College of Natural Sciences 2016 Commencement Ceremony
Sunday, May 22, 2016
9:00 am, gates open at 7:30 am
*tickets required for entry
Neil Schwertman 2014 - 2015
Neil graduated from Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Kentucky in 1958, and enrolled at the United States Naval Academy in the Fall of 1960. Neil earned his bachelor’s degree in math in 1964 from Annapolis and served in the U.S. Navy as part of the submarine force for a little over 5 years. Neil returned to college at the University of Kentucky in 1969 and earned his Ph.D. in Applied Statistics in 1974.
Later that same year, Neil joined the Mathematics Department at Chico State. He served twice as Department Chair; the first time from 1977-79 and again from 1995-97. Neil served on numerous committees at the Department, School/College, and University level. Neil authored or coauthored approximately 60 published papers and delivered numerous colloquia and talks at professional meetings. Neil tried to involve students in his research whenever possible. He was very active as a statistical consultant for graduate students, faculty and off-campus clients. Neil was made a Fellow of the American Statistical Association in 1996 and at that time, he was only the third CSU system-wide faculty member to be selected for this honor.
Neil taught every possible statistics class during his time at Chico State. Teaching these courses was always a source of great joy for him. He continued to teach many of these courses and do statistical consulting during his FERP years from 2002 to 2007. Neil went on to teach for the department as a retired annuitant for 6 more years and for five of those years he taught the honors statistics course as part of the Honors Program. Neil is very proud of being inducted into the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society after being nominated for membership by his honors students. Over the years, Neil sent approximately 30 Chico State students off to graduate school in Statistics at the University of Kentucky. One of those students (Edward Rouldes) is completing his Ph.D. and will be joining the department this fall as a new faculty member. Neil fully retired in December 2012.
Since fully retiring, Neil has remained connected with the department by participating in consulting whenever he was available. He enjoys travelling (recently cruising), fishing and hiking. He has been active in the local Trinity United Methodist Church. Neil credits much of his success to the support he has always enjoyed from his wife Marcia. Neil and Marcia both really enjoy the time they spend with their daughters and their granddaughter Matilda.
Thomas McCready 2013 - 2014
Tom graduated from Sonora Union High School in Sonora, California, and enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley in the Fall of 1958. There he happened to met both Phil Gash and Jim Regas. Tom earned his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics in 1962, and later completed his Ph.D. in Mathematics from Stanford University in 1968.
Tom joined the Mathematics Department of then - Chico State College in 1968. He served twice as Department Chair. First from 1970-73 and then a marathon 8 years in a row from 1985-93 – which is when I first met Tom as the Mechanical Engineering Department Chair.
Most of Tom’s teaching prior to 1993 was in either probability/statistics or the four-semester sequence of courses in mathematics for elementary school teachers. Teaching was always a source of great joy for him. Tom was a big believer in the importance of general education. In the early 1990's, Tom worked with the Mathematics Department, as well as the - then Department of Geosciences, to develop five courses for inclusion in various Upper-Division Themes. He taught four of these courses on a regular basis until his retirement in 2001. During his FERP years from 2001 to 2006, Tom served as the Theme Coordinator for the American Identities and Cultures Theme. Tom continued teaching these courses well past his FERP years and only recently fully retired in 2011.
Since fully retiring, Tom’s main focus has been his family -- wife, Kathy, two children, and five grandchildren. Tom has also remained connected with the Department and College, mentoring department chairs and attending lectures, colloquia, and special events. Tom has also done some volunteer math tutoring with junior high and high school students. Besides mathematics, Tom’s current academic interests include classical literature, and he’s recently taken to studying organic chemistry. These recent studies have instilled in Tom a new respect for those Chemistry folks and he finds that work both challenging and rewarding!
Rodger Lederer 2012 - 2013
Dr. Roger J. Lederer was awarded his Ph.D. in Zoology in 1972 from the University of Illinois and was hired as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences in the fall of that year. He was Director of the Eagle Lake Field Station twice from 1973-1977 and 1986-1989, Department Chair from 1979–1986, Associate Dean of the Graduate School from 1988-1991 and was Dean of the College of Natural Sciences from 1991-2001. Roger was instrumental in securing the funding from the Andrew Foundation for the Floyd L. English Natural Sciences Scholarships.
Dr. Lederer’s specialization is in ornithology and he taught and conducted research in this area while at Chico State. He was chair of 25 graduate thesis committees during his tenure and was a member of numerous other graduate committees.
Roger received numerous grants from such agencies as the National Science Foundation, University of California, Department of Energy, Eisenhower Foundation, FIPSE, Toshiba Corporation of America, Chevron Oil Corporation, Applied Materials and Chico State. The funding was for research and projects such as the Eagle Lake Field Station, ornithology research, graduate and undergraduate students research, science education, science teacher development, science summer camps for underrepresented students, the Center for Mathematics and Science Education, and a problem-solving, simulation and teamwork approach to teaching integrated science.
He received a Professional Achievement Award in 1981 and has written more than 30 research papers, a textbook "Ecology and Field Biology", and many books about birds. He regularly writes a column on bird watching for the Chico Enterprise-Record.
After retiring from CSU, Chico Dr. Lederer directed the Bidwell Environmental Institute, now the Institute for Sustainable Development, managed the Big Chico Creek Ecological Reserve, and chaired the local science fair board. He has been a naturalist for cruise lines describing ecology, natural history, and geology for passengers, and has been a consultant for the BBC, National Geographic, National Public Radio and other organizations and publications. Dr. Roger Lederer has traveled to more than 80 countries and you can be sure he knows the native birds in each one of them. He's spent more than 40 years studying and writing about birds.
Larry Kirk 2011 - 2012
Dr. Larry Kirk served as Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry from 1981-2005. He participated in the Faculty Early Retirement Program (FERP) from 2005-2010. Besides teaching courses in Biochemistry, his major emphasis at CSU, Chico has been in mentoring students in research. He worked with over 200 students, both undergraduate and graduate students, during his career. Currently, nine of his students are college professors. He was named the university “Outstanding Research Mentor” for the 2009-2010 academic year. Since 2010, Professor Kirk has continued as a part-time faculty member. He has also continued conducting research with students and his collaborators Dr. Larry Hanne and Dr. Joe Greene. His current research deals with using agricultural waste (rice hulls and rice straw) to make biodegradable plastics and also to follow the microbial breakdown of these plastics. During the spring semester of 2011, Dr. Kirk worked for the Army Corps of Engineers at their facility (Engineer Research & Development Center) in Vicksburg, MS. His research there was conducted in the Environmental Laboratory and consisted of a study of microbial breakdown of explosives. He currently serves as one of the directors of the Big Chico Creek Watershed Alliance and also as a trustee with the Butte County Mosquito & Vector Control District.
Dr. Robert Schlising 2010 - 2011
Dr. Robert Schlising received his Ph.D. in Botany from the University of California at Berkeley in 1966. During the seven following years, Rob taught at Yale University and CSU, Los Angeles prior to accepting a faculty position in the Department of Biological Sciences here at CSU, Chico. Now after thirty years of devoted attention to his students, extensive research on vernal pool and grassland plants and outstanding service to the Northern California community, Rob has decided to retire.
Dr. Faye Johnson 2009 - 2010Dr. Faye Johnson began teaching at CSU,Chico in 1976. She was responsible for the development of the food science portion of NFSC. She had strong connections with the Food Science Department at UC Davis and has done collaborative work with faculty at the institution. Faye was always most willing to teach whatever courses needed to be taught. She taught courses in nutrition as well as foods, and helped develop the graduate program with the contribution of a food science course, which she taught as part of the program for many years. In the early 1990's Faye took over the responsibility of the “DPD” program and took on the food service management program. Faye retired in 2010 after 34 years of service. She continues to be active with the department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, the CDA and ADA. The Dr. Faye Dietetic Internship Award was created on the occasion of Dr. Faye Johnson's retirement from CSU, Chico to honor her for her many contributions and outstanding leadership in the field of dietetics. It is her wish to acknowledge and encourage those students who have chosen internships that reflect their most passionate interests in the field.
Professor Gwin Richter 2008 - 2009
Professor Richter served as Professor of Nursing at Chico State for 35 years, from 1971-2006. Since retiring, she has held the title of Faculty Emerita. In 1991, Professor Richter founded and has served as director of Better Babies Inc., a prenatal center which is part of the California Comprehensive Perinatal Services Program (CPSP). She has been a Certified Childbirth Educator through Lamaze International since 1965, and is also a Certified Lactation Educator through the University of California, San Diego. Professor Richter also worked as a per diem staff nurse in Obstetrics at Enloe Hospital from 1971-1992.
While at Chico State, this well-loved professor taught courses in Maternal-Child Nursing, both Theory and Practicum, Family Nursing, Nursing Role and Foundations of Nursing. She currently teaches the School of Nursing’s online course, Current Concepts Baccalaureate Nursing, a three-unit course on Maternity Nursing, Child Nursing, and Mental Health Nursing. She designed and wrote the Maternity portion and now teaches the entire course for Registered Nurses who are returning to CSU, Chico for the BS degree. She also teaches a Special Problems course Protecting Normal Birth for students interested in supporting women in labor and becoming OB nurses or nurse midwives.
Better Babies is a Service Learning Center in which students learn nursing and teach clients while performing a community service to low-income pregnant and postpartum women and their babies. Better Babies provides the support services portion of prenatal care funded by Medi-Cal for the patients of obstetricians and certified nurse midwives in Chico and surrounding communities. Under Professor Richter’s direction, over 1,000 nursing students have worked with over 5,000 women in during the past 18 years. In serving local clients, Professor Richter regularly collaborates with Opt for Fit Kids, WIC, TAPP, Catalyst, Rape Crisis Center, Touchstone the Butte County Public Health Department and other community agencies. To learn more about Better Babies, click here.
Professor Richter has been an inspiration to thousands of students as well as to her many colleagues. Professor Richter mentors many students interested in going to graduate school to become Nursing Faculty, or to practice Obstetric and Neonatal nursing, midwifery, and medicine. Many of her students are now OB nurses, and certified nurse midwives both locally and elsewhere. Several students have gone to medical school. Dr. Sherry Fox, Director of the School of Nursing, said this about Professor Richter: “I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this recognition than Professor Richter. She founded Better Babies while still a faculty member and continues to manage it full-time in her retirement. The organization provides an outstanding service for women and, additionally, provides service learning opportunities for 100 or more students per year. Professor Richter’s dedication and commitment to the health of local mothers and babies is life-changing for her clients and inspirational to all who know her.” Donations to a fund in her honor to benefit the Childbirth Education Media and Models Training Program may be sent to the School of Nursing, care of Dr. Sherry Fox, CSU, Chico, Chico, CA 95929-0200. Checks may be made out to “CSU, Chico, University Foundation".
Dr. Wes Dempsey
Inaugural Award 2007 - 2008
Dr. Dempsey served as Professor of Biological Sciences at Chico State for 38 years, from 1954-1992. Since retiring, he has held the title of Professor Emeritus. Highlights of his career include an NSF Science Faculty Fellowship in Genetics while he was at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and visiting professorships at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, from 1980 to 1981 as well as at the University of Western Australia in Perth in 1987.
While at Chico State, this well-loved professor taught field biology summer courses at the Eagle Lake Field Station from 1979 through 1991 in addition to a wide variety of regular courses and labs in the biological sciences. He currently serves on the campus Arboretum Committee and was instrumental in the development of Campus Trees: Map and Guide, a comprehensive map with locations and descriptions of every tree in the campus arboretum, published in 2001. He is a well-known tour guide of Campus Arboretum tours throughout the academic year and has led 1,000 plus field trips featuring vernal pools, wildflowers, Native American use of local plants, and local ecology for community organizations such as the local schools, Sierra Club, Boy Scouts, and the Chico Creek Nature Center, to name just a few. He has given lectures to groups both near and far, including the Altacal Audubon Society, the California Native Plant Society, and Rotary, as well as many institutions of higher learning throughout the state.
Dr. Dempsey has been an inspiration to thousands of students as well as to his many colleagues. Dr. Ailsie McEnteggart, Chair of Biological Sciences, said this about Dr. Dempsey: “Wes's continuing involvement since his retirement in many conservation projects in the community as well as in campus life through his popular Arboretum tours and plantings of native species on the south side of Holt Hall is an amazing commitment. I can think of no one more deserving of this honor and am delighted at this recognition of his life's work.”
Dr. Dempsey and his wife, Phyllis, have four grown sons. Donations to a fund in his honor to benefit the Campus Arboretum may be sent to the Biology Office care of Dr. Jeffrey Bell, Chair, CSU, Chico, Chico, CA 95929-0515. Checks may be made out to “CSU, Chico University Foundation.”