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A magazine from California State University, Chico -- On-line Edition  
Summer 2007
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Getting to Know Our Distinguished Alums

For the past 16 years, CSU, Chico has honored alums who have made outstanding contributions in their fields. This year, Chico Statements talked with our 2009 Distinguished Alumni and got to know them a little better.

 
Amy Zelson Mundorff

Amy Zelson Mundorff
College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Amy Zelson Mundorff (MA, Anthropology, ’99) is an assistant professor at University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Prior to pursuing her PhD at Simon Fraser University, she spent five years as a forensic anthropologist in the office of the New York City Chief Medical Examiner. She worked on about 250 cases and served as a core member of the World Trade Center Identification team. Mundorff herself is a 9/11 survivor, having been caught in the debris of the collapsing South Tower of the World Trade Center. She also 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.

Favorite place on the Chico State campus? The coffee shop along the creek with the cafeteria attached—I used to study there all the time.

In Chico? Duffy’s on Friday afternoon, the farmers’ market on Saturday, and every morning a long walk in Upper or Lower Bidwell Park with my dog, Ruby. (I still have her; she is 12.)

Extracurricular activities? I was part of PAHIL, the group of physical anthropologists who helped with forensic cases, particularly recoveries from scenes. I took rock climbing and loved it. I also took a wilderness EMT course, which is where I met my husband.

Favorite thing to do on a day off? Spending time with my family; hiking; cooking; tending to my tomatoes; watching my daughter Sarah grow, learn, and change so quickly; and reading. Right now I am working through the list of books that have won the National Book Award.



 
Steven Perricone

Steven Perricone
College of Business

Steven Perricone (BS, Business Administration, ’82) is a serial entrepreneur involved now in his fourth startup as founder and CEO of BioFuelBox. BioFuelBox is a venture capital-funded cleantech company that owns and operates microrefineries that extract waste grease and oil from water treatment streams at wastewater treatment plants and converts it to biodiesel fuel for local use. Perricone was formerly vice president of worldwide sales for SonicWALL, an information security company, which he joined when it had fewer than 20 employees. Perricone helped guide the company’s growth to more than 450 employees worldwide, an IPO, and a market cap of $3.5 billion in less than three years. Perricone and wife Sandi—also an alum—have two daughters: Diana, who is attending a university in Tennessee, and Elyse, a high school senior who plans to attend CSU, Chico.

On-campus activities? I was very active in the Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity (back in the “dark ages” when it was all male). I also liked to participate in various intramural sports.

How did your time at Chico State change your life? I met my closest lifelong friends at Chico. The small community really encouraged me to get good at building relationships with those around me. In addition, there are so many great activities day and night that it forces you to learn how to balance responsibility with fun at a young age. Learning that balance has definitely helped me throughout my career and in life in general.

Favorite thing to do on a day off? Sandi and I love to travel whenever we have the chance. We also love to spend time at our vacation home at Lake Tulloch. Having just purchased a motor home, we plan to take plenty of road trips when we have the time. It’s strange to think that we’ll be empty nesters in just a year from now. Time flies!



 
Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown
College of Communication and Education

After a successful career in the radio business, Gordon Brown (BA, Information and Communication Studies and Public Relations, ’82) began selling income-producing properties in California and Nevada. Since 1988 he has successfully purchased, managed, and repositioned millions of dollars worth of properties for himself and his partners as founder and principal of Brown Investment Group. Brown currently serves as president of the Inside Circle Foundation, which supports inmates in Folsom Prison in their efforts at accountability and self-awareness. He is a former founding member of the Authentic Leadership Center and serves on the Waterkeeper Alliance Board of Trustees. The Waterkeeper Alliance is an international group dedicated to supporting communities in the protection of bodies of water and the provision of safe drinking water.

What was your favorite place on the Chico State campus? The creek running through the middle of campus. I often snuck in a midday swim between classes.

Extracurricular activities? Captain of the Chico State waterski team 1979–1980.

How did your time at Chico State change your life? Met some great lifelong friends—learned about succeeding amongst life’s distractions.




 
Lance Astrella

Lance Astrella
College of Natural Sciences

As the president of Astrella & Rice, P.C., a law firm based in Denver, Colorado, Lance Astrella (BA, Economics and Chemistry, ’69) focuses his work on balancing the need for domestic fossil fuel with environmental sustainability, including preservation of water resources. He is a member of the state bars of California and Colorado, and is in the Litigation, Natural Resources, Energy, and Environmental Law sections of the American Bar Association. Astrella is the founder of the LA Foundation, a charity established to benefit mentally disabled youth and young adults. He has also been a student of Japanese karate for more than 30 years and is a sixth-degree black belt (Rokudan).

Favorite place on campus? The gym.

Favorite place in Chico? Bidwell Park.

Groups or extracurricular activities? Sigma Delta Psi, National Athletic Honor Fraternity, Student Legislature, wrestling team, gymnastics team.

In the time since you graduated from Chico State? I have had the opportunity to apply the wonderful educational experiences that I had at Chico.

Favorite meal? Sushi.

On your days off? I am usually reading materials related to my profession or business.


 
Joseph M. Hilbe

Joseph M. Hilbe
College of Humanities and Fine Arts

Joseph Hilbe (BA, Philosophy, ’68) is a solar system ambassador for the NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory at California Institute of Technology. He is also emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Hawaii and an adjunct professor of statistics at Arizona State University. Hilbe is an elected fellow of both the American Statistical Association and the Royal Statistical Society, and an elected member (fellow) of the prestigious International Statistical Institute (ISI). He currently chairs both the ISI Sports Statistics committee and the Astrostatistics Interest Group. The author of a number of philosophy and statistics publications and books, Hilbe also serves on the editorial boards of five academic journals. He is a 2007 inductee into the Chico State Athletic Hall of Fame.

How has your life changed since you attended Chico State? Professionally I have led three lives since leaving Chico: at the University of Hawaii system as a professor of philosophy, as head track coach and U.S. team coach, and for some 20 years as a statistics professor and author at Arizona State. All three professions shaped my life and way of looking at the world. Now, being associated with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and helping develop astrostatistics as a viable area within statistics, I’m perhaps starting a fourth stage.

Thing to do on a day off? Honestly, I rarely take a day off. If I am not working, I still have it on my mind. I finally took a real vacation with no books or computers: In mid-August, my wife and I went on a safari in South Africa’s Phinda Reserve, which is in northern KwaZulu-Natal (originally Zululand).



 
Martin (Marty) Rapozo

Martin (Marty) Rapozo
College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Construction Management

Marty Rapozo (BS, Business Administration, ’81; MS, Special Major/Construction Management, ’84) was the first recipient of a master’s degree in construction management at CSU, Chico. Rapozo currently serves on the CSU, Chico Construction Management Industry Advisory Board. He is president at Abide International, a general construction firm specializing in federal government contracting. Projects completed by Abide International include the installation of nuclear weapon sensors at Arizona Border Stations, railroad construction for the U.S. Army munitions storage facility in Nevada, and the helicopter hoisting of mechanical equipment to the top of a 20-story building in downtown San Francisco for the FBI. Rapozo lives with his wife, Katie (’84), in Sonoma.

Favorite place on campus? I was the guy hanging out in the Department of Construction Management main office—the guy who wouldn’t go away! Back then the department was very, very small. At the end of the day, you would then go with some of your professors and get some dinner or go to a barbecue. It was wonderful.

Favorite thing to do in Chico? Tubing. Tubing was wonderful.

How did your time at Chico State change your life? Tremendously. I met my wife there (she was a communications major), which ultimately led to our son, Gabriel, who is 13 now. It took me from being a business major to construction management, which is essentially half business and half construction. Today I own a mid-size construction company, and all I do is the business of construction every day. It’s a blast.



 
George Buonaccorsi

George Buonaccorsi
College of Agriculture

As vice president of grape and wine resources for Fosters Wine Estates Americas, George Buonaccorsi (BS, Agricultural Science, ’66) is responsible for 8,600 acres of company vineyards and oversees the management of the Grower Relations Department, which purchases grapes and wine in most California viticulture regions. Buonaccorsi is a native of Alexander Valley and was raised on a family-owned vineyard. For the past 37 years, he has been involved in the California wine industry, specializing in working with growers of the premium wine regions of the North Coast counties. Buonaccorsi lives in Napa with his wife, Vicki.

Continuing connections to the University? Member of Agricultural Advisory Council, College of Agriculture.

In his free time? Gardening and cooking—also an enthusiastic baseball and football fan.



 
Nancy Fox

Nancy Fox
Distinguished Alumni Service Award

Nancy Fox (BA, Education, ’64) is a retired teacher and the Official Grand Mom to the Chico State golf team. Fox and her husband, Jack, travel extensively with the team, hosting nightly booster events during tournaments, and she was named the 2004–2005 “Golf Booster of the Year.” Fox was a member of the University Advisory Board for 10 years, serving as both chair and vice chair. She has also been on the University Foundation Board of Governors, is a member of the Heritage Circle, and is a lifetime member of the Alumni Association. In addition to serving the University, Fox volunteers extensively with community organizations and considers volunteering to be a significant part of her life.

Favorite place on campus? The CAC (Campus Activity Center). It was like your student union building, and we met there to eat, hang out with our friends, study, etc. It was the building with the bell tower in it [Trinity Hall].

How did CSU, Chico change your life? I was inspired by teachers in the education department who constantly stressed looking at my class not as a whole, but each child as an individual. I learned that each child had different needs, and it was up to me to discover them and see that they were met.

Since graduation? My life has been full and very busy since graduating. I was fortunate to be able to follow my career path and teach in Sacramento; Athens, Georgia; Taipei, Taiwan; and Cincinnati, Ohio. Each job was a new and exciting experience. Raising my boys was the best thing I’ve ever done. I loved every stage of raising them and am now enjoying watching them raise their own children.