Press Release Graduation Initiative

CSU Faculty, Staff Honored for Extraordinary Dedication to Student Success


​Annual Wang Family Excellence Awards highlight remarkable contributions in teaching, scholarship and service to the California State University.


​​​​​The California State University (CSU) will honor four faculty and one staff member with the prestigious Wang Family Excellence Awards for their outstanding commitment to student achievement and contributions in their respective fields. As part of their recognition, honorees will each receive a $20,000 award that is established through a gift from CSU Trustee Emeritus Stanley T. Wang and administered through the CSU Foundation. 

Honorees will be recognized on Tuesday, January 28, at a regularly scheduled meeting of the CSU Board of Trustees.

“The skilled, dedicated and innovative work of the 2020 Wang Family Excellence Award recipients wonderfully embodies the mission and ideals of the California State University,” said CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White.  “Thanks to the vision and remarkable generosity of Stanley Wang and his family, these exemplary faculty and staff members receive well-deserved recognition and support for their consequential and ongoing work on behalf of CSU students.” 

The Wang Family Excellence Award was originally established in 1998 and celebrates CSU faculty members who have distinguished themselves through groundbreaking achievements in their academic disciplines and who have an enormous impact on students through high-quality instruction. The award also pays tribute to a staff member whose contributions significantly exceed expectations at the university. The awards highlight many of the ways in which CSU faculty and staff are helping students achieve their academic goals through Graduation Initiative 2025.

The five awardees are:

  • Rajee Amarasinghe, Ph.D., California State University, Fresno (Department of Mathematics), Outstanding Faculty Innovator in Student Success: Amarasinghe’s area of expertise includes using technology in mathematics teaching and learning; understanding students’ attitudes toward and beliefs about mathematics; and using interdisciplinary tools to teach math. He is the founder and director of Fresno State’s Summer Academy in STEM. Since his arrival in 2000, he has procured more than $13 million in grant funding. Additionally, he has been the co-principal investigator and faculty advisor for the San Joaquin Valley Mathematics Project since 2001. As a professor and chair of mathematics, Amarasinghe has been the team leader in developing programs such as the Mathematics Teaching Scholar’s program, Integrated Credential Program in Mathematics and Subject Matter Authorization Program in Introductory Mathematics at Fresno State. In August 2018, he was awarded a 2018-19 Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award by the CSU Chancellor’s Office. That award recognizes faculty who are implementing innovative practices as part of Graduation Initiative 2025 and who’ve demonstrated leadership in improving student success.

  • Eric J. Bartelink, Ph.D., California State University, Chico (Department of Anthropology), Outstanding Faculty Service: Bartelink is the co-director of the Human Identification Laboratory and lead on the Stable Isotope Preparations Laboratory at Chico State. He teaches biological anthropology and forensic science to both undergraduate and graduate students, and assisted Chico State’s team in recovering the remains of individuals who perished in the 2018 Camp Fire. His work and that of other Chico State faculty, staff and students gave immeasurable peace and closure to family and friends of those who lost their lives in that tragedy. The work also gave first-year graduate students invaluable field experience and a chance to help their community in a time of great need. Bartelink’s own research on the use of stable isotopes as a forensic tool has helped to advance human identification methods and close numerous cold cases. Every year, Chico State’s Human Identification Laboratory works on more than 100 cases and recoveries.  

  • Brian Levin, J.D., California State University, San Bernardino (College of Social and Behavioral Sciences), Outstanding Faculty Scholarship: Levin is a world-renowned authority whose real-time trend analysis of hate crimes and extremism has aided Congress, state legislatures, scholars, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the United Nations and a wide range of government agencies, scholars, journalists and NGOs. As the director of the nonpartisan Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, he provides independent objective analysis that can be easily accessed by the media, public policy professionals, academics, students and community stakeholders. Levin’s reports and presentations are noteworthy for their accuracy and examination of ever-changing dynamics present in today’s society. As a professor of criminal justice at Cal State San Bernardino, Levin’s work as an educator has focused on teaching and advising students on criminal law and procedure, national security and hate crime. His students acquire a better understanding of the behavior and shifting risk factors around prejudice, violence and tribalism—and increased knowledge in how to stop them.

  • Laura Lupei, Sonoma State University (University Budget and Planning), Outstanding Staff Performance: Lupei supports the university’s mission of improving student success and completion. As senior director of University Budget and Planning at Sonoma State, she leads efforts pertaining to the development, implementation and management of her campus’s nearly $250 million annual budget. She has chaired a task force that recommended much-needed updates to the campus’s process for cost-allocation planning. She also overhauled SSU’s strategic budgeting framework, timeline and software. Lupei and her team ensure Sonoma State’s financial resources are aligned with the strategic goals of Sonoma State. 

  • Brian P. Self, Ph.D., California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (College of Engineering: Mechanical Engineering), Outstanding Faculty Teaching: Self led a National Science Foundation project featuring collaboration between Cal Poly San Luis Obispo’s departments of mechanical engineering, computer engineering and kinesiology that culminated in nearly 100 senior projects designed to help people with disabilities participate in sports. Central to Self’s approach to teaching is to continually engage his students in the learning process so they think deeply about what they are doing—a philosophy that embodies the ca​​mpus’s “learn by doing” ethos and ensures a classroom that’s inclusive, fun and empowering for students. 

Through Graduation Initiative 2025, the CSU is working to increase graduation rates for all CSU students while eliminating opportunity and achievement gaps. Last fall, the CSU announced that graduation rates for first-time freshmen and transfer students reached all-time highs. In 2019, CSU students earned a total of 107,319 bachelor's degrees, representing an all-time high for the university.

The CSU Board of Trustees meeting will be held at the CSU Chancellor's Office, 401 Golden Shore, Long Beach, CA 90802. For more information on the Wang Family Excellence Awards recipients and their accomplishments, visit:

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About the California State University
The California State University is the largest system of four-year higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, 52,000 faculty and staff and 482,000 students. Half of the CSU's students transfer from California community colleges. Created in 1960, the mission of the CSU is to provide high-quality, affordable education to meet the ever-changing needs of California. With its commitment to quality, opportunity, and student success, the CSU is renowned for superb teaching, innovative research and for producing job-ready graduates. Each year, the CSU awards more than 127,000 degrees. One in every 20 Americans holding a college degree is a graduate of the CSU and our alumni are 3.8 million strong. Connect with and learn more about the CSU in the CSU NewsCenter.