America’s 2012 Teacher of the Year Rebecca Mieliwocki, Amgen executive Nicholas Timinskas, telecommunications entrepreneur Paul Jennings and business executive and former U.S. Census Bureau Director Vincent Barabba, all CSUN alumni, are among the dignitaries who will address California State University, Northridge students when they graduate later this month.
An estimated 9,263 students—about 7,174 bachelor’s, 2,065 master’s and 24 doctoral degree candidates in a total of 64 fields—are eligible to take part in the ceremonies scheduled to begin the evening of Monday, May 21, with the university’s Honors Convocation.
“Commencement is a time when students, their friends and families, and the greater campus community join together to celebrate a significant milestone in the lives of our students,” said Cal State Northridge Interim President Harry Hellenbrand. “We do so using the pomp and circumstance that are a traditional part of graduation, but the ceremonies also have plenty of spontaneity and moments of genuine emotion that reflect the unique character of the graduating class and its students.”
“Given the challenges that our public universities face in one of the most difficult fiscal environments in generations, this year’s commencement is particularly poignant and calls attention to the importance of higher education in our society,” Hellenbrand said.
The graduation celebration begins at 6 p.m. on Monday, May 21, with the Honors Convocation on the lawn in front of the Delmar T. Oviatt Library, located in the heart of the campus at 18111 Nordhoff St. in Northridge. About 1,600 graduating students have been invited to participate. All graduation celebrations are open to the public.
This year’s convocation speaker is Hellenbrand, who has served as Northridge’s interim president since December, when former CSUN President Jolene Koester retired. Dianne F. Harrison, president of CSU Monterey Bay, will be assuming the permanent position in June.
Hellenbrand was appointed CSUN provost and vice president for academic affairs in 2004. He is the former dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where he also taught. Hellenbrand was also a professor at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and California State University, San Bernardino. He has a bachelor’s degree in English and American literature from Harvard College and a doctorate in modern thought and literature from Stanford University.
Computer science alumnus Nicholas Timinskas will address the graduates during the College of Engineering and Computer Science’s ceremony, which will take place at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 23, on Manzanita Hall lawn.
Timinskas, who earned a bachelor’s degree from CSUN in 2009, is the global commercial operations information systems portfolio manager and project manager for breakawayfromcancer.com. Founded in 2005 by Amgen, breakawayfromcancer.com is a national initiative to increase awareness of important resources available to people affected by cancer—from prevention through survivorship.
Telecommunications entrepreneur Paul Jennings, who graduated from Northridge with a degree in marketing in 1985, will give the commencement address during the ceremony for the College of Business and Economics, which begins at 8 a.m. on Thursday, May 24, on the Oviatt Library lawn.
Jennings has been in the telecommunications industry since 1983. He has founded, developed and successfully built; operated; and sold various technology companies, including an industry leader in the provisioning of inmate correctional telephone services throughout the country. Concurrent to operating technology companies, in 1994 Jennings formed PCS Development, which has become an active real estate developer in Southern California. Jennings has built, managed and owned more than 4,000 multifamily units. PCS Development currently has a portfolio of land assets that are in various stages of development in Park City, Utah, as well as a planned resort community in Mexico.
Business executive and former U.S. Census Bureau Director Vincent Barabba, who received his bachelor’s degree in 1962 from what was then San Fernando Valley State College, will receive an honorary doctor of laws degree during the ceremony.
Barabba has had a long career in public and private service. Most recently, he was a member of the California Citizens’ Redistricting Commission and is serving as chairman of The State of the USA, a prominent nonprofit organization dedicated to helping the American people assess the nation’s progress based on unbiased information. He was appointed director of the U.S. Census Bureau by President Richard Nixon in 1973, by President Gerald Ford in 1974 and by President Jimmy Carter in 1979. He also has held executive positions at Xerox, Eastman Kodak and General Motors. Barabba was recognized by the university in 2003 as a distinguished alumnus.
National Teacher of the Year for 2012, Rebecca Mieliwocki, will address the graduates during the ceremony for the Michael D. Eisner College of Education at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 24, on the Oviatt Library lawn.
Mieliwocki, who received her credential in secondary English education from Northridge in 1996, teaches English to seventh-graders at Luther Burbank Middle School in the Burbank Unified School District and was one of California’s five 2012 Teachers of the Year. She was selected as the 2012 National Teacher of the Year, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious teaching honor, last month and was feted at the White House by President Barack Obama.
—Carmen Ramos Chandler