Prominent figures to speak at CSUN commencements

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As the graduating class of 2005 prepares to leave CSUN and enter the “real world,” many commencement ceremonies will feature speeches by politicians, well-known alumni and successful members of the community.

Terry Tamminen, cabinet secretary for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, will speak at the Honors Convocation, an invite-only ceremony for students graduating with honors on May 31 at 6 p.m. Tamminen, who serves as chief liaison between the governor and the major state agency chiefs, attended CSUN in 1973.

Alumnus Robert Behl, CEO and chair of Percutaneous Systems, Inc., a biomedical company, will speak at the commencement ceremony for the College of Engineering and Computer Science June 1 at 4 p.m.

Behl holds 21 U.S. patents for medical devices, and founded three biomedical companies.

Congressmember Brad Sherman will speak at the ceremony for the College of Arts, Media and Communication June 2 at 6:30 p.m. Sherman, a former member of California’s Board of Equalization, serves in the U.S. Congress as a representative of the 27th district, which includes the San Fernando Valley.

Alumnus Michael Lewinski, scientific director of infectious diseases at Quest Diagnostics’ Nichols Institute, will speak at the commencement ceremony for the College of Science and Mathematics June 2 at 4 p.m.

Vicki Pedone, interim associate dean for the Department of Science and Mathematics, said the process of determining who will speak each year at the commencement ceremony is ultimately left up to the faculty.

“We ask faculty to suggest speakers,” Pedone said. “Then we make a list and vote during a faculty meeting.”

This year, Lewinski won the most votes.

Although some U.S. universities offer honorary degrees or money to commencement speakers, Pedone said CSUN does not usually do so.

“We cover any expenses that (speakers) may accrue, and we give them a nice gift, but we don’t pay them to speak,” Pedone said. “We consider it an honor to come (speak), and we hope they do, too.”

No commencement speakers are currently scheduled for the colleges of Business and Economics, Humanities, Education, and Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Heidi Wolfbauer, dean’s assistant for the College of Business and Economics, said the college will not have a commencement speaker because it takes too much time.

“We have more graduates that any other college,” Wolfbauer said of the College of Business and Economics, which graduates approximately 1,000 students each year. “Our commencement is very long because we read all the names of the students. In the past, (when we had speakers), people start(ed) getting antsy after a while.”

Wolfbauer said the ceremony usually lasts about two hours, even without a commencement speaker.

While the College of Health and Human Development will not have a commencement speaker, two alumni will be honored.

Rick Katz, Class of 1985 kinesiology graduate, and Denise Middleton, Class of 1986 communication disorders and sciences graduate, will be honored for their accomplishments in their respective fields.

Katz is the president of Adient Health, which operates physical therapy clinics and hospitals in California, Colorado, Arizona, Louisiana and Alaska. Middleton is president and owner of Miller ‘ Standel Speech Pathology Services in Sherman Oaks.