CSUN Volunteers Honored at Annual Service Awards

  • CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison

    CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison at the 2014 Volunteer Service Awards. Photo by Lee Choo.

Members of the community, alumni, staff and faculty who have generously given their time and effort to support California State University, Northridge’s colleges, programs and alumni chapters were honored recently at the university’s 13th annual Volunteer Service Awards.

Awards were presented to 32 individuals, including top honorees: Ruth Harris, the retired director of CSUN’s Early Intervention Program for Infants and Toddlers, recipient of the Dean Ed Peckham Award; and former Los Angeles City Councilwoman Joy Picus, recipient of the Dorothea “Granny” Heitz Award.

“Kudos to our 2014 honorees and to all those who have preceded you,” CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison told the honorees and more than 300 attendees at the Oct. 31 event. “We hope that by recognizing you in the presence of CSUN’s foremost ambassadors, many others will be inspired to join us in helping CSUN to shine even brighter.”

Hosted by the CSUN Alumni Association, the Volunteer Service Awards recognize the university’s most ardent alumni, faculty and friends. The volunteers are lauded for their service and commitment that enriches the university and helps students and alumni achieve success in the classroom and throughout their post-collegiate lives.

Dennis DeYoung ’87 (Finance), immediate past president of the Alumni Association, and D.G. “Gray” Mounger, assistant vice president for Alumni Relations, also congratulated the winners.

“Today, the Alumni Association convenes CSUN’s most loyal alumni, friends, donors, supporters, campus administrators, faculty and staff to recognize those volunteers who play a significant role in advancing our university,” DeYoung said. “We come together to express our appreciation to these leaders who are great stewards of our university.”

Ruth Harris

Ruth Harris

Harris — winner of this year’s Dean Ed Peckham Award, given annually to an emeritus or retired member of the faculty or staff who continues to contribute to the CSUN community — was the first full-time coordinator of the Language, Speech and Hearing Center. Her career spanned nearly 30 years at CSUN. She retired in 2006 after almost two decades as director of the early intervention program.

Harris and her late husband, Mel, who was known as a TV, video and cable innovator, have been longtime donors to the university. She established The Ruth Harris Award for Clinical Excellence, a monetary award given to a communication disorders and sciences graduate student, or students of speech and language pathology or audiology who demonstrate excellence in the clinical arena.

She has been a member of the CSUN Foundation Board since 2013, and the College of Health and Human Development Dean’s Circle Advisory Board since 2012. Harris was recognized by the College of Health and Human Development with a Volunteer Service Award in 2012. In addition, she has served as a member of the President’s Circle and the Volunteer Leadership Summit Steering Committee.

Harris called her career at CSUN “eminently satisfying.” She said she has remained connected to the university because she “knows where the university has been and [is] looking forward to where it is going.”

Named in honor of the late “Granny” Heitz, CSUN’s unofficial spirit leader and founder of the “Granny Girls” spirit squad, the Dorothea “Granny” Heitz Award for Outstanding Volunteer Leadership is annually presented to alumni or friends who serve the university as outstanding volunteer leaders.

Joy Picus

Joy Picus

Picus, this year’s winner, has supported CSUN in a variety of ways. The former Los Angeles City Council member represented the West San Fernando Valley from 1977 to 1993, with a reputation as an effective and responsive elected official who got the job done.

“It has always been my pleasure to be a volunteer for CSUN,” Picus said about her service. “I love the university and enjoy all that I do with it and for it. I need it in my life.”

Since 1995, she’s been an active member of the CSUN Foundation Board and its membership committee. She also has served the campus community as an ambassador in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and as a member of the Dean’s Circle of the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media and Communication. Picus and her husband, Gerald, continue to support the university through their generous donations to the Mike Curb College’s Dean’s Fund, the Valley Performing Arts Center, the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Dean’s Fund, and various endowments, scholarships and programs.

She also has served as a member of the President’s Associates and the Heritage Society. She holds the distinction of being the only person to have been awarded a CSUN Volunteer Service Award from two different colleges: Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media and Communication. In addition, she has served CSUN as a member of the VPAC Gala Committee, the College of Humanities Jewish Studies Advisory Board and the Legislative Advocacy Network.

Following are the other award winners at the event:


University Honorees

1.Alumni Relations: Karen Posner ’07
2. Arts Council: Amada Sosa
3. Athletics: Mark Cooley ’68, M.A. ’71 and Diana Cooley ’69
4. David Nazarian College of Business and Economics: Paul Jennings ’85
5. Delmar T. Oviatt Library: Lilly Shraibati ’88
6. Engineering and Computer Science: Peggy Nelson M.S. ’91
7. Health and Human Development: Joni Novosel ’01, M.S. ’06
8. Humanities: Earl Greinetz
9. Mike Curb College of Arts, Media and Communication: Richard Parent ’79
10. Michael D. Eisner College of Education: Ron Feinstein
11. President’s Associates: Anne Cuffe Payne ’65
12. Science and Mathematics: Susanne Fritsche
13. Social and Behavioral Sciences: Jaime de la Vega ’90

Alumni Chapters

Alumni Chapter Honorees

1. Accounting and Information Systems: Deborah Logue ’03
2. Biology: Ian Leslie ’87
3. Black Alumni Association: Debra L. Hammond
4. Child & Adolescent Development: Roya Vetter ’85
5. Communication Disorders and Sciences: Connie Stratton
6. Entertainment Network: Daniel Rozzen ’10
7. Environmental and Occupational Health: Yvonne Sucich ’02, M.S. ’11
8. Finance and Real Estate: Cesar Gonzalez ’01
9. Health Administration: Cathy Rusch M.S. ’09
10. Journalism Alumni Association: Robert Tarlau ’65
11. La Raza Alumni Association: Griselda Corona ’09
12. Master’s in Public Administration: Jose Ramos M.P.A. ’11
13. Master’s in Public Health: Kelley Cooper M.P.H. ’10
14. Master’s in Social Work: Luis Curiel ’03, MSW ’08
15. NCOD: Dana Foster Armendariz ’92
16. Radiologic Sciences: Danny Lopez ’12