CSULB's highest alumni honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award is bestowed annually in each College by the CSULB Alumni Association. In addition to demonstrated pride and positive affinity for CSULB, awardees have achieved a record of distinction, recognition and accomplishment in their fields and a proven record of leadership and service to their communities and society at large.
Celebrating 50 years of alumni excellence, the CSULB Alumni Association is proud to acknowledge this year’s recipients.
Ralph S. Opacic
President/Executive Director, Orange County High School of the Arts
1981, Bachelor of Music, Choral-Vocal, CSULB
1982, Credential, Single Subject-Music, CSULB
1990, Master of Science, Educational Administration, National University
1994, Ed.D., Education, University of Southern California
In 1987, Ralph S. Opacic founded the Orange County High School of the Arts (OCHSA), which the U.S. Department of Education and National Endowment for the Arts have identified as a model arts education program. Ranked in the top three percent of California’s high schools, OCHSA was named a No Child Left Behind-Blue Ribbon School by the U.S. Department of Education (2006) and a Creative Ticket National School of Distinction by the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network and the California Alliance for Arts Education (2004-05). While attending CSULB, Opacic performed with the university choir under the direction of the late Frank Pooler and, since graduation, has participated in performances alongside CSULB alumni and faculty. Opacic and his wife, Sherry (1979, B.A., L/S English; 1988, M.A., Educational Administration), have four daughters: Shanna (2006, M.P.A., Public Administration), Kelli, Carly and Katy. He enjoys cooking and traveling with his wife.
President, Body Glove International
1964, Bachelor of Science, Accountancy, CSULB
Steven L. Fish
Superintendent, Saddleback Valley Unified School District (Retired)
1971, Bachelor of Arts, Psychology, CSULB
1978, Master of Arts, Elementary Education, CSULB
1997, Ed.D., Policy and Administration, University of Southern California
Steven Fish has been an active force in K-12 education for over 40 years. He retired as superintendent of the Saddleback Valley Unified School District, where he served from 2005-10 and oversaw more than $200 million in new construction and learning environment improvements. Prior to this, he was superintendent of Torrance Unified (2002-05) and West Covina Unified School Districts (1996-02). From 1983 on, he ascended through the ranks of the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD), starting as a program specialist and rising to elementary school principal and finally deputy superintendent. His educational career began as an elementary school teacher in both the Magnolia School District and LBUSD. Presently, Fish teaches the USC Ed.D. program’s leadership class and is the former Dean's Advisory Group for Superintendents chairperson. From 1995-10, he was a Western Association of Schools and Colleges accreditations visiting committee chairperson. He is an American Association of School Administrators and Southern California Superintendents member, and sat on directors’ boards for the Greater Lakewood and Torrance Chambers of Commerce as well as the Salvation Army. Since 2011, he has volunteered at Vista Del Mar Elementary School. At CSULB, he belongs to Phi Delta Kappa and, in 1994, served on the Education Administration Advisory Board. Fish and his wife of 40 years, Sue, have two sons, Brett and Brad, and two grandchildren, Brady and Kendall. He enjoys working on his ’52 Ford Galaxie.
Kevin L. Peterson
President, P2S Engineering, Inc.
1986, Bachelor of Science, Electrical Engineering, CSULB
Co-owner, Workman Molina; Rehabilitation Consultant
1977, Associate of Arts, General Education, Cypress Community College
1979, Bachelor of Arts, Therapeutic Recreation, CSULB
1982, Master of Science, Education Counseling Psychology, University of Southern California
1992, Ph.D., Psychology, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
G. Lorain Brault
Health Care Administrator and Health Policy Advocate
1963, Associate of Arts, Nursing, Long Beach City College
1972, Bachelor of Science, Nursing, CSULB
1976, Master of Science, Nursing, CSULB
Timothy Gary Plax, ’70; ’71
Administrative Director, Hauth Center for Communication Skills, CSULB
Professor, Department of Communication Studies, CSULB
1970, Bachelor of Arts, Communication Studies, CSULB
1971, Master of Arts, Communication Studies, CSULB
1974, Ph.D., Communication Studies, University of Southern California
As a CSULB faculty member since 1987 and Hauth Center for Communication Skills director since 2005, Timothy Plax has worked with all levels of the university, including serving as an University Relations and Development faculty associate (1991-95), Foundation and Corporate Research director (1991-93) and School of Humanities director of development (1990-91). Best known for his programmatic research in instructional communication, he has published over 150 manuscripts, including several textbooks, chapters, research articles and commissioned research reports, and has served as associate or consulting editor for 11 different professional journals. He is listed among the 20 most productive researchers in his discipline since 1915. While attending CSULB, he received both the undergraduate and graduate Outstanding Communications Student Awards. As an alumnus, he has been granted 40 research awards across regional, national and international communication associations; as well as CSULB’s 1998-99 Distinguished Faculty Scholarly and Creative Activity Award and Rockwell’s "Triad of Excellence" Engineering Award from the Space Shuttle Orbiter Division. Plax is married to Patricia Kearny, a CSULB Department of Communications professor, and they have one daughter, Kerry Ritter. In his spare time, Plax enjoys taking long walks around Seal Beach and traveling.
Dianne G. Van Hook
Chancellor, Santa Clarita Community College District
1970, Associate of Arts, Liberal Arts/Child Development Certificate, Long Beach City College
1972, Bachelor of Arts, Sociology, CSULB
1975, Master of Science, Psychology/Counseling, University of LaVerne
1981, Ed.D., Educational Administration, University of LaVerne
Dianne Van Hook is both the youngest individual (appointed in 1988) and the longest serving district CEO in the California Community College system. Prior to her present position, she served at several community colleges, rising to instruction/student service dean at Feather River College (1984-86) then College District dean at the Lake Tahoe Community College District (1986-88). During her tenure at Santa Ana College, from 1977-84, she launched the New Horizons program for re-entry students, which was implemented at 60 California colleges. Van Hook has received every statewide award bestowed specifically on community college CEOs, including the Community College League of California's Five Star Leadership Award, and was named the 2009 L.A. County Woman of the Year. In 2013, she will participate in the CSU Working for California project. Her past CSULB volunteer work includes sitting on the Alumni Association board of directors and emceeing Concerts in the Grove. Her husband, Roger, is an alumnus (B.A., 1966; M.A., 1968; speech communication). Van Hook’s hobbies include yoga and photography.
Dr. Nancy D. Kimber
Gynecologist, Nancy D. Kimber, M.D., Inc.
1990, Bachelor of Science, Microbiology, CSULB
1994, Master of Science, Nutrition, University of Health Sciences, The Chicago Medical School
1994, M.D., University of Health Sciences, The Chicago Medical School
Nancy Kimber’s personal mission is to improve the lives of abused women and children. Prior to establishing a private practice, she was an obstetrician/gynecologist with Hetzler, Kimber and Medical Associates from 2000-04. In 2001, she became a Long Beach reserve police officer, working with sexual assault victims, and is a medical director/sexual assault consultant for Forensic Nurse Specialists. In 1998, she was an associate physician with Sabira Tejani, M.D., Inc. Since 2000, she has volunteered with For the Child, including currently serving as the organization’s president and chairing the fundraising board in 2003-05 and 2007-09. Additionally, she sits on the Family Services and Earl B. and Loraine H. Miller Foundation advisory boards. In 2012, she received the Long Beach Press Telegram’s Amazing Woman of the Year Award and was named the 2011 Child Advocate of the Year. She has supported CSULB’s Young Scientists Camp scholarships and championed the creation of a summer science camp for homeless children. In 2001, she received CSULB’s Community Service Award. Her significant other, Emmanuel Ladsous, is an alumnus (1984, ocean engineering). In the future, Kimber hopes to run an animal therapy program that connects abused women with abused/abandoned animals.
For a full list of past recipients of Distinguished Alumni Awards categorized by college, please click on the college banner below.
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