (approx. $1,300,000 in the last year), including our new Champions for Change Grant for $880,000, peer-reviewed publication, two manuscripts currently in preparation, one published abstract, one international conference presentation, one national conference presentation, and two state conference presentations. In addition, we have opportunities for more than 50 students to participate in research, education, and evaluations.

As part of our international collaborations we are planning our Spring International Cook Off working with International Studies. We also collaborated with the Institute for Community Health and Wellbeing and the University in hosting a training for Chinese Visitors in December (in the area of cardiac rehab). We have participated in the Asian Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) conference and are working with The American University in Armenia (AUA) for possible internships, research, and collaborations.

Congratulations to our new Faculty Research Support Program recipients, Nellie Duran and Mirna Sawyer. We look forward to working with you and welcome you to the Center.

I would like to acknowledge and thank all of our community partners. Absent their efforts, we would not be able to carry out many of our programs to meet our mission. Thank you to NEVHC, WIC Program, Kaiser Permanente (KP) Panorama City, KP Woodland Hills, VCCC, LAC DPH, Dignity Health, and Cedars Sinai Medical Center. I want to thank all our hospitals, community centers, foodservice facilities and preceptors that provide our students with internship and education opportunities.

As always, I would like to thank our wonderful staff, our students, our advisory board, all my colleagues, our community partners, and donors. A very special thank you to all our hardworking MMC staff - they are unstoppable! I would like to thank and recognize our amazing Assistant Director, Karmen Ovsepyan, for her continuous leadership; our amazing Internship Coordinator, Charlotte Kerber; our Sports Dietitian, Simona Hradil; our Administrative Support and Financial Coordinators, Arleen Candelario and Julie Doubt; and our Student Assistants- Frida, Trisha, Eirenel, Andrew, Jose, Julie, and Katie. I would like to welcome Hoda back as our newest MMC Registered Dietitian. I look forward to working with them to help our Center to continue to grow and thrive.


Go Team MMC! You Rock!

Respectfully submitted by,
Annette Besnilian, Executive Director