From CSUN TODAY • Media Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler • January 20, 2015
California State University, Northridge film professor Nate Thomas’ dedication to his students and the craft of movie making is being recognized by the California State University with one of the system’s highest honors for faculty and staff — the Wang Family Excellence Award.
The honor is given each year to five CSU faculty and staff members for their extraordinary commitment to student achievement and exemplary contributions in their fields. The awards, which include $20,000 to each recipient, are established through a gift from CSU Trustee Emeritus Stanley T. Wang and administered through the CSU Foundation.
“This is a great honor,” Thomas said. “What makes it particularly so is the fact that the Wang family saw the exemplary work being done by the CSU faculty and chose to honor us, not just with an award, but a monetary prize. It is recognition that as faculty, we do a lot more than what we’re paid to do. We do it because we have a passion for teaching and inspiring our students. This award reaffirms to me that I should continue to do what I have been doing — supporting the mission of the university and giving all that I can to our students.”
CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White said the award recipients typify the caliber of teaching that takes place in the system.
“The high quality of education offered at the CSU is a direct result of our 45,000 faculty and staff members’ dedication to excellence in teaching, scholarship and service,” White said. “The gift from the Wang family will allow us to acknowledge the tremendous faculty and staff members who are leaders in their field, going above and beyond to provide students with the education and skills needed to thrive in California’s workforce.”
The Wang Family Excellence Award recognizes and celebrates CSU faculty members who have distinguished themselves through groundbreaking achievements in their academic disciplines and who have an enormous impact on students through superior teaching. The awards for faculty are given to members of four groups of academic disciplines — visual and performing arts and letters; natural sciences, mathematical and computer science and engineering; social and behavioral sciences and public service; and education and professional applied science. The award also pays tribute to staff members whose contributions significantly exceed expectations in their appropriate areas at the university.
The 2015 Wang Family Excellence Award recipients will be honored at the CSU Board of Trustees meeting Jan. 27.
In singling out Thomas for recognition in the visual and performing arts and letters category, a spokesperson for the chancellor’s office noted that “as head of CSUN’s film production option for the last 13 years, Thomas has transformed and built the reputation of the university’s film production operation by spearheading a revamp of the curriculum to address industry needs and emerging trends.
“He has also been lauded for mentoring past and current students to break barriers and achieve success in the entertainment industry, as well as for cultivating relationships with Hollywood icons that have resulted in more than $60,000 in scholarship monies each year to students and CSUN’s film program,” the spokesperson continued.
A favorite CSUN professor known to field calls at all hours of the day from current and former students — some now respected movie directors — Thomas said what he does is not that different from any other CSU faculty member.
“The faculty I work with at Northridge, they are the cream of the crop,” he said. “They could work at Stanford or Harvard, but they choose to work in the CSU because of its mission. We want to make a difference in the lives of our students, so many of whom are the first in their families to go to college. I am extremely proud to be part of the CSU faculty. And while I am the one getting the award, I kind of feel like I am accepting it as a representative of my colleagues.”