Campus: CSU Bakersfield -- May 27, 2004

California State University, Bakersfield Reaches Commencement Milestones

California State University, Bakersfield will reach some milestones at its 34th commencement exercises June 11 and 12. The university will graduate its largest class ever, and bid farewell to the man who has led CSUB for the past 21 years, in four ceremonies scheduled Friday and Saturday.

More than 2,000 prospective graduates will don their caps and gowns to participate in the ceremony, which culminates their education. Of the 2,004 people who are eligible to participate in the ceremonies this year – the first time CSUB has passed the 2,000 mark – 1,196 are from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, 310 from the School of Business and Public Administration, 322 from the School of Education, and 174 from the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Last year, CSUB graduated 1,449 students. The number who actually are awarded degrees is usually somewhat less than the number eligible to participate in the commencement ceremonies. Officials expect about 1,600 will receive degrees when record verification is complete sometime in August.

CSUB Provost James George said the significant increase is a good indication of the health and vitality of the university. "The university has experienced significant growth this year in spite of budget problems, not only in enrollment numbers but also academic achievement and program development," George said. "This large graduating class is evidence of our commitment to our students and the community and the quality education that we provide at Cal State Bakersfield."

The 2004 commencement will also be the last for President Tomas Arciniega, who is retiring after 21 years at CSUB’s helm. In addition to his normal duties presiding over the CSUB’s four commencement ceremonies, Arciniega is also the commencement speaker at two of them.

• The School of Education holds the first of the commencement ceremonies on Friday, June 11, at 7:30 p.m. in the Icardo Center.
• The School of Humanities and Social Sciences’ ceremony begins Saturday, June 12, at 7:15 a.m. in the Amphitheater.
• The School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics will hold its ceremonies Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Icardo Center.
• The School of Business and Public Administration’s ceremony will be Saturday at 5:45 p.m. in the Icardo Center.

The university will also host a reception for Antelope Valley graduates on Sunday, June 6, at 3 p.m. in the Convention Center at Park Plaza in Lancaster.

Each school recognizes honor graduates at separate events prior to commencement.

• The School of Humanities and Social Sciences hosts its honors brunch Saturday, June 5, at 10 a.m. in the Runner Café.
• The School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics honors its graduates Sunday, June 6, at 10 a.m. in the Stockdale Room of the Runner Café.

The School of Business and Public Administration held its honors dinner May 21, and the School of Education recognized its outstanding graduates on May 22.

Commencement speakers this year are as follows:
• School of Education and School of Humanities and Social Sciences, CSUB President Tomas Arciniega.
• School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, K.C. Cole, author and science writer for the Los Angeles Times.
• School of Business and Public Administration, Gene Voiland, president of Aera Energy.

Speakers’ biographical sketches

• During his tenure, Arciniega has seen the university’s enrollment triple, the budget quadruple and the university’s impact on the local economy multiply. His administration has overseen construction of the Walter Stiern Library, the Student Union, Business Development Center, and the Icardo Center. The university also expanded its reach, opening a satellite campus in the Antelope Valley, and a center in Delano. Through the technology of interactive television, CSUB has been able to offer classes as far away as Bishop and Ridgecrest. Arciniega was born in El Paso, Texas, and attended public schools there. He attended New Mexico State University in Las Cruces on a football scholarship, earning his bachelor of science degree in teacher education.

After a brief stint as a professional baseball player in the minor leagues, he attended the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque where he earned his master's degree and doctorate in educational administration. Prior to returning to graduate school, he also served two years as an officer in the U.S. Army. He served in the U.S. Foreign Service as a human resources advisor in the Dominican Republic from 1967 to 1968. Then, as a UNM faculty member, he was appointed chief of party of a technical assistance project in Colombia through 1970. He returned to his native El Paso where he was a professor of educational administration at the University of Texas, El Paso from 1971 through 1973. In 1973 he was named dean of education at San Diego State University, and served in that post until 1980. He then served as provost at California State University, Fresno from 1980 to 1983; in 1983 he was named president of CSUB.

• Cole is the author, most recently, of “Mind Over Matter: Conversations with the Cosmos,” published by Harcourt in April 2003. She is a science writer for the Los Angeles Times and science commentator for Pasadena Public Radio (KPCC). Her previous books include “The Hole in the Universe: How Scientists Peered Over the Edge of Emptiness and Found Everything”; “The Universe and the Teacup: The Mathematics of Truth and Beauty”; and “First You Build a Cloud: Reflections on Physics as a Way of Life.” She has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsday, Esquire, Newsweek, Saturday Review, Ms., and many other publications. Cole has taught at UCLA, Yale and Wesleyan universities, and been a fellow at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute and the Exploratorium. Her recent honors include the American Institute of Physics Science Writing prize in 1995; the Los Angeles Times award for deadline reporting, 1996; the Skeptics' Society Edward R. Murrow Award for Thoughtful Coverage of Scientific Controversies in 1998; Los Angeles Times Pulitzer Prize nomination 1998; Los Angeles Times award for best explanatory journalism, 1999; and the Elizabeth A. Wood Science Writing Award from the American Crystallographic Association, 2001. She is a graduate of Barnard College in New York City.

• Voiland is president and CEO of Aera Energy LLC, one of California’s largest producers of oil and natural gas. He has held that position since June 1997 when Aera was formed following the merger of the California exploration and production operations of Shell and Mobil. (Today, Aera is jointly owned by Shell and ExxonMobil.) Previously, Voiland worked for Shell Oil Co., most recently as president and CEO of CalResources LLC, a California Shell affiliate. During his 28-year Shell career, Voiland held a series of exploration and production engineering and management assignments in California, the Gulf Coast, and Texas, including several head office senior management positions in Houston. Active in civic affairs, Voiland is currently first vice chair of the California Chamber of Commerce and a director of the R.M. Pyles Boys Camp, the CSUB Foundation, and the United Way of Kern County. In addition, he is past chairman of the board of directors of the Western States Petroleum Association. Voiland received a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from Washington State University in 1969. He was named a distinguished chemical engineering alumnus in 1991 and serves on the advisory board of WSU’s College of Engineering and Architecture. He is also a member of the Investment Committee of the WSU Foundation and is past member of the WSU Board of Trustees.

Contact: Mike Stepanovich, 661/664-2456,

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