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Honoree Pearl Chang receiving award on stage

Bill Dickerson, executive director of ASC, presents Pearl Chang with an award.

Exceptional Service

Auxiliary Service Corp. Honors One of its Own

May 27, 2008

By Pamela McLaren

When she followed her husband to California in 1987, Pearl Cheng barely skipped a beat in moving from serving as chief accountant for the State of Texas Commission for the Blind to becoming an accountant with Cal State Fullerton's Auxiliary Services Corp. In addition to working with the Texas Commission for the Blind, Cheng also had been chief fiscal officer for the Texas State Sesquicentennial Commission and director of administrative services for the Texas Association for Retarded Citizens.

Very quickly, her value to the university was obvious. In that first campus role, said Bill Dickerson, executive director of ASC, "she was the primary contact with the research community. At that time, the foundation was doing a little over a million dollars a year."

Cheng worked closely with Stu Ross, then director of the Office of Grants and Contracts, to minimize problems and duplication, said Dickerson. "Needless to say — they did it extremely well, and over the next several years, the grants grew to several million dollars a year."

"Watching my husband, a research scientist for 10 years, research has earned my greatest respect," said Cheng.

Her job transitioned to director as Cheng hired assistants to help administer the programs, and in 1994, as ASC found itself in need of a chief financial officer, "it was evident to the entire campus that Pearl was the perfect person to fill that position."

For over 20 years, Cheng provided leadership and management oversight for the Auxiliary Services Corp. She retired last summer but didn't stay away for long: she now serves with University Extended Education.

In recognition of all her achievements, ASC and Dickerson surprised Cheng in March by honoring her with an exceptional service award during the "In Celebration of Research: Strengthening CSU's Research Partnerships and Collaborations" program sponsored by the Office of Grants and Contracts.

"Her seven years experience in working with grant recipients embedded a true 'service' philosophy that is so important to all that the ASC does," noted Dickerson. "That philosophy does not always come easy to those joining higher education from the 'real world.'

"In addition to her insistence that our administrative teams embody this 'service' mentality, her financial acumen also enabled us to strengthen each our commercial entities — so much so that after a few years under Pearl's oversight — the foundation found itself on the strongest financial footing of its 40-plus year history. "

"I have been very fortunate to serve the brightest faculty under the premises of trust and respect," said Cheng. "It has given me the most satistaction during my career."

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