Distinguished Faculty

Sarah Pike Outstanding Professor 2004/2005

Sarah Pike, Department of Religious Studies, received this award for her publications (which include two books); her national reputation in the fields of religion in America, women and religion, and new religious movements; as well as for her exemplary teaching and service to the University.

Pike received a PhD from Indiana University. Since coming to CSU, Chico in 1996, she has taught many different courses, including Religion and America’s Ethnic Minorities; Violence in American Religious History; Religion, Nature, and Environmentalism in America; and Gender, Family, and God.

Joel Zimbelman, chair of religious studies, said of Pike’s teaching, "Students let us know of their appreciation each semester by the enrollments that we see in her courses."

Pike’s most recent book is New Age and Neopagan Religions in America. In 2001, she published Earthly Bodies, Magical Selves: Contemporary Pagans and the Search for Community. The books, according to Zimbelman, established her as "the leading scholar in these areas of contemporary religion in America."

Pike has published six articles in professional journals and contributed substantive entries in five leading encyclopedias. She has made nearly two dozen presentations at regional and national conferences, received nine research grants, and published numerous book reviews.

Pike was chair of the Religious Movements Group of the American Academy of Religion, a national organization of 10,000 scholars in religion.

"Sarah Pike is a splendid colleague–tireless in her work, accessible to students and colleagues, demanding and passionate about her work, and committed to making CSU, Chico a better place academically, intellectually, and in its support for and nurturing of students," said Zimbelman.

Tom Fahey Outstanding Professor 2005/2006

Thomas Fahey, a member of the Department of Kinesiology since 1984, has published extensively, is known internationally for his work in exercise physiology, receives top evaluations from his students, and participates in the World Games as a discus thrower.

Fahey received his EdD in 1972 from the University of California, Berkeley. His area of emphasis was exercise physiology with a minor in motor development and biomechanics. His textbook, co-authored with George Brooks, Exercise Physiology: Bioenergetics and Its Applications, is used in exercise physiology graduate courses throughout the United States and worldwide. Fahey’s publications include 19 books, 38 refereed journal articles, and more than 200 professional articles in journals and popular magazines.

Known internationally, Fahey was a guest lecturer at the University of Puerto Rico in 2004. He has been invited to speak at numerous conferences and symposia on sports medicine, and he established an international exchange between CSU, Chico and the Institute of Sport in Warsaw, Poland, in 1994.

Scott Roberts, a former student and current colleague of Fahey’s, credits Fahey with helping determine the course of his career through inspiration, guidance, and example. "Dr. Fahey always takes time for his students, staying after class and talking with them for as long as they have questions," said Roberts. "He has a remarkable command of exercise science and sports medicine literature."

Fahey has continued to participate as a discus thrower in the World Games. In 2003, Fahey won the gold medal in the discus for the world championship.

Robert E. Thomas Outstanding Teacher 2005/2006

With a PhD from Kent State University, Robert E. Thomas, Department of Biological Sciences, came to CSU, Chico in 1966, and over the span of 40 years taught a wide array of courses and garnered a number of awards, including the Outstanding Professor Award–twice.

Even as Thomas finished his teaching career, his rigorous teaching did not diminish. He worked hard over the years to maintain a high standard of excellence and to ensure consistent evaluation of his students’ academic performance. He maintained his standards and expectations of high achievement while regularly updating his courses and strengthening his excellent record of academic advising for pre-professional students. In the last six years, 42 CSU, Chico graduates have entered MD, PhD, DDS, DO, or DVM programs, many as a result of Thomas’s guidance.

His students raved about him. His enjoyment of teaching and helping students was apparent in his interactions with students in class and his willingness to engage students outside of the classroom. He served as faculty advisor for the Pre-Med Association for 13 years.

"Alumni that I talk to often ask after Dr. Thomas," said Patricia Edelmann, chair of the Department of Biological Sciences. "They tell me what an influence he has been on their personal and academic lives, and that he is one of the professors they really remember."

Post-baccalaureate biology major Anna Panighetti said, "Other students with whom I spoke agreed that Dr. Thomas’ gift for teaching stems from the fact that he truly enjoys what he does."

Jim Postma Oustanding Faculty Service 2004/2005

Jim Postma graduated from CSU, Chico in 1974 with a BS in chemistry. He received a PhD in chemistry from UC Davis in 1982 and returned to CSU, Chico that same year to work in the Department of Chemistry.

Postma is praised by his colleagues for going above and beyond the ordinary demands of his faculty job description to serve students, the campus, and the community.

The College of Natural Sciences and the Department of Chemistry have also benefited from Postma’s talent and leadership. Postma served as chair of the chemistry department for two terms. Randy Miller, a colleague in the department, said, "I appreciate the leadership and spirit of cooperation he fostered. He provided a vision for the department as we worked through some difficult budgetary constraints."

He has been representative to the California Science Project and chair of the Chemistry Department Advisory Board. Postma has served multiple terms on the Academic Senate, chairing it for two terms. He has been the secretary for the Senate and served on the General Policies Committee, the Educational Policies Committee, and the Faculty and Student Policies Committee.

Postma had a leadership role in the President’s Task Force on the Future of CSU, Chico in 1994. "Jim was always urging and willing to help in the process, to transform ideas into concrete proposals that could be assessed and stand or fall on their merit," said sociology professor Kathy Kaiser, with whom he served on that task force.

Kathleen Kaiser Oustanding Faculty Service 2005/2006

After receiving a PhD in sociology from Duke University, Kathleen Kaiser joined CSU, Chico as a faculty member in the Department of Sociology in 1972. She has served as chair of the department, interim associate dean for the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, director of the Applied Sociology Internship Program, and recently as a CSU Faculty Trustee to the CSU Board of Trustees.

Paul Spear, chair of the Department of Psychology at CSU, Chico, said, "To be so highly recognized by the faculty representatives of the entire CSU system and to be appointed by the governor as the sole faculty trustee is not only a high honor, but reflects the confidence and respect they have for Kathy in representing the faculty voice." On the board she served as lead trustee on the issue of sustainability.

Kaiser chaired the CSU General Education Advisory Committee and the GE Course Review Committee, the CSU Virtual University Design Team, the Forgivable Loan/Doctoral Incentive Program, and other CSU level committees.

She was a founding member of the Northern California Higher Education Council subcommittee to support women’s educational programs. And she conducted workshops on educational equity, sexism, and women’s educational programs across the North State.

She has served CSU, Chico’s Academic Senate on the Executive Committee and the Educational Policies and Plans Committee. She has written letters of recommendation for students for numerous awards. Adam Dondro, former Associated Students president, said, "Dr. Kaiser was always available to help, whether it was on committee work, personal work, or efforts the Associated Students were undertaking."

Peter Kittle Outstanding Academic Advisor 2004/2005

Peter Kittle received a BS in English education, an MA in English, and a PhD in English, all from the University of Oregon. He came to CSU, Chico in 1998 and has taught Reading Literature; Literature of the Child; Advanced Composition for Future Teachers; and Literature, Language, and Composition: A Synthesis, in the Department of English.

Kittle is co-director of the Northern California Writing Project and routinely provides in-service education in academic literacy for secondary teachers. Kittle advises more than 100 English education students and incoming credential students. Four years ago, as the new English education advisor, he established a Web site used by subject-matter competency and pre-credential candidates in the Chico area.

Kittle works with other single-subject advisors on campus and keeps abreast of campus developments in teacher education. He regularly attends CSU English Council meetings. He served on the panel that created the new state standards for approved subject-matter programs in English and is in close contact with developments at the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

The National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) selected Kittle as an Outstanding Advising Certificate of Merit recipient. NACADA’s National Awards Program for Academic Advising honors individuals and institutions that make significant contributions to the improvement of academic advising.

Larry Hanne Outstanding Academic Advisor 2005/2006

Since joining the CSU, Chico faculty in 1983, Larry Hanne has served as the academic advisor for students majoring in the Microbiology-Clinical Laboratory Science option. He has also been graduate advisor in the biological sciences department and chair of the graduate committee. He works closely with new graduate students, orienting them to the program, thus helping to insure their success.

In addition to academic advising, Hanne continues to co-chair Omega Theta Epsilon, the biology honors club, and helped establish the student chapter of the American Society for Microbiology, serving as its faculty advisor.

Hanne takes his students into the community to see microbiologists at work. This gives students the opportunity to see what jobs are available, and the experience enhances the students’ education by linking classroom theory to real-world practice. Over the last 10 years, he has organized five career days for biology/microbiology students. These events allow students to talk with professionals in careers associated with biology.

Former student Traci Baptista, currently a senior public health microbiologist with Butte County Public Health, describes Hanne’s availability: "Dr. Hanne’s office door was always open. As a student, I found myself in his office seeking help when I needed a greater explanation of subject matter."

Hanne received a PhD in 1981 from the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Dallas. He was a post-doctoral researcher at Oregon Health Sciences University before coming to CSU, Chico. Hanne has 11 publications in scientific journals, two in education journals, and another dozen abstracts published with co-authors.

Professional Achievement Honors

Faculty are recognized for distinguishing themselves through engagement with students in research or creative activities, enhancing learning environments inside and outside the classroom, and for contributing to the University’s present and future. Faculty are nominated by deans and selected by the Academic Senate’s Faculty Recognition and Support Committee.


David Ball, Chemistry, mentors undergraduate students by involving them in research projects and co-authoring publications with them.

Tonya Emerson, Engineering, makes community service central in her classes. The American Society of Civil Engineering named her K–12 Minds in Motion project the "Best Student Outreach Event" in 2003.

Duane Knudson, Kinesiology, has made substantial contributions to the discipline of biomechanics through his writing and service to national and international groups.

Esther Delgado-Larocco, Education, has worked in CSU, Chico’s Center for Bilingual/Multicultural Studies for 21 years. She directs the master’s degree program for linguistically and culturally diverse learning.

Thomas Mattman, Mathematics and Statistics, has established an impressive record of research and obtained several large grants to fund summer research programs for undergraduates.

Cynthia Siemsen, Sociology, specializes in social psychology, the sociology of law, and sociological theory. She is the author of Emotional Trials: The Moral Dilemmas of Women Criminal Defense Attorneys.

Dale Steiner, History, is the teaching credential advisor for the Department of History. He has also been the University’s Outstanding Teacher and Outstanding Academic Advisor.

Mark Tomita, Health and Community Services, is nationally recognized for his work in health education and public health informatics.


Lisa Churchill, Professional Studies in Education, is an expert in the Special Education field, actively presenting and publishing nationally.

Ron Hirschbein, Philosophy, is committed to the cause of peace and the academic pursuit of knowledge about peace and war. In 2004, he helped organize the Peace Institute at CSU, Chico.

William M. Murphy, Geological and Environmental Sciences, conducts international research with leading scientists in geochemistry. He is an administrative judge for the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Byron Wolfe, Communication Design, is a nationally recognized photographer whose work has been published in several books and in numerous exhibitions across the country.

Xueli Zou, Physics, uses her experiences as a two-time National Science Foundation research scholar to develop pedagogy for the introductory physics courses. She has been invited to speak at academic meetings throughout the country and is the co-author of two textbooks.