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Fall 2009       publication for alumni and friends of the department of journalism       CSU, Chico

Celebration of Excellence honors scholars, inducts alums into PR, Orion Halls of Fame

By Tawnya Rojas

Photo of Gloria Nieto's award and Gloria Nieto

Gloria Nieto giving her accptance speech during the Celebration of Excellence

As the autumn leaves fall signaling the transition into another season, a group of Chico State students and alumni gathered at the Celebration of Excellence to celebrate the eight inductees’ transition into the PR and Orion Halls of Fame.

On Sept. 25, the Chico Women’s Center was filled with faculty, staff, alumni, family and friends.

“This is a special day for journalism,” said Phyllis Fernlund, dean of the College of Communication and Education, as she opened the celebration to acknowledge and honor the Chico State students and alumni who have made a difference in the public relations and news-editorial professions.

“Journalism prepares people to do a whole lot in life,” said Fernlund.

Professor Dave Waddell introduced The Orion Hall of Fame inductees, one of which was Gloria Nieto who Waddell described as a “pioneer” in her work.

Nieto served as one of The Orion’s first sports editors and during this time, she said that she felt equal as a Latina lesbian student at Chico State.

“There weren’t such things as women sports casters and women sports editors. I did it here,” Nieto said.

Nieto credits everything she has to the lessons she learned at Chico State, which she knew as her family.

“I don’t have the same success story that the other folks are talking about because of the fact that I got derailed. And I got derailed a lot and the thing that I learned in those derailments was that I really loved writing,” Nieto said.

Because of her love for writing, Nieto is a blog writer for The San Francisco Chronicle and one of 12 lesbians who met with President Clinton in the White House.

Nieto closed by mentioning that as a Latina lesbian woman she did not feel like an equal citizen in the world.

“Thank God for Chico State and The Orion because somebody pulled me in and said, ‘No, you’re equal here,’ ” Nieto said.

Another Orion Hall of Fame inductee was Jack Sirard, a 38-year news veteran who is now a retired editor and columnist. He was the first person to be inducted into The Orion Hall of Fame who has never worked on or advised The Orion. Instead, Sirard assists The Orion every semester as a guest critic and has been generous with scholarships and internships for many of the department’s students. Sirard is always looking for ways to help the department and others around him.

“You have to be aggressive, put yourself out there, get outside of your comfort zone and you will succeed,” he said.

Debra Johnson, professional-in-residence, introduced the public relations hall of fame inductees.

Dave Fanucchi, director of communications, public relations for the United States Golf Association, started the sports broadcasting department at KCSC and was a sports writer for The Orion. He was a 1993 graduate.

He said his career looks like a surfer riding one great wave; you try to stay on the wave for as long as possible, until you fall off. When you do fall off, you work extremely hard to get back on.

Fanucchi credits Chico State and the experiences beyond the classroom during his college career, such as the startup of KCSC.

“The answer was always yes. Everything around campus was if you had an idea or you wanted to do something, most often at Chico State you can do it,” Fanucchi said. “There was never really nobody telling you to wait in line or wait your turn.”

Another inductee to the public relations hall of fame was Chris Hammond, senior vice president communications director for the San Francisco Bay Area Region of Wells Fargo.

While at Chico State, Hammond was both the business manager and production manager for Tehama Group Communications and the publicity coordinator for the Associated Students.

Hammond saluted Chico State instructors, faculty and staff for creating an extraordinary learning environment for Chico State students.

“The instructors here put me in situations where I wasn’t comfortable,” Hammond said. “They put me in situations where it made me stretch myself to take on tasks that I might not otherwise do. And for that I am very thankful.”

The other public relation inductee was Amy Swanson and the other Orion inductees were Sue Adolphson, Dr. Bob Nowell and Phil Quinn.

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1. In your opinion, which social media tool currently used by professionals in the communications industry will become obsolete first?


2. If you were a Chico State college student again for one day, what would you do?

Float down the Sacramento River
Hike in Bidwell Park
Embark on a bar crawl
Visit a favorite teacher
Take a tour of the campus
Spend time at The Orion
Spend time in TGC

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Produced By


Department Chair
Glen Bleske

Ashley Anderson
Jamie Kim
Haley McHenry
Tawnya Rojas

Megan Alley
Jennifer Lovelace
Marcia Miller

Ryan Horner
Brian Randle
Jasmine Roufchaie

Stephanie Brock