CSU Announces 2007 Wang Family Excellence Award Recipients

Four faculty members and one administrator to receive $20,000 each

Contact: Clara Potes-Fellow, 562-951-4806, cpotes-fellow@calstate.edu

April 10, 2007 – An entrepreneur booster, a powerhouse biochemistry researcher, a trekking geographer, a master performer and composer, and an innovative engineer have been named as the 2007 recipients of the prestigious California State University Wang Family Excellence Award.

The Wang award was established in fall 1998 when then-Trustee Stanley T. Wang provided $1 million to reward outstanding faculty and administrators. The award is designed to "celebrate those CSU faculty and administrators who through extraordinary commitment and dedication have distinguished themselves by exemplary contributions and achievements in their academic disciplines and areas of assignment." Annually, during a 10 year-period, four faculty and one administrator throughout the CSU system will receive $20,000 awards. This is the ninth year the awards have been given.

Wang, who in fall 2000 gave an addition of $1.2 million to establish student and faculty travel scholarships for China study, is the largest individual donor to the CSU system office.

The 2007 Wang Award Recipients are:

  • Timothy M. Stearns, Fresno State -- Education, and Professional and Applied Sciences
  • Maria C. Linder, Cal State Fullerton -- Natural Sciences, Mathematical and Computer Sciences and Engineering
  • Stephen F. Cunha, Humboldt State -- Social and Behavioral Sciences and Public Service
  • Craig H. Russell, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo -- Visual and Performing Arts and Letters
  • Thomas P. Brown, Jr., Cal State Northridge -- University Administrator

Timothy M. Stearns, director of Fresno State’s Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, earned his master’s and doctorate in business administration from Indiana University.  On campus, he is the heart of an entrepreneurial program that keeps students at the forefront of this new field, including a “Venture Lab” that teaches them how to launch a business. 

His driving imagination has not only enriched campus programs, but has performed a unique outreach to the community.  His Kids Invent Toys program provides a model summer invention camp for children, while a second program introduces high school students to the concepts of business leadership.  A successful job retraining program and his leadership of the Central Valley Business Incubator, which guides fledgling startups, has created fresh economic opportunities throughout the Central Valley.

Maria C. Linder, professor of biochemistry at Cal State Fullerton, is a distinguished teacher, scholar, and scientist. Her work in nutritional biochemistry has won her international attention and long-term funding from the research community.  Actively involving her students in all phases of research, she has served as the direct research mentor to some 140 students, while strengthening the professional approach of many more.

A tireless scholar, she has involved her students as co-presenters and co-authors in the nearly 200 papers and symposia presentations she has made in her three decades of work at the campus.  Earning her doctorate in biochemistry at Harvard, Professor Linder’s “rich knowledge” is no less valuable than her continual care, discipline, and encouragement in helping her fortunate students travel the road to professional success.

Stephen F. Cunha, a popular Humboldt State professor of geography, is a leader in promoting geographic education throughout the state, reaching thousands of classroom teachers through his work as director of the California Geographic Alliance.  Years of seasonal work as a park ranger, enlivened by trekking to the more obscure corners of the world, bred a hands-on familiarity with a living geography that Cunha passes on to his students.  His lectures are punctuated by real stories and regional artifacts, from Buddhist robes to blowguns. 

Eager to spread his enthusiasm, he has led numerous student field trips throughout North America and beyond.  An active conservationalist, he has worked to create and preserve parklands worldwide.  Confronting widespread geographic illiteracy, he helped institute a National Geographic Bee, one of his proudest accomplishments. Cunha earned his B.S. from UC Berkeley and his M.A. and Ph.D. from UC Davis.

Craig H. Russell, a composer, music historian, and master of guitar and lute, has long been recognized both at his home campus, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and systemwide as an outstanding teacher.  Almost legendary in the classroom, his teaching spans the musical field from introductory survey classes, to Mozart, to 60s pop, creating new appreciation and inspiring students take music seriously.

Trained in classical guitar at the University of New Mexico, he earned his doctorate in musicology from the University of North Carolina before going on to do groundbreaking work which brought to light the forgotten musical heritage of 17th and 18th century Mexican and Californian culture.  His original compositions have been recorded and performed nationally as well as at international festivals.

Thomas P. Brown, Jr., a licensed engineer and holder of an engineering science degree from Cal State Northridge, is that campus’s executive director for physical plant management. It is his unenviable task to keep the landscaped grounds and classrooms in top operating shape, the parking lots and roads problem free, and the whole physical infrastructure that supports the educational work running smoothly.

A resource to other CSU campuses, Brown is also known for his involvement of students in the physical plant operations, allowing them to integrate classroom learning and practical application, while sharpening their project leader skills. One such project tapped engineering students to both design and install a photoelectric system at campus parking lots, one of an array of energy saving projects that make the campus a national leader in the field.

“Countless California State University faculty members have dedicated their lives to teaching students, expanding knowledge and serving both their community and their field of study. The CSU staff is equally dedicated to helping students achieve their goals. To choose just one in each category was a challenging task for the selection committee, but these individuals are all extraordinarily impressive,” said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. “We are all grateful to Trustee Wang for providing a means to recognize these five individuals for all they do for CSU students.”

Wang, who served as a CSU Trustee from 1994 to 2002, is founder, president and chief executive officer of Pantronix Corp., based in Fremont, CA. The company, incorporated in 1974, provides a range of manufacturing services for semiconductor components, subsystems and modules. Pantronix’s consumer base is worldwide in the medical, aerospace, telecommunications, automotive, instrumentation and computer industries. The China native also founded Amertron Inc., a manufacturing facility in the Philippines, in 1989.

“Great professors and leaders such as these sow the seeds for the next generation of leaders. All of these individuals have a strong passion for helping students learn and providing them with the best education possible,” said Wang. “My own professors taught me to be who I am today. The faculty recognition award is a way to demonstrate the great respect and deep appreciation I feel for them as a former trustee and student. I am a strong believer that faculty are the key to a high-quality education, which is the door to success and happiness in life.”

The Wang Family Excellence Award is administered through the CSU Foundation. Each campus president annually may nominate one faculty member from each of the four discipline categories. Each president also may nominate one administrator annually. The recipients will receive the awards at the May CSU Trustees’ meeting.

The California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, approximately 417,000 students and 46,000 faculty and staff. Since the system was created in 1961, it has awarded some 2.5 million degrees, about 87,000 annually. The CSU is renowned for the quality of its teaching and for the job-ready graduates it produces. Its mission is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of the people of California. With its commitment to excellence, diversity and innovation, the CSU is the university system that is working for California. See www.calstate.edu

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Last Updated: April 10, 2007

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