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Trio of Accomplished Alumni to be Honored at CSUN Event

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(NORTHRIDGE, Calif., Mar. 11th, 2011) ―

California State University, Northridge will honor three alumni who have reached and remained at the pinnacle of their fields at the 13th Annual Distinguished Alumni Awards on Saturday, April 16.

The 2011 recipients represent the fields of music, film and business: Don Hahn, an Oscar-nominated producer, Carol Vaness, a singer with the Metropolitan Opera, and Irv Zakheim, founder, CEO and president of Zak Designs.

A dinner gala at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village will honor the three awardees. The event is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. with a reception, followed by dinner and awards at 7:30 p.m. Previous Distinguished Alumni Award recipient Bill Griffeth, author and CNBC anchor who earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northridge in 1980, will serve as master of ceremonies for the evening.

The honorees will join the ranks of past recipients who include actor and comedian Richard “Cheech” Marin, U.S. District Court Judge S. James Otero, Caltech scientist Michael Day and Grammy Award-winning songwriter Diane Warren.

“Alumni represent the outcome of the educational experience,” said D.G. “Gray” Mounger, assistant vice president of CSUN alumni relations. “The current and past recipients of the Cal State Northridge Distinguished Alumni Awards set an inspiring example for our students and alumni, as they are among the nation’s very best in their particular professions or fields of endeavor. And they often credit their alma mater for helping prepare them for future success.”

Don Hahn

Don Hahn, who graduated from Northridge with a bachelor’s degree in music in 1975, produced the classic “Beauty and the Beast,” the first animated film nominated for a Best Picture Oscar from the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences. His next film, “The Lion King,” broke box-office records to become the top-grossing traditionally animated film in Disney history and a long-running blockbuster Broadway musical. His other credits include “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and the animated short, “The Little Matchgirl,” which earned Hahn his second Oscar nomination. His new book, “Brain Storm – Unleashing Your Creative Self,” is due out in bookstores in summer 2011.

Carol Vaness

Carol Vaness, who received her master’s degree in music in 1976 and an honorary doctorate of fine arts in 1998, is being honored for her “commitment to excellence.” She launched her professional singing career at the New York City Opera and then continued for 20 years at the Metropolitan Opera. She has sung on the world’s biggest stages, appeared on numerous television broadcasts and compiled a distinguished catalog of recordings. She performed the title role of Puccini’s “Tosca” at the Metropolitan Opera in 2004 opposite Pavarotti in the legendary tenor’s final operatic performance. She is a professor of voice and opera at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. She recently appeared at the Valley Performing Arts Center Opening Gala.

Irv Zakheim

Irv Zakheim, who received his bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1971, founded the company that would become Zak Designs in 1976. With Zakheim serving as president and CEO, Zak Designs has grown into the worldwide leader in licensed children’s dinnerware and is also globally recognized for its trend-setting tableware. He was recognized by the U.S. Small Business Association in 2006 as the Washington State Small Business Person of the Year. Zakheim is founder and chair of the Zak Charity Open, which raises funds to help children in Spokane.

To purchase tickets for this event or for more information, please contact Cheryl McMillan at cheryl.mcmillan@csun.edu or (818) 677-4938.

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