President's Office

From the President's Desk March 28 2001

March 28, 2001

CSUN Professor Selected for Wang Family Excellence Award

It is my distinct pleasure to announce that Dr. Maria Elena Zavala, professor of Biology, has been selected as one of this year's recipients of the Wang Family Excellence Award by the Board of Trustees of the California State University (CSU). Four faculty from different disciplines and one administrator are recognized each year with this prestigious award. Dr. Zavala is the honored faculty member within the category of Natural Sciences, Mathematical and Computer Sciences, and Engineering. This news is particularly special for the campus community because Dr. Zavala is the first member of our faculty to be chosen for the award.

Established in 1998 by CSU Trustee Stanley T. Wang, the award recognizes and celebrates those CSU faculty who, through extraordinary commitment and dedication, have distinguished themselves by exemplary contributions and achievements in their academic disciplines, and particularly for their impact on students. The selection committee explicitly asked campuses this year to nominate individuals who are "regarded as a 'superstar' on their campus." The award was established by Trustee Wang through a $1 million gift to the CSU Foundation, with $100,000 to be awarded each year for 10 years. Each honoree receives a gift of $20,000.

Dr. Zavala, a University of California, Berkeley-trained biologist, has been a distinguished member of the Cal State Northridge faculty since 1988. Since 1999, Dr. Zavala has received more than $2 million in grants for her research and science education activities, including more than $1 million of continuation money for the highly successful Minority Biomedical Research Support (MBRS) program. As program director of both the MBRS and similar programs funded by federal grants, Dr. Zavala has mentored more than 125 minority students since 1993. Undergraduate and graduate students have succeeded with completion rates above 90 percent, and minority students participating in Dr. Zavala's programs are nine times more likely to enter Ph.D. programs.

This remarkable statistic speaks eloquently of Dr. Zavala's determination and strength of character and underscores her commitment to student success and scientific research. She has received local, statewide, national, and international recognition for her professional accomplishments in teaching, research, and service. Her numerous awards include the 2000 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring, which she accepted at a special ceremony in our nation's capital last September. Dr. Zavala was also CSUN's Outstanding Professor for 1993-94.

Dr. Zavala's important contributions to the fields of botany and cell biology, her commitment to her students, and her mentoring of both minority students and teachers have made her an exemplary member of our faculty and one of this year's honorees for the Wang Family Excellence Award. Please join me in congratulating Dr. Zavala on this outstanding recognition of her work.

Open House

The university's annual Open House for newly admitted first-time freshmen and transfer students is rapidly approaching. This year, Open House is scheduled on Saturday, March 31. This day provides the opportunity for the university to showcase its academic colleges, majors, student services, and facilities. Moreover, it is a time when prospective students and their families meet our outstanding faculty, staff, and students and get a first glimpse of our university community. Open House is a day of exploration and discovery for many prospective students that helps them make the decision about enrolling in the fall.

Because the state's new Cesar Chavez holiday falls the Friday before Open House, I would especially like to thank each faculty and staff member who will be participating in this year's Open House. Please accept my sincere appreciation for your commitment to CSUN's mission to attract and assist deserving students. I would also like to acknowledge Student Outreach and Recruitment Services for its leadership on this major project and the Open House Planning Committee for its collaborative work.

PeopleSoft Going Live This Summer

The long-awaited implementation of PeopleSoft Human Resources and Financials is approaching completion and the system will be going live this summer. The CSUN implementation team has been busy web-enabling much of the Chancellor's Office "CMS" product to deliver new features and functionality to the desktops of university employees.

In addition to a new web-based on-line purchasing system and an improved web-enabled version of the current PeopleSoft part-time faculty system, other new features will be delivered this summer. Some of these new features include the ability to create time sheets for student assistants and work-study students on-line; enabling for faculty and staff to post and track their leave accrual on-line, and viewing paycheck history on-line.

The first product, which is the on-line purchasing system, will be delivered to the campus on June 1, with the Human Resource products following in July and August. Training for the new Financials and Human Resource systems will begin in April and various classes will be offered through September. Detailed training information will be distributed shortly and anyone using these systems is encouraged to attend.

University Hall Opens

The move into University Hall, the new administrative building, began in early March and will continue into early April. During this transition, we are asking for everyone's patience in dealing with the office relocations. Given the magnitude of this move, I would like to commend the project team that managed the complex effort: Mr. Pat Woods, Mr. Dave Burrows, Ms. Cat Carrigan, Ms. Sherry Drainer, Mr. Ken Rosenthal, Ms. Maureen Shideh, Mr. Frank Tucci, and Mr. Mike Whitener. The department contacts who worked with the project team also deserve appreciation for their work: Mr. Joseph Antunez, Ms. Kit Espinosa, Ms. Robin Ferguson, Ms. Veronica Grant, Ms. Joan Hall, Ms. Michelle Henley, Ms. Donetta Johnson, Ms. Judy Landy, Ms. Ann Morey, Ms. Anja-Leigh Russell, Ms. Karen Wright, and Ms. Yvette Yoncee-Enriquez. Staff have found the transition smooth and well-organized, and everyone is delighted to be in new permanent work spaces.

Before the end of the semester, we hope to have a small ceremony that celebrates the opening of University Hall and introduces our two new vice presidents: Vice President for University Advancement Judy C. Knudson and Vice President for Student Affairs Terry Piper.

I also was pleased to take part in Sequoia Hall's formal opening on Thursday, March 22. For those who have worked in trailers and domes since 1994, these moves are a tangible sign that we are indeed nearing the end of earthquake recovery.

Interim Special Assistant to the President for Equity and Diversity

I am pleased to announce that Dr. Gordon Nakagawa has been appointed the Interim Special Assistant to the President for Equity and Diversity.

Dr. Nakagawa has taught at Cal State Northridge since 1983 as a professor of Communication Studies, with a joint appointment in Asian American Studies. He holds bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in Communication Studies with specializations in Intercultural Communication, Cultural Studies, and Race and Ethnic Relations. From 1996 through 2000, Dr. Nakagawa worked with CSUN's Educational Opportunity Program, serving as the coordinator of the Faculty Mentor Program. He has participated extensively in equity and diversity-related activities, including workshops, forums, committees, task forces, and training programs. He served recently as a co-goal leader for the diversity component of the university's Strategic Planning Governance Group. He is founding chair of both the Asian Pacific American Caucus and the Asian Pacific American Studies Division in the National Communication Association, which recognized him several years ago with an award citing his outstanding contributions to the scholarly development of the discipline of Communication Studies. He also is a past recipient of CSUN's Distinguished Teaching Award. He was actively involved in the movement that secured redress and reparations for Japanese Americans who had been incarcerated in World War II internment camps.

In his new position, Dr. Nakagawa will lead campus efforts to provide education and training in issues related to equity and diversity, and will provide support for the work of the Presidential Advisory Board on Equity and Diversity, the Committee to Receive Allegations of Discrimination and Harassment, and the Committee to Receive Allegations of Sexual Harassment.

Cesar Chavez Day

As many of you know, the state recently designated March 31 each year to be Cesar Chavez Day. The day recognizes the civil rights achievements of Cesar Estrada Chavez, the son of a migrant worker who rose to prominence through his efforts to improve the lives and ensure the rights of farm workers as president of the United Farmworkers Union. (Because March 31 falls on Saturday, the holiday will be officially observed this year on Friday, March 30. March 31 is Mr. Chavez's birthday.)

As I announced in an earlier e-mail to the campus community, the Associated Students have organized a daylong series of events for today, Wednesday, March 28, to commemorate the inaugural observance of the holiday. MEChA, the Chicano/a Studies Department, and the Presidential Advisory Board on Equity and Diversity are co-sponsoring the activities, in conjunction with other on- and off-campus community groups. A.S. also received a grant from the CSU Peace Partners Program to support these on-campus observances.

In addition to inviting students from five local high schools to celebrate and talk on campus about Mr. Chavez's legacy, the high school students will participate in a contest in which they will submit artwork, essays, and poems about Mr. Chavez and the values he embodied. Prizes including scholarships, plaques, and certificates will be awarded. A variety of musical and cultural activities are also planned.

Another highlight of the celebration is the scheduled address of Mr. Arturo Rodriguez, the current distinguished president of the United Farm Workers. I am honored to have been asked to introduce Mr. Rodriguez at the event.

During the upcoming three-day weekend, I hope all of us will have an opportunity to remember and honor the legacy of Mr. Chavez.

A Very Successful Basketball Season

In the last From the President's Desk,I congratulated Coach Bobby Braswell and the student-athletes of the Matador men's basketball team for winning their first Big Sky Conference championship title. The first-place conference finish earned the university the right to host the Big Sky basketball tournament March 8?10. As you all know, the Matadors won the Big Sky tournament and earned their first trip to the NCAA basketball championship tournament. I was proud to accompany the team to their first-round game against Kansas University in Dayton, Ohio. Though we did not pull off a "Cinderella" upset, the Matadors had the opportunity to play a quality program in front of a national television audience. Their poise, determination and competitive play earned them widespread respect, and generated excitement and pride for the university on campus as well as within the community and among alumni throughout the country.

As we recognize the basketball team and their coaches again for their accomplishment this season, I also want to thank everyone who supported the team and, particularly, the people who made the Big Sky Conference Basketball Tournament a success. While there was some concern about the Matadome as a venue, the tournament was a wonderful success that brought attention to Cal State Northridge and reflected well on the university and its faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Special thanks go to the staff of Athletics and Physical Plant Management, who ensured that the Matadome was ready for basketball fans and the media, as well as the fans who turned out for the games to support the team. It was an exciting tournament that made me very proud of CSUN.

Campus Achievements

  • I am proud to announce that in this year's national judging of marketing and publication efforts by university continuing higher education units, our College of Extended Learning received two gold medals and one silver medal.

The gold medals were awarded to the CSUN ExL Reportnewsletter, and to the college's overall marketing campaign ("Change your mind, change your world"). The silver medal was awarded for the design of the "Change your mind, change your world" logo design. These awards are all the more impressive given the level of competition, which included UCLA, UC Berkeley, and Harvard.

Special congratulations for the awards are due to Ms. Marcella Tyler, executive director of public relations, marketing, and communications; Russell Paquette, team leader of the marketing campaign; Victoria Branch, editor ofExL Report; and Dean Joyce Feucht-Haviar.

  • I am proud to announce that our Latino Business Association (LBA) received the "Most Outstanding Chapter Nationwide" award at this year's National Hispanic Business Association Leadership Conference in Houston, Texas. About 70 colleges and universities participated in the conference.

In addition to the chapter award, Ms. Elizabeth Villatoro, public relations officer and national representative for CSUN's Latino Business Association, received the "Most Outstanding National Representative" award at the leadership conference.

Please join me in congratulating Ms. Villatoro and the other members of LBA for their significant accomplishments.

  • I would like to congratulate Ms. Yvette Yoncee-Enriquez of my staff who assumed the permanent appointment of president's secretary on March 26. Ms. Yoncee-Enriquez began working in the President's Office in 1997 as the office receptionist; she has served as the interim president's secretary since October. During this time, she developed the professional skills and knowledge that allowed her to move into her new position after a competitive search was conducted. I am pleased to recognize Ms. Yoncee-Enriquez's commitment and growth in this way. Please join me in congratulating her on her new position. We look forward to initiating a search for a new receptionist to complete our team in the President's Office; and we encourage anyone who is interested to apply.


Jolene Koester