In a packed Woodland Hills hotel ballroom Oct. 23, there were people in the crowd who’d created scholarships at CSUN. There were people who’d devoted hours of service to the university. And there were people who’d organized movements and events to help CSUN students.
However they gave, they all had a common purpose: to uplift CSUN and its students.
Twenty men and women were celebrated at the 18th annual CSUN Volunteer Service Awards, a recognition of their advocacy and support for the university.
CSUN honored volunteers who served academic departments or programs and alumni chapters, and the university recognized three people with its highest volunteer service honors. CSUN Alumni Association Past President Carlos Fuentes ’82 (Political Science) received the Dorothea “Granny” Heitz Award for outstanding volunteer leadership. Professor Emerita Bonita J. Campbell received the Dean Ed Peckham Award, which honors a retired CSUN faculty or staff member. Sanford “Sandy” Paris received the CSUN for Life Award, which recognizes friends of the university who passionately support CSUN.
Fuentes began his service to CSUN as Associated Students president in 1978 and has volunteered across campus for decades, including as Alumni Association president and on the university’s Diversity and Inclusion Commission. He said his inspiration for giving back was his third-grade teacher, who helped improve his English-speaking skills.
“It’s no accident that I come back and volunteer at a place that produces the most teachers,” Fuentes told the crowd, after accepting the award. “It’s no accident that I coach and help and mentor kids as [my third-grade teacher] did. These things, you have to give back. She didn’t have to do that, but she changed the course of my life.”
Campbell was the first woman to hold a tenured faculty position in engineering at CSUN, and she helped create the Department of Manufacturing Systems Engineering and Management in 2001. Following her retirement in 2008, she continued to be a leader for women in engineering by establishing the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) endowment. WISE encourages women to advance in the fields of science and engineering and promotes and preserves the history of women in the fields.
“[After retirement], I decided my primary focus should be on women in science and engineering,” Campbell said. “We live, increasingly, in a world that is dominated by science and technology and the social ramifications of science and technology, yet the participation of women, which could bring so much intellectual and social capital to resolving and addressing these problems, is relatively low. … We really want a well-rounded science and technology world. I believe we need to pay attention to that.”
Like Campbell, Paris was honored for advocacy and contributions to CSUN.
A UCLA and Southwestern University Law School alumnus, Paris never attended CSUN. But the industrial property developer and attorney began supporting the university after working in the San Fernando Valley and seeing a need. He was part of a group of business leaders who encouraged a name change from San Fernando Valley State College to CSUN. He served on the CSUN Foundation Board of Directors for 20 years and was an impactful figure in the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics by bringing in business leaders to mentor students. He and his wife, Valerie, also have donated to the Nazarian College and The Soraya.
In his acceptance speech, Paris encouraged members of the audience to become mentors to students, hire Matadors, advocate on behalf of CSUN and donate to the university.
“The goal of these suggestions and activities is to help integrate CSUN with the community it serves,” Paris said. “CSUN is not an ivory tower. It is an integral, social, educational and economic engine for the Valley. Thank you again for this recognition, and may your volunteerism be as rewarding for you as it has been for me.”