When the question was: Why do you give back?
The answer was: Why not.
The advocates, givers and volunteers who were honored Nov. 15 at California State University, Northridge’s Volunteer Service Awards in Woodland Hills paid tribute to CSUN as the university honored them.
“The reward they get will far [outweigh] the time they’re putting into it,” said Francine Oschin ’84 (Journalism, Speech Communication), M.A. ’85 (Mass Communication), the recipient of the Dorothea “Granny” Heitz Award for Outstanding Volunteer Leadership, on why she felt Matadors should give back to CSUN. “I’ve met wonderful people. It’s a wonderful thing to be a part of something this important. I’m part of this.”
Oschin and professor emeritus Tung-Shan “Tom” Chen received the top honors at the luncheon. Chen was honored with the Dean Ed Peckham Award, which goes to an emeritus/emerita or retired member of the faculty or staff who is loyal to and supportive of the university.
CSUN also honored 15 individuals for their service and dedication to the university’s colleges and programs and 12 more for their tireless work with the CSUN Alumni Association’s chapters.
Beginning in 1997, for nearly two decades Oschin has served on the Alumni Association board and as a leading volunteer for the university. From 2013-15, she served as the CSUN Alumni Association president.
Oschin represented CSUN on the 23-campus State Alumni Council for more than a decade. She traveled the state as the Alumni Association’s lead issues advocate and frequently joined former CSUN President Jolene Koester and an alumni delegation in Sacramento to meet with elected officials, encouraging lawmakers to support measures that enhance higher education.
She served as co-chair of the University’s Grass Tops Advocacy team, and she is a member of The Soraya Ambassadors Committee. She also is a donor to numerous campus causes, including student scholarships.
Oschin was recognized with a Volunteer Service Award in 2006 and was named as CSUN’s 2010 Advocate of the Year.
“I share [this] honor with a lot of other people who have gone before me,” said Oschin. “It’s singular to me. It’s the perpetuity of Granny Heitz for everybody who got this [award] all these years in her honor — because she was such a Matador, because she was giving back. That’s what it means to me — that I’m joining a group of people who are all a cut above, who all think of the same thing. I got a public education. I owe it to somebody to make sure they get a public education.”
Chen began teaching at San Fernando Valley State College (now CSUN) in 1969 and was a faculty member in the College of Health and Human Development until he retired in 2001.
In 1989, Chen worked with then-CSUN President James Cleary, then-Department of Family and Consumer Sciences Chair Audrey Clark and Philip Magaram to establish the Marilyn Magaram Center for Food Science, Nutrition and Dietetics. The center, which opened in 1991, is known nationally as a Center of Excellence, and its purpose is to support research, community service and education specific to food science, nutrition and dietetics.
Chen retired from CSUN in 2001, but continued as founding director of the center. In 2009, he left the Magaram Center in an official capacity, but has continued to stay involved by attending events, visiting the center and participating in the awarding of the Tom Chen Scholarship. The scholarship is awarded to a full-time student and member of the Student Dietetic and Food Science Association who is actively involved in programs and services hosted by the center.
“It’s an inseparable feeling with CSUN and the Marilyn Magaram Center,” said Chen. “CSUN and the center are part of me, so it’s hard to separate. Wherever I go, wherever I travel, I’m always part of the CSUN community.
“To me, CSUN is a community,” he continued. “Everyone is so wonderful. I feel all these friendships made during my tenure at CSUN, that’s what life is all about.”
That inseparable feeling was echoed by Joanne Udeochu-Tillman ’09 (Sociology), M.P. H. ’12 (Public Health) ( who received an Alumni Chapter Award for her service to the Public Health Alumni Chapter. Tillman grew up in Los Angeles, but decided to pursue a degree from CSUN because it was close to home, yet far enough to be away from home, she said. After earning a second degree from the university, she has stayed and continues to impact students — as a faculty member in the Department of Health Sciences — and her fellow alumni as chapter president.
“I volunteer for CSUN because it’s had a major impact on my life,” said Udeochu-Tillman. “When people or things pour into you, it seems right to give back and contribute in any way so that another student can be affected positively.
“I’m a young African-American woman, and I think when younger generations see people who look like [them], it inspires them to want to come back and participate,” she continued. “I feel like when you do your part, you open the door for others and you might not even realize you’re doing that.”
Professor emeritus Jim Dole has maintained close ties with CSUN by volunteering for the Biology Alumni Chapter. When he was department chair in 1999, he originally tried to help start the chapter as a faculty member, but it didn’t take off, Dole said. After he retired, he finally helped get the chapter up and going, and he has been a vital member ever since. Dole said he’d like to see the chapter grow in alumni membership and activity.
“A lot of our alumni have been very, very successful,” said Dole. “We just need to find them.”
There are numerous ways to volunteer for CSUN, including joining an alumni chapter. For more information, please visit www.csun.edu/alumni/volunteer.
The 2017 Volunteer Service Awards Honorees:
Arts Council: Dorothy Fabricant
Athletics: Bruce Lemmerman ’69
College of Engineering and Computer Science: Felix Rabinovich
College of Health and Human Development: Diane Manzella ’71
College of Humanities: Ralph Courtney
College of Science and Mathematics: Linda Conlon ’76
David Nazarian College of Business and Economics: Marc Wolf ’79
Delmar T. Oviatt Library: Jim Parker
Heritage Society: Thomas Christopher ’90
Michael D. Eisner College of Education: Joan Vitale ‘77
Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication: Robert Bassler
President’s Associates: Cherry Henricks ’69
Student Affairs: Stan ’70 and Phyllis Gilson ’70,’75, MA’82
The University Corporation: Louise Adams ’06
Alumni and Friends of the Armenian Studies Program: Vahram Shemmassian
Attorney Networking Group: Damon Martin ’94
Biology: Jim Dole
Black Alumni Association: Rashawn Green ’94, MA’02
Child and Adolescent Development: Ana-Lidia Jimenez ’17
Communication Disorders and Sciences: Dennis Ducham
Environmental and Occupational Health: Jack Arouchian ’13
Journalism Alumni Association: Ross Goldberg ’75
National Center on Deafness: Michelle Nemetz ’88
Nursing: Tracy Kinell ’15
Public Health: Joanne Udeochu-Tillman ’09, M.P.H. ’12
Radiologic Sciences: Corey Hidalgo ‘10