Supporters and friends of California State University, Northridge and its Alumni Association will celebrate the accomplishments of three of the university’s most illustrious alumni at a special gala next month.
The 2012 recipients of Cal State Northridge’s Distinguished Alumni Award represent the fields of film, business and music: award-winning actress, screenwriter, director and producer Joan Chen; chairman and chief executive officer of Nestlé Waters, John J. Harris; and Grammy Award-winning conductor Richard Kaufman.
The trio will be honored at a special dinner on Saturday, April 21, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Westlake Village. The evening will begin with a reception at 6:30 p.m., followed by the dinner and awards program. Serving as master of ceremonies for the night will be Cal State Northridge alumnus Bill Griffeth, who graduated from CSUN in 1980 with a degree in journalism and is an author and anchor for CNBC. Griffeth received CSUN’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2000.
This year’s honorees join a notable group of past recipients that includes Governor of Hawaii Linda Lingle, Curb Records Chairman and former California Lt. Governor Mike Curb, CBS executive Michael Klausman, actors Teri Garr and Cheech Marin, astronaut Scott Horowitz, Oscar-nominated producer Don Hahn and opera singer Carol Vaness.
“There’s no better way to judge a university’s quality than to see how successful its alumni have become,” said D.G. “Gray” Mounger, assistant vice president for alumni relations at CSUN. “The current and past recipients of the Cal State Northridge Distinguished Alumni Award are among the nation’s very best in almost every profession, field or endeavor. We are very proud to call them Matadors.”
Dennis DeYoung, president of Cal State Northridge’s Alumni Association, agreed.
“The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor presented by the Alumni Association,” he said. “The award and the event that accompanies it not only celebrate our recipients, but also recognize the contributions that our 200,000 plus alumni make to our region and beyond.”
Joan Chen is an award-winning, internationally acclaimed actress, director, screenwriter and producer. Among her many American film and television credits are “The Last Emperor” and “Twin Peaks.” She is the recipient of five Golden Horse Awards (the equivalent of the Academy Awards in China), including for best director, best film, best screenplay and two for best actress. Chen received her bachelor’s degree in radio and television production from Cal State Northridge in 1992.
John J. Harris has been chairman and chief executive officer of Nestlé Waters since 2007. He also holds the position of executive vice president of Nestlé S.A., based out of the company’s headquarters in Vevey, Switzerland. Harris has worked for Nestlé for more than 10 years, including serving as CEO of Nestlé Purina PetCare Europe. Before joining Nestlé, Harris held various positions with the Carnation Company in Los Angeles. He earned his bachelor’s in political science from Cal State Northridge in 1972 and his master’s in business administration from UCLA.
Grammy Award-winning conductor Richard Kaufman is principal pops conductor of Orange County’s Pacific Symphony and regularly appears as guest conductor with orchestras throughout the U.S. and around the world. A two-time Emmy nominee, he supervised music at MGM for nearly 20 years before pursuing his conducting career full time. Kaufman wrote the alma mater and fight song for Cal State Northridge. He graduated from the university with his bachelor’s degree in music in 1977.
To purchase tickets for the gala or to learn of sponsorship and event advertising opportunities, go to www.csunalumni.com or call the California State University, Northridge’s Alumni Association at (818) 677-4938.
California State University, Northridge is a regionally focused, nationally recognized university serving more than 34,000 full- and part-time students in the San Fernando Valley and surrounding areas. Founded in 1958, Cal State Northridge is among the largest universities in the nation and is ranked among the top universities for bachelor’s degrees awarded to minority students. It has nine colleges and more than 2,000 faculty members who teach courses leading to bachelor’s degrees in 69 disciplines, master’s degrees in 58 fields and doctorates in education and physical therapy, as well as 28 teaching credential programs. Continuously evolving and changing to meet the needs of California and the nation at large, the university is home to dozens of acclaimed programs in which students gain valuable hands-on experience working alongside faculty and industry professionals, whether in the sciences, health care and engineering or education, political science, the arts and the social sciences.
To see videos of past recipients and ceremonies, visit http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL19964202D2814AA8.