Generation Now

Summer 2008

Commencement 2008

Presidents Message
Across Campus
Cool Course
Supporting the Troops
Rob Wassmer has Issues
Open for Fitness
Art and About
Commencement 2008
Town and Gown
Best in the West
Kara Kelley: Alumni Profile
Charles Bell: Alumni Profile
Class Notes

Presidents Message

The end of the spring semester inspires both celebration and reflection. Though we hold commencement in both winter and spring, the spring ceremonies bring with them the culmination of another academic year.

At the many end-of-the-year scholarship and awards banquets, I am reminded of how accomplished our students are and how hard they have worked to have reached this point in their lives. It’s also a time when many scholarship recipients have the opportunity to meet and thank the individuals, businesses and foundations that made the scholarships possible.

The generosity that our donors have shown to Sac State and our students is remarkable. It is also a recognition of the value of a Sac State education.

As the state budget continues to be an unpredictable source of funding, students become ever more dependent on scholarships to help them stay on track toward a degree. For some it is truly what makes the difference to keep them in school.

Most of our students work full-time and in some cases the pinch from rising costs for food, gas and other necessities places them in the painful position of having to choose whether to continue their education. A scholarship can alleviate much of that worry.

The stories the students tell at these scholarship events are compelling, touching and even inspiring. Some talk about the volunteer programs they’ve been involved with in addition to school. Others share how they’ve worked multiple jobs or helped to raise family members. And many are returning students trying to start a new career path. By the end of the night, everyone walks away knowing the scholarship money was money well spent.

We talk a lot about the life-changing opportunities that Sac State provides for our students. One of the most enjoyable experiences as President of Sacramento State is witnessing lives changed right before my eyes as students graduate and become leaders in their communities.

Sincerely, Alexander Gonzalez

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Across Campus

Hall of Fame Adds 10

It wasn’t on the blueprint that night in 1997, when the Hornet football team’s then-running back coach and strength and conditioning coordinator Bob Visger (’71, Social Science) began his volunteer work on renovating the “tin box” that was Sac State’s weight room.

A former general contractor, Visger built the walls using mostly standard materials—wood, insulation, sheet rock. And something a bit unusual: his prized Sac State 1995 American West Conference Division 1-AA championship ring.

The Night of the Lost Ring happened late on a Saturday, after the team flew in from a game. “It was 11:30 p.m., and I went into the weight room to do some framing,” Visger says. “I took the ring off because it was getting in the way when I was swinging the hammer. I didn’t want to put it in my toolbox because it would get scratched up, so I placed it on a framing board.”

Visger worked a few more hours and went home. Foam insulation was sprayed into the walls the next day.

Later, Visger went looking for the ring, and realized where he’d left it. And he knew he couldn’t get to his treasured ring without causing major damage to the walls.

Visger resigned himself to the fact it was gone for good. Unbeknownst to him, the football coaches got wind of the situation and chipped in for a new ring.

Visger’s loss seemed to be the football team’s win. “The team’s record improved greatly after the new room was built. It was 1-10 in the Big Sky Conference the year before the weight room was improved, and the three years after it was built, the team’s records, respectively, were 5-6, 6-5, and 7-4.” And in 1999, Visger was named Big Sky Conference Strength and Conditioning Professional of the Year.

The new Eli and Edythe Broad Fieldhouse now houses a brand new weight room, and the old weight room that Vigner worked on has been torn down. The Athletics Department hoped to unearth Vigner’s lost artifact in the process but a finding a ring in the rubble proved to be a challenge akin to a needle in a haystack.

And that’s okay with Vigner. “I saw the first workout in that room, and I got to see the last,” he says. “I feel proud to have made a difference in Hornet football and was glad to give back to Sac State, the University that gave me my start.”

Summarizing a century

If choosing the most influential fiction writers of the year is difficult, imagine trying to pick the most influential writers of the last century.

That’s the task Sac State English professor Dave Madden has as he and two colleagues edit the Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of 20th Century American Fiction.

“It’s a monster project,” says Madden. “It will include essays from about 200 contributors on more than 200 American fiction writers.”

Madden says he spent a good portion of the fall semester trying to solicit potential contributors to write essays. “I started with colleagues then began looking around the country for people who have conducted research on certain writers. I felt like a detective.”

Finding contributors may have been tough, but narrowing the list of authors may have been even more difficult. “There are writers making important contributions to literature who may not be as heralded as others, but that doesn’t mean their work is unimportant,” Madden says.

He says the team looked for representative figures and made sure not to include “just the usual suspects.”

“They couldn’t be all men, and they couldn’t be all white,” he said. “The tightrope we walked was to not get too arcane and not to get too obvious. I’m glad I did not have to pick and choose by myself.”

The encyclopedia will include essays on everything from the classics to detective fiction, a favorite of Madden’s. “This is not some snooty, highbrow sort of book. It includes authors like Dashiell Hammett (The Maltese Falcon) and Raymond Chandler (The Big Sleep) because they are very accomplished writers,” he says.

The manuscript is due to the publisher by next spring and is expected to be published by 2010. It will be a companion book to the Encyclopedia of 20th Century British/Irish Fiction and the Encyclopedia of 20th Century World Fiction.

Safety first

Prompted by incidents at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University, Sac State is stepping up its campus crisis communication procedure with a new notification system. The automated Emergency Notification System delivers urgent announcements to large groups of people, such as students and faculty, via text messages, voice mail and e-mail.

With 30,000 part-time residents, the Sac State campus can seem like a small city. And protecting the safety of the city’s residents is a full-time concern.

“The safety of our students, faculty, staff and campus visitors is paramount, and the implementation of the new emergency alert system is a significant step toward that end,” says University President Alexander Gonzalez. Similar programs are used by the United States Senate, Harvard University and the University of Arizona.

The alerts will only be used in the event of an emergency that threatens the campus community’s health and safety, such as a bomb threat, a shooting, a hazardous materials spills, flood or fire.

The initial message may warn whether recipients should seek shelter or take other precautions. Follow-up messages can be sent, with more specific details of the event and safety procedures, or an “all-clear” message when the incident has been resolved.

The campus community will also be alerted to visit the University’s homepage for more information.

The system got its first test with a simulated “shots fired” incident in April. During the test, a select group of faculty, staff and students on campus received a text message stating that an “ENS Police Emergency” test was being conducted, followed by an all-clear message. So far, more than 2,300 students, faculty and staff have signed up for the service.

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Cool Course

Family and Consumer Sciences 133: Apparel Marketing and Design

Description: Sacramento may not be New York, Paris or Milan, but some style-conscious Sac State students are weaving their way into the fashion world by learning how to design and market clothing, shoes and accessories. Students in the Apparel Marketing and Design concentration learn how to select fabrics and sew but also learn how to incorporate “balance, proportion, emphasis, rhythm and harmony” to their designs. 

“Those five things are very important,” says Professor Dong Shen. “A dress must have all of those, or it will be either too plain or too busy or not look focused.”

While fashion merchandising is a bit of a niche education path, Shen says graduates can look forward to a variety of career options including fashion consultant, purchasing agent, apparel designer, boutique owner and fashion retail manager. Enrollment in the program has almost doubled in the past four years.

Class work: Students complete research papers, design projects, and problem-solving projects, but the best part may be field trips to stores like Nordstrom, Macy’s and Coldwater Creek to talk with buyers and managers.

Assignments: Students explore the properties of different types of fibers, fabrics and textiles and use the knowledge to design their own clothing line. They also study the impact of designers like Christian Dior and Coco Chanel. At the end of each semester, students stage a fashion show featuring their designs.

Students say: “The faculty is really knowledgeable, and they were good about covering the spectrum of the industry,” says senior JoJo Rouas.

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Singers sensational—If Sac State’s Jazz Singers were a Cole Porter song, it would be “You’re the Top.” The group has been named co-winners of the 2008 Best Collegiate Vocal Jazz Group award by DownBeat magazine, the premier publication for jazz music. This is the fifth DownBeat award for the University’s vocal jazz program in the last four years, putting it among the top tier programs in the country.

Sign of the times—A new digital communication sign going in at Sac State near Highway 50 will inform the public about campus events, boost the University’s visibility and raise revenue while also providing a means to alert motorists about highway conditions and law-enforcement emergencies. The structure will prominently feature the University’s name and logo. Near the top of the sign will be a state-of-the-art 48-foot wide message board for commercial advertisements and University messages. The message board uses the latest in LED technology to eliminate glare and “light leakage” sometimes associated with older types of electronic signs.

Making finals fun—This spring’s finals week at the University Library offered a chance to get the mind off the books—an island-themed Stress-Free Zone for students studying for finals. From the tiki hut in the Library’s main lobby students were directed downstairs where they found comfortable chairs, tropical decorations, and hula hoops, games, toys and puzzles to take their minds off their studies. Librarian and yoga instructor Alicia Patrice offered free “relaxation sessions.” The Library also relaxed its “no food rule” by offering freshly-popped popcorn and letting students bring food and drink to the lower level, guilt-free.

Recreation center underway—Now that the occupants of the Eli and Edythe Broad Fieldhouse have settled in and the old fieldhouse has been demolished, work can begin on the new Recreation and Wellness Center. The 150,845-square-foot facility will feature a fitness center, indoor track, recreational courts, rock-climbing walls and a student health center. The project, which was kick-started with a $10 million gift from Alex and Faye Spanos, is scheduled to open in fall 2010.

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Supporting the troops

Our military veterans answered the call. And now it is Sac State’s turn.

Through the recently established Troops to College initiative, Sac State officials are working to ensure that military service people, veterans and their families have the opportunity to go to college. The California State University system-led effort is designed to streamline access to the GI Bill and other tuition programs as well as provide guidance with benefit requirements and transferring military credits to college credits.

The effort comes at an opportune time. Since the start of the offensive in Afghanistan and the Iraq War, Sac State has seen a sharp increase in the number of military members enrolling in school. Last year enrollment was up 20 percent.

“It is very hard on these students to return to academia after such life-changing deployments overseas,” says Jeffrey Weston, Sac State Veterans’ Affairs coordinator. “It is this very reason that it is important for universities to start increasing their services to veterans.”

The University Foundation at Sacramento State, in partnership with the Development Office, has embarked on a fundraising initiative to support Troops to College, which does not receive funding from the CSU system. The effort includes establishing funds for book scholarships, fees scholarships, and a summer bridge program to ease the transition from military to university life.

“There were no dollars attached to the initiative so it is up to each individual college to support it,” Weston says. “Sac State has been a frontrunner on this by providing funds.”

With Sac State’s backing, the Veterans’ Affairs office has been able to beef up its counseling and outreach services.

Most significantly, Troops to College has allowed more veterans to have priority when registering for classes. Beginning this summer those using federal educational benefits such as the GI Bill, the Reserve Educational Assistance Program or the Vocational Rehabilitation Program, will be given priority when registering at Sac State.     

This is important for a variety of reasons, Weston says, the biggest of which is that veterans will not receive their GI Bill benefits unless they are already enrolled in college courses.

For many, timing is critical. 

“A lot of reservists are always waiting for their next deployment,” Weston says. “They need to be able to get in and set their schedule so they can properly plan.”

California is home to more than 2.2 million veterans, says Weston. More than 175,000 service members are stationed throughout the state which is also home to more than 35,000 National Guard members and reservists. Of the 600 veterans attending Sac State at least 80 are active-duty members attending school through the Department of Defense tuition assistance program.Suzette Del Mundo, vice president of the Student Veteran Organization, says Troops to College fills an awareness gap.

“Working at the Veterans’ Affairs Office on campus, I have met students who missed out on benefits that were due them,” says Del Mundo, who served in the Army in Bosnia. ”I have seen the frustration in their eyes when they found out they were qualified for a benefit but it was too late to use it.”     Since the initiative, Veterans’ Affairs has updated its website and expanded its outreach efforts, making it easier for students to find the office.

Austin Sihoe, who served for five years as an aviation electrician in the Navy, says he is glad the university system is responding to veterans’ needs.

“Because of the war, many service members are being discharged voluntarily by the military for medical reasons,” Sihoe says. “It gives those service members a chance to go to college to better prepare them for their transition from the military to the civilian world.”

Weston says the pressure on many veterans returning to college is immense. Many he says are leaving the military after as many four tours of duty.

“I feel any person that puts their life on the line for their nation deserves to be honored.” Weston says. “Making their transition to college easier is just one way to tell our vets that our universities are thankful.”

For more information on veteran benefits or the Troops to College program, contact Weston at 278-6733 or visit To donate to Troops to College benefits contact Jody Policar, director of development, at (916) 278-4168 or

Rob Wassmer has Issues

Whether it’s a study on the causes of urban sprawl or an analysis of California’s flawed budget framework, there’s a good chance Public Policy Professor Robert Wassmer’s findings won’t just make it into the classroom. They’ll reach the halls of the State Capitol.  

During his 13 years at Sac State, Wassmer has reported to lawmakers on various public policy issues ranging from education, economic development, emergency room use, land use, local governance and taxation.

“It is critical to have an academic study issues important to the well-being of the public and offer an independent assessment,” says Wassmer, who is the public policy and administration department’s chair. “I value this role as a professor and try to take it as often as I can.”

Wassmer’s research has exposed whether urban sprawl raises home prices and why some K-12 schools in high poverty areas outperform others, as well as the success of tax incentives at stimulating business activity, and what drives the differences in transfer rates among California’s community colleges.

Wassmer served as a visiting consultant to the California State Office of Research where he advised California senators and their staff on public school, community college and public finance issues. He also worked as a research fellow for the California Institute for County Government. Through the years he has reported to many California Legislative committees and offered fiscal advice to Sacramento County, and Detroit and Los Angeles city leaders. 

In 2004, he presented evidence on behalf of Assemblyman Darryl Steinberg’s AB 680 which sought to regionalize retail tax revenue to curb urban sprawl. During his testimony, Wassmer showed the link between a jump in retail space in cities with exclusive sales tax revenues. Though the measure didn’t pass the Senate, Wassmer says, “If asked, I will always try to find the time to do my best to examine a public concern and offer unbiased advice on how best to deal with it.”

Wassmer’s latest findings are another example of his eagerness to take on statewide issues. According to Wassmer’s most recent research, Californians could skip the annual budget roller coaster ride if state officials were willing to reform the budgeting process and revenue stream.     

“We wouldn’t go into this scramble mode where we are facing having to generate a proposed 10 percent across the board cut in spending and revenue enhancements in the form of an increase in sales tax or leasing of the state’s lottery,” he says.

At issue, mostly, Wassmer says is the how California’s adoption of Proposition 13 in 1978 began what he considers a downward spiral in the reliability of the state’s budgetary process by forcing it to pay for services once provided by local governments, and funding them with unstable personal income taxes derived by capital gains. The initiative further compounded the state’s fiscal system that only says a simple majority vote by the legislature is required to spend more, but a two-thirds majority vote is required to raise taxes to pay for spending.

“California has really gotten itself out of line on the kind of money it spends and the money that it brings in,” says Wassmer.

He proposes lawmakers create a rainy day fund by tapping into revenues generated by greenhouse gas emission requirements.

Wassmer’s policy opinions have appeared in The Sacramento Bee. In addition, he has offered policy advice to the Urban Land Institute, Community Services Planning Council, National Education Association, California Futures Network, Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, the Sacramento chapter of the American Lung Association and the UC Davis Medical Center.

On campus, Wassmer teaches master’s level courses in applied microeconomics, public policy, statistics and urban economics. He also co-directs the master’s program in urban land development offered jointly with the College of Business Administration.

“My biggest rewards still come from the teaching arena,” he says. “Research allows me to remain fresh and connected for my students.”

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Open for fitness

A new era in Hornet athletics is underway with the opening of the Eli and Edythe Broad Fieldhouse.

The facility—the first campus building to be funded entirely with private dollars— features state-of-the-art locker rooms, meeting rooms and coach’s offices for the football and track and field teams. A spacious strength and conditioning room, stocked with the latest equipment, will be available to all athletic teams.

Several rooms in the Broad Fieldhouse are named for former coaches, local business leaders and one long-time equipment manager. Dozens of former football players also purchased lockers that bear their jersey numbers from their playing days.

The facility has a prime location on the south end of the stadium and track at the Alex G. Spanos Sports Complex. Coaches expect the new fieldhouse to be a huge boost to their recruitment efforts to attract the very best student-athletes.

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Art and About

Faculty Artists Bring International Recognition to Sac State

The reach of Sac State’s art faculty isn’t limited to just the campus. Exhibitions by professors and instructors are being staged throughout Northern California and beyond, bringing international recognition not only to the faculty artist, but to the University as well.

Just a small sampling of Art Department faculty reveals that Sac State’s footing in the larger art world is a solid one.

Sculpture professor Robert Ortbal’s “Neverland” exhibition will run at the Traywick Contemporary gallery this summer. Past shows include exhibits and installations in San Francisco, Miami, Fla., and Philadelphia.

Still in the development stage, “Neverland” references the Peter Pan story and will combine elements from everyday life into forms that are fresh and new. “I’m very interested in trying to describe spaces and places that are beyond our physical perception,” Ortbal says.

Ian Harvey, who teaches painting and drawing, had an exhibition of collaborative works he creates with his wife, Koo Kyung Sook, this past April at the Kunst Doc Gallery in Seoul, South Korea. In May the work was also included in an exhibition at the Kyunggiddo Museum of Art in Seoul.

Their work previously was staged at Sac State’s Library Gallery in December and January. And the couple was featured on the cover of California’s Artweek magazine, which also reviewed the show. From there the work was seen by directors and curators at Kunst Doc. “One thing leads to the next,” Harvey says in explaining the process.

Art historian Pattaratorn Chirapravati, director of Sac State’s Asian Studies Department, is co-curating “Bangkok and Mandalay,” an exhibit of items from Burma and Thailand for the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. It will run there from mid-October of 2009 to February 2010, and travel the country after that.

When Sarah Flohr isn’t teaching drawing and painting or working in the studio, you can find her exhibiting works at the National Centre for Contemporary Art in Moscow, Russia or in Stuttgart, Germany.

Those exhibitions came about from the contacts Flohr made living abroad and grants she received to undertake the projects. Last year’s show in Moscow has led to another project in Russia next spring, photographing the architecture of sacred sites. This summer Flohr is teaching painting and drawing in France.

Getting out of the Sacramento area and reaching a larger audience can certainly be rewarding in practical terms for some artists, increasing their sales. But these four professors note their work doesn’t necessarily lend itself to art buyers. Most patrons are looking for works of more traditional categories, sizes and subjects, Harvey says.

Just the fact the work is being shared on a larger scale is satisfactory by itself. “It’s a chance for my work to be seen by a wider audience, to have critics coming from all different parts of the world,” Flohr says.

When an artist works in a larger medium, such as installations, reaching a larger audience may result in more exhibitions, if the audience responds positively to your work, Ortbal says. “I’m interested in having a dialogue with the community and the audience to sort of push and pull my ideas apart,” he says.

Working as a professor also provides the “day job” needed to maintain artistic freedom without worrying whether the work is commercially viable. But exhibiting does require a lot of legwork, such as coordinating the shipment of art pieces and organizing the paper work.

“I have to be able to organize all those things,” Flohr says. “You have to be your own manager.”

Ortbal echoes that sentiment. “As an artist you wear many different hats,” he says. “You’re comfortable with some of the hats, with others, you’re not.”

Chirapravati uses her experience to stage campus exhibits with her students, who learn all about curating—from applying for a grant, to writing labels and contacting the artists. “My reward is when I see my students go out and get really good jobs,” she says. “That means a lot to me.”

The experience of exhibiting and curating is also taught to the students so they get to know the business side of the art world. “I spend a great deal of my time helping the students prepare for that type of venture,” Ortbal says.

Observing their professors creating and exhibiting their own works also has indirect but still valuable impacts on the students. “They’re able to see us as professionals, juggling a life and trying to be artists while maintaining our responsibilities to them,” Harvey says.

“The more I’m in my studio, the better I am in front of the students,” Flohr says. “There’s an ease about teaching that comes when you’re completely involved in your own work.”

Exhibits not only increase the artist’s reputation, they also enhance the prestige of Sac State.

Three years ago Chirapravati co-curated “The Kingdom of Siam,” which started at the Asian Art Museum and then went to the Peabody Essex Museum in Boston. A 2005 New York Times review praised the exhibit for resurrecting a particular period in Thailand’s history, and noted that Chirapravati is from Sac State.

The University’s support for such projects further enhances its standing. Flohr’s 2005 exhibit in St. Petersburg noted that it was presented by the State Russian Museum and Sac State.

Harvey sees the faculty artists as ambassadors. “I’m an emissary for the University whether I’m going to the grocery store or whether I’m in Seoul,” he says.

He points out that professors in Asia are often held in higher regard than are their counterparts in America. So when you hand out a business card and the person sees that you’re a professor, “They remember. That’s important to them,” Harvey says.

The faculty artists also appreciate the University’s support and funding of arts projects and exhibits. While noting the potential for more ongoing support of some projects, they emphasize how valuable the current help has been.

Harvey points to his and Koo’s exhibition as an example. “That project started here, with a Summer Fellowship grant from the University, because I am a faculty member,” he says.

And when you ask them the most rewarding aspects of creating, exhibiting and curating, it’s not any financial benefit, or even the recognition and acclaim they might reap from their efforts. It’s the work itself.

“The process of making things is fundamental for me,” Ortbal says. “It’s really essential for helping me discover and decode who I am as a human. It makes me more human.”

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Commencement 2008

The ranks of Sac State alumni gained a stellar bunch of new grads this spring.

Nearly 5,000 were eligible to cross the commencement stage. They join the 3600 who graduated during Winter Commencement ceremonies in December.

Did you know…

  • 1 in 26 Sacramento Region residents is a Sac State alum.
  • 56 percent of new graduates are the first in their family to earn a college degree.
  • More than _____ friends and family viewed this spring’s commencement ceremonies at Arco Arena, during seven ceremonies over the course of two days.
  • The largest group of spring grads came from the College of College of Health and Human Services—967 students.
  • Sac State graduates more than 600 new teachers each year.

This year’s ceremonies included the awarding of the President’s Medal to the outstanding graduate for the academic year, Charles Stuthard, and the awarding of the President’s Medal for Distinguished Service to Robert “Coach” Mattos (’65, Physical Education). Mattos has the most wins in Sac State football history and raised nearly half a million dollars for the Eli and Edythe Broad Fieldhouse.

President’s Medal recipient Charles Stuthard, College of Arts and Letters, Major: History

Charles Stuthard had every reason to not only not be selected as the 2008 outstanding graduate, but to not make it to Sac State at all.

He never knew his father and was raised in some of Sacramento’s rougher neighborhoods, mostly in a series of foster homes. After his mother’s death during his sophomore year of college, he has assumed responsibility for his mentally disabled older brother, working two jobs while pursuing full-time studies.

“No one in my family has ever made it this far and actually graduated from college, not my grandparents, my mother or my father or any of my siblings, Stuthard said in an essay. “That I have made this far is, for me, nothing short of a miracle.”

His history professors describe him as “an ideal student.” And it seems in large part because of Stuthard’s interest in self-examination. “History is ultimately the attempt to look at the behavior and actions of human beings in an effort to understand and explain why humans do what they do,” he wrote.

“In studying change over time, we come to understand what has worked well for humankind and what has been a dismal failure. Ideally, we learn and improve our course as result of this scrutiny. This is why I love the discipline of history and chose it as my course of study.”

Stuthard has served as a counselor for emotionally disturbed youth at a residential treatment facility and tutors middle-school children through the Breakthrough Sacramento’s “America Reads!” program. “To be able to open young minds to new ideas and ways of thinking has and continues to bring joy to my life. I never though I could actually give back in such as way,” he said.

After graduation, he hopes to enroll in a master’s/law degree program while working at the middle- or high-school level. His eventual goal to earn a doctorate and teach in the community colleges, where he hopes to encourage students who, like he did, come from less than ideal circumstance to continue on to a four-year university.

2007-08 Dean’s Award Recipients

Jesse West Manton, College of Business Administration, Major: Business, concentration in General Management

Manton was team captain of the Men’s Soccer Team and was awarded the 2006 Scholar-Athlete All-Region by the NSCAA and the 2005 ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District Scholar Athlete Award.

Aurora Murillo, College of Education, Major: Child Development, minor in Multicultural Education.

Murillo plans to use her family’s experience as immigrants facing language barriers, economic strain and physically demanding work in underpaid jobs in her future career as a counselor.

Stacie Hiratsuka, College of Engineering and Computer Science, Major: Electrical and Electronics Engineering, minor in Mathematics

Hiratsuka was one of only five students selected for a program to teach English to K-12 students in Thailand’s prestigious Chitralada Royal Palace School on King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s royal grounds.

Sarah Sanderson, College of Health and Human Services, Major: Nursing

Sanderson held leadership roles in the California Nursing Student’s Association and published an article in its statewide newsletter on the use of human patient simulators in nursing curricula.

Jason Cooper, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, Major: Chemistry with a minor in Physics

Cooper received the HyperChem Scholar Award as the outstanding physical chemistry student and has been an instructor for the adjunct program and a teaching associate in multiple disciplines.

Daniel Sanchez, College of Social Sciences and Interdisciplinary Studies, Major: Government

Sanchez taught a Learning Skills course designed to assist first-generation and underserved college students develop study skills for the Government I course and helped create a faculty peer-mentor program.

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Town and Gown

Catch the Wave

Camp offers options for youth with disabilities

Summer camp is a right of passage for many kids—dorm stays, group meals, skit nights, dances, and outdoor sports. The same is true for Sac State’s annual WAVE Camp.

But WAVE Camp-ers aren’t your everyday campers. Even though they spend their days kayaking, sailing and water skiing, these are youth who also have disabilities such as spina bifida, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury and muscular dystrophy.

Kinesiology Professor Scott Modell started WAVE 9 years ago and it has thrived, so much so that they’ve added a second week of camp. The idea is to give young people with disabilities a traditional overnight summer camp experience while they are introduced to recreation skills they can use for the rest of their lives. Campers stay in the residence halls at Sacramento State at night and by day participate in a variety of water sports.

“Before WAVE, there was a gap in services, says Annie Desalernos (’94??, Recreation Administration) of the City of Sacramento’s Department of Parks and Recreation Access Leisure Section, which along with Disabled Sports USA and United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Sacramento sponsor WAVE. “By doing activities they’ve never done before, the campers gain independence, and they gain skill to participate in lifelong recreational activities.”

 The results can be just as profound for the Sac State students who work as camp counselors. “It’s a life-changing experience,” she say. “It changes their view of people with disabilities.”

WAVE is just one a dozen or so community recreation projects the University supports for youth with disabilities, including WAVE’s winter cousin, Camp COOL, which has campers skiing, playing hockey and snowmobiling.

All include partnerships with community agencies. “It’s a group effort,” Modell says. “As a university and as a public university in particular, our role is to be open to the community, open to the public.”

Modell has also seen another payoff: former WAVE Camp campers are beginning to come to the University on their own. Others have gained the confidence through sports to break out of their shells. He talks of one formerly shy camper who came to camp after being paralyzed in a car accident. “Five years later she was competing in water ski tournaments and going to the prom,” he says. “It’s an amazing transformation.”

This year’s WAVE Camp is already sold out. For information on upcoming camps, call (916) 808-6017.

To view a video with more on WAVE Camp and other programs for children and youth with disabilities, visit

Counseling assistance

Many Sac State community service programs offer students a chance to get professional experience. They’re supervised by experienced professors.
Among them is the Center for Counseling and Diagnostic Services, which offers low-cost individual, couple and family counseling, counseling for career and life changes. It also offers educational testing and child counseling which provides diagnostic testing for learning disabilities as well as for gifted and talented programs (GATE). It’s located in the University’s Eureka Hall.

As many as 14 counseling sessions are offered for a once-per-semester fee of $75, with a small additional fee for certain tests.

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Best in the West

Hornet Women Score Landslide Victory

On the strength of conference championships from the volleyball, soccer, indoor and outdoor track and field, and tennis teams, Sac State’s women easily won the Big Sky Conference’s All-Sports Trophy, which goes to the Big Sky program that accumulates the most points over the course of the athletic year.

The all-sports championship is the University’s first since Sac State joined the Big Sky Conference in 1996-97. In the men’s all-sports race, Sac State finished fourth among the league’s nine teams. Overall, counting men’s and women’s athletic points, Sac State finished second, narrowly trailing first-place Northern Arizona.

Of the eight women’s sports offered in the Big Sky, Sac State won titles in five of them. No other Big Sky team won more than one conference championship.

All three finishes—first on the women’s side, fourth on the men’s side, second overall—are program bests or matched program highs since joining the Big Sky. The men also finished fourth last season.

The Hornet women accumulated 91 points, or 11.4 points per sport, easily finishing ahead of second-place Northern Arizona (71 points, 8.88 per sport). On the men’s side, Northern Arizona finished first with an average of 13.3 points per sports, followed by Weber State, Montana and Sac State.

Overall, counting both men’s and women’s sports, Northern Arizona was first with 10.79 points, followed by Sac State, Weber State, Montana and Portland State to round out the top five.

Points for the All-Sports Trophy are awarded based on finish in regular-season standings for soccer, volleyball, basketball, tennis, and football. For cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field, and golf, points are awarded based on finish in the Big Sky Championship, with standings determined by average points per sport. The Big Sky has awarded a men’s all-sports trophy since 1963-64, and a women’s all-sports trophy since 1988-89.

For the second straight year, Sac State athletics teams have won eight conference championships, with wins in volleyball, women’s soccer, men’s indoor track, women’s indoor track, softball, women’s tennis, men’s tennis and women’s outdoor track.

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Alumni Profile: Kara Kelley ‘03

Pest manager

Most people slap away mosquitoes. Kara Kelley collects them.

As a microbiologist with the Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District, Kelley (’03 micro and molecular biology) traps and tests mosquitoes for diseases such as the West Nile virus. During the sweltering summer months when mosquitoes are at their peak, she may begin work at 5 or 6 a.m. and not leave until late in the evening.

But her work doesn’t end in the laboratory. Kelley travels to classrooms, county fairs and other community events talking to people about how they can protect themselves from mosquito-born diseases. Her message: don’t have standing water at your house, use screens on your doors and windows, and always wear mosquito repellant.

“I love what I do,” she says. “It is cool and insects are amazing. It is a different way to look at public health.”

Mosquitoes are attracted to human breath, so the district sets up carbon dioxide-baited traps that imitate a person exhaling. The insects are then sucked into a mesh basket. Other collections are done using traps that mimic standing pools of water, or in areas where dead birds are found—a potential sign of West Nile virus. Those mosquitoes are brought back to the lab, where Kelley tests for three different viruses and is constantly on the lookout for new diseases.

Kelley has worked at the district for 20 years, but says it was her education at Sac State that gave her the necessary skills for her current position. She started out at the district as a field control technician where she located and treated mosquito breeding sites, collected samples, and promoted public education. After 12 years, she became a lab technician, assisting in field trials and collecting mosquito samples for testing, identifying and counting.

When Kelley decided to pursue her bachelor’s degree at Sac State, she was admittedly a little bit nervous about returning to the school at the age of 39. But the students and teachers welcomed her into class and before long she was “having a blast.”

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Alumni Profile: Charles Bell (’71, ’73)

Keeper of the House

Rosa Parks, author Alex Haley, Muhammad Ali, Jane Fonda, Coretta Scott King, Bishop Desmond Tutu, Presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan, and the Queen of England. That list of who’s who in history include just a few of the people Charles Bell (‘71, Police Science,’73 Criminal Justice) provided security for as the Sergeant-at-Arms for the California legislature from 1974-96.

Sworn in to his position in 1983 by then-Speaker of the House Willie Brown, Bell credits Brown and Rep. Maxine Waters as key mentors who helped him rise to his position at the Capitol. “Willie Brown was the first African American speaker of the house, and it was an honor to have his support,” Bell says.

And how exactly did the Dayton, Ohio native decide on Sac State as his destination? “My friend had a cousin who lived in Sacramento, and the idea of living in the ‘sunshine state’ had enormous appeal,” Bell says. “We arrived in December of 1967, and it rained almost the entire month.”

The sun did eventually shine, just as Bell did on the Sac State campus. He excelled as a student-athlete, making the Dean’s List and leading the Far West football conference in kickoff returns as a running back for the Hornets.

“I came to the campus before football scholarships were available, so I paid for school by working security for the University’s field house,” he says.

And Bell can’t say enough about the role athletics plays for college students. “Athletics have been an avenue for a lot of young people to improve as both citizens and individuals,” he says.

Lured by the appeal of athletics, Bell dreamed of becoming a football coach one day and toyed with the idea of majoring in physical education. After some hard thinking, however, Bell decided to major in police science, which he felt had the potential for more opportunities in California’s capital city.

“It was a hard decision at the time, but I’m glad I made it now, because I wouldn’t have discovered or achieved my full potential,” he says.

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Class Notes


Richard “Dick” Vinci, ’55, B.A., Physical Education, has retired after 50 years as a coach and a math and computer science teacher in the Pueblo (Colo.) Public Schools. During that time, Vinci was a basketball official for high school, junior college and college games. He retired the first time in 1994, but became bored and decided to teach math at Pueblo Community College and Colorado State University-Pueblo part-time for 13 years. Vinci has been married for 50 years to Mae, and they have three sons and two grandsons.

Cordia Chambers Wade, ’55, B.A., Social Work, ’76, M.A., Sociology, is currently serving on the Sacramento County Adult and Aging Commission. She was recently selected as the “Outstanding Woman of Color” as an educator and advocate for senior and women’s health. The award included recognition from Congresswoman Doris Matsui and Assemblyman Dave Jones. In March, Wade was recognized for leadership and advocacy, and as a “Woman of Inspiration” at The Sacramento Observer’s Black Expo. She was also selected by the UC Berkeley School of Public Health for its Senior Leaders Project. She and her husband, John, will celebrate 54 years of marriage in June.

Jack Plasterer, ’59, MEMBER B.S., Physical Education, ’71, M.A., Education, is a certified fitness trainer and is a member of the International Sports Sciences Association. Plasterer is a personal trainer, ski instructor and the general manager of a semi-pro football team. He also runs an adult education fitness program. He lives in Davis.


Rona Commins, ’68, B.A. and ’83, M.A., Music, recently celebrated her 20th year teaching music in a summer travel-study program in Florence, Italy. To mark the occasion, Commins gave a recital accompanied by a reception at the Chies Evangelica in Florence last summer. She has taught classes and given concerts and master classes for Sac State, San Francisco State, American River College and Brigham Young University. For contributing 355 hours of service for the year 2006-07, Commins was given an award by the Mu Phi Epsilon International Music Fraternity. She lives in Sacramento with her husband, Richard.

Bill Yurong, ’68, MEMBER B.S., Physical Education, ’74, M.S., Criminal Justice, spent 35 years as a Sacramento County probation officer working primarily as an armed officer supervising high-risk probationers. He also spent the past 20 years working as a substance abuse counselor with the Bureau of Prisons. He is currently a social worker for St. Francis Home for Children. Yurong is a member of the Sac State Football Hall of Fame. He and his wife live in Sacramento and have four children and five grandchildren.

Peter Graham, ’69, B.A., Government, after a career in industrial sales, mostly in the Midwest, has retired to the tip of Cape Cod with his wife, Maureen Cronin. He built a house there four years ago and is now living on the Cape year-round. Graham is painting and hopes to keep up with and learn from the many Cape Cod artists who are neighbors. He has reconnected with his most important art teacher, Ralph Goings, who is living in California. Graham sends best wishes to all classmates who are moving into their retirement years, saying “Life is an adventure, isn’t it?”


Alan Hilton, ’70, B.A., Political Science, ’74, M.S., Learning Disabilities, earned a doctor of education degree from USC in 1980. He has retired as the director of the San Luis Obispo County Special Education Local Plan Area. His retirement concludes 36 years in special education teaching and administration that also included 17 years training special education teachers at three universities. Hilton has published more than 60 professional articles, coauthored two books, and served on numerous state advisory boards. He has returned to his home in Santa Cruz, where he provides special education consultation to school districts on a part-time basis. He also works on his two Ford “Woodies.”

Robert Denham, Jr., ’73, MEMBER B.S., Criminal Justice, has retired after 33 years of service from the Sacramento Sheriff’s office where he attained the rank of chief deputy sheriff. He was elected president of the Northern California Peace Officers Association, an organization of active and retired public safety personnel that provides scholarships to criminal justice majors. Denham now serves as the association’s webmaster at Sacramento is home for Denham and his wife, Sharen Sue.

Cathryn Chase-Mason, ’75, MEMBER B.A., Criminal Justice, has been self-employed as a certified public accountant since 1999. Chase-Mason is married to Bert Mason, a professor at CSU Fresno, who will be retiring this year. They have one daughter and one grandson and live in Fresno.

Bruce Hohenhaus, ’76, MEMBER B.A., Business Administration (Marketing), is the senior vice president of Colliers International, an integrated real estate company. The company performs services to clients on behalf of landlords, tenants and investors through every stage of the real estate process. Hohenhaus and his wife, Cyndi, live in Sacramento.

Dick Russell, ’76, MEMBER B.A., Criminal Justice, is an assistant professor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in its Aviation Sciences Institute. Before joining the university, which is in Oklahoma City, Russell was with the Federal Aviation Administration. He and his wife, Shelia, live in Midwest City, Okla.

Michael Jared Gorman, ’78, MEMBER B.A., Government, is the building inspector and plans examiner for the city of Belmont, Calif. He and his wife, Frances, live in Foster City, Calif.


Ronald Grove, ’81, MEMBER B.A., Physical Education, is a teacher and the activities director at Roseville High School. But a new chapter in his life is just beginning. After 50 years of bachelorhood, Grove is getting married. He and his wife will live in Sacramento.

David Trimingham, ’81, MEMBER B.S., Recreation Administration, has recently retired from the United States Air Force after 21 years. He is now with ALZA, a division of Johnson & Johnson, as a pharmaceutical technician. He and his family live in Vacaville.

Jim Rost, ’82, MEMBER B.A., Criminal Justice, is an ROTC teacher at Hiram Johnson High School in the Sacramento City Unified School District. Rost is a master sergeant (ret.) in the United States Air Force 75th Airlift Squadron. He and his wife, Nari, live in Carmichael.

Madeline Kellner, ’83, M.B.A., has been elected to the Novato City Council. By day, she runs a management consulting practice, Kellner and Associates, helping non-profit, public-sector and healthcare organizations improve their operations. It’s based in Novato, where Kellner and her husband, Clint, make their home.

William (Mitch) Darnell, ’86, MEMBER B.A., Communication Studies, has started what he believes is the first and only website for grooms to be:, trhough his business, Forever Inspired. Darnell is also an “inspiration wedding officiant.”

Galer Barnes, ’89, M.A., Anthropology, has published her first collection of poetry, Too Deep for Tears, under the pen name of Jane Galer. Barnes signed with a literary agent in 2007 and is working on non-fiction and historical fiction projects. She and her husband, Gene, live in Elk, Calif.


Donald H. Gillott, ’94, Honorary Alumnus, is “dean emeritus” after serving Sac State for 26 years. He was chair of the Electrical Engineering Department for nine years and was dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science for 17 years. Gillott also serves on the Industrial Advising Board for the College. He and his wife, Betty, live in Cameron Park.

Richard L. Williams, ’95, MEMBER B.S., Business Administration, is the e-commerce director for Lexus of Sacramento. He lives in Sacramento.

Surinder Gill-Saeltzer, ’98, MEMBER B.A., Child Development, ’02, M.A., Multicultural Education, is a clinical supervisor/team leader at the Sacramento Children’s Home. Her doctorate is pending with a dissertation titled “My Sikh Mother and I: The Way We Are in America.” She presented it at the Multicultural Oral History Conference held at Sac State in April.

Luis Rios, Jr., ’98, M.A., Multicultural Education, is employed by the California Department of Education as a bilingual/migrant education consultant, administering family literacy programs statewide. After receiving his master’s degree at Sac State, Rios earned a doctorate from Columbia University Teachers College. He lives in Sacramento.

Lonnie J. Rush, ’98, B.A., Economics, has left his position as director of operations development with California ISO to start Rush Capital Management. The company is an investment partnership modeled after the 1950s Warren Buffett partnerships. His new role is managing partner of RCM Partners Fund. Rush makes his home in Folsom.


Roy Westfall, ’01, MEMBER B.A., Psychology, is an attorney with Dependency Associates. He makes Sacramento his home.

Ben Thielen, ’02, M.A., Government, lives in Washington, D.C. and is a policy analyst for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Timothy D. Cochrane, ’03, MEMBER B.A., Communication Studies, is the general manager of the Hillstone Restaurant Group. A former Associated Students officer, Cochrane now resides in Corona del Mar, Calif.

Marni Culy, ’03, MEMBER B.S., Biological Sciences, ’04, Education Credential (Biological Sciences), is a science teacher at Will C. Wood Middle School in the Sacramento City Unified School District. In addition she is the basketball coach, an advisor for the Science Club and the administrator for the science fair at the school. Culy lives in Rancho Cordova.

Melinda K. McClain, ’03, MEMBER B.A., Government, after serving several years in the California State Legislature, is now a lobbyist for Platinum Advisors and assists with advocacy services for several local government clients while managing the legislative unit. During her tenure in the State Senate, she served Sen. Kevin Murray of Los Angeles County. McClain has several notable accomplishments in the State Legislature and a recent personal achievement: she received a “30 Under 30” award from The Sacramento Observer. The recipients are honored for being among the top young professionals who have the potential for career success. McClain also holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of San Francisco. She lives in Sacramento.

Joyce E. Crawford, ’04, MEMBER B.A., Communication Studies, is a management services technician for the State of California. She is also a notary public. Stained glass projects keep Crawford very busy as does her new Australian Shepherd pup. Since moving to Auburn, she has become an I-80 commuter to her job in downtown Sacramento.

Ellie Constantine, ’06, MEMBER B.S., Biological Sciences, sends news that she is a navigator in the United States Air Force. She lives in Marina, Calif.

Shonquinta Jones, ’06, MEMBER B.S., Liberal Studies, returned to Sac State to complete the credential program in May 2008. Jones lives in Sacramento.

Jacquelyn S. Ramsey, ’05, MEMBER B.A., Communication Studies, is an environmental planner for the California Department of Conservation. Ramsey works in the Williamson Act Program which enables local governments to enter into a contract with private landowners that restricts parcels of land to agricultural and open space use. The land remains in the natural environment supporting agricultural production which provides food and fiber to the citizens of the state and critical habitat for wildlife. Ramsey lives in Sacramento.

Matthew Plummer, ’07, B.A., Government, is the project manager for Butte County and Lake Tahoe CCD. He has been accepted at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo for its master’s program in city and regional planning.

June Sugar, ’07, MEMBER B.S., Gerontology, is a registered nurse at Kaiser Permanente. With her new degree in gerontology, she is looking for a career opportunity in the public policy arena.

Allison Leigh Williams, ’07, MEMBER B.S., Accountancy and Finance, works for Pacific Ethanol as a cost accountant and will marry on Sept. 25. She is in the middle of leading an initiative with Mothers without Borders to get medical supplies to a neonatal center in Zambia and next year will be traveling to Zambia to assist with the distribution of supplies. Williams resides in Folsom.

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