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Two Faculty Members Honored With CSU Wang Family Excellence Awards
Raphael Sonenshein and Richard Wiseman were two CSUF professors selected, among five winners throughout the 23-campus CSU system to receive the awards.

April 21, 2005 :: No. 174

Two Cal State Fullerton faculty members, Raphael Sonenshein, professor of political science, and Richard Wiseman, professor of human communication studies, are among the five chosen for the 2005 California State University Wang Family Excellence Award.

The two professors were selected from throughout the 23-campus California State University (CSU) system. Each will receive a cash award of $20,000.

CSU Trustee Stanley T. Wang, who gave the system $1 million to recognize outstanding achievements of faculty members and administrators, established the Wang awards. Each year since 1999, the award has been presented to four faculty members and one administrator.

Cal State Fullerton is the only campus with two honorees for 2005. (Sonenshein and Wiseman are the fifth and sixth from CSUF selected for the award.)

“We are very proud of the two recipients of this honor,” said Cal State Fullerton President Milton A. Gordon. “Both exemplify the high standards we set for the faculty.

“Dr. Sonenshein’s record of accomplishment in teaching, research and civic engagement has provided myriad benefits for students, as well as the community.

“Dr. Wiseman’s gift for teaching and working collaboratively with students typifies what we hope all our professors bring to their classrooms — commitment and dedication to the highest levels of education.”

Sonenshein is a political scientist with a specialty in urban politics. His “challenging, rigorous and entertaining” classes have earned him high marks from students. Despite a heavy teaching and advising load, he has found time to create new courses, drawing on his extensive research. A top scholar on the politics of Los Angeles, he is the author of “Politics in Black and White: Race and Power in Los Angeles” and his latest book, “The City at Stake: Secession, Reform and the Battle for Los Angeles.” Sonenshein also was called to serve as executive director of a commission charged to create the city’s first new charter in 75 years — a charter later approved by an overwhelming majority of voters.

A consultant to local governments, Sonenshein is frequently sought to provide media commentary on a variety of political topics. He earned his doctorate and master’s degrees in political science from Yale, and his bachelor’s from Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He has taught at Cal State Fullerton since 1982 and resides in Santa Monica.

“I’m truly honored to receive this award and proud to be have been a CSU faculty member for 23 years,” said Sonenshein. “The Wang Award is not just a treasured tribute to those who are fortunate enough to win, but also to the many outstanding faculty and staff throughout the system, and to the hard-working students who manage to balance their studies with many other responsibilities. We’re all in this together.”

Richard Wiseman, who was selected as Cal State Fullerton’s Outstanding Professor in 2004, has won a number of awards for his teaching. He is known for seeking students’ involvement in his classes and often works closely with students, co-authoring dozens of publications and conference papers. This provides many scholars with their first journal or conference submissions. Wiseman specializes in intercultural, interpersonal and nonverbal communication, as well as persuasion and research methodology.

The Yorba Linda resident began teaching at Cal State Fullerton in 1978 after earning his doctorate in speech communication at the University of Minnesota.

“I am absolutely elated about this recognition,” said Wiseman. “But I also want to stress that I don’t think that this is strictly ‘my’ award. I know that the only reason why I was able to receive this prestigious honor is because of the outstanding support I have received from faculty, staff, administrators, colleagues, friends and, most important, students during my 28 years at Cal State Fullerton.”

The two professors will receive their awards at the May meeting of the CSU Board of Trustees.

Media Contacts: Raphael Sonenshein at or 657-278-3837 or
Richard Wiseman at 657-278-3902 or
Valerie Orleans, Public Affairs, or 657-278-4540


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Raphael Sonnenshein
Raphael Sonnenshein

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Richard Wiseman
Richard Wismen

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