Behavioral and Social Sciences

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Dr. Edward J. Rollins

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
BA Politicial Science, Class of 1968
BS Physical Education, Class of 1968
Honorary Doctorate, Class of 2012
Honor Year: 2014

Current Position:
Senior Advisor, Teneo Strategy; Senior Presidential Fellow, Hofstra University Center for the Study of the American Presidency; Senior Political Analyst, Fox News

Dr. Edward J. Rollins has served four U.S. Presidents. He played key roles in the Reagan administration, and in 1984, he managed President Ronald Reagan's re-election campaign, winning 49 of 50 states. He was the first non-member of Congress to serve as the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee and the as the chief political advisor to the House Republican leadership. He also served four years as the senior advisor to the chairman of the Republican National Committee. Before his Washington service, Rollins was the chief of staff and the assistant to the speaker of the California Assembly. He was inducted into the American Association of Political Consultants Hall of Fame in 2011. His memoir, Bare Knuckles and Back Rooms, published in 1996, made the New York Times best-seller list. Rollins was a 2010 recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and in 2012, the CSU Board of Trustees awarded Rollins with an honorary doctorate.

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Rear Admiral Robert L. Toney

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
BA Social Sciences (Pre-Law), Class of 1957
Honor Year: 2013

Current Position:
Retired Rear Admiral, US Navy

Rear Admiral Robert L. Toney was commissioned as an ensign in the United States Navy in 1957. Admiral Toney’s naval career spanned 34 years. He commanded four organizations with the Navy and received numerous honors and decorations including the Defense Meritorious Medal, the Navy Meritorious Service Medal with Oakleaf Cluster, and the Vietnam Service Medal. He completed NATO Defense College in Rome, and the National and International Security Course at Harvard University. He holds honorary doctorates from National Defense University and Golden Gate University. Admiral Toney retired from the military in 1994 and moved from a life devoted to public service to a life devoted to community service. He has served on several boards including the CSU, Chico Advisory Board.

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Robert Christopherson

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
BA Geography and History, Class of 1969
Honor Year: 2012

Robert Christopherson is a professor emeritus of geography following 30 years of teaching at American River College and received teaching awards at college, state, and national levels. He also is the author of the leading textbooks for colleges and universities in physical geography/Earth systems science in the United States and Canada. Christopherson earned his MA in geography from Miami University, Ohio. His wife, Bobbé, serves as photographer and production assistant on his textbooks, which have received several national awards. Together, the Christophersons have completed 12 expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Christopherson has been recognized for excellence in teaching with the 1999 Distinguished Teaching Achievement Award from the National Council for Geographic Education and the Outstanding Educator Award from the California Geographical Society. In 2009, he was elected to the Textbook and Authors' Association prestigious Council of Fellows. He says the systems approach in his books and the applied topical themes are rooted in his undergrad training at Chico.

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Nancy Barceló

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
BA Social Work, Class of 1969
Honor Year: 2011

A nationally recognized professional presenter and author of numerous publications, including Chicana/Latina Studies: The Journal of Mujeres Activas, Dr. Nancy “Rusty” Barceló formally took office as president of Northern New Mexico College in Espanola, New Mexico, on July 1, 2010. Barceló has extensive experience as a teaching professional and is recognized as a respected authority on the issues of equity and diversity in higher education. She received the Distinguished Educator in Diversity Award from the University of Iowa, served as vice president and vice provost for minority affairs and diversity at the University of Washington, and served as vice president and vice provost for equity and diversity at the University of Minnesota. Barceló is also an avid bicyclist, accomplished storyteller, songwriter, and guitarist.

Jameela Bint Mohammad Al-Qasimi

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
BA Psychology, Class of 1982
Honor Year: 2010

Shaikha Jameela bint Mohammad Al-Qasimi is devoted to her work as an advocate for the rights of the disabled, children, and humans in general. She serves as the Director General for Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services and has been instrumental in the set-up of new services for the disabled and their families including schools servicing deaf and hard of hearing, mentally handicapped, and autistic children. She earned her EMBA in 2004 from the American University of Sharjah. The Shaikha is currently seeing one of her dream projects come to fulfillment with the establishment of one-of-a-kind private center for psychiatric and mental patients in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. She is also at work establishing a center for early intervention for at risk children in Cairo, Egypt.

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Amy Zelson Mundorff

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
MA Anthropology, Class of 1999
Honor Year: 2009

Prior to pursuing her PhD, Amy Zelson Mundorff worked for five years as a full-time forensic anthropologist in the office of the New York City Chief Medical Examiner. While there she worked on approximately 250 forensic anthropology cases and served as a core member of the World Trade Center Identification team. In addition, Mundorff assisted in the identification of victims from the crash of American Airlines flight 587, the Staten Island Ferry crash, and victims of the Boxing Day Tsunami in Phuket, Thailand. Mundorff herself is a 9/11 survivor, having been caught in the debris of the collapsing South Tower of the World Trade Center.

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A. Robert Linscheid

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
BA Public Administration, Class of 1976
MPA, Class of 1978
Honor Year: 2008

Currently serving as the Alumni Trustee to the CSU Board of Trustees, A. Robert (Bob) Linscheid is also the general manager of the Chico Outlaws Professional Baseball Club. Linscheid has a long record of serving the University as a member of the University Foundation Board of Governors, president of the Alumni Association, and Chico State representative and president of the systemwide CSU Alumni Council. He also serves as president and CEO of the Chico Economic Planning Corporation, and as president and CEO of the Butte County Economic Development Corporation. Linscheid is a member of Rotary International and served as the district chair of the Polio Eradication Program.

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Mary J. Kight

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
BA Social Welfare, Class of 1973
Honor Year: 2007

Brigadier General Mary J. Kight is the Assistant Adjutant General for the California National Guard.  She serves as a military assistant and advisor to The Adjutant General for Army and Air National Guard matters in the state of California.  After graduating from Chico State, General Kight enlisted in the active duty Air Force and received her commission in 1974. Kight left active duty in 1981 and joined the Nebraska Air National Guard. She returned to her home state of California in 1984 and has risen through the ranks. Kight has received several major awards and decorations including the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.

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Karen Seccombe Meenan

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
BS Business Administration, Class of 1974
Honor Year: 2006

Karen Seccombe is a professor in the School of Community Health at Portland State University, located in Portland, Oregon. She received her B.A. in Sociology at California State University, Chico, her M.S.W. in Health and Social Welfare policy from the University of Washington, and her Ph.D. in sociology from Washington State University.

Her research focuses on poverty, welfare, access to healthcare, and the effects of social inequality on families. She is the author of “So You Think I Drive A Cadillac?”: Welfare Recipients’ Perspectives on the System and its Reform (Pearson); Families and Their Social Worlds (Pearson); Just Don’t Get Sick: Access to Healthcare in the Aftermath of Welfare Reform, with Kim A. Hoffman (Rutgers University Press); and Families in Poverty (Pearson).

She is a fellow in the National Council on Family Relations, and a member of the American Sociological Association and the Pacific Sociological Association, where she has held elective offices. Karen lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband Richard, a health economist, her ten-year-old daughter, Natalie Rose, and her eight-year-old daughter, Olivia Lin. In her spare time she enjoys hiking with her family near their cabin in the Oregon Cascades, kayaking and cycling in the San Juan Islands, and exploring the kid-friendly attractions in Portland, of which there are many.

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Blaire Harms

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
BA International Relations, Class of 1990
Honor Year: 2005

In a military career that started with the ROTC in Chico, Blaire Harms has traveled the globe and has distinguished herself in her roles as an educator, counselor, and executive officer at the United States Military Academy (USMA). She earned her Master's degree in Political Science from Rutgers University. Harms recently completed strategic arts training in preparation for her role at the United States Pacific Command at Fort Shafter in Hawaii, but has been redirected to assist in the tsunami relief effort. She is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and received an Army Commendation Medal in recognition of her coordination and execution of a USMA outreach visit to Baghdad University.

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Michael A. Messner

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
BA Social Science, Class of 1974
MA Sociology, Class of 1976
Honor Year: 2004

Dr. Michael A. Messner is a professor of sociology and gender studies at the University of Southern California, and has served as Sociology Department Chair since 2001. Messner has written 9 books including his most recent, Taking the Field: Women, Men and Sports (2002), and Power at Play: Sports and the Problem of Masculinity (1992), winner of the 1993 Book of the Year Award from the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport. He has written more than 70 other publications and has delivered more than 55 invited lectures and keynote addresses. In addition, Messner serves as a member on several editorial boards and serves on the Women’s Sports Foundation Advisory Board.

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Kathleen Kendall-Tackett

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
BS Psychology, Class of 1982
MA Developmental Psychology, Class of 1984
Honor Year: 2003

Dr. Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, author of The Hidden Feelings of Motherhood: Coping with Stress, Depression, and Burnout, chairs the New Hampshire for La Leche League International. In her role as research associate for the Family Research Laboratory, Kendall-Tackett co-chairs the International Family Violence Research Conference. Recently board certified as an international lactation consultant, she received the 2003 La Leche League International Award for Leaders. Kendall-Tackett has a disability that limits the number of hours she can work each week, an experience that motivates her to work on behalf of patients and people with disabilities.

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Shirley Rush

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
BA Sociology, Class of  1986
BS Psychology, Class of 1986
Honor Year: 2002

Shirley Rush, MSW, LCSW, started her personal journey to a career in social work as a single-parent re-entry student at CSU, Chico in 1981. Rush surpassed her educational goals for herself by earning a master of social work degree. She developed her own social work field placement in Managua, Nicaragua. Rush served as the Co-director of Davis Community Clinic and Program Director of Counseling Services before relocating to Maine. Working at a community mental health center, Rush helped to develop an assessment clinic for Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Rush joined the faculty of UMPI in 1998, and teaches Human Behavior, Practice, Policy, Ethnicity, Community Mental Health Care, and Incest/Sexual Abuse.

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Wayne Wooden

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
BA Social Science, Class of 1965
Honor Year: 2001

Dr. Wayne S. Wooden is a national authority on youth culture and has published five books, several of which were nominated for distinguished awards. His most recent publication (2nd edition), Renegade Kids, Suburban Outlaws: From Youth Culture to Delinquency is a study of white, middle class youth in suburbia. His work has also been published in the New York Times, and Psychology Today. In 1995, Wooden was honored as the Cal Poly, Pomona Professor of the Year. Wooden is also regarded as an expert in professional rodeo and has written on women and professional boxing.

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Mike Thompson

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
BA Public Administration, Class of 1982
MA Public Administration, Class of 1996
Honor Year: 2000

Mike Thompson is a freshman again -- Not a freshman in college, but a freshman in Congress. Thompson, elected to California's 1st District in 1998, is set on working his way up the ranks in Congress, and he currently serves on the House Agriculture and Armed Forces Committees. Thompson graduated from CSU, Chico with a B.A. in public administration and economics in 1982 and received his master's of public administration, also from Chico State, in 1996. Thompson was born and raised in California's wine country and has owned a small vineyard himself. Before his successful run for Congress, Thompson served as a legislative staffer and was a state senator for eight years. At 17, Thompson joined the U.S. Army where he served for three years, including a tour in Vietnam. Since entering the political arena, Thompson has received numerous awards and honors, including Freshman Legislator of the Year from the California School Boards Association, and the 1995 Distinguished Service Award from the AIDS Project Los Angeles.

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Donald W. Upson

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
BA Economics, Class of 1977
BA International Relations, Class of 1977
Honor Year: 1999

Donald W. Upson serves as the Commonwealth of Virginia's first Secretary of Technology. Appointed by Governor Jim Gilmore on May 21, 1998, Upson brings more than two decades of government, corporate, and high technology experience to the Commonwealth of Virginia. His position is the country's first cabinet-level post that combines operational authority over the state's technology infrastructure with policy responsibility for creating a "best practice" technology business environment. Upson graduated from CSU, Chico in 1977 with degrees in economics and international relations. Following graduation, Upson held the positions of legislative assistant and principal assistant to Congressman Fran Horton (R-NY). He later became the Republican staff director of the House Government Operations Committee, where he directed a staff of seventeen and played a major role in procurement reform initiatives, the Paperwork Reduction Act, the Chief Financial Officer's Act, the Inspector General Act, and a host of trade-related legislation. In 1977, Upson was an intern for the United States Congress. Upson joined Litton PRC in 1992, where he was vice president of strategic communication. In that position, he acted as the company's principal contact with Capitol Hill and key executive branch officials on major program and policy interests of the company. He was also named for five years to Federal Computer Week's Federal 100, which honors the top 100 government and industry leaders in the federal information technology market, and served as judge for this prestigious awards ceremony for two years.


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Natalie Birk

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
BA Social Science, Class of 1982
Honor Year: 1998

Natalie Birk has recently relocated to Chicago, Illinois, and has completed her first nonfiction book. She is co-founding the U.S. affiliate of Anti-Slavery International, which is the lead Western organization funding anti-slavery work on the ground in the African country of Mauritania.

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Dr. Dennis L. Hefner

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
BA Economics, Class of 1967
Honor Year: 1997

Dr. Dennis L. Hefner received a B.A., Economics, in 1967 from California State, Chico and an M.A., Economics, in 1969, and Ph.D., Economic, in 1971, from Washington State University. Dr. Hefner also held a number of administrative and faculty positions at CSU, Chico, from 1976-90, the University of Maryland from 1970-72, and Washington State University from 1967-69. He was Vice President for Academic Affairs and professor of Economics at California State University, San Bernardino, from 1990-94, and was transition team leader at CSU, Monterey Bay, in 1994. He has previously served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. In addition, he was Director of research PAID Prescriptions, Inc. in California and an economist and social research analyst for the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Hefner served as president of SUNY Fredonia between 1996 and 2012. In 2013, The State University of New York Board of Trustees has voted unanimously to appoint Dr. Dennis L. Hefner as Interim President of SUNY Potsdam.

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Sandy Lerner

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
BA International Relations, Class of 1975
Honorary Doctorate, 2012 Recipient
Honor Year: 1996

Sandy Lerner co-founded Cisco Systems, Inc., maker of the first commercially viable router, a device that allows computer networks to expand and create networks of networks, which we now know as The Internet. Lerner was one of the first female philanthropists to emerge from the Silicon Valley boom era. She created a charitable foundation and trust that would fund her projects; her main interest is animal welfare. After Lerner stepped away from her position at Cisco, she came up with an idea for a cosmetics line that steered clear of the standard girlish pinks and reds in nail polish and lipstick. Inspired in part by the dark-red, nearly black “Vamp” nail color introduced by Chanel that was selling out at makeup counters across North America, Lerner decided to create a line of alternative shades of lipstick and nail color. In mid-1995, she founded the company, called Urban Decay, which was later sold to the luxury conglomerate LVMH. Lerner earned her BA in international relations at California State University in Chico, finishing in two years with distinction, and began graduate school at Claremont College outside of Los Angeles. She was particularly fascinated by comparative political studies, but came to realize there was likely little financial gain in it (i.e., no job). She earned her MA in econometrics and her MS in statistics and computer science at Stanford University. Not surprisingly, Lerner ran the computer facility for the Graduate School of Business at Stanford, before leaving to establish Cisco.

Lerner received an honorary doctorate at the 2012 undergraduate commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 19, and gave the commencement address at both undergraduate ceremonies.


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Harry M. Marsh

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
BA Political Science, Class of 1970
Honor Year: 1995

No biographical information is available at this time

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Barry Hewlett

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
MA General Anthropology, Class of 1971
Honor Year: 1994

Barry S. Hewlett is currently a professor at WSU-Vancouver. He received his A.B. in Cultural Transmission (a self-designed major) from California State University, Chico in 1971 and his M.A. in Anthropology from the same institution in 1977. After working several years for child development and social service agencies, he returned to graduate school at the University of California, Santa Barbara and obtained his Ph.D. in 1987. His dissertation became the basis of a monograph, Intimate Fathers: The Nature and Context of Aka Pygmy Paternal Infant Care (1991). His current research interests include the cultural nexus of the Aka and Ngandu infant development, the cultural contexts of various tropical diseases, the impact of new African tropical forest parks and reserves on the local people, and cultural transmission and biocultural evolution.

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Distinguished Alumni

Current Year: 2014
21st Distinguished Alumni


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First Year: 1994
1st Distinguished Alumni

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