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Vision & Visionaries Pays Tribute
to Outstanding Alumni


April 4, 2003 :: No. 187

They are among the tops in their fields and on Saturday, April 12, seven Cal State Fullerton alumni, including an honorary alumnus, will be celebrated for their achievements during the 2003 Vision & Visionaries gala at the Grand Californian Hotel in Anaheim. The 10th annual event also spotlights students from the Theatre and Dance Department who will perform musical tributes to the guests of honor. The honorees are:

Vance R. Ablott Vance R. Ablott (B.A. biological science ’73) of Alexandria, Va., president and CEO of the Challenger Center for Space Science Education. Under Ablott’s leadership, the Alexandria-based Challenger Center has grown to 50 learning centers in the United States, Canada and Great Britain. A former project director for Tokyo Disneyland, NASA’s Space Center Houston and the Gene Autry Western Heritage Museum, Ablott strives to foster in students a long-term interest in math, science and technology.
Wayne Knyal Wayne L. “Buz” Knyal of Los Angeles, entrepreneur and former business administration major. Knyal created his current company, Wireless Capital Partners, in 2001 and recently formed a joint venture with AT&T Wireless. His accomplishments include leading the advertising team at Bank of America to introduce the Versateller ATM machine and the founding of Franchise Mortgage Acceptance Co., where he became the first to achieve debt securitization in the franchising industry.
Robert McDonald Robert “Bobby” McDonald (B.S. physical education ’75) of Anaheim, businessman. McDonald is president and executive director of the Black Chamber of Commerce of Orange County, where he is credited with expanding the chamber’s membership, due to what members say is his creativity and innovation. The organization has partnered consistently with Orange County minority business associations, local chambers and legislators to provide support for the county’s many small-business owners. He also developed the chamber’s educational outreach programs, including the Bricks and Bridges program and the Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Program with Christ Our Redeemer AME Church in Irvine. He received the Human Relations Leadership Award from the Orange County Human Relations Commission in 1999, and in 2000, was named the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Millennial Man of the Year.
Christopher Mears Christopher B. Mears (B.A. theatre arts ’78) of Irvine, attorney. Mears specializes in plaintiff’s injury litigation, including medical malpractice, legal malpractice, government and products liability. His work on behalf of the homeless has resulted in such accolades as the State Bar of California President’s Pro Bono Service Award, Community Legal Services Award from the Legal Aid Society of Orange County and the Poverty Law Center’s Advocates Award. Mears is a member of the Irvine City Council and served a mayor pro tem during his first year on the council. He currently is leading the development of the Great Park at El Toro, which is home to Cal State Fullerton’s El Toro Campus.
Michele Ruiz Michele G. Ruiz (B.A. communications ’88), newscaster. Ruiz co-anchors the 5:30 p.m. weekday broadcast of the Channel 4 News with Chuck Henry on KNBC-TV. She is a local Emmy Award- and Golden Mike Award-winner. In addition, she has been recognized by the city of Los Angeles and Comision Feminil de Los Angeles as a Latina Woman of Achievement, and by MOSTE (Motivating Our Students Through Education) for her work as a longtime mentor to young women. Ruiz serves on the board of Para Los Niños and is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc., the Radio Television News Directors Association and National Association of Hispanic Journalists.
Philip Schimmel Philip R. Schimmel (B.A. business administration ’76) of Manhattan Beach, managing partner of KPMG Los Angeles. A 26-year veteran with KPMG, Schimmel’s leadership extends to initial public offerings, mergers and acquisitions, technical advice on financial reporting, restructuring, debt financing and due diligence. He is an assurance partner in KPMG’s information,communications and entertainment practice. Schimmel is global lead partner for Apple Computer and lead partner for Tenet Healthcare Corp. Additionally, he is a Security Exchange Commission reviewing partner for such companies as Western Digital, Emulex, Beckman Coulter, Qlogic and Allergan. Currently, he is a board member of Junior Achievement for Southern California and a member of the Los Angeles Sports Council.
James Young James D. “Jim” Young of Fullerton, emeritus professor of theatre. Honorary alumnus Young founded the Department of Theatre — later becoming the Department of Theatre and Dance — in 1960 and has witnessed its growth into a nationally acclaimed program. Subsequently, he served as associate dean for the School of Letters, Arts and Sciences and associate vice president for academic programs. He continued teaching part time after being granted emeritus status in 1986, and in a further commitment to Cal State Fullerton, co-founded and co-chaired the campuswide “It’s Our University” faculty/staff/emeriti campaign, created to raise much-needed funds for CSUF programs, scholarships and departments. To date, the 11-year-old program that Young continues to co-chair, has generated $1.3 million in gifts.
Media Contacts: Patricia Boggs, executive director of alumni relations,
657-278-4732 or pboggs@fullerton.edu
Gail Matsunaga, Public Affairs, 657-278-4851 or gmatsunaga@fullerton.edu

For more information, visit the Vision & Visionaries website.

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