Alumni Leaders to be Honored for Their Contributions to Their Fields

Classical music singer and educator Shigemi Matsumoto, Los Angeles developer James Ring and finance industry leader Robert D. Taylor all graduated from California State University, Northridge, and next month they will be presented with one of the university’s highest honors — a Distinguished Alumni Award.

The trio will be presented with their awards during a special celebration on Saturday, April 16, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village. The evening will begin with a reception at 6:30 p.m., followed by the dinner and awards program at 7:30 p.m.

This year’s honorees join a notable group of past recipients that includes internationally recognized muralist Judy Baca, acclaimed film and television director Donald Petrie, 2012 National Teacher of the Year Rebecca Mieliwocki, former Governor of Hawaii Linda Lingle, Curb Records Chairman and former Lt. Governor of California Mike Curb, CBS executive Michael Klausman, actors Teri Garr, Joan Chen and Richard “Cheech” Marin, astronaut Scott Horowitz, Oscar-nominated producer Don Hahn and opera singer Carol Vaness.

“Our 2016 honorees are perfect representatives of CSUN alumni in that they have made significant impacts in various fields — arts, education, real estate development and the financial industry — and they have each been pillars of the community through their dedication to service,” said Shellie Hadvina, assistant vice president of alumni relations.

Alum Shigemi Matsumoto, one of three recipients of this year's Distinguished Alumni Awards. Photo courtesy of Shigemi Matsumoto.

Alum Shigemi Matsumoto, one of three recipients of this year’s Distinguished Alumni Awards. Photo courtesy of Shigemi Matsumoto.

Shigemi Matsumoto’s voice has been celebrated by students, concertgoers and fellow musicians around the world.

Matsumoto, who graduated from CSUN with a bachelor’s degree in music in 1968, first attracted national attention at age 22, when she won the grand prize at the San Francisco Opera National Auditions. For the next seven consecutive seasons, she performed with the San Francisco Opera. Since then, she has sung with more than 50 national and international opera companies and international symphony orchestras. She has sung with each of “The Three Tenors” — Placido Domingo, José Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti — and has appeared on albums with Pavarotti and with the NBC Orchestra. She was the featured soloist in a concert commemorating the 25th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations.

As an educator, she has been a member of the faculty at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at California State University, Long Beach since 1987 and the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California since 1997. Matsumoto has a private voice studio in Northridge and also has taught in Europe and China.

Matsumoto was also the founder and president of the Southern California-based Classical Singers Association — a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing the performance and professional singing skills of its members.

CSUN alum James Ring.... Photo courtesy of James Ring.

CSUN alum James Ring, center, is receiving a Distinguished Alumni Award from CSUN.
Photo courtesy of James Ring.

James Ring earned bachelor’s degree from CSUN in psychology in 1970 and in urban studies in 1972. He is the owner of the Santa Monica-based real estate investment management company Ring Financial and E&S Ring Management Company, which is owned by his family.

He has more than 45 years of experience in real estate design, planning, development and management. He has been involved in the construction, maintenance and landscape development of all of his family’s real estate projects. One of Ring’s most recognized projects is L’Estancia, a luxury apartment complex in Studio City.

Ring has ben instrumental in researching and planning the landscape design for numerous projects in the greater Los Angeles area. He was responsible for the planning and construction of more than 20,000 residential units. His projects include high-rise apartments, commercial shopping centers, senior apartments, senior care residential units, condominiums, high-end single-family homes and redevelopment agency projects.

Ring also is known for his philanthropic work. A generous gift to CSUN’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning established the James H. Ring Professorship in Urban Studies and Planning. He also established the James H. Ring Urban Studies Scholarship, and he has been an active mentor to students in the department. In addition to CSUN, Ring has been a supporter of Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, the Los Angeles Mission, the ALS Association and Motor4Toys.

Alum Robert D. Taylor (right) and President Barack Obama. Photo courtesy of Robert D. Taylor

Alum Robert D. Taylor (right), pictured with President Barack Obama, is receiving a Distinguished Alumni Award. Photo courtesy of Robert D. Taylor

Robert D. Taylor, who graduated from CSUN with a bachelor’s degree in engineering in 1982, has helped improve the performances of large, complex for-profit and nonprofit enterprises as a consultant and later as a partner of one of the world’s most-recognized management consulting firms, McKinsey & Company, and later with his own enterprises, including Blue Capital Management, LLC and Centinela Capital Partners, LLC.

Taylor has a reputation as a leading advocate for African-American economic and civil rights. He played a key role in the rebuilding of Los Angeles following the riots of 1992, through his work with McKinsey and as a member of the board of Rebuild L.A., an initiative by then-Mayor Tom Bradley to attract private investment into affected communities.

Taylor has served on nearly two dozen corporate and nonprofit boards, including the Los Angeles Urban League and the National Urban League. He was the senior vice chairman of the National Urban League during its centennial anniversary. Taylor also created the NUL investment committee and served as its chairman. He has served on the CSUN Foundation board and the CSUN Task Force on Engagement.

Those interested in attending the celebration can get more information by calling (818) 677-CSUN or visiting the website


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