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SFSU welcomes new Alumni Hall of Fame members

June 3, 2005

SFSU's Alumni Hall of Fame induction ceremony, the University's equivalent of Oscar night, recently honored some of the best and brightest graduates for their professional, cultural and civic achievements.

This year's stars -- executive director of the San Francisco Food Bank Paul Ash, television writer/producer Glen Charles, CBS 5 "Evening Magazine" co-host Malou Nubla and U.S. Congressman Bill Thomas -- were inducted into the Hall of Fame at a reception held Friday, May 27, in the Seven Hills Conference Center on campus. They join an illustrious group of role models who serve as inspiration for future generations of students at SFSU.

Interim Vice President for University Advancement Don Scoble introduced the evening's emcee, alumnus Ben Fong-Torres, former Rolling Stone editor, who was also the keynote speaker at Commencement the following day. President Robert A. Corrigan shared a little-known story about this year's Alumnus of the Year, Manny Mashouf, chairman of the board and founder of bebe stores inc., who spoke before the inductions began.

Photo of Paul Ash"Not many people know about Manny Mashouf’s very first entrepreneurial success in this country," Corrigan began. "It was a business plan that revolved around a used 1952 Pontiac." He went on to explain that in 1959, "the pre-bebe days" when Mashouf was new to the country and on a fairly limited budget, he needed to cross the country. Instead of shelling out money for plane fare, he opted to buy a used car and drive, taking on passengers for a fee. "Manny bought the Pontiac for $200, charged each of his five travelers $100 and as far as gas, it was a mere 25 cents a gallon. Manny got to see 3,000 miles of America, enjoy free food and lodging along the way -- and make a profit," Corrigan told the audience, "No wonder he is where he is today!"

Laughter quickly turned to a standing ovation when Corrigan asked Mashouf and his wife, Neda, to join him at the lectern to announce, for the first time, that the Mashoufs had recently given SFSU the largest alumni gift in its history: $10 million, which will go toward a new performing and electronic media arts building on campus.

When the audience was seated, Fong-Torres introduced the first inductee, Paul Ash of the San Francisco Food Bank, by asking the audience to consider the magnitude of Ash's accomplishments during his 16-year career as executive director of the hunger relief organization: "Last year he helped bring the equivalent of 50,000 meals to hungry San Franciscans -- I’m talking 50,000 meals each of those 365 days."

Photo of Glen CharlesAsh, who graduated in 1984 with a degree in business administration, shared that his favorite class was Paul Rech's Operations Analysis. He said the title might not sound that stimulating but it's where he met his future wife, then-classmate Sylvia Fernandez.

Inductee No. 2, television legend Glen Charles, the eight-time Emmy Award winning co-creator of "Cheers," shared what he learned while pursuing his master’s degree in English in the late 1960s: "I had an extraordinary literature professor who assigned us the most eclectic reading list, and he approached literary analysis in a way I hadn’t heard before. It was very unpredictable, exciting and free form."

Charles pointed out that his education coincided with the war in Vietnam. Just two weeks after his graduation, before he went to work behind the scenes of classic television shows including "Taxi," "The Bob Newhart Show," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "M*A*S*H," he entered basic training for the Army reserves. "I found myself in Fort Polk, La., in the middle of the summer. … You may find this hard to believe, but it wasn't easy to find someone who wanted to chat about the existential undertones in Camus over a cup of chamomile tea in the barracks."

Photo of Malou NublaNext to share college memories was Malou Nubla, the co-host of CBS 5's "Evening Magazine." The two-time Emmy award winner, who graduated in 1991 with a degree in radio and television, admitted that attending SFSU was her family’s decision, not hers. The Bay Area native had originally wanted to go far from home to earn her degree. But it didn’t take long, she said, before she realized, "I was in the right place." Nubla recalled that the student body was truly civic-minded and engaged. This inspired her to get more involved in campus life, and she went on to serve as president of the Filipino student organization. Nubla credited her broadcast classes and former professors with helping her build a successful career as a journalist. "If hadn’t been shoved out there" in front of a news camera as part of her course work, "I wouldn’t be where I am today," Nubla said.

Photo of Bill ThomasRepublican Congressman Bill Thomas, who earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in social science in the 1960s, traced his path to chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee back to a valuable lesson he learned from his former professor, the late Otto Butz. The professor told Thomas: "When people tell you how the world is, they're telling you more about themselves than the world." Knowing that has helped him better understand people's needs and wants, he added. Thomas said that his job is to take people's needs and wants and put them together "like little broken pieces of tiles." If they can see enough of their needs and wants in the resulting mosaic, he said, "that gets the job done."

"Without having come here and being able to see the diversity [at SFSU]," Thomas added that he would have most likely missed out on this valuable lesson. "It's an understanding that probably could not have been perfected had I remained in Orange County," he said, "because when you collect a bunch of pieces of broken white tile, the mosaic is not quite as colorful as the one I learned to build here."

Previous Alumni Hall of Fame inductees include actor Danny Glover, Peter Casey, co-creator and producer of the hit sitcom "Frasier," former UCLA football coach Bob Toledo, Berkeley Symphony Orchestra conductor Kent Nagano, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, and San Francisco poet laureate devorah major. The photographs of all inductees will hang on the Alumni Hall of Fame wall on the first floor of the J. Paul Leonard Library.

To learn about more outstanding alumni, visit the SFSU Hot Shots Web site.

-- Adrianne Bee


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Last modified June 3, 2005 by University Communications