CSU, Chico News

James O’Bannon Honored with Outstanding Service Award

Date: 02-06-2008

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs

James O’Bannon, professor in the Department of Construction Management, has been selected for the Outstanding Faculty Service Award at California State University, Chico. O’Bannon was selected for his leadership, his excellence as a professor and his outstanding record of philanthropy to his profession and within the community.

In January 2007, O’Bannon traveled with a delegation of students, faculty and staff from the College of Engineering, Computer Science and Construction Management to New Orleans to assist citizens in rebuilding their homes. Professor O’Bannon’s contribution to the success of that trip was described by the dean of the college, Ken Derucher: “Dr. O’Bannon took 55 students, most of whom knew little of the construction trades, and taught them most aspects of construction related to rehabilitation of housing. The students learned and applied their newly found skills working on 18 houses in one week and moving in six families. With Professor O’Bannon’s mentoring, this was a genuine service-learning experience, one that will forever remain in the hearts of students.”

In addition to the instruction in building skills, Attorney Leo Battle, who accompanied the ECC group to New Orleans, said that O’Bannon contributed numerous hand tools, battery-powered drills, drywall screwdrivers and saws that were necessary for the project. “While in New Orleans, Jim, out of his own pocket, expended several hundred dollars to purchase additional building materials. Without his guidance, I know the accomplishments made during that week in New Orleans would have been far less.”

In his letter of recommendation, Glen Toney, a member of the University Advisory Board, described some of O’Bannon’s other charitable projects, including rebuilding and repairing computers for a middle school in Oakland and developing a plan, with Professor Tracy Butts and Charles Carter, Student Affairs, to help motivate and recognize African American students. The group has designed a program to publicly acknowledge the discipline, hard work and achievements of all African American students that make the dean’s list each semester.

Before coming to CSU, Chico in 1978, O’Bannon was assistant project manager for Jon F. Otto Inc. in Sacramento. During his time in Chico, in addition to acting as an advisor for the Rebuild New Orleans project, he was a founder and board member of the Boys and Girls Club, a board member and project supervisor for Habitat for Humanity, a member of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Committee and a founder and co-sponsor of Dream Keepers.

A former student of O’Bannon’s, Coleman W. Jones, who is now a project engineer with Rudoph & Sletten Inc., said in his letter of recommendation, “Dr. O’Bannon has united people in such a way that the bonds created can never be broken or forgotten. He has shown leadership, accountability and dedication in ways that many people only imagine. … I am extremely thankful to have met and been influenced by a person so hard working and willing to help others.”