2012 Vision & Visionaries
Cal State Fullerton Honors Eight Distinguished Alumni
April 24, 2012; updated April 24, 2012 :: No. 159
Cal State Fullerton salutes the distinguished careers and leadership of eight graduates April 28 during the university’s 19th annual Vision & Visionaries event at the Hilton Anaheim. To pay tribute to the honorees, student performers will literally sing their praises during the night's program.
This year’s recipients of Distinguished Alumni awards are: Randall L. Baumberger, president of Paramount Studio Group; Caecilia S. Gotama, founder and principal of Gotama Building Engineers Inc.; Tony Ortega, editor-in-chief of the Village Voice; Dale Raoul, actress, and her husband, Raymond L. Thompson, senior lighting designer for “The Young and the Restless”; Jeffrey S. Van Harte, chief investment officer, focus growth team, Delaware Investments; and Verne D. Wagner, CSU Alumni Council volunteer representative.
Documentarian Becky L. Hamilton will receive the Recent Graduate Achievement Award.
Their short biographies follow:
Randall L. Baumberger (MBA ’92), president of Paramount Studio Group, has worked the length and breadth of entertainment since his student days at Cal State Fullerton, having worked in general management executive positions with PepsiCo’s (now Yum Brands) Taco Bell Corp.; as senior vice president with Viad Corp.’s GES Exposition Services; in several leadership roles for the Walt Disney Co., including as senior vice president of resort operations and sales in Anaheim; and president of Game Crazy, a video game retailer with more than 700 stores nationwide. He was president and chief operating officer of Ultimate Acquisition Partners before he took the helm of Paramount Studio Group, a global leader in filmed entertainment, where he oversees the studio’s operations, as well as its diverse range of production, technical and event services.
In addition to his work at Paramount, Baumberger is committed to his alma mater and to public higher education, serving on the advisory board of the Mihaylo College of Business and Economics’ Center for Entertainment and Tourism Management, guest lecturing and student mentoring. The La Jolla resident recently was named to the California State University Chancellor’s Advisory Council on the Entertainment Industry.
Caecilia S. Gotama (B.S. engineering-mechanical ’82, M.S. engineering-mechanical ’86), founder and principal of Gotama Building Engineers Inc., has served in a number of capacities in a profession dominated by men before taking the leap of starting her own firm. Gotama previously served as a project engineer at Ove Arup & Partners, eventually rising to vice president at Systka & Hennessy, where she launched an international division for the firm. The Manhattan Beach resident is a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)-accredited professional and program chair for the Long Beach branch of the U.S. Green Building Council.
Some of her notable projects include the historic renovation of the Hollywood Bowl; the new USC John McKay Center; the 200-bed Princess Haya Hospital in Amman, Jordan; and the 1,000-bed Jaber Al Ahmad Hospital in Kuwait City.
Gotama is a member of the Dean of the College of Engineering and Computer Science Advisory Council and is among the university’s 50 Women of Distinction. She is a fellow and member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, chairing the organization’s ECLIPSE Intern Program.
A passion became a vocation for documentarian Becky Hamilton (B.A. communications-radio-TV-film ’06), who used her classroom experiences and knowledge to produce the 2007 documentary “Heart of a Soul Surfer,” sharing the triumphant return to championship surfing by Bethany Hamilton, following a shark attack that cost her an arm.
Hamilton began working as an assistant to Bethany’s family while still a student at CSUF. Finding it difficult to turn down the numerous requests for personal appearances by Bethany, Hamilton came up with the idea of the documentary. That was followed by “Soul Surfer,” a 2011 feature film Hamilton co-produced about her now sister-in-law, which opened in more than 2,000 theaters across the nation and grossed more than $43 million.
Today, the Hawaii resident works on television and music video productions and is president of the nonprofit Friends of Bethany Hamilton. She is developing an adventure travel show with her husband, Noah, and Bethany.
Tony Ortega (B.A. English ’87, M.A. English ’89) has served as editor-in-chief of the Village Voice since 2007, helping the more than 50-year-old publication enhance its reputation for no-holds-barred reporting, investigations of New York politics and outlook on New York's cultural scene. Recognized for his investigative reporting, Ortega has examined corruption by a sheriff in Arizona, an LAPD shooting of a homeless woman and the claims of a California professor that anti-Semitism was a natural byproduct of evolution. His four-year coverage of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department prompted the first-ever Amnesty International investigation.
Prior to his work at the Village Voice, Ortega was editor of the Broward-Palm Beach New Times, managing editor at the Pitch in Kansas City and a reporter with New Times Los Angeles and the Phoenix New Times. His journalistic work has earned him several honors, including a Los Angeles Press Club Award for best news story, the Arizona Press Club's Journalist of the Year Award, and a 2002 Unity Award in Media.
Dale Raoul (B.A. theatre arts ’73, M.A. theatre arts ’79) actress, and Raymond L. Thompson (B.A. theatre arts ’77), senior lighting designer for “The Young and the Restless,” are Los Angeles residents with wide-ranging stage and screen experience and have been married to each other for 25 years.
Thompson has been a lighting designer at CBS Television City for 30 years, honored with four Emmys and 14 Emmy nominations, in addition to the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for excellence in lighting. Prior to his work on “The Young and the Restless,” he worked on “CBS This Morning,” “The Bonnie Hunt Show,” “Face the Nation,” “Archie Bunker’s Place” and other TV pilots, game shows and news programs.
Raoul is a veteran character actress who currently appears as Mama Maxine Fortenberry on the HBO series “True Blood,” now shooting its fifth season. Her first TV role was in 1986 on “Murder, She Wrote” and has been followed with appearances on “The Office,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Middle,” “Six Feet Under” and “NYPD Blues.” Her film work includes “The Mexican,” “Beautiful” and “Out to Sea,” in which she danced with Jack Lemmon and Donald O’Connor.
The two have been supporters of the Los Angeles Opera and various animal rescue organizations. They continue to support their alma mater with various workshops and lectures for theater students.
Jeffrey S. Van Harte (B.A. business administration-finance ’80), chief investment officer, focus growth team for Delaware Investments, has not only achieved career success, he has contributed significantly to Cal State Fullerton. Since his graduation in 1980, he has served as a portfolio manager and a securities analyst and trader, then joined Transamerica Investment Management as a principal and executive vice president. In 2005, he became chief investment officer for the Focus Equity Team at Delaware Investments, which manages $15 million of domestic and international investments for large pensions, foundations and mutual funds.
Van Harte committed $100,000 to the Campaign for the College of Business and Economics and has given more than $157,000 to various programs. Student success is his particular passion, as reflected in his participation in Mihaylo College’s Professor for a Day event, as well as his support and service as an adviser to the college’s Student Investment Fund. The San Carlos resident also serves on the university’s Philanthropic Foundation Board of Governors.
Verne D. Wagner (B.A. business administration-accounting ’77), CSU Alumni Council volunteer representative, is a proud CSUF alumna, who has given of her time and talents to the university, including serving as a member of the President’s Associates, which she has chaired, for more than 20 years. She has been a member of the President’s Scholars selection committee for a dozen years, a founding member of the board of directors for the Guardian Scholars and served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors for eight years, including as 2009-10 association president.
In addition, she has served on the Philanthropic Foundation Board of Governors, is a founding member of the Women in Philanthropy support organization and is one of the university’s 50 Women of Distinction. She served on the CSUF 50th Anniversary Celebration Committee, the Gala Committee for the opening of the Joseph A.W. Clayes III Performing Arts Center and the Blue Ribbon Committee for Front & Center. Wagner has served on several scholarship selection committees, as well as committees active in College of the Arts fundraising. In recognition of her dedication to her alma mater, the Fullerton resident has received the university’s Volunteer of the Year Award four times.
For more information about the Vision & Visionaries event, visit the website or contact the University Advancement Division’s Office of Major Events at 657-278-3480 or email@example.com.
Ryan Smith, 657-278-3381
Paula Selleck, 657-278-4856