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2016: Notable Visitors, Accomplishments and Celebrations

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Cal State Fullerton proved it was reaching higher not only with achievements and milestones, but through its wide-ranging events throughout 2016. Special visitors included a former California governor, two famous alumni — a world-renowned opera singer and an award-winning actor — as well as a visit by the hosts of “Mythbusters.”

But the year also featured programs and activities that showcased the institution’s values, from statewide gatherings on teacher education and sustainability; programs to promote the opportunities available for higher education; recognition for alumni and their achievements; academic accomplishments; and several athletic championships.

It was definitely a year to remember.

Even before the spring semester began in January, Titans joined approximately 200 local school district superintendents, principals and other educators for an forum on innovative approaches to help high school students prepare for the rigors of college. Later, in July, thousands more educators took part in the second annual Better Together: California Teachers Summit, held at 38 locations across the state — including Cal State Fullerton.

In February, President Mildred García, along with alumni and other campus representatives, shared the possibilities of a college education during CSU Super Sunday events throughout the state. That same month, CSU Chancellor Timothy White visited campus, touring two examples of places where faculty members work side by side with students in discovery and creativity: the Gravitational Wave Physics and Astronomy Center, and the Grand Central Art Center.

Cal State Fullerton continued to stress the importance of providing a quality education, serving as host of the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. President Mildred García welcomed her fellow members to campus and took part in the April discussions.

Titans celebrated the achievements of alumni and campus supporters during the University’s annual Vision & Visionaries dinner and celebration. The Vision & Visionaries awards, the highest honors the campus bestows on alumni and community supporters, were presented to: honorary alumni Lee and Nicholas Begovich for their professional accomplishments, service to the community and commitment to CSUF students and programs, and alumni Rosalina Davis ‘77, owner of Tlaquepaque Restaurant; Gary Green ‘80, executive vice president and manager, California Bank & Trust; and Enrique (Henry) Martinez ‘75, retired vice president of power production, Southern California Edison.

Other alumni returned to campus to lend their support to their alma mater. Alumnus and award-winning actor/director Kevin Costner keynoted Titan baseball’s 10th annual Dinner With the Titans fundraiser. The 1978 business alumnus spoke before an audience of nearly 700 people, sharing how special the baseball program is to him, despite never playing on the team as a student.

Alumna and world-renowned soprano Deborah Voigt shared the value of her educational endeavors at CSUF as one of the keynote speakers for Commencement in May. “Let people help you,” said Voigt during the first day of the two-day celebration. “You will not succeed without the support of at least a few key people. They offer you an invaluable gift. Don’t be a hero; accept the help.”

Univision anchor María Elena Salinas, a winner of six Emmy awards and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Academy of Television Arts, gave the keynote address at the second day of commencement festivities and was awarded an honorary degree of doctor of humane letters. “To the students here today, you are the new dynamic of our country. The future of our country is in your hands.”

Students were in the thick of things as they:

  • competed in the GE/California State University Innovation Challenge to develop projects for the industrial internet; 
  • heard from former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as part of the Center for Insurance Studies’ forum, “Insurance Industry Trends 2020 and Beyond”; 
  • listened as Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage shared the science, the fun and the hijinks they experienced as hosts of the Discovery Channel’s popular “Mythbusters” television program as guest speakers for “Realizing Reality: Shattering Expectations”;
  • shared their opinions about politics, housing, activism and love with KPCC’s “Take Two” host A. Martinez during an April on-campus program; and
  • competed with their own designed and built pumpkin launchers at the annual Pumpkin Launch competition on campus. Members of the CSUF Society of Women Engineers tied for second place out of 15 teams.

And students from the University’s College of the Arts — and one chemistry major — helped the university welcome the fall semester as they gave rousing performances during this year’s Concert Under the Stars with the theme of “America’s Bandstand.”

More was in store for the College of the Arts in 2016. There was the Nickelodeon and CSUF exhibit of “Happy Happy Joy Joy: Art and Artifacts From 25 Years of Creator-Driven Cartoons” showcasing what goes on behind the scenes and in the minds of the creators of such animated programs as “Doug,” “Rugrats” and “Spongebob Squarepants” in the spring, and in the fall, a celebration marking the 10th anniversary of the Joseph A.W. Clayes III Performing Arts Center. The festivities included student performances with trumpeter and former “Tonight Show” bandleader Doc Severinsen and theatre arts alumnus Marc Cherry ’95 (B.A. theatre arts).

Faculty expertise was on show as economists Anil Puri and Mira Farka discussed the nation’s slow recovery, which they believed would endure through 2016, during the Midyear Economic Forecast, “Winter Blues or Turning Point” in April. They continued to predict an uneven, below-trend expansion through the end of the year at the 22nd annual Economic Forecast Conference, “World at a Crossroads: Navigating Risks in Pursuit of an Ideal Climate.” Joining them at the podium before an audience of approximately 800 business, community and campus leaders, was Class of ‘83 business alumnus Richard K. Davis, chairman, president and chief executive officer for U.S. Bancorp.

Educators and students from throughout the state attended the 15th annual California Higher Education Sustainability Conference hosted by Cal State Fullerton in June. Keynote speakers were former California Secretary of Agriculture A.G. Kawamura and environmental journalist Marla Cone of National Geographic.

The campus also hosted a two-day conference exploring the work of Philip K. Dick. The program coincided with an exhibit of key works from the Pollak Library’s University Archives and Special Collections, including manuscripts and novels by the writer, as well as works inspired by his books.

Cal State Fullerton also captured the large school-division in the national Forbes’ 2016 #MyTopCollege social media competition. CSUF took the top spots in the competition during the inaugural year, as well as last year. The annual social media campaign featured thousands of social media postings highlighting school spirit and passion from students, alumni, faculty and staff of more than 100 universities nationwide. For more top social media stories see our 2016 Social Media Review.

In Sports

In 2016, Cal State Fullerton softball reclaimed the Big West title for the first time since 2006, ending the second-longest championship drought for the program as a member of the Big West. The 45 wins for the club were the highest since 2003 and the 17 conference wins were the most since 2009, which was also the last season CSUF was selected to the NCAA Tournament.

Cal State Fullerton wrapped up the 2016 baseball season with its 42nd straight 30-win season for the Titans. Sixth-year head coach Rick Vanderhook led Fullerton to its 21st Big West Conference title and 29th conference championship overall as he was named Big West Coach of the Year for the fourth time in his career.

Track and field, cross country and women’s tennis all had their most successful seasons in school history.