As members of the Samuel Goldberg Honors String Quartet played onstage, faculty, staff and families filled the room on the last day of commencement to acknowledge members of California State University, Northridge’s academic community at the 2018 Honored Faculty Reception.
On May 21, more than 50 CSUN faculty members — current and emeritus — were honored for their accomplishments at the university and beyond. The reception was opened by CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison and Faculty Senate President Adam Swenson.
“On behalf of our students and university community at large, I want to thank you very much for your work and contributions,” Harrison said. “You, of course, are our front lines to our students. Your mentorship and guidance of them means everything. I have seen many of you in action working with our students, and it is very impressive. I am very appreciative and thank the faculty and our staff, who I describe as the heart of the university.”
Hosted by the Faculty Senate office and sponsored by the President’s and Provost’s offices, the faculty reception takes place every year to honor emeritus faculty; faculty who have served 25, 30, 35 and 40 years; and other service and research awards. Full-time and part-time faculty are eligible, and award winners are reviewed and selected by committees.
“The culture in a place is defined by the people working there,” said Yi Li, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “I would like to thank the faculty for your commitment to the students’ success and your dedication to this campus.”
Nine CSUN faculty members received honored faculty awards, which were sponsored by the Office of the Provost, Faculty Affairs, Research and Graduate Studies, CSUN Foundation and the Office of Community Engagement, with funds provided by the governor’s office. The awards honor: Outstanding Faculty (up to two awards, $1,700 each); Distinguished Teaching, Counseling or Librarianship (up to three awards, $1,200 each); Preeminent Scholarly Publications ($1,200); Exceptional Creative accomplishments ($1,200); Extraordinary Service ($1,200) and Visionary Community Service-Learning ($1,200).
In presenting the Outstanding Faculty Awards, Harrison said, “You represent the best of CSUN in teaching, scholarship and service. We congratulate you.”
Outstanding Faculty Awards: Tracy Lachica Buenavista, Department of Asian American Studies, and Ivor Weiner, Department of Special Education
“Dr. Buenavista received numerous compelling recommendations for this award, from CSUN colleagues, students and alumni,” Harrison said. “In addition, approximately 80 colleagues from around the country submitted their enthusiastic written support — that’s unheard of. Her department chair states that, ‘Dr. Buenavista made a significant contribution to scholarship for undocumented youth and is widely recognized nationally as the expert on undocumented Asian students.’”
As she presented Weiner with his award, Harrison said, “Dr. Weiner received strong support for this award from his dean and chair, CSUN colleagues, students, alumni and community members. This year, Weiner also received the Wang Family Excellence Award for his outstanding faculty service, which is the highest honor the CSU gives to faculty for their service to the community. Each year, only four faculty throughout the entire CSU system receive this award.”
Distinguished Teaching, Counseling or Librarianship Awards: Matthew d’Alessio, Department of Geological Sciences; Diane Gehart, Department of Educational Psychology and Counseling; and Jessica Retis, Department of Journalism.
“With expertise in geology, geo visits, engineering in geology and hydrogeology, as well as computer science, his continued curriculum development, course design and teaching skills speak to his strengths as an innovative and respected educator,” Swenson said of d’Alessio.
When Gehart took the stage, her young son joined her, clutching her side — and stealing the show.
“The young Dr. Gehart has mentored hundreds of MFT master’s students,” Li said. “Her former student called her an incredible role model and mentor.”
As he presented Retis with her award, Swenson said, “Letters of support from a wide sampling of her former students indicate the impression [Retis] has made on their personal and professional development. These alums enjoy careers at an impressive range of magazines, newspapers and television programs, and attest to her dedication to their journeys from student journalists to career professionals. Dr. Retis has received extensive professional recognition for her work and teaching — visiting scholar positions, a continued record of publication, multiple CSUN research awards and engagement in the wider CSU community.”
Extraordinary Service Award: Annette Besnilian, Department of Family and Consumer Sciences
Preeminent Scholarly Publications Award: Jussi Eloranta, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Exceptional Creative Accomplishments Award: David Blumenkrantz, Department of Journalism
Visionary Community Service-Learning Award: Mario Giraldo, Department of Geography
Concluding the ceremony, the 2018-20 Faculty Senate President, Mary-Pat Stein, was installed by her predecessor, Swenson.
“Dr. Stein continues to be a relentless advocate for student engagement, using technology and hands-on learning in the classroom to maximize student success,” said Swenson.
Stein then installed Vice President of the Faculty Senate Michael Neubauer and Faculty Senate Secretary Kim Henige, who will serve from 2018-19.
Nicole Wilson, the Faculty Senate Office Manager, who organized the event, said she was glad faculty were honored for their hard work.
“It is exciting to see our CSUN faculty members recognized for their achievements,” said Wilson B.A. (Political Science) ’05 and M.A. (Educational Administration) ’17. “The faculty here are amazing. They really care about their jobs, CSUN students and the CSUN Community. The Honored Faculty Reception gives us an opportunity to recognize faculty for their contributions and achievements to the University.”