The California State University (CSU) will honor four faculty and one staff member with the prestigious Wang Family Excellence Awards for their extraordinary commitment to student achievement and exemplary contributions in their respective fields. The honorees will be recognized on Tuesday, January 22, at a regularly scheduled meeting of the CSU Board of Trustees.

"Student success is at the core of our mission, and these members of the faculty and staff have gone above and beyond by demonstrating an unwavering commitment to transforming the lives of our students," said CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White. "Thanks to Stanley Wang's longstanding and continued generosity, we are able to shine a spotlight on the stellar work of five student-centered members of the CSU community each year and help them to continue their important contributions in their fields of expertise."

The Wang Family Excellence Award was originally established in 1998, and recognizes and celebrates CSU faculty members who have distinguished themselves through ground-breaking achievements in their academic disciplines and who have an enormous impact on students through high-quality instruction. The award also acknowledges a staff member whose contributions significantly exceed expectations in their appropriate area at the university. 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.  The five awardees include:

  • Guadalupe X. Ayala, San Diego State University (School of Public Health), Outstanding Faculty Scholarship: Ayala is a distinguished researcher of health disparities whose work utilizes leading-edge methodologies to improve the lives and well-being of California communities. She develops and adapts evidence-based interventions to reduce Latino health disparities in obesity, diabetes and asthma. Ayala promotes multidisciplinary research and is a mentor to SDSU faculty.
  • Thomas Fowler, IV, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Department of Architecture), Outstanding Faculty Teaching: Fowler has played a major role in shaping Cal Poly's top ranked architecture program for more than 23 years. He is nationally recognized as an influential innovator in the field of architectural education and for exemplary teaching that inspires students. In addition to his work as a professor and the director of the Graduate Architecture program, Fowler exposes his students to unique opportunities that give them hands-on and global learning experiences.
  • Stephen P. Mezyk, California State University, Long Beach (Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry), Outstanding Faculty Innovator in Student Success: Mezyk brings 30 years of research experience studying radiation- and radical-induced chemistry. For more than 18 years, he has taught undergraduate and graduate students at Cal State Long Beach. Mezyk created a student-centered program that includes advisement, early assessment, active learning, supplemental instruction, participation in research and publication, and continuous mentoring for more than 600 students. The program's intentional focus is credited with leading to an increase in student pass rates of more than 15% and facilitating student achievement.
  • Julia E. Curry Rodriguez, San José State University (Department of Chicano & Chicana Studies), Outstanding Faculty Service: Rodriguez demonstrates an impressive commitment to service on behalf of students and the San José community. In addition to her teaching, research and scholarship, she has worked tirelessly over her nearly two decades to provide access to and support for the success of undocumented students seeking their education in the CSU. She raises funds for student scholarships and financial aid through opportunities for speaking and grants. She's also increased local and national awareness of the contributions of immigrants to our society.
  • Lori Beth Way, San Francisco State University (Undergraduate Education and Academic Planning), Outstanding Staff Performance: Way has created an environment in which faculty, staff and administrators work together to streamline and improve curriculum to better serve students and to critically examine practices with an eye toward continuous improvement. She leads the campus' Student Success and Graduation Initiative and the restructuring and rebuilding of SFSU's academic advising services.

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 and equity gaps between students from historically underserved communities and other students narrowed. In 2018, CSU students earned a total of 105,431 bachelor's degrees, representing an all-time high.

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: https://www2.calstate.edu/csu-system/faculty-staff/wang-award/Pages/default.aspx.

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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 481,000 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 125,000 degrees. One in every 20 Americans holding a college degree is a graduate of the CSU and our alumni are 3.7 million strong. Connect with and learn more about the CSU in the CSU NewsCenter.