Distinguished Alumni

President Paul J. ZinggIt is important for California State University, Chico to recognize its outstanding alumni for a variety of reasons. Our outstanding alumni are among the leaders in their chosen vocations and professions and are those to whom we turn for assistance in ensuring the integrity of our academic programs.

Our distinguished alumni are fondly remembered by the faculty as inquisitive students and often as personal friends, both of which make teaching such a rewarding career. Recognizing our most talented and successful alumni reaffirms that they, like those many before them and thousands to follow, give life and reality to the legacy and contributions of California State University, Chico. Our most accomplished alumni, then, represent what it is we do well when we do our best, and for them we are grateful.

—Paul J. Zingg, President

2014 Distinguished Alumni

California State University, Chico honored these eight distinguished alumni at the 21st annual Distinguished Alumni Recognition Dinner on April 11th, 2014.

Photograph of recipient

Trena Kimler-Richards

College of Agriculture
BS Agriculture Business, Class of 1982
Teaching Credential, Class of 1984
MS Interdisciplinary Studies, Class of 2002

Current Position:
Agriculture Science Instructor, Program Coordinator, and Ag Leadership Advisor, Shasta Community College

Trena Kimler-Richards grew up in a family immersed in developing and running sole proprietorships. Her family owned everything from Hallmark and candy stores to ranches and feed stores. She was also very involved in the Nevada Union High School Future Farmers program. Following graduation from Chico, Kimler-Richards taught at Red Bluff High School. She returned to Chico State to work for the College of Agriculture as an outreach specialist and part-time lecturer while she completed her master’s degree. Kimler-Richards has taught a wide variety of agriculture classes at Shasta Community College for the past six years. These courses, coupled with a sustainable 90-acre comprehensive college farm, provide students with a solid knowledge about agriculture systems. She strongly believes that her family’s entrepreneurialism and strong work ethic, along with the leadership, marketing, and public-speaking skills that she acquired early on, set the groundwork for her future success.

More former College of Agriculture Honorees

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Dr. Edward J. Rollins

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
BA Political Science, Class of 1968
BS Physical Education, Class of 1968
Honorary Doctorate, Class of 2012

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

The Honorable Edward Rollins is a Senior Advisor with Teneo Strategy. In addition, Mr. Rollins is the senior presidential fellow at Hofstra University's Center for the Study of the American Presidency in New York, and works for Fox News as a senior political analyst.

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.

More former College of Behavioral and Social Sciences Honorees

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Debra A. Cannon

College of Business
BA American Studies, Class of 1977

Current Position:
Co-Founder and C.F.O. of LuLu's Fashion Lounge

Obsessed with fashion, aesthetics and culture, Debra Cannon, has mixed business savvy with a passion for family and place. Debra came to Chico State from Oakland, CA as a freshman in 1968. Detours into the counter culture, marriage and motherhood resulted in a non-linear degree but a very rewarding student life peppered with local color of the Chico community. Debra graduated at the top of her class with a degree in American Studies and went on to the University of Oregon School of Library Science. She held library positions with Meriam Library, Butte County and Chico Unified. In 1996, Debra and her daughter Colleen Winter founded LuLu's Fashion Lounge, a boutique in downtown which blossomed into a retail destination, along with GiGi Shoe Parlour. Lulus.com began in 2005 and now this successful enterprise occupies a 20,000 sq. ft. warehouse, employing 115 Chicoans.

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Michael A. Shea

College of Communication & Education
BA Design and Communication, Class of 1984
Minor in Art and Industrial Technology, Class of 1984

Current Position:
Principal and Founder, School+Jackson, Inc.

Growing up in the Midwest, Michael became interested in art and design at a very young age. In his teens, he moved to Palm Springs California, where he was inspired by the plethora of mid-century architecture. He chose to study at California State University, Chico and received a degree in Design and Communication, with a minor in Art and Industrial Technology in 1984. In 1993, Michael received his Masters in Design degree from North Carolina State University. His professional career has covered a wide variety of creative opportunities with both independent design firms and internal corporate Creative Director roles with several major brands. When not in the studio, Michael enjoys spending time with his family, making art, travel, and enjoying the outdoors in and around Portland, Oregon.

More former College of Communication and Education Honorees

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Robert Salmon

College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management
BS Computer Science, Class of 1990

Current Position:
Executive Vice President, Worldwide Field Operations, NetApp

Rob Salmon was one of the first members of the sales organization at NetApp in 1994. Now, as the executive vice president of Worldwide Field Operations, Salmon leads a team of over 4,000 professionals in 50 countries. He is responsible for the strategy and execution of all sales and services operations including the ecosystem of go-to-market partners. While running a Fortune 400 global organization is time consuming, Salmon prioritizes the most important people in his life: his wife Patty and sons Michael, 14, and Greg, 11. He also takes pride in his involvement with the Asian American Donor Program, the Fairfield High School Staff Scholarship, and the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, for which he has completely shaved his head three times in support of the fight against childhood cancers.

More former College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management Honorees

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Mary Rolland

College of Humanities & Fine Arts
BA Art, Class of 1967

Mary Rolland’s self-determination began in Chico at the early age of eight years old. She bravely took off her water wings at the One Mile swimming pool and started to swim. Rolland attended Chico State as an art major, and was a member of Cardinal Key National Honor Society. Following graduation in 1967, Rolland won a contest for a pair of Head Skis, which sent her to Sun Valley, Idaho, to learn how to use them. She painted in Sun Valley for 11 years, before moving to New York City in 1980. Determined to stay in New York, Rolland purchased a loft in SoHo, set up a painting studio, and entered the art scene with a distinct but different approach: private studio visits, which provided enough income to support her painting. Rolland is forever grateful for the leadership of the art department at Chico State, especially Ken Morrow. She has recently established the Mary K. Rolland Scholarship Endowment Fund for Fine Arts at Chico State.

More former College of Humanities and Fine Arts Honorees

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Craig W. Lindsley, PhD

College of Natural Sciences
BS Chemistry, Class of 1992

Current Position:
Professor, Pharmacology and Chemistry, Vanderbilt University; Director, Medicinal Chemistry for the Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery

Dr. Craig Lindsley is a professor of pharmacology and chemistry and director of Medicinal Chemistry for the Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery. Lindsley graduated from Chico with a BS in Chemistry, received his PhD at UC Santa Barbara, and pursued postdoctoral studies at Harvard University. Lindsley worked at Eli Lilly and Co. and Merck & Co. pioneering allosteric modulation in positions of increasing responsibility before moving to Vanderbilt in 2006. He is the founding editor-in-chief of ACS Chemical Neuroscience, and has received numerous awards including: the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET)-Astellas Award, the American Chemical Society Philip S. Portoghese Medicinal Chemistry Lectureship Award, and the John J. Abel Award in Pharmacology from ASPET. Lindsley holds 35 issued U.S. patents and has published more than 300 manuscripts.

More former College of Natural Sciences Honorees

Photograph of recipient

Donald Carlsen

Distinguished Alumni Service Award
BS Accounting, Class of 1969

Current Position:
Observer, National Football League

Don Carlsen has long been dedicated to education. For 31 years, he worked for the Chico Unified School District and the Butte County Office of Education. Carlsen’s hobby, officiating football games, became his secondary career, leading to 24 years in the NFL as No. 39. One might think that a full-time job and a weekend gig for 17-plus weeks each fall (Carlsen had 19 postseason assignments) would mean there wouldn't be time for volunteering, but when Carlsen is concerned, that assumption would be wrong. He has served Chico State’s Century Club, Wildcat Boosters Club, Blue Ribbon Sports Committee, Athletic Hall of Fame Committee, Advisory Board, Chico Chapter of the Alumni Association Board, and the Alumni Association Board. It is difficult to find anyone more dedicated than Carlsen to the success of Chico State and its students.

More former Distinguished Alumni Service Award Recipients

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Distinguished Alumni

Current Year: 2014
21st Distinguished Alumni


List of All Years

First Year: 1994
1st Distinguished Alumni

Distinguished Alumni by College

Agriculture
Behavioral & Social Sciences
Business
Communication & Education
Engineering, Computer Science, & Construction Management
Humanities & Fine Arts
Natural Sciences
Service Award