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Presidential Inauguration Will Be a Traditional Affair

Campus Celebrates the University's Fifth President and the Start of a New Era

Jan. 30, 2013

President Garcia

President MIldred García at Monday's Homecoming 2013 pep rally. Her inauguration is Feb. 1.

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For only the fourth time in its 55-year existence, Cal State Fullerton will celebrate the start of a new era under a new leader when it inaugurates  Mildred García  as the institution’s fifth president on February 1.

“It’s going to be a wonderful occasion,” said Joseph Arnold, dean of the College of the Arts and chair of the Inauguration Steering Committee. “Inaugurations are really a celebration of the university,” he observed. “They’re really about continuity of the university — celebrating the past and heralding the future.”
 
More than two decades have passed since García’s predecessor, Milton A. Gordon was installed as the institution’s fourth president, nine years after Jewel Plummer Cobb’s investiture. Both were in office for two years before their investiture ceremonies were held in the fall of 1992 and 1983, respectively.
 
Gordon and the campus’ second president — L. Donald Shields — will be among those taking part in Friday’s inauguration. Shields left CSUF in 1980 to become president of Southern Methodist University. Gordon stepped down last year from the presidential post he assumed in 1990.

Founding president William B. Langsdorf, who passed away in 2002, was named in January 1959 to be the first chief executive of what became Cal State Fullerton. Langsdorf arrived in March of that year to launch an institution of higher education from scratch, amid an orange grove.

Founding faculty member  Larry de Graafemeritus professor of history, tells the story of those early years, of successive presidents and numerous others in his 2008 book, “The Fullerton Way: 50 Years of Memories at Cal State Fullerton.” The historian plans to don regalia and join the procession at Friday’s ceremony.

Witness to History  

It has been a Titan tradition for former chief executives to witness the formal transition from one administration to the next, and some have taken part in the official proceedings.
 
Willie J. Haganwho served as acting president from January to June of last year, will be marching in the procession Friday as interim president of Cal State Dominguez Hills, where García had served as president until her arrival at Fullerton last June. In addition, 10 current or former presidents of CSU campuses are slated to participate in the procession of faculty members, administrators and student leaders dressed in academic regalia for the occasion.
 
Miles D. McCarthy, who was acting president in 1981 and a member of the institution’s founding faculty, served as grand marshal for Cobb’s investiture Sept. 16, 1983, and reprised that role for Gordon’s investiture Sept. 25, 1992. Shields, by then, executive director of the California Council on Science and Technology, was a member of the platform party.
 
The Shields administration was formally launched with an inaugural dinner, held at the Anaheim Convention Center Nov. 16, 1971, in lieu of a formal ceremony. Two years before, the convention center had been the site of a 10-year anniversary dinner honoring Langsdorf, which may have substituted for the formal inauguration he never had. College presidents from neighboring universities attended and then-Chancellor Glenn S. Dumke was among the featured speakers, as was Shields. The dinner was sponsored by donors and members of the campus’s auxiliary organizations.

A similar outpouring of community support is making Friday’s inauguration possible. At García’s direction, no state funds are being spent for the event, which is being funded with sponsorships and donations given specifically for the inauguration. That includes the inaugural dinner for about 300 invited guests in the Titan Student Union to include members of the Cal State Fullerton Philanthropic Foundation, CSU trustees and other dignitaries.

Friday’s 9 a.m. public ceremony in the Meng Concert Hall of the Clayes Performing Arts Center will be the first of its kind held indoors on campus; both investitures for Cobb and Gordon were held on what had been known as the Performing Arts Lawn, where the Clayes Center now stands.

Titans Don Robes and Roles for Inauguration

Alumni, students and faculty members will be participating as speakers and performers during the ceremony. In addition to García’s inaugural address, the event features a trio of inaugural speakers who come from the ranks of successful and future alumni: Manuel Nieto , an Edison Scholar and mechanical engineering major from Huntington Beach; two-time graduate Ashley Cheri of Los Alamitos, who earned a bachelor’s degree in health science in 2008 and master’s degree in education in 2012 and is now a program manager for the Orange County Asian and Pacific Islander Community Alliance; and alumnus Tam Nguyen of Fountain Valley, president of Advance Beauty College, who earned an MBA in 2005.

“Being invited to join the Inauguration Community Committee and platform party, as one of the inaugural speakers is a tremendous honor,” said Nguyen, a past president of the CSUF Alumni Association. “I attribute many of the things that I do today professionally, as well as in the community, as an extension of the education foundation I was provided at CSUF.”

Nguyen is a member of the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics Executive Council and also serves on the Leadership Council for the College of Education, as well as a consultant to University Extended Education.

CSUF Alumni Association President Julie Espy, a member of the Inauguration Community Committee, will offer greetings on behalf of alumni. Espy earned her bachelor’s degree in communications in 1992 and when not working on behalf of her alma mater, she manages training and development for the Orange County Transportation Authority.

Making Music

Alumnus Steven Mahpar, a lecturer in music who earned bachelor and master of music degrees in 2001 and 2009, was commissioned to craft an arrangement of the institution’s alma mater specifically for the occasion. Students enrolled in English and music classes in the fall of 1984 are credited with the alma mater’s words and music.

Though its beginnings date back to the institution’s 25th anniversary celebration, the alma mater may be new for many in the audience, noted Arnold. "I can't tell you the number of people who can’t remember having heard the alma mater,” he said, “and the arrangement by Steve Mahpar is incredibly beautiful.”

Dozens of students were on campus rehearsing during Intersession, in preparation for the inauguration. The largest group, the CSUF University Singers, “are doing wonderful work,” noted Arnold. They will perform the alma mater, as well as the national anthem — arranged by and under the direction of Robert Istad, conductor and associate professor of music. They will be accompanied by pianist Grant Rohr, an alumnus who earned bachelor and master of music degrees in the 1980s. He was an accompanist for the University Singers for Gordon’s investiture and will be at the piano again during Friday’s ceremony.

The opening musical interlude will be performed by the University String Quartet. A group of seven musicians, including six students and Marc Dickey, associate professor and chair of music, will constitute University Brass, Percussion and Organ, to perform the processional and recessional.

Mace Bearer, Speakers

Leading the platform party during the procession, John Bock, professor of anthropology and the 2012 recipient of the Outstanding Professor Award, will carry the mace, as he did for Commencement 2012.
 
All three recipients of 2012 Outstanding Staff Awards also will participate in the inauguration. Gerald Bryant , director of the CSUF McNair Scholars Program, will deliver greetings on behalf of the staff.

Selected to escort the two former CSUF presidents attending the inauguration are alumni Mony Nhong , analyst and programmer in the Information Technology Division who earned bachelor's and master's degrees in computer science, and Thao Nguyen , an information technology consultant for both the Civil and Environmental Engineering and Mechanical Engineering departments, who earned his M.S. in engineering at CSUF. They will escort Gordon, who served as president from 1990-2012, and Shields, president from 1971-1980, following an eight-month stint as acting president in 1970-71.
 
Jack Bedell , chair of the Academic Senate, will offer greetings on behalf of the faculty, and Dwayne Mason Jr., president of the Associated Students Inc., will speak on behalf of students. Several members of Mason’s student leadership team will join the procession.
 
Even the ceremonial objects for the inauguration were created by members of the campus community. Christina Smith , professor of art and coordinator of the Art Department’s crafts/jewelry/metalsmithing program, designed the president’s medallion, which will be worn by García and features the university seal. The mace — to be carried by Bock — was designed by alumnus John L. Berg, who earned his B.A. and M.A. in art on campus in the 1970s.

Arnold will serve as master of ceremonies and deliver the call to order, as well as a reading. He praised members of the Inauguration Steering Committee for their expertise and diligence, characterizing the group as “superb to work with” and himself as “grateful” for their efforts.

Making it Happen

Along with Arnold, Bedell and Dickey, 13 other members of the campus community — including those who are alumni, noted by degree years — are serving as members of the Inauguration Steering Committee. They are: Ann Camp , chief of staff, Office of the President; Michele Cesca, associate vice president, central development; Robin Crew, executive assistant to the vice president for information technology; Jeffrey Cook,
 associate vice president, strategic communications; David Forgues, chief of operations for student affairs; Kristen Jasko,
 parking services manager; Stefanie Light '96, senior director of major events, university advancement; Dianna Lopez Fisher, 
executive director of alumni relations; Mason, president, Associated Students Inc.; Christopher Reese ’05,
 director of community relations; Leticia Stotler,
special events coordinator, Office of the President; James Taulli ’94, associate dean, College of the Arts; and Rochelle Woods,
 interim director of the University Learning Center.

Directors of the CSUF Alumni Association due to join the procession include: Vanessa Alvarez ’92, ’03; Thuan Lam ’06; Dorissa Martinez ’01; Stephen Thatcher ’67, ’70, Dung Vu ’04; and Verne Wagner ’77.

CSUF graduates serving on the Philanthropic Foundation Board of Directors and also marching in regalia include: Jo Etta Bandy ’94, senior director of corporate communications for Ingram Micro; Paul Carter ’92, attorney, Bergkvist, Bergkvist & Carter LLP; Annette Feliciani ’80, president of AEF Systems Consulting Inc.; Julie Miller-Phipps ’83, senior vice president and service executive director, Kaiser Permanente, Orange County; Ernest Schroeder ’67, president and chief executive officer of Schroeder Management Co., and Victoria Vasques ’76 president, Tribal Tech LLC.

Other alumni who serve the community also will join the procession. They include Pamela Keller ’86, executive director of the Fullerton Collaborative, and Sharon Quirk-Silva, newly elected to the state Assembly (D-Fullerton) and the former mayor of Fullerton who studied at CSUF for her teaching credential.

Looking Forward

Reached by phone at home Tuesday while in the midst of baking a cake, Norma Morris , emeritus staff assistant to the president, was looking ahead to Friday’s festivities with an extra dose of enthusiasm. “This is the first time in 45 years that I haven’t been doing the planning or orchestrating,” she said with a hearty laugh. “Retirement is nice, though you miss the people, your second family ... and I loved my job.”
 
True to form, Morris plans to arrive on campus by 8 a.m. Friday, a full hour before the inauguration begins, so she can snag a parking space and not miss a moment of the ceremony.

By: Paula Selleck, 657-278-4856

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