Press Release Faculty

CSU Faculty, Staff Honored for Outstanding Contributions to Student Success


Annual Wang Family Excellence Awards honor extraordinary dedication and contributions in teaching, scholarship and service to CSU students.


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

Honorees will be recognized Tuesday, January 26, at a regularly scheduled meeting of the CSU Board of Trustees.

“Each day CSU faculty and staff are helping students achieve their academic goals and dreams through Graduation Initiative 2025. These five honorees have gone above and beyond all expectations to share their knowledge and expertise to guide our talented students on their journey to academic success," said CSU Chancellor Joseph I. Castro. “Stanley Wang and his family's generous financial gift allows us to provide financial support for these awardees' ongoing work and to publicly recognize their dedication, life-changing contributions and professional achievements."

Launched in 1998 the Wang Family Excellence Awards celebrate CSU faculty members who have distinguished themselves through excellence in their academic disciplines and who have an enormous impact through high-quality instruction. The awards also recognize a staff member whose significant contributions exceed expectations.

The five awardees are:

  • Judith E. Canner, Ph.D., California State University, Monterey Bay (Professor, Mathematics and Statistics), Outstanding Faculty Teaching

Canner is widely respected for her extraordinary commitment to student learning. One of her most significant contributions was her leadership in redesigning first-year mathematics courses in response to Executive Order 1110 which ended remedial education in the CSU. Canner also has helped students in all disciplines develop the quantitative reasoning (QR) skills they need to be successful. She was named the university's first QR Assessment Coordinator in 2014 and, working with faculty from across the university, developed a QR criteria and expansive definition that could be applied across disciplines. Her work is particularly timely in its focus on decreasing equity gaps through an innovative redesign of first-year mathematics courses, effective mentoring and creating internship opportunities and other pathways to career and graduate school. Her efforts have been shared and leveraged among multiple CSU campuses. She has mentored several students who took part in the university's nationally recognized Undergraduate Research Opportunities Center. Her many presentations and publications demonstrate her service to translating teaching-and-learning research into practice. She received the CSU's Faculty Innovation and Leadership Award in 2018 for work in redesigning CSU Monterey Bay's mathematics and statistics department. That award recognizes faculty who are implementing innovative practices as part of Graduation Initiative 2025 and who have showed leadership in improving student success.

  • Cynthia A. Crawford, Ph.D., California State University, San Bernardino (Professor, Psychology), Outstanding Faculty Innovator in Student Success

Crawford's contributions as a professor of psychology and director of the Office of Research Development have enriched CSU San Bernardino's learning community and supplied impactful opportunities for countless students. Crawford has helped advance the university's research and grant capacities with grant awards growing from $5.5 million in 1996-97 to $42 million in 2019-20. She is known for her strong mentorship, compassionate care and keen abilities to advance student growth. An authority in the biomedical neuroscience and psychopharmacology fields, Crawford has published more than 75 journal papers with student authors appearing more than a 100 times in her publications. She has also secured federal grants totaling more than $13 million on behalf of the university, with virtually all supporting student success. Most recently, she and a colleague were awarded an NIH (National Institutes of Health) grant aimed at increasing the diversity of students who earn their bachelor's degrees and complete research-focused, biomedical advanced degrees. She was the first faculty representative ever chosen from a public comprehensive university in the United States to be selected as part of a review panel that approves NIH research grants.

  • Hala Madanat, Ph.D., San Diego State University (Interim Vice President for Research and Innovation), Outstanding Faculty Scholarship 

Distinguished Professor of Health Promotion and Behavioral Science Madanat has led an exceptional career in public health, particularly in the study of health disparities among Latinx communities. As a public health expert with a long record of service to the San Diego region, Madanat is leading a new partnership with San Diego County to support contact tracing and testing in underserved communities using culturally appropriate practices. Madanat is an accomplished researcher in the fields of health promotions and behavior management whose work in the areas of obesity and nutrition and program evaluation has been cited by the United States Congress in enacting health policy changes. As the chief research officer for San Diego State University, she oversees all aspects of the university's research endeavors including the San Diego State Research Foundation. She leads the evaluation of several NIH-funded center grants including the San Diego State University/UC San Diego Cancer Center Partnership. In total, she has served as the principal investigator, co-principal investigator or co-investigator on 15 grants totaling more than $45 million. Prior to assuming her role as interim vice president for Research and Innovation, Madanat served as the director of the School of Public Health where she provided strategic leadership for all policies and programs related to its research, teaching and outreach activities. During her tenure, she represented the school nationally at the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, contributing to helping academic and practice partnerships.

  • Aydin Nazmi, Ph.D., California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Professor of Food Science and Nutrition), Outstanding Faculty Scholarship

Nazmi has been instrumental in ensuring the basic needs of Cal Poly students, and that the larger Cal Poly community has remained healthy in the face of a global pandemic. In addition to being an expert on nutrition and food security, he is also an epidemiologist and serves as the university's Presidential Faculty Fellow for COVID-19 Response and Preparedness. His work in leading Cal Poly's strategic response to the pandemic included the rapid development of saliva and wastewater surveillance testing for COVID-19 leveraging faculty expertise and on-campus resources, which has made the university a model for both CSU campuses and other universities nationwide. Prior to the pandemic, Nazmi was best known on campus and throughout much of the CSU for his research on nutrition and food security. He is the director of Cal Poly's CalFresh Outreach and Healthy Living programs, which have improved food access and nutrition for thousands of college students.

  • Gerald L. Jones, J.D., Sonoma State University (Interim Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs, Student Access and Educational Equality), Outstanding Staff Performance

Jones led strategies to increase recruitment, retention and graduation of historically underrepresented students. He also oversees the Male Success Initiative (MSI) program which aids in closing the achievement gap for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) male students. Over the last three years, Jones has been the principal investigator on more than 25 grants totaling $14 million to support at-risk and marginalized students. Throughout his more than 20 years of service to the university, Jones has made tremendous contributions to thousands of underserved students. From serving as director of the TRiO Upward Bound programs to his current dual role as senior director of the Center for Academic Access and Student Enrichment (CAASE), he has dedicated himself to aiding the most vulnerable populations. This includes helping students enroll into the four-year college/university of their choice along with earning their degrees within six years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Jones worked with campus partners to ensure all CAASE students in need had the technological resources – including Chromebooks, noise-cancelling headphones and hotspots – to continue their studies online.​

Through Graduation Initiative 2025, the CSU is working to increase graduation rates for all CSU students while eliminating equity gaps and meeting California's workforce needs. Despite challenges presented by the global health crisis, more CSU students earned baccalaureate degrees in the 2019-20 academic year than ever before. Nearly 110,000 CSU students joined the ranks of the CSU's 3.8 million alumni.

The CSU Board of Trustees meeting will be held virtually on January 26th and 27th.

For more information on the Wang Family Excellence Awards recipients and their accomplishments, visit our website. ​​

Graduation Initiative