​​The California State University (CSU) will honor four faculty and one staff member with the Wang Family Excellence Awards for their extraordinary commitment to student achievement and exemplary contributions in their fields. As part of their recognition, honorees will each receive a $20,000 award established through a gift from CSU Trustee Emeritus Stanley T. Wang and administered through the CSU Foundation. The honorees will be recognized on Tuesday, January 31, at a regularly scheduled meeting of the CSU Board of Trustees. 

"The CSU community is proud of our faculty and staff whose work makes a lasting difference in the lives of our students," said Chancellor Timothy P. White. "Thanks to Stanley's genuine and longstanding generosity, we are able to highlight and uniquely recognize the exemplary accomplishments of five dedicated and mission-driven individuals."

The Wang Family Excellence Award 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 superior teaching. The awards for faculty are given to members of four groups of academic disciplines – Visual and Performing Arts and Letters; Natural Sciences, Mathematical and Computer Science and Engineering; Social and Behavioral Sciences and Public Service; and Education and Professional Applied Sciences. The award also pays tribute to staff members whose contributions significantly exceed expectations in their appropriate areas at the university. The five awardees include:

  • Debra Y. Griffith, San José State University (Staff): Griffith supports the university's mission of improving student success and completion for underrepresented and minority students. As associate vice president of Transition and Retention Services and director of the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), Griffith led efforts to rebuild San José State's EOP and improved retention rates for first-year freshmen in the program. Griffith also provided leadership and guidance in launching the first Spartan Scholars Program, a five-week residential program for students who need support in math and/or English, and helped create the first-ever Parent and Family Program, which engages freshman, transfer and first-generation students and their families. 
  • Mariappan Jawaharlal, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (Natural Sciences, Mathematical and Computer Science and Engineering): Jawaharlal pioneered the use of scenario-based learning to improve engineering education across the country. His contribution to addressing CSU's bottleneck courses by creating video tutorials to supplement his classes has decreased failure rates. Jawaharlal's teaching awards include Cal Poly Pomona's Provost's Awards for Excellence in Teaching and the Northrop Grumman Award for Excellence in Teaching. At Cal Poly Pomona, he founded the Robotics Education through Active Learning (REAL) program, a K-12 robotics outreach program, and co-founded the Femineer Program, inspiring female K-12 students to pursue STEM. In 2015, the Femineer Program was recognized by the White House for its commitment to action. Jawaharlal has published more than 50 papers on topics including life-centered design, sustainable development, design theory and methodology, assistive devices and biomimicry, with the aim of creating a more sustainable world. He was the first mechanical engineer to become a fellow at the Biomimicry Institute. 
  • Anita Silvers, San Francisco State University (Visual and Performing Arts and Letters): Silvers' research on disability and justice has earned her the Quinn Prize for Contributions to Philosophy, the Lebowitz Prize for Excellence in Philosophical Thought and a presidential appointment to the National Council on the Humanities. In 2016, she was named one of 40 top ethics educators in the Pacific Rim by the Squires Foundation. Silvers played an important role in the CSU's commitment to and compliance with the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. While serving on the CSU Academic Senate, she organized efforts to obtain funding from Governor Brown and the California legislature needed for architectural barrier removal and accommodation. She also helped to develop affirmative approaches to the employment of faculty and staff with disabilities, earning her the first-ever Rights Award from the California Faculty Association. Since rebuilding SFSU's department of philosophy in 2006, Silvers has been serving in the department as a professor and chair.
  • Keith A. Trujillo, California State University San Marcos (Social and Behavioral Sciences and Public Service): Trujillo is committed to mentoring and training underrepresented minority students in the STEM disciplines as director of the Office for Training, Research and Education in the Sciences (OTRES) and co-director of the Summer Program in Neuroscience, Ethics and Survival (SPINES). His efforts have earned him numerous awards, including the President's Outstanding Faculty Award for Scholarly and Creative Activity from CSU San Marcos, the National Award for Research and the National Award of Excellence in Mentorship from the National Hispanic Science Network on Drug Abuse, and the Award for Education in Neuroscience from the Society for Neuroscience. His 1991 research article on the role of the neurotransmitter glutamate in drug tolerance and dependence is one of the most cited papers in the field of pain relief, contributing significantly to the understanding of brain plasticity in response to drugs.
  • Ruth Yopp-Edwards, California State University, Fullerton (Education and Professional Applied Sciences): As a professor in Cal State Fullerton's Department of Elementary and Bilingual Education, Yopp-Edwards designed and developed the Computing Certificate for Elementary Teachers, Intern Credential Program and Clear Credential Program. She served on a statewide panel to help revise the California Standards for the Teaching Profession. She serves as a leader for a Robert F. Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program, the CSU Preparing a New Generation of Educators for California Initiative, the CSU Transitional Kindergarten Project, and, for more than two decades until 2015, the California Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment/Teacher Induction community. Yopp-Edwards serves on several national and international editorial advisory boards for professional journals and is an inductee into the California Reading Hall of Fame. She co-wrote six books and led multiple grant-funded programs that aim to improve educational experiences for California's youth and build relationships among colleagues at CSU Fullerton and local schools.

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 Award, visit https://www2.calstate.edu/csu-system/faculty-staff/wang-award/pages/default.aspx.


# # #

About the California State University
The California State University is the largest system of senior higher education in the country, with 23 campuses, 49,000 faculty and staff and 474,600 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 105,000 degrees. One in every 20 Americans holding a college degree is a graduate of the CSU and our alumni are 3 million strong. Connect with and learn more about the CSU at the CSU Media Center.