California State University, Long Beach
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Alumni Association Awards $75,000 in Grants Campuswide

Published: April 15, 2009

Alumni Association Award Group
Photo by Victoria Sanchez
Alumni Association Award Program grants recipients at the reception on April 14 along with President F. King Alexander (r).

Video equipment for the Cole Conservatory of Music to record recitals and concerts, upgraded field video cameras for the Journalism Department and a robot assembly for the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department are just three of the 14 equipment and materials grant applications that received funding through the 2008-09 CSULB Alumni Association Grants Program.

This year, the Alumni program awarded nearly $75,000 in funding to university departments and programs to help meet special needs that couldn’t be covered by the 2008-09 budget. Recipients received their grants and were recognized at a reception on April 14, at The Pointe in The Walter Pyramid.

“The Alumni Grants Program gives the Alumni Association an opportunity to assist departments and programs with some extras where funding may not be available to enhance the educational experiences of our students,” said Marnos Lelesi, Class of 1983 and president of the CSULB Alumni Association.

The CSULB Alumni Association Grants Program provides funding based on the following criteria: serves a large number of students, has significant student impact or reaches an unmet and/or unique student need; lasting impact to the university and greater Long Beach community; and provides overall value.

“Everyone knows that general funding for the CSU is in trouble, and lottery funds are being cut,” said Dorothy Ottolia, chair of the Design Department, which received funding to purchase a ceiling-mounted visual presenter and a 3D scanner. “So, we’re just thrilled to receive this alumni grant. This is the first time the Design Department has received one from the program, and the application process was very collaborative for us. We had a student, a facilities person and administrative support coordinator working very hard with me to write the grant.”

Ottolia said the 3D scanner will be especially useful to the product design and architectural design students. She also noted that it will be available for use by students from other departments such as art, who would also find it useful. She also pointed out that the visual presenter is a long sought-after item for the department, which averages some 10 presentations a day. The device also records presentations so faculty members will be able to send students their presentations via e-mail.

“Small-scale projects slightly outside of the norm for programs or research are nearly impossible to fund. To this end, the Alumni Grants Program provides enough money to spark the pursuit of stimulating and worthwhile projects,” said Bruce Perry, a lecturer in the Department of Geological Sciences who received funds for his aerial photography project. “In my case, the alumni grant will cover the expense of flying over regions of Southern California that are of special geologic or oceanographic interest. During the flights I will take high-quality digital photographs that will eventually wind up on several Web sites as well as in classrooms here at CSULB.

“Without the alumni funding I would be unable to acquire more aerial photographs of Southern California’s rich, diverse and dynamic landscape,” he added. “Some areas can change rapidly due to fires, flooding or mass wasting, so the aerial photographs I take provide a baseline record for natural change in Southern California, as well as showing how humans are building out into previously wild areas.”

Perry previously received alumni grant funds for the same project in 2004-05. Because of the first funding he received, he said he knows for a fact the aerial photos have a significant impact on students taking geology classes here at CSULB.

“Small prints are used in oceanography and earth science for teachers’ labs. The digital photos are also used in PowerPoint presentations in several courses, and my Coastal Systems and Human Impacts course relies heavily on the photos, many of which are included in the course’s Web book,” Perry pointed out. “All aerial photos taken during the flights wind up on the Aerial Photography of Southern California Web site. People worldwide can view or download the photos for their own purposes, and they have been used by book publishers and authors, forest rangers, biological and geological researchers, environmentalists and a host of others. At this point, there are roughly 3,000 photos on the Web site, and I hope to add at least that many with four more flights financed by the recent Alumni grant.”

For Xuhui Li, an assistant professor of mathematics and statistics whose funding request for the department’s Tutoring and Resource Center received this year’s largest grant, the Alumni Grant Program funds were critical to the center’s daily operations.

“The $10,000 grant from the Alumni Association came just in time,” Li said. “It will allow us to purchase computer equipment, mathematics diagnostic and tutoring software, as well as references books and materials — all of which are essential for maintaining and boosting the quality of our mathematics tutoring services, and ultimately improving CSULB student learning in mathematics.”

When Li joined the Mathematics and Statistics Department faculty two years ago, he was very impressed with and proud of the tutoring services the department provided. The free service is open to all students on campus. Each year, there are estimated 8,000-10,000 student visits to the tutoring center. Each semester, the department hires more than 35 qualified tutors among experienced and dedicated mathematics graduate teaching associates, graduate assistants and undergraduate applicants.

Li recalled how the center had to be shut down last fall due to the state and university budget cuts. Administrators in the department and the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics managed to allocate funds from multiple sources to cover tutor salaries and reopened the center this spring. With the funds from the alumni grants program, however, that won’t happen this year.

Since its inception 18 years ago, the Alumni Grants Program has distributed more than $455,000 in grants ranging from $1,500 to $10,000. Funds for the grants are generated from various programs including royalties from the CSULB Alumni Association “Beach” credit card and other selected services, and proceeds from commencement flower sales.

Projects that received funding from the Alumni Grant Program this year:

• Biological Sciences Department – Instruments for Introduction to Cell Biology course;
• Biological Science Department, Marine Biology – Updated safety equipment for boating program;
• Cole Conservatory of Music – Video equipment to record recitals and concerts;
• Design Department – Equipment to update classrooms with current technology;
• Disabled Student Services – Educational assessment tools;
• Electrical Engineering Department – Demo units for engineering;
• Geological Sciences Department – Aerial photography;
• Journalism Department – Upgrade field video cameras;
• University Library – Conversion of historical CSULB media;
• Mathematics and Statistics Department, Tutoring and Resource Center – Computer equipment and software for tutoring;
• Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department – Robot assembly;
• Military Science Program – Fitness equipment for CSULB Army ROTC;
• Science Education Department – Teacher prep instructional materials and video camera;
• Women’s Resource Center – Increase smart room capabilities with wall-mounted monitor.