California State University, Long Beach
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Twosome Close Out Careers at CSULB

With nearly a century of teaching experience between them, CSULB’s Dot Goldish and Henry Po recently closed out their respective 50- and 40-year campus careers with a special salute.

Goldish, who joined the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department in 1958, and Po, who joined the department in 1968, were honored in a May reception held in the campus Chart Room dining facility.

“Anyone who has spent as many years of their lives serving students in this university the way Dot Goldish and Henry Po have deserves to be acknowledged,” said event organizer Paul Buonora of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department. “I think there are a lot of alumni who look at Cal State Long Beach as a place that made a big difference in their lives and who understand that their lives would not be the same without this university and without these two faculty members.”

Goldish reaches full retirement this year after five years in the Faculty Early Retirement Program, concluding a 50-year career at CSULB. She received her B.S. from Stanford in 1955 and her Ph.D. from UC Berkeley in 1958, the same year she joined CSULB, where she has since taught in the areas of organic and general chemistry. In addition to her teaching duties, Goldish has held a long series of leadership positions in faculty governance. Her administrative responsibilities have included service in the Department of French-Italian and the College of Business Administration as well as serving as the Associate Dean of the School of Letters and Science, Acting Dean of the College of Natural Sciences and in 2001-03 as the Acting Dean of Undergraduate Studies. She is especially proud of her work with committees in developing educational policies and in promoting effective advising. People using the faculty handbook may have seen her name as one of the people responsible for developing and updating the handbook. From 1992-95 she was the Chair of the Academic Senate. Her distinguished service as a faculty leader earned her the Nicholas Perkins Hardeman Academic Leadership Award in 1995, the highest honor the faculty can confer to one of its members. She also delivered the prestigious Legacy Lecture in 1992.

Po joined Cal State Long Beach in 1968 and soon established himself as an excellent teacher and a prodigious researcher. His work with students at CSULB resulted in 44 publications in premier journals of chemistry, including the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the Journal of Coordination Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, the Journal of Physical Chemistry and the Journal of Computational Chemistry. He has directed M.S. thesis research of 35 graduate students to completion — a record probably unmatched at CSULB. He also has mentored 22 undergraduate research students. Seventeen of his former students have earned their Ph.D.s, seven are M.D.s and several have other advanced degrees. Seven of his students are university professors. He received the Scholarly and Creative Achievement Award in 1984 and was selected as the university Outstanding Professor in 1995. In 2002, he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa (Rho Chapter) as a full-fledged member. In the last seven years, he was named twice as the Most Valuable Professor by the recipients of the Outstanding Graduate Award of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Goldish presented an address before the reception which addressed changes in science and in the department. She said, “If you have read Malcolm Gladwell’s 'The Tipping Point,' you know how he identifies a point at which there was a substantial change from one state to another. I see the 1950's as a tipping point in chemistry. We were fortunate in starting out with a faculty ready to work with the `new’ chemistry."

Both professors agree the focus must be the students. “Overall, my concern has been with helping students,” said Goldish. “It is up to the administrator as much as the educator to make sure students get what they need. It is up to both to make sure students get where they want to go.”

Po applauds faculty opportunities to serve as mentors. “Mentoring my students gives them a chance to learn about me and me a chance to learn about them,” he said. “Interaction between faculty members and students give both the opportunity to learn about the other. I love teaching and I enjoy working with students on research projects. At times, I give advice and suggestions, but they make the decision.”   

Goldish recalls her road to CSULB began with an interview at UC Berkeley with then-university President Victor Peterson. “At first, I said no,” she remembered. “I thought, boy, that’s one job I wouldn’t want.’ But my professors thought I was crazy to turn down an offer at a time when nobody was hiring women in the physical sciences. I met the people in the department and met my future husband and now, 50 years later, I still have the same husband and the same employer.”

Goldish remembers a different campus when she arrived. "Because buildings were constructed according to the rules for elementary and high schools, people were presumed not to need elevators, questionable for school children but really inappropriate here,” she said. “We had a lot of students who were patients at the VA Hospital which specialized in spinal cord injuries. At the start of each semester, faculty were asked to report if there were any paraplegics in the class, so the class could be moved to a first-floor classroom if necessary. Have you ever tried the freight elevator in PH2, which provided the only access to second-floor labs?  Air conditioning was forbidden in state buildings within 15 miles of the ocean. For air circulation, just open the windows. Cooling? Open the windows and let in the ocean breezes. Windowless lecture hall? Install an air circulator. Let’s see, the room will be used at about 80 percent of capacity; schools are open five or six hours a day. Not much ventilation needed."

Goldish also recalls a quieter, gentler CSULB. “It wasn’t so crowded. I could give my child a 10 a.m. feeding, drive to campus, find a parking space close to my classroom, teach an 11-to-2 lab and be home in time for the next feeding. I could count on it,” she laughed.

Po arrived on campus after a post-doc at Brookhaven National Laboratories in Long Island, NY. He still remembers the cross-country drive that took him with his wife and infant daughter from one end of the country to the other. “It took two months in a car filled with everything,” he said.

Po looks forward to retirement. "My wife and I plan to go on a cruise and relax,” he said. “We also would like to visit those wonderful places that we have read about. Countries in the Far East are on the top of my list as many former students of mine have been in touch with me over the years and have invited me to visit them. I will also keep busy by carrying out research in the area of computational chemistry and write papers for publication.”

 “It’s absolutely incredible that I’ve been here for 50 years,” said Goldish, a Lakewood resident. “I can’t believe it’s been that long. When I arrived, both the institution and I were barely out of infancy. The college was 9 years old and growing rapidly. I was 24 years old with the ink still wet on my brand new Ph.D. The time has gone awfully fast.”

Po feels he’s leaving the university at a high point. “It’s a time of expansion for the university and in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry,” said the Westminster resident. “There are new faculty and new buildings with excellent facilities for research. Our students not only will benefit from the state-of-the-art facilities but also the wonderful opportunities to work on interesting projects under the guidance of first-rate faculty.”