A publication for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State University, Chico
February 15, 2007 Volume 37 / Number 5


The Outstanding Awards 2006–2007

Graham Thurgood Named Outstanding Professor

Graham Thurgood
Graham Thurgood

The Faculty Recognition and Support Committee has named linguist Graham Thurgood Outstanding Professor for 2006–2007. Outstanding Professor is the premier award at the University, given for both scholarship and outstanding teaching.

Thurgood, a member of the English department since 1999, received his PhD in linguistics from UC Berkeley. He came to Chico after a long career at CSU, Fresno. President Paul Zingg said, “Dr. Thurgood epitomizes an outstanding professor: exemplary teaching, scholarship, and service.”

Thurgood is a distinguished and prolific scholar in his field of Southeast Asian linguistics. He is the author of four books, including The Sino-Tibetan Languages, which he co-edited with Randy LaPolla (Routledge Language Family Series, London and New York). This volume is now a standard reference for scholars of those languages and will be published as a paperback in the spring.

He is currently reviewing several manuscripts for the journal Language and proposals for the National Science Foundation, and is preparing to go to Aceh, Indonesia, to set up a program of scholarly research focusing on the unique role of Aceh and Acehnese in Southeast Asian history. He also is the co-author of two books slated to come out within the next year.

Among his other prizes and awards, Thurgood claims three National Science Foundation Awards (most recently “Documentation of Three Endangered Languages in China”), two Fulbright Scholar awards, and two meritorious performance awards from CSU, Fresno.


Kimihiko Nomura
Kimihiko Nomura

Foreign Language and Literatures Professor Chosen as Outstanding Teacher

Kimihiko Nomura, professor of Japanese in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at California State University, Chico, is the Outstanding Teacher of 2006–2007.

Nomura, who received his EdD from Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Ariz., came to Chico in 1991. Most recently, he was instrumental in developing a new minor in Japanese in response to student demand. The new program enrolled students for the first time in fall 2006.

Nomura is known for infusing Japanese culture into his teaching. His passion for teaching was one of the characteristics mentioned most often by students and colleagues in his nomination letters. “The entire world is his classroom,” said Sara Cooper, Nomura’s colleague.

Cooper also noted, “Professor Nomura is always searching for ways to enrich the lives and learning experience of his students, a fact recognized at all levels.” After he arranged the visit of Makoto Yamanaka, Japan’s Consul General to Chico, Dean Sarah Blackstone, Humanities and Fine Arts, thanked him “for having the courage and vision to organize an event that makes a University a rich and wonderful place for students.”

More than 100 of Nomura’s students who have taken Japanese at CSU, Chico have participated in the Japan Exchange teaching program for the Japanese Ministry of Education. Many of Normura’s students have gone on to study at Waseda University, Sophia University, Kansai Gauidai University, Chukyo University, Hiroshima University, and other prestigious schools in Japan and the United States.

Since 1994, Nomura has spent his summers teaching courses in English grammar and has become a mentor to students in Upward Bound. His dedication and efforts for students extend to several student organizations for which he is the advisor, including Mu Alpha Xi, the Anime Club, and Japanese Crew.

Jan O'Donnell
Jan O'Donnell

Jan O’Donnell Receives Outstanding Faculty Service Award

Jan O’Donnell, a professor in the School of Social Work since 1974, has been selected to receive the Outstanding Service Award. She was chosen for her years of public service, including contributions to the School of Social Work, the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, the University, the community, and her profession.

A major contribution to the School of Social Work is her key role in developing a one-year and a two-year Master’s in Social Work program, both of which are now accredited. Also, in response to a community demand for an alternative delivery graduate degree, O’Donnell recently designed and implemented a three-year weekend MSW program that began this fall.

“Jan is one of those unique colleagues who leaves footprints,” said the dean of the College of BSS, Robert Jackson. “Her leadership in developing the MSW program is a model for all of us. Without Jan O’Donnell’s tireless leadership, it is difficult to imagine that this milestone would have been accomplished. In just a few short years, the MSW has become the largest graduate program at CSU, Chico. It is an unparalleled accomplishment.”

“Jan was one of the few people who listened to the agency folks talk about the need for increasing the number of social workers in the North State,” said Cheryl Harrison, Glenn County Child Welfare supervisor. “She worked diligently for years to make this happen.”

O’Donnell has spent much of her career in leadership positions with her department. She was the director of the MSW program from 2002 to 2004. She has been the director of the School of Social Work, coordinator of the Social Work Program, and chair of the Department of Social Work.

O’Donnell received her BA and her MSW from Michigan State University. The Northern California Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers honored her as Social Work Administrator of the Year in 2000.

Maria Gonzalez
Maria Gonzalez

Maria Gonzalez Chosen as the Outstanding Academic Advisor

Foreign Languages and Literatures (FLL) Professor Maria Gonzalez has been selected as the Outstanding Advisor for the 2006–2007 academic year.

Gonzalez received her PhD in Spanish American Literature from UC Irvine in 1991 in Mexican and Chicano Narrative. She received both her BA and MA in Spanish from UC Santa Barbara. She came to CSU, Chico in 1993.

In addition to her full teaching load, Gonzalez advises 125 Spanish majors, minors, and travel-abroad students. She was a driving force behind Chicano Studies 354, a general education class with a high enrollment, said Patricia E. Black, chair of the Department of FLL, and thus became a de facto advisor to students in Chicano studies. As one of the key developers of the Master’s in Teaching International Languages, she became one of the principal advisors for students in this program as well.

Gonzalez’ nominators for the award shared their belief in the strong role model she provides to students. “She is an undeniable role model for Chicano, Latino, and all students,” said Black. “She speaks frankly, and students know that she has their best interests at heart. Many of her students have gone on to PhD programs, subsequent to her recommendation, in programs of national renown.”

Gonzalez’ work with students extends to extracurricular activities. She has served as an advisor to Chico Latino fraternities and sororities and to MEChA, a Chicano student group. She founded and continues to advise the Student Society for Hispanic Literature, Art and Culture. Gonzalez began the observance of Dia de los Muertos on campus 10 years ago, and initiated the current Cinco de Mayo festivities.

Spanish student Beth Carmichael credits Gonzalez with her choice of Spanish as a major. “Dr. Maria Gonzalez inspires students to challenge themselves to gain a more intense, fulfilling education. … Had I not had the opportunity to meet Dr. Gonzalez, perhaps I would not have fallen in love with the Hispanic culture and the Spanish language.”

—Kathleen Mcpartland
photos by Jeff Teeter