June 1, 2007
SF State's Alumnus of the Year and three new members of the Alumni Hall of Fame were honored at a May 25 campus reception. Lee Blitch, Vice President of University Advancement, introduced this year's honorees as role models for the 8,041 SF State students who would graduate the next day.
Inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame, and honored as 2007 Alumnus of the Year:
Arthur Dong, documentary filmmaker, received a B.A. in Film in 1982. CEO of DeepFocus Productions, Inc., Dong is the Oscar- and Emmy-nominated filmmaker of such films as "Sewing Woman," about his mother's immigration to the United States from China, which he wrote with his sister Lorraine Dong, a professor of Asian American studies; "Forbidden City," about Asian American nightclub performers, and "Coming Out Under Fire," an investigation of gay and lesbian soldiers during World War II. His new project, "Hollywood Chinese," a visual and cultural film about the Chinese in Hollywood feature films, will be released this fall.
After receiving his award from President Robert Corrigan, Dong commented that growing up in Chinatown, he never imagined what he could accomplish, let alone being honored in such a way by the University he attended. "This honors my family as well because so many of us attended State," he said.
Inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame:
Gwen Chan, who received a B.A. in Chinese in 1966 and a M.A. in Education in 1992, is Interim Superintendent of Schools, San Francisco Unified School District. Also a former Deputy Superintendent, Chan was the first Chinese American to serve in each capacity. She has dedicated her 40-year career to public education, and has been praised by city officials for involving all constituencies in decisions and planning and keeping a steady focus on student success. In 1996 Chan was recognized as the SFUSD School Master of the Year. She was also named the 2006 Outstanding Woman of the Year by the Chinese Consolidated Women's Association and one of the World Journal's Top Ten Asians in 1998.
"It's been an emotional week," Chan said in reference to her recently announced retirement. "I thank SF State for preparing me well. I decided to become a teacher because of inspiring teachers…my spotlight tonight is their spotlight."
who received a B.A. in Sociology in 1965, is a retired Vice President
of Environmental, Health, Safety, Technical and Land
Services at Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E). He was the
first and only lawyer in the company's 102-year history to argue and
win a case in the U. S. Supreme Court. He is also credited for making
the company one of the first in the U.S. to establish a corporate environmental
policy. Valued by colleagues for his personal integrity, Harris is
the recipient of the NAACP's highest legal honor, the "William
Robert Ming Award," for litigating civil rights issues and was
named one of Ebony Magazine's 100 Most Influential Blacks in America
on five different occasions.
Jan Wahl, who received a B.A. in Radio/Television in 1975, is a film historian and critic with KRON-TV and culture and entertainment reporter for KCBS Radio. Just two years after graduation, she won an Emmy for producing and writing "They Still Say I Do," a humorous documentary on the palimony case of Lee and Michelle Triola Marvin. One of the first women to become a member of the Director's Guild of America, Wahl also won an Emmy for KRON 4's special, "A Filmgoer's Bill of Rights." Wahl's career in broadcasting also included stints as a stage manager or director of ABC TV shows including "Rona Barrett's Hollywood," "The Lawrence Welk Show," "Good Morning America" and such specials as the Oscar and Grammy telecasts.
Wahl credited SF State for turning a shy student into a broadcasting professional. "I came to this campus at a wild time," she said. "A most radical place where students and teachers were working together to reach some kind of understanding over the upheaval." She said that a large part of her professional success belonged to faculty -- including Buzz Anderson and Stuart Hyde -- and colleagues like Marty Gonzales and her mother, who was in attendance at the event. "She taught me that women can do anything and encouraged me to draw outside the lines."
Music for the event was provided by SF State music lecturer Andrew Speight and his quartet. Alumni Hall of Fame member Ben Fong-Torres (B.A. in Radio/Television, 1966) was master of ceremonies.
The SF State Alumni Hall of Fame recognizes alumni who have earned the respect of their peers through professional, cultural and civic achievements. Previous inductees include Paul Ash, director of the San Francisco Food Bank, actress Annette Bening, jazz great John Handy, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and "Frazier" co-creator and executive producer Peter Casey.
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