Alumni Award Gala Recognizes
Los Angeles, CA -- The Golden Globe and Academy Awards have come and gone, but California State University, Los Angeles continues the spirit of awards presentations on Tuesday, May 16, 2000 by honoring those who have brought distinction and service to the community and the University. The 27th Annual Alumni Awards Gala will pay tribute to the Alumnus of the Year, six distinguished alumni, an active supporter of the University and a faculty alumnus. The Gala will also recognize two exceptional students and award 15 student scholarships. The University's Alumni Association will host the ceremony, starting with a dinner reception at 6:30 p.m. at the Luckman Fine Arts Complex.
Emceeing the awards presentation for the second year in a row will be Barry Gordon '86, past president of the Screen Actors Guild and 1988 Outstanding Alumnus.
This year's Alumnus of the Year Award will be presented to Ronnie C. Chan (Hong Kong) '72, '74, chairman of Hang Lung Development Group, one of Hong Kong's major real estate investment companies. The University Service Award will be presented to Linda Burnes Bolton (Los Angeles resident), a nurse executive who implemented an on-site program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for the University's nursing students. The recipient of the Distinguished Faculty Alumnus Award is Louis R. Negrete (Los Angeles) '57, who helped to establish the nation's first Chicano Studies Department at Cal State L.A.
Outstanding alumni from each of the six academic schools will be presented with Distinguished Alumni Awards: Los Angeles resident Mary Micucci '75 (School of Arts and Letters), Hollywood event planner, owner of the internationally-known company, Along Came Mary: Ventura resident Stephen M. Ehret '71 (School of Engineering and Technology), civil engineer with the U.S. Navy; Beverly Hills resident Marshall S. Geller '61 (School of Business and Economics), founding partner of a banking investment company and former partner in the Chicago Bulls; Hacienda Heights resident Marie S. Torres '76 (School of Health and Human Services), senior vice president of AltaMed Health Services; Los Angeles resident Myra LeBendig '97 (Charter School of Education), the first LAUSD teacher to receive National Board certification and Cal State L.A.'s 1999-2000 CSU Teacher of the Year; and Washington, DC resident Robert A. Underwood '69, '71 (School of Natural and Social Sciences), U.S. Congressman representing Guam.
Also walking down the red carpet to accept their awards will be Outstanding Senior Daniel Santos (Los Angeles) and Outstanding Graduate Student Michele Adashek (Los Angeles resident), and 15 talented students receiving the Alumni Scholarship.
Cal State L.A. Alumni Association initiated the first Outstanding Alumnus Award and, since then, has recognized a long list of distinguished alumni with notable service to the University community. Among past recipients are novelist Joseph Wambaugh '60, '68, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard '65, entertainer Florence LaRue '66, research scientist Thomas W. Okita '89 and Rodrigio T. Garcia '93, founder of the Society of Hispanic engineers. In 1976, the University presented its Outstanding Alumnus Award to tennis great Billie Jean King, who attended '61-'65 and received an honorary doctorate from the University in 1997.
To reserve your spot at the 27th Annual Alumni Awards Gala, call the Alumni Association at (323) 343-ALUM. Cost for general admission is $75. Tickets for Cal State L.A. Alumni Association members, faculty and staff are $55. Students with current I.D.: $25. Sponsor packages are also available.
Alumnus of the Year
Ronnie C. Chan left his native Hong Kong in 1967 to study at Cal State L.A. "It was different then," he stated during an interview years ago. "The tallest building in Hong Kong was about 20 stories tall."
Now, equipped with a bachelor's and master's in Biology from Cal State L.A. and a master's in Business Administration from the University of Southern California, Chan runs the family business as chairman of the Hang Lung Development Group, a major real estate development, management and investment firm in Hong Kong.
Under his leadership, Hang Lung has grown to a half-billion dollar (U.S.) company-building more than 30,000 residential units and numerous office and commercial complexes in cities throughout the Pacific Rim. Chan also invests in companies internationally as co-founder of the Morningside/Springfield Group.
In addition to attending his businesses, Chan stays active with countless civic duties throughout the world. He chairs or serves on the boards of organizations, universities, forums, councils and publicly listed companies such as Enron Corporation in Houston and Motorola Inc. in Chicago. He is also a Trustee of the Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships and the African-Asian Society. Chan also heads a fund that restores cultural relics in China.
Chan not only has been featured in Newsweek, Fortune and The Wall Street Journal, he has authored articles that ran in some of those same publications. Even with all his activities, Chan eagerly participated in last year's Cal State L.A. Alumni Professor for the Day program.
A leader in the fields of nursing and nurse administration, Linda Burnes Bolton is vice president and chief nursing officer at the Cedars-Sinai Health System and Research Institute in Los Angeles.
She oversees administrative and nursing practices, including healthcare research, allied health education, and patient education. As a member of the Institute focusing primarily on women's health, Bolton directs interdisciplinary research teams in educating the community on various health outcomes.
After completing academic degrees in Nursing and Public Health through the Ph.D., Bolton amassed extensive experience as a nurse, healthcare executive, government advisory board member, university professor and consultant. She serves on several health boards and committees, including the National Black Nurses Foundation and the American Organization of Nurse Executives. She is also a member of organizations such as Sigma Theta Tau, Association of Women's Health and the Children's Defense Fund.
Bolton assisted the University's Nursing department in implementing an on-site program that provides faculty salaries and classroom space at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Through her efforts, Cal State L.A. has been able to increase enrollment in Nursing and expand the program's visibility into west Los Angeles.
DISTINGUISHED FACULTY ALUMNUS
Beginning his career at Cal State L.A. as a part-time faculty member in 1969, Louis R. Negrete helped to shape the nation's first Department of Chicano Studies. Now a tenured professor, Negrete is a popular teacher and department advisor, considered by students to be among the University's most creative faculty.
With degrees in Social and Urban Studies and a doctorate in Sociology, Negrete's expertise is widely recognized and he has been called "a pioneer in Chicano Studies as a discipline." As a prominent scholar of community empowerment and leadership, his views are regularly cited in media such as the Los Angeles Times and La Opinion.
He is a volunteer Senior Leader with the United Neighborhoods Organization, where he works directly with inner-city families in campaigns for social justice to establish youth sports programs and increase the state minimum wage. He also organizes multiracial and interfaith church coalitions.
Among his many contributions is serving as chair of the Strategy Team for Hope in Youth, a partnership of the city of Los Angeles, the private sector and ten religious denominations to reduce youth gang violence. His work for the Active Citizenship Campaign, a program to prepare residents for citizenship and voting, helped to deliver 90,772 new and occasional voters to the polls in 1996.
Negrete has been recognized by President Bill Clinton, Cardinal Roger Mahoney and private and community foundations.
DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI AWARDS
School of Arts and Letters
Mary Micucci has developed an unparalleled reputation for producing unforgettable events.
Starting her company "from the back of a Volkswagen Bug" in the mid-70s, Micucci built Along Came Mary Productions into a preeminent event production and gourmet catering source. Micucci has gained worldwide recognition not only for her dominance of Hollywood entertainment and movie premieres, but for her vast corporate clientele as well.
Maintaining a busy schedule, Micucci is still deeply committed to the community she serves. Through Adopt-A-School, Micucci was instrumental in building a new library at LAUSD's Alta Loma Elementary. She is also a generous benefactor to many worthy charities: Big Sisters, Elizabeth Glazer Pediatric AIDS Foundation and Angel Harvest, to name a few. For the past ten years, Micucci has served on the board of The Neil Bogart Memorial Foundation, which supports efforts to treat and cure children's cancer, leukemia and AIDS at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles.
School of Business and Economics
California native Marshall Geller has had a successful career in investment companies throughout the Los Angeles area.
Currently, he is the chairman, chief executive officer and founding partner of Geller & Friend Capital Partners, Inc. Formed in 1995, Geller & Friend is one of the many banking investment firms where Geller has held top positions.
In his spare time, Geller serves on the boards of publicly held and private corporations. Among them are Hexcel Corporation, Value Vision International, Players International and iMALL. His expertise in financing and securities investment landed him top positions on financial advisory boards created by former Illinois governor James R. Thompson and Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley.
Geller supports charitable organizations like the Coro Foundation, Jewish Federation of L.A., San Francisco and Chicago, and the Center for the Partially Blind. He has also invested in national and foreign entertainment industries. A former partner in the Chicago Bulls, Geller has owned interests in other sports franchises.
Charter School of Education
Prior to teaching at South Central L.A.'s James A. Foshay Learning Center, LeBendig taught at schools in Louisiana and Los Angeles. She was the first teacher in the Los Angeles Unified School District to receive National Board certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the highest honor a teacher can earn.
Principal Howard M. Lappin credits LeBendig with playing a pivotal role in the transformation of the Foshay Learning Center from one of the "31 worst schools in Los Angeles" to the coveted designation of "California Distinguished School."
LeBendig's excellence in the classroom is matched by her achievements in the community. She has been a curriculum consultant for the "Planning for Your Future/Los Angeles Times" program and serves on the Professional Council for the Fulfillment Fund, the largest private scholarship-granting organization in L.A.
School of Engineering and Technology
Stephen M. Ehret traveled to Venezuela to supervise public works projects for the Peace Corps immediately after graduating with a Civil Engineering degree from Cal State L.A. By the time he left in 1975, Ehret and a colleague shared a Venezuelan national award for their design of a YMCA sports complex.
The registered civil engineer spent the next 27 years as a civilian employee for the U.S. Navy, where he studied and investigated environmental concerns associated with naval operations and facilities. He also earned a master's in Public Administration from USC. In his current position, Ehret supervises more than 100 engineers and scientists in Navy and Marine Corps forces worldwide.
A generous Cal State L.A. supporter, Ehret has also taught at two CSU campuses and served on the CSU Chancellor's curriculum development advisory panel.
School of Health and Human Services
Since joining AltaMed Health Services Corporation in 1991, Marie S. Torres has directed the expansion of senior health services by implementing Southern California's first Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly. Under PACE, Torres created three new adult health care centers and supported community-based home and long-term care services in underserved communities.
Torres has more than 20 years experience in gerontology and health services administration, legislative advocacy and health and social welfare. She is active in organizations such as the California Association for Adult Day Services, Trabajadores de la Raza (a professional Latino social work agency) and the Cal State L.A. Advisory Board for the Graduate Social Work Program.
Torres received her master's and doctoral degrees in Social Work from USC. She has kept in close contact with Cal State L.A. as a part-time faculty member in the School of Health and Human Services and interim director of the Edward R. Roybal Center for Applied Gerontology.
School of Natural and Social Sciences
Robert A. Underwood was born in Tamuning, Guam. He grew up in Sinajana, where his mother taught school and his father worked as an employee of the U.S. Post Office.
After earning bachelor's and master's degrees in History at Cal State L.A., Underwood joined the faculty of George Washington High School, Guam's oldest public secondary school. He is involved in efforts to advance the Chamorro culture and co-founded the Organization of People for Indigenous Rights.
Underwood has provided a strong voice for educational advancement on Guam. He was elected to the Territorial Board of Education in 1978 and, the next year, was appointed to the National Advisory Council on Bilingual Education by the U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. He spent 20 years as an educator and administrator and retired as the University of Guam's academic vice president in 1992. Underwood won the election that same year to become Guam's third delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, and was re-elected in 1994 and 1996.
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