President Milton A. Gordon with David Parham-Hopkins and her husband, Thomas Parham.Caption: Davida Hopkins-Parham, executive assistant to the vice president for academic affairs, right, and her husband, Thomas Parham, vice chancellor for student affairs at UCI, congratulate CSUF President MIlton A. Gordon on his years at the helm of Cal State Fullerton. Photo by P. O’Donnell Download photo

University Holds Tribute Gala

Hundreds Gather to Celebrate President Gordon and Titan Pride

A tribute gala to Cal State Fullerton President Milton A. Gordon brought more than 300 campus and community members to the Bowers Museum Saturday for an evening of toasts and testimonials.

A man in a red vest and tuxedo with two women in red and blue outfits.Caption: Tribute speaker Len Dreyer (Class of ’72) greets Pam Hillman, vice president for university advancement, and Master of Ceremonies Lucy Dunn (Class of ’76), president and chief executive officer of the Orange County Business Council. Photo by P. O’Donnell Download photo

The program saluting Gordon’s more than two decades of leadership included a series of speakers — graduates, colleagues and donors — who described Gordon's impact on the university and in their own lives as members of the Cal State Fullerton family.

Two couples served as chairs of the gala — Wylie and Bette Aitken and Rudy and Catherine Hanley — and Gordon expressed his appreciation for their efforts. Both couples are donors to the university. Hanley, president and CEO of SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, is the former chair of the University Advisory Board. Aitken is founding partner of the Aitken Aitken Cohn law firm and formerly served as chairman of the Democratic Foundation of Orange County.

Lucy Dunn (Class of ’76), president and chief executive officer of the Orange County Business Council, was the master of ceremonies. She also joined Vice President for University Advancement Pamela Hillman for a crowd-pleasing duet of “For Good” from the musical “Wicked.”

Alumna Erin McNally responds to the audience during the tribute.Caption: Singer Erin McNally was the evening's featured entertainer. As a member of the student troupes that performed for the inaugural Front & Center and Vision & Visionaries galas, McNally told the audience how her campus performing career is tied to milestones in Gordon’s administration. Photo by Karen Tapia  Download photo

Highlights of Gordon’s career were told in video montages, and elected officials — U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (Class of ’77), U.S. Rep Loretta Sanchez and Orange County Supervisor Chis Norby (Class of ’89) — gave testimonials about Gordon’s impact as an education leader during his 21-plus years at the helm of CSUF.

Gordon had announced in September his plan to retire when a successor can be chosen to serve as the university’s fifth president.

During the progam, Grammy Award-winning composer and CSUF music professor Bill Cunliffe joined singer Erin McNally (Class of ’02) on stage at the keyboard. Together, they performed a song he composed especially for the occasion, in praise of Gordon and his leadership. McNally, billed as the evening’s featured entertainer, also sang one of Gordon's favorites, “The Rose.”

Two women stand on either side of a serviceman.Caption: Cal State Fullerton graduates Verne Wagner (Class of ’77), at left, and Capt. Joseph Gazman (Class of 2006) were among the evening’s tribute speakers. Longtime volunteer Wagner serves on the President's Scholars Selection Committee, and Gazman now serves in the U.S. Marine Corps. Pictured with them is Deanna Merino-Cortino, director of the President's Scholars program. Photo by P. O’Donnell Download photo

Tribute speakers were: Academic Senate Chair Jack Bedell, who also held that post in 1990 when he served on the CSU presidential selection advisory committee; state Sen. Lou Correa (Class of ’80); alumna Verne Wagner (Class of '77), a member of the President’s Scholars Selection Committee; alumnus Len Dreyer (Class of ’72), retired chairman and CEO of Marie Callender Pie Shops Inc.; Silas Abego, acting vice president for student affairs; donor Paul Folino, Emulex Corp. executive chairman; and Capt. Joseph Gazman (Class of ’06), a former physics major now serving in the U.S. Marine Corps.

“Tonight’s evening has been humbling and to all of you I say ‘thank you’ — an expression that does not come close to the gratitude I feel for your kindness and good wishes,” Gordon said, adressing attendees. “I also want to express my appreciation for your support of the [Milton A. Gordon] Fund for Faculty Research and Creativity. This work and its value can sometimes be overlooked amidst all of the urgent needs. But the degree to which the professional development of our professors and advancement of critical research projects can strengthen teaching and learning, enhance the vibrancy of academic life at the university, and help solve major challenges facing society is immeasurable.

“My decision to retire was a difficult one, but I am comforted by a profound sense of pride ... Serving Cal State Fullerton since 1990 has been an honor and a privilege. I love the institution, and I know a bright future lies ahead.”

faculty and staff of the College of Communications gather around one of the tables at the gala.Caption:   At the gala, NBC4’s Orange County Bureau Chief Vikki Vargas (Class of ’81) and her husband, Michael Nason, are seated next to William G. Briggs (center), dean of the College of Communications and his wife, Kathie, and alumna Bobbi Rice (Class of ’82), president of B.P. Rice & Co., and her husband, Stan. Standing from left are: College of Communications Assistant Dean Peggy Bockman and her husband, Gary; alumnus John Echeveste (Class of ’73), co-founder of the Valencia, Pérez & Echeveste public relations firm, and S. Irene Matz, associate dean of the College of Communications. Photo by P. O'Donnell Download photo

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