California State University, Northridge honored more than 250 staff members this week for their years of service to the university, and several for making a lasting impact on campus.
CSUN celebrated its 48th annual Staff Service Awards on June 3 at the Northridge Center, where hundreds of people gathered to cheer their colleagues’ achievements.
“I consider this one of our most important celebrations on campus,” President Dianne F. Harrison told the crowd. “Celebrating those of you who help to make CSUN shine. Our success as a university is based on the contributions each one of you makes. … Each of us contributes in our own way to student success.”
Harrison recognized Bessie Karras-Lazaris, who works with the intensive English and Pathways programs at the Tseng College of Extended Learning, with the Presidential Award. The accolade honors one CSUN staff member each year whose career has left “an indelible mark” on the university, the president said.
“Bessie has led opportunities for students to learn English as a second language and regularly advises students,” Harrison said. “Bessie has a great passion for the work that she does.”
The Excellence in Diversity Inclusion Award went to Sarina Loeb, special assistant for diversity issues at the University Student Union. Loeb helped develop and launch the campus’ new Veterans’ Resource Center and Pride Center, said Colin Donahue, CFO and vice president for administration and finance. She also has run ally trainings and LGBTQ presentations on campus.
The CSUN Merit Awards recipients included Emilia Tayahuna of the Klotz Student Health Center, who developed a paperless operation and new accounting and billing process for the center; Gabriel Lopez of the National Center on Deafness, who provided one-on-one training to 135 employees during a database transition; Robert Nunez, an alternative testing coordinator for Disability Resources & Educational Services; and La Tesha Hagler, student outreach coordinator for the College of Engineering and Computer Science, who serves as the public face of the college’s high school outreach program and helps coordinate TechFest and the Senior Design Showcase.
The Alumni Association presented the annual Alumni Relations Award to Luella Jones, director of the Ernst & Young Center for Careers in the accounting department. Jones helps link students to the business world and well-placed alumni looking to hire, said presenter D.G. “Gray” Mounger, assistant vice president for alumni affairs.
Perhaps the fiercest competition came for the Jolene Koester Team Award, which included large teams of CSUN staff who worked on transformative projects such as the new CSUN mobile app, myCSUNtablet initiative and performing arts ushers at the Valley Performing Arts Center. The award went to the Oviatt Library Transformation team, which helped transform the first floor of the library with a learning resources center, modern circulation desk and Freudian Sip coffeehouse. Team leader Ken Rosenthal accepted the award on behalf of his team, and posed for a selfie on stage with President Harrison.
A highlight of the awards celebration was the recognition of employees who have served CSUN for 40 and 45 years.
“Forty years ago — that’s when Richard Nixon resigned the presidency,” quipped Provost Harry Hellenbrand, who presented framed Matadors jerseys with their name and number “40” to recipients Charleen Bell, financial aid accountant, and William Watkins, vice president for student affairs and dean of students. Hellenbrand then called up 45-year employee Jeffrey Craig, a network analyst for physical plant management.
“Forty-five years ago, when bell bottoms were still cool and Led Zeppelin released their first album,” Hellenbrand said, presenting a framed “45” number jersey to Craig.
CSUN staff also received recognition for five, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 35 years of service. For a complete list of the honorees, please visit http://www-admn.csun.edu/ohrs/development/awards/2014-ssa-honorees.pdf