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Looking Back on Successes of 2016

The end of the year is a time of reflection for many before embarking on resolutions for a new year.

What will you remember most from 2016? A heated presidential election cycle? The Syrian refugee crisis? Or are you a long-suffering Cubs fan still celebrating the end of a 108-year championship drought?

At CSUSM, we received national recognition, celebrated achievements and broke records, from our highest number of diplomas awarded in May to a record number of students stepping foot on campus in August.

As 2016 comes to a close, we take a look back at some of the most talked about stories that celebrate the successes of faculty, staff, students and the region.

Physics Professor: Grant Can Help Fill Regional Void

Gerardo Dominguez began his college career as an engineering major before switching to physics. But some two decades later, engineering is back on his radar. Dominguez, an associate professor of physics, is the project director for a grant worth nearly $6 million under the Hispanic-Serving Institutions STEM Program that is providing foundational funding for establishing an engineering program at CSUSM.

Graduate Spotlight: Gang Research Leads to Ph.D.

As an undocumented student, Jose Plascencia overcame numerous hurdles to earn his master’s degree in sociology in May. Jose’s parents never finished high school and his father’s history with gangs inspired him to focus his research on gang-involved youth and their interactions with law enforcement.


Retired Navy Captain Serves Again . . . in a San Marcos Middle School Classroom

Alumnus Elliott Powell, a 26-year Navy veteran who commanded four warships over the course of his military career and was the first African-American director of the White House Situation Room, is thriving in his second career as a teacher at San Marcos Middle School.


CSUSM Celebrates Opening of New Athletics Home

After months of anticipation, CSUSM celebrated the grand opening of the University’s new home for Cougars athletics. A large crowd gathered outside The Sports Center on Sept. 1, for a ribbon cutting to mark the official opening of the $11.4 million facility.


Passion for Preparing Middle School Teachers as Strong as Ever

As CSUSM’s Middle Level Program celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, department members remain as passionate as ever about preparing tomorrow’s teachers to help children navigate the road from elementary school to high school.


Pacific Crest Trail leaves lasting impression on alumnus

Jacob Thum, who graduated from with a degree in kinesiology in May, tackled the Pacific Crest Trail shortly after graduation. And he has no regrets about being forced to end his quest just 60 miles short of completing the 2,650-mile journey.

CSUSM Police Officer Competes with Team in 120-mile Race, Takes 1st Place

CSUSM Police Officer Matthew Curran and a team of 19 California State University Police Department members participated in what might be considered the largest police foot pursuit in the world, the Baker to Vegas competition, finishing in first place for their division on March 20.


Study Examines Maternal Stress in Mexican-American Moms

Psychology professor Kimberly D’Anna-Hernandez, working with some two dozen students, continued work on a federally-funded study examining the factors contributing to high levels of stress and depression among Mexican-American mothers adapting to American culture.


Soft Skills Become Graduation Requirement for Business Degrees

To help meet the challenge of an increasingly competitive business environment, the College of Business Administration created a program that enables students to round out their business knowledge by developing personal and professional success skills while pursuing their degree.


CSUSM Granted $3M to Train Next Generation of STEM Cell Scientists

The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine awarded CSUSM more than $3 million to continue the Bridges to Stem Cell Research Internship Programs. The program places students in 12-month internships with host laboratories throughout San Diego County to cultivate the next generation of young scientists and ensure that California remains at the forefront of stem cell discoveries.