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Solar panel participants near podium
Among those at the solar panel ribbon-cutting event in Parking Lot 14 on Sept. 15 were (l-r) Aaron Klemm, Chief of Energy & Sustainability, CSU Chancellor’s Office; Nam Nguyen, SunPower Executive Vice President for Commercial Business; Michael Gardner, CSULB Manager of Planning & Sustainability; Robert Garcia, Long Beach Mayor; and Holli Fajack, CSULB Sustainability Coordinator. (Photo by Sean DuFrene)

With one flip of a ceremonial switch, President Jane Close Conoley and Mayor Robert Garcia threw light on Cal State Long Beach’s latest effort to bring clean energy to the campus. On Sept. 15, they were part of the unveiling of the school’s new solar power system that looms above parking lots 14 and 7.

“Our university is dedicated to caring about our planet in every possible way,” Conoley said, “from making a formal commitment to eliminating the university’s net greenhouse emissions to fostering climate literacy among our students and promoting research efforts focusing on addressing the impacts of climate change.”

The rows of high-reaching solar panels will provide 4.5 megawatts and supply one-third of the campus’ energy demands during peak periods. The new system also will add 44 electric vehicle chargers to the four existing ones.

Conoley pointed out that the solar panels in both parking lots “make up the largest solar installation on any of the 23 CSU campuses.”

She paused, then added, “We’re not the least bit competitive. They’re all doing the best they can be we’re doing it faster and better.”

Garcia, an CSULB alumnus, added that the installation was not only the largest in the CSU system, but in the city of Long Beach as well.

“There is nothing else like this in the city,” Garcia said, “so the university is not just leading the way in the collegiate system, but showing cities across the country how to do it right, and how to be sustainably responsible. That’s a proud moment.”

The solar installations are part of CSULB’s Climate Action Plan that was adopted in 2014, which established the goal of achieving carbon neutrality by the year 2030. Conoley said that the collaboration between the city, community groups and the university will lead to a more resilient and sustainable region.

“We are all all-in on this,” she said.

Conoley said the school partnered with SunPower to get the panels in place before classes began. She described it as a public-private partnership and financed through a Power Purchase Agreement, which means the university did not have to pay upfront costs to install the system.

The developer covers most or all the costs to design, install and maintain a solar energy system on a customer’s property. In return, the customer agrees to purchase the energy produced by the system from the developer for a fixed rate for a period of time.

For full disclosure, Maythee Rojas loves dogs.

“I adore them,” said Rojas, a professor of Chicano and Latino Studies at CSULB. “Dogs have always been a huge part of my life.”

They are such a part of her life, in fact, that she is working on a book that combines two of the literary scholar’s passions—storytelling and dogs.

Cultura Canine is a social analysis of the interactions between dogs and Latino communities in the United States. The cultural studies project will cover topics that range from examining the racialized policing of Latinos and animal welfare in Los Angeles County to tracing the presence of canine imagery in Chicano literature to profiling the once-undocumented celebrity dog trainer, Cesar Milan.

In particular, the book examines how immigration and acculturation have impacted Latino dog ownership.

“I’m in the early stages of writing this book, but I’ve been planning it for several years,” she said. “I want to develop a series of interconnected essays that discuss the cultural differences around caring for dogs as well as consider how canines are used both metaphorically and literally to comment on the treatment of Latino communities in the U.S.”

Drawn by the power of narrative, Rojas grew increasingly interested in stories that detailed how and why Latinos own certain dogs, what the histories of these relationships are and how those relationships are interpreted within sociopolitical contexts.

One of the book’s main chapters will deal with the acculturation of Latinos, observing that as these populations move in larger numbers to the United States, there is a natural blending of cultures.

“They become hyphenated, where they are Mexican, but also American; where they are Costa Rican, but also American,” said Rojas. “Acculturation has so many levels to it and one of it is your family’s day-to-day practices. Americans spend more on their pets than any other nation, and we’re seeing that trend also growing within Latino communities.”

She referenced a recent marketing profile that indicated Latino ownership of animals is on the rise, particularly among Latino millennials.

“So, I am interested in writing about the development of these communities as they move into a more middle class environment where they are adopting more middle class habits, which includes dog ownership.

“But there are things Latinos still keep from within their culture that influences how they ‘parent’ their dogs,” she added. “For example, the names they give them. They aren’t names like Spot or Butch, but more like Chuy or Lola. There is also a stereotype out there that Latinos don’t often care for their dogs as they should. That they don’t vaccinate them, that they let them wander the streets or keep them tied up, that there is a lot of abuse. I took issue with that.

Nursing students on stage
Dogs are such a big part of Maythee Rojas’ life that when she got married, her dog Nacho served as ringbearer.

“I want to address some of these misconceptions,” she continued. “Not necessarily to dispel them because animal cruelty, sadly, exists in all cultures, but I think Latinos are loving dogs in ways that haven’t been recognized before, while still keeping those dogs culturally ‘Latino.’ For example, my dogs are bilingual.” She, of course, was joking.

Rojas, a Latina, has a personal connection that drives this project. The loss of her 13-year-old poodle-terrier companion, Nacho, four years ago was very hard, but she now feels the distance allows her to better address the material.

Rojas said she would end the book with a chapter on grieving and spirituality–another topic that has historical roots around how Latinos have respected animal life, including dogs. She cited the yearly Blessing of the Animals event on downtown L.A.’s Olvera Street as an example.

“This chapter will definitely be framed around my own loss of Nacho, which was very painful, but I also want to honor Nacho for all that he taught me. This book gives a place for me, as the author, to combine a very meaningful part of my own life with a more broader examination of the cultural and sociopolitical shifts surrounding U.S. Latino culture.”

National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15.

When the Women and Philanthropy (W&P) program at CSULB was created 20 years ago, the hopes were high and possibilities limitless.

The goal of the group was to raise money specifically to support re-entry students, those who, for whatever reason, decided it was time to go back to school and finish that degree.

“It is an honor to work with such generous and dedicated Women and Philanthropy members,” said Jackie O’Day, CSULB’s liaison to Women and Philanthropy. “Their collective efforts have helped more than 200 CSULB students reach their dream of a completed college degree. In addition to their philanthropic support, they go the extra mile by mentoring, individually supporting and building meaningful relationships with the recipients. Women and Philanthropy is always welcoming new members that will expand the number of students supported.”

Clearly, there was, and continues, to be a need.

To date, the program has awarded nearly $430,000 in scholarships since 1999, giving out $54,500 this last school year. In all, 211 individuals have received scholarships.

“Some of the stories are heartbreaking and we are amazed at the difficulties these people have overcome to continue their education,” said Lea Lowe, the current executive committee chair, noting some of those difficulties include drug use, incarceration, divorce, homelessness, spousal abuse and mental health issues. “We are hopeful that our past recipients will join us in supporting other re-entry students once they have established themselves in the workforce. We also award smaller research and performance scholarships to help students do presentations at scientific and artistic conferences.”

One of the many grateful for the scholarship support is Matthew Franczyk, who is majoring in construction engineering management and anticipates graduating from CSULB in Spring 2019.

Franczyk, who has dealt with dyslexia his entire life, said once he arrived at CSULB he was, finally, properly diagnosed.

“I just thought that I was just different,” he said. “Now that I know it is just a learning disability there is a solution to my problem.”

As a 42-year-old male returning to school, Franczyk acknowledged it was difficult to ask for help, but he took the chance and asked Women and Philanthropy.

“I thought it was a long shot,” he admitted, “but they picked me to help. They saw something in me that was special and by receiving this scholarship I feel special.”

His long-term goal is to teach, his way of giving back to the community the way the Women and Philanthropy program has given to him.

“I feel that I can do this,” he added. “I can graduate. I will graduate. I have to graduate. What better way to give to the community than to teach.

“I feel that there are kind and loving people in this world who want to help,” he added. “Sometimes you’ve just got to know how to ask. I can’t thank the Women and Philanthropy program enough.”

Venetta Campbell, a lecturer in CSULB’s School of Social Work and a W&P member, has been impressed by the program’s unwavering commitment to student scholarships in research and professional development.

“As an educator, it is particularly gratifying to serve as a member of the Women in Philanthropy Foundation,” said Campbell. “The organization aligns with my passion for higher education access and advocacy development. The foundation’s 20-year milestone is a testament to its excellence and dedication to service.”

The organization is open to faculty, staff, alumni, friends of the university and community partners. For more information, visit the Women and Philanthropy website and learn how to become a member today.

On Thursday, Oct. 19, Women and Philanthropy will hold its fall reception from 6-8 p.m. at the Old Ranch Country Club in Seal Beach. For those interested in attending, contact Jackie O’Day by email or call 562-985-2800.

Nursing students on stage

Family and Consumer Sciences’ Myunghee Sohn knows the future of fashion could lie in the use of digital avatars.

To explore the impact on fashion by graphical representations, which allow individuals to try on clothing, virtually, Sohn joined researchers Jessica Ridgway of Florida State University and Jean Parsons of University of Missouri as co-authors.

Their paper, titled “Creating a More Ideal Self Through the Use of Clothing: An Exploratory Study of Women’s Perceptions of Optical Illusion Garments” recently appeared in the Clothing and Textiles Research Journal.

Sohn is interested in understanding women’s perceptions of optical illusion dresses and whether their body shapes affect their opinions of the dresses. For the study, the researchers created avatars for each survey participant based on a 3-D body scan using TC Body Scanners. Participants were shown seven optical illusion dresses fitted to avatars and asked to evaluate each option.

Overall, those who had an hourglass shape were least likely to find optical illusion dresses appealing. Women with a rectangle shape were most likely to appreciate the optical illusion garments. However, the majority of women in the study could not correctly identify their shape.

For example, none of participants identified themselves as having a spoon shape—also called a pear shape—though researchers categorized a third of participants as having this figure. Of 15 women participants, nine said they had an hourglass shape while researchers only found five had that body shape.

“If a woman doesn’t know her own shape, it makes it difficult for her to identify garments that will help her look her best,” Sohn said. “Digital scanning tools could help consumers find clothing that works for their unique shape in the future. This technology is especially appealing for online retailers and could help online shoppers wary of buying clothing they can’t first try on.”

The usual product development process makes multiple samples before a final garment. The body-scanning program and virtual simulation tool can reduce the cost and time of making these samples.

“Many garment manufacturers today are in China,” she explained. “American manufacturers must talk to their Chinese counterparts when changes are necessary. Now both sides can talk about the same sketch at the same time.”

Issues contributing to women’s confusion about body shape include the many terms retailers use to describe body shape, such as apple, V-shape, H-shape, rectangle and square. The idea of an ideal body shape is elusive. Before she did the study, Sohn believed most women knew and accepted their body shapes.

“Now, I believe not many women know their body shape,” she said. “If they are asked, they would pick the hourglass or skinny body type.”

Body scanners used to pose challenges to smaller boutiques.

“In 2005, body scanners cost as much as a small house,” she said. “Now, I have heard of the development of a $500 version. Small boutiques purchase them to keep their customers. This strengthens the bond between customer and shop. I see the day when everyone has his or her own body scan.”

Sohn feels these digital avatars will change the way we shop for clothes.

“It helps shoppers to make better choices,” she said. “There are websites where shoppers can familiarize themselves with digital avatars even down to skin color and hairstyles. They can see how the clothes will look without actually having to wear them. This software reintroduces fun to online shopping.”

CSULB students on campus

In the most recent list of the “Top 100 Degree Producers” by Diverse Issues in Higher Education, CSULB is ranked third in the nation in conferring baccalaureate degrees to minority students.

“This high ranking confirms our efforts to be inclusive and we are extremely proud of the university’s national ranking among U.S. institutions of higher learning in awarding bachelor’s degrees to minority students,” said CSULB President Jane Close Conoley. “I commend our faculty and staff for their commitment to student success.”

The “Top 100” is a list of the best minority degree-awarding institutions of higher education in the United States. It is the only national report that highlights U.S. colleges’ and universities’ success in awarding degrees to African-American, Asian-American, Latino and Native-American students.

Based on U.S. Department of Education data from the 2015-16 academic year (the most current data available), CSULB conferred bachelor’s degrees to 5,264 minority students, a number that represented 68 percent of all the baccalaureate degrees awarded at the university that year and marks a 7 percent increase from the prior year.

The Diverse Issues’ “Top 100” is the only national analysis to use the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education. Using these statistics, rankings were created in the total number of baccalaureate degrees awarded at every university and college in the nation by ethnicity as well as specific figures in major fields of study or disciplines.

Among individual ethnicities, CSULB ranked sixth nationally in awarding bachelor’s degrees to Hispanic students and 10th to Asian Americans.

By discipline, CSULB ranked No. 1 in awarding undergraduate degrees to minority students in family and consumer sciences, No. 2 in visual and performing arts, and No. 4 in history.

For a complete list of CSULB’s national rankings in awarding baccalaureate degrees to minority students, visit the Diverse Issues in Higher Education “Top 100” webpage.

–Shayne Schroeder

To say Dominic Espejo and Dansen Lipock volunteer might be a slight understatement.

The two CSULB engineering graduates, who have taken slightly different career paths, have at least a couple of other things in common in addition to their area of study–they love photography and they love their alma mater. Happily, they found a way to fuse the two.

Espejo, an electrical engineer for Caltrans, and Lipock, a fourth-grade teacher at Dooley Elementary School in the Long Beach Unified School District, each spend time lending their skills to photograph various alumni activities.

For Espejo, who graduated in 1999 with a B.S. in electrical engineering, his photography work for CSULB’s Alumni Association began in 2015, the result of simply responding to a volunteer form in an alumni newsletter. He has photographed the alumni awards banquet, homecoming and Dodgers/Angels Beach Family Day events.

“I’ve always wanted to participate in some way as an alumnus of the university and saw my chance as a volunteer for the alumni association to contribute something,” he said. “I’ve always had photography as a hobby, but decided to pursue it as a part-time business in 2012. I began investing in better gear and believed my skill level was at a point where I could offer my services professionally. The alumni association and the people who work for it do a tremendous job in putting together events and I’m happy to be able to contribute in a small way.”

Though he has been volunteering his services for just a couple of years, he does have a favorite memory.

“It was wonderful to come back to campus for Homecoming 2015 after being away for several years,” he said. “I felt both sentimental walking down old pathways and seeing the buildings where I went to classes. And, I was astonished to see the modernization the university campus has gone through.”

Lipock, who graduated in 1990 with a B.S. in engineering with an option in industrial management, has been volunteering for nearly five years and says his photography skills were called upon kind of by accident. While doing other volunteer work for the alumni association, word got out he did photography as a hobby. Soon thereafter, he found himself taking photos at alumni events, including freshmen move-in day, alumni awards banquet and the Beach Family Day events as well.

“I really enjoyed and appreciated the time I spent at Cal State Long Beach,” he said. “I felt giving back was important because of how much CSULB has shaped my future.”

Dominic Espejo and Dansen Lipock
Dominic Espejo (top) and Dansen Lipock

Lipock is a good example of how life’s goals can change, even if you are knee deep into a major such as engineering.

During his engineering studies at CSULB, he worked with kids at his church. That experience tugged at him. Already halfway towards getting his engineering degree, he finished, but continued his schooling to earn a multiple subject teaching credential in 1992, eventually becoming a teacher.

“I just felt a greater calling to work with kids,” he said.

Their efforts and enthusiasm for volunteering does not go unnoticed and is much appreciated by the alumni association staff.

“We can’t begin to thank them enough for all the time and work they put into photographing and documenting many of our events,” said Noemi Guevara, an assistant director of alumni relations. “As alums, they see this as a way to give back to their university so everyone benefits.”

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2018 Distinguished Alumni awards. The deadline for nominations is Monday, Nov. 6.

You know what a great institution CSULB is by the people it develops—successful alumni who are making a profound difference in our communities, their chosen fields of expertise and their alma mater. Being named a Distinguished Alumni is the highest award bestowed by the Alumni Association.

Some past recipients have included Nevada Supreme Court Justice Michael Douglas, health and fitness expert Denise Austin, former Disney Imagineer Tony Baxter, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, Lindora Inc. President Cynthia Stamper Graff, and founders of P2S Engineering Kevin and Kent Peterson.

For more information, check out the criteria and selection process, 2018 Distinguished Alumni nomination form (writeable PDF), and review the 2017 Distinguished Alumni recipients.

Nursing students on stage
Ralph Manzanares (c) with President Jane Close Conoley and his peers in facilities management.

Custodian Ralph Manzanares was named by his peers in facilities management recently as employee of the month.

Manzanares, who joined CSULB in 2012 after a 26-year career as a Whittier warehouse worker for Eastman Kodak, was recognized in a special ceremony held near the University Student Union that saw Friendship Walk renamed for the month as Ralph Manzanares Lane.

CSULB President Jane Close Conoley applauded Manzanares’ distinction.

“Ralph is a solid contributor who is committed to quality work,” she said. “Ralph is always ready to lend a hand to his co-workers with a great attitude. Ralph always shows the willingness to go the extra mile, inspires others to work as hard as he does and is always eager to learn more skills to do a better job.”

Manzanares is pleased to be recognized.

“I feel good about being named employee of the month,” he said. “It shows people appreciate what you do.”

His custodial responsibility is to keep the campus well supplied.

“I’m the guy who orders supplies for all the closets on campus,” he said. “There is always something for me to do. I make between four and five deliveries every day. Certain buildings need many supplies while others need few. Every day, someone needs something they did not put in their supply order. It is all a matter of staying aware of what people need. Sometimes they order the wrong stuff and it is up to me to correct that for them.”

Manzanares moves everything from buffers to burnishers.

“The biggest things I move are floor scrubbers which can weigh as much as 500 pounds,” he explained. “Using a truck with a lift gate on the back, I have to tie everything down before taking them to be used or repaired.”

Papers loom large in Manzanares’ deliveries from jumbo rolls of bathroom tissue to paper towels.

“There are plenty of hand soaps, too,” he explained. “Certain buildings need two different kinds of soap. The PE buildings, for instance, need both shampoo and body soap. Other buildings need disinfectant cleaners. Micro-fiber cloths fight for space with scrubbing pads.”

Deliveries come with their own special challenges.

“I remember when the elevators in the AS building needed repairs,” he said. “I still had deliveries to make. My student assistant, a staff member and I had to carry supplies up the stairs until the elevators passed their inspections.”

When Manzanares drives the campus’ distinctive delivery carts, he keeps an eye on safety.

“We are not allowed to use the horn so it is easy to get stuck in traffic,” he said. “Students are always looking at their phones. I told a student worker recently to drive as slowly as the students walk.”

When he is not keeping CSULB supplied with what it needs, he enjoys caring for his grandchildren Isaac and Ralph with his wife Cathy.

“Cathy and I grew up together in Whittier but we never met,” he recalled. “I knew my wife’s father and grandmother before I ever met her. It was not until then that I began to make connections.”

Manzanares is glad he made the choice to join CSULB.

“Working in facilities management gives me a strong sense of purpose,” he said. “I’m glad I came here.”

Manzanares received several gifts including a CSULB sweatshirt, a $25 gift card to Claim Jumper, a $10 gift card to Amazon and two certificates for an Original Whopper from Burger King.

Suicide in East German Literature: Fiction, Rhetoric, and the Self-Destruction of Literary Heritage

Robert Blankenship, assistant professor, Romance/German/Russian Languages and Literatures

Newly arrived this year from Camden House, this 200-page text is Blankenship’s first book. This study of fictional suicides in East German literature provides insight into the complex and dynamic rhetoric of the German Democratic Republic (GDR/East Germany) and the literariness of its literature. Blankenship argues that the many fictional suicides in the literature of the GDR have been misunderstood. “The common assumption is that authoritarian oppression in East Germany led to an abundance of real suicides and that fictional suicides in GDR literature constitute a simple, realistic reflection of East German society,” said the member of the university since 2016. It was Blankenship’s goal to provide both a history of suicide in GDR literature and close readings of individual texts to reveal that far from reflecting historical suicides, the novels of the period contain rich literary attributes such as intertextuality and unorthodox narrative strategies. Blankenship hopes this study offers insight into the complex and dynamic rhetoric of the GDR. It is his underlying claim that East German literature ought to be read as just that – literature. “Suicide has never played a role in my personal life,” he explained. “If someone close to me had killed himself, I might not have been able to write this book. For me, this book is about reading fiction as fiction using literary theory.” Blankenship feels his views of the theme of suicide have evolved by writing the book. “We should not just think in order to write,” he said. “We ought to write in order to think.” This book traces German literary heritage everywhere from ancient Greeks to Shakespeare to Goethe. The roots of suicide as a theme in East German literature began in the 1970s with the rise to power of Erich Honecker who led East Germany until shortly before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. “He delivered an important speech

Charles Harper Webb book image

that denied any taboos in East German literature as long as the writers began from `the standpoint of socialism.’ However, the twin taboos of literary heritage and suicide began to unravel at the same time. After all, who decides who starts from the standpoint of socialism?” Blankenship urges the community to read his new text. “I would tell potential readers not to be intimidated,” he said. “It reads well, it is not too long and is written with the educated undergraduate reader in mind.” Blankenship came to CSULB from Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky. He received his Ph.D. in German from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2011.

To the Campus…

After 37 years at this university – 12 in the Department of Athletics and 25 in the Office of Public Affairs, including more than 20 as editor of the faculty/staff newsletter Inside CSULB – my last day on campus will be Friday, Sept. 29.

I want to thank all the faculty, staff, students, administration and alumni for their cooperation over the years in helping us spread the word through our publication about all the great work people involved with this campus have done, are doing and, no doubt, will continue to do long after I am gone.

It’s been an honor and a blessing to be part of this institution which I first came to know as Long Beach State in the 1970s as a fan of the men’s basketball team when I was a teenager back in Illinois. Time does fly.

I wish nothing but the best for this university.

For the immediate future, if you have any story ideas, contact Richard Manly by email or at 562-985-8207.


Shayne Schroeder