More than 10,600 graduating students are invited to walk across the stage next week in front of California State University, Northridge’s Delmar T. Oviatt Library to the cheers of family members and friends as CSUN celebrates its 2015 commencement.
An estimated 10,658 students — 8,180 bachelor’s, 2,423 master’s and 55 doctoral degree candidates — are eligible to take part in exercises scheduled to begin the morning of Friday, May 15, with the university’s Honors Convocation and conclude the evening of Monday, May 18, with the last of CSUN’s seven 2105 commencement ceremonies. All eight celebrations will take place on the lawn in front of the Oviatt Library.
“Commencement is always a special time at the university,” said CSUN President Dianne F. Harrison. “Students and their families and friends gather with the campus community in what is a momentous and joyous occasion. Honors Convocation and the commencement ceremonies provide a formal setting to celebrate all of our students’ accomplishments. Our graduates have an elevating impact on the entire region, and I look forward to seeing another class launch their futures.”
CSUN’s commencement celebrations begin at 8 a.m. on May 15 with the Honors Convocation. This year’s speaker will be alumna Peggy Nelson, sector vice president for engineering and global product development for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems.
Nelson is responsible for leading the Aerospace Systems’ engineering organization and managing the processes and tools used to design and develop products. Prior to that role, Nelson was vice president for safety and assurance and chief engineer. In that position, she was the lead executive for mission assurance, quality systems, engineering capabilities and university alliances across Space Technology. She also served as vice president and project manager for Prometheus 1, a joint project with NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to build a spacecraft that can conduct far-reaching, long-lasting exploration missions.
For several years, Nelson has been a tireless supporter of CSUN’s College of Engineering and Computer Science and the university. As a member of the engineering college’s industry advisory board, she played a major role in elevating the profile of the college’s programs across Northrop Grumman’s business sectors, which led to the college’s selection as a Core University Partner by the corporation in 2013.
CSUN’s first commencement ceremony — which includes graduate students from all programs (except for those in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences) and all graduates of the Michael D. Eisner College of Education (except undergraduates in deaf studies) — will take place at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 15.
The second ceremony — for undergraduates from the Mike Curb College of Arts, Media, and Communication — will take place at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 16. An honorary Doctor of Fine Arts will be bestowed on acclaimed film director Robert Townsend during the ceremony.
A respected comedian and actor, Townsend caught Hollywood’s attention as a producer, director and screenwriter with “Hollywood Shuffle,” the 1987 critically acclaimed satire depicting the trials and tribulations of black actors. The film’s success led to other directing and producing opportunities, including “Eddie Murphy Raw,” “The Meteor Man,” “The Five Heartbeats,” “Carmen: A Hip Hopera” and “10,000 Black Men Named George.” He also served as president and chief executive officer of production for The Black Family Channel for four years. Townsend has been nominated for more than 30 NAACP Image Awards for film and television.
He continues to act, direct and produce. One of his latest projects, “Playin’ For Love,” will premier on television this summer. In recent years, Townsend has regularly mentored students in CSUN’s cinema and television arts department.
At 6 p.m. on May 16, the undergraduates from the College of Health and Human Development will take part in CSUN’s third commencement ceremony.
CSUN’s fourth commencement ceremony — for undergraduates receiving a degree in deaf studies from the Eisner College and all students from the departments of Africana studies, anthropology, geography, history, psychology, and urban studies and planning in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences — will take place at 8 a.m. on Sunday, May 17. During this ceremony, an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters will be bestowed on former Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky.
Yaroslavsky retired last December after nearly four decades in public office, including five terms as a Los Angeles County supervisor. His district included most of the San Fernando Valley. During his political tenure, Yaroslavsky was a key player on such issues as health care, transportation, judicious municipal growth and development, the environment and civil rights. His passion for the arts and his appreciation for the important role arts play in education are well known.
Seeking to expand arts opportunities in the San Fernando Valley, Yaroslavsky worked closely with CSUN officials in the mid-2000s to develop plans for what is now the Valley Performing Arts Center. Yaroslavsky cemented his commitment to the project by contributing $2 million from his district’s discretionary capital funds for the project in 2007.
CSUN’s fifth commencement ceremony — for the remaining graduates of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, including those in the departments of political science, sociology and social work — will take place at 6 p.m. on May 17.
Undergraduates from the David Nazarian College of Business and Economics will take part in CSUN’s sixth commencement ceremony, scheduled to take place at 8 a.m. on Monday, May 18.
CSUN’s seventh and final commencement ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. on May 18 for the undergraduates in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, College of Science and Mathematics, and College of Humanities.
Below are scenes from last year’s commencement ceremonies: