Nine Outstanding Alums named; Jimenez to receive Safstrom Award

Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn, a 1959 and 1965 graduate of California State University, Fresno, will be presented with the Distinguished Alumnus Award — the highest honor given by the university’s Alumni Association — at its Top Dog Alumni Awards Gala on Friday, Nov. 2.

The event will be at 5:30 p.m. in the Satellite Student Union and will include presentation of the Arthur Safstrom Service Award to local educator Freddie Jimenez, who was instrumental in establishing the Parent Association at Fresno State and served as its first president.

The 2001 Outstanding Alumni Award will also be presented to 10 alumni — one from each of the academic school/colleges as well as the Division of Student Affairs and the Athletics Department — who will be honored for making a difference in their community and in their profession.

Guinn was chosen from this group as the 2001 recipient from the College of Health and Human Services. This year’s nine other outstanding alumni are Mark Astone, Larry Clemmensen, Annette La Rue, Michael Patton, Pat V. Ricchiuti, Jim Vidak, James D. Williams, Dr. Shek Nam Danny Wong and Jan Yanehiro (full listing with occupations and college/school awarding follows).

The annual awards are being offered in a new format this year, said Harry D. Moore, president of the Alumni Association’s board of directors.

Previously, the awards were announced in the fall and presented at Homecoming. But the association will now present the honors in a distinct, formal setting.

“The alumni association wanted to honor its most prominent alumni in a special way by having a formal evening of celebration,” Moore said.

The association has been honoring a distinguished alumni since 1953 when Robert Greelis, Class of ’39, was the first honoree. In 1994, the association established the individual college/school outstanding alumni awards.

Other recipients of the top alumni honor have included U.S. Secretary of Treasury Paul O’Neill; California Secretary of State Bill Jones; the late journalist H. Roger Tatarian Houston Mayor Lee “Pat” Brown; the late Sen. Ken Maddy; the legendary coach and educator Cornelius A. “Dutch” Warmerdam; and former US ambassador and publisher Philip Sanchez as well as numerous local leaders.

Dr. John D. Welty, who is now in his 10th year as president of Fresno State, said he is “proud to share in the success of many of our students who have moved on to accomplished careers as authors, politicians, artists, educators, business leaders, athletes, engineers, scientists and healthcare providers.”

“This success reflects and inspires each individual who received his or her education at Fresno State,” Welty said. “As our noted alumni, they are our finest ambassadors, leaders and role models for our students and for our society at large.”

Welty and Moore will present the awards along with the deans from each of the colleges and schools.

Master of Ceremonies for this year’s gala will be the Hon. Robert Oliver, judge of the Fresno County Superior Court. He is a Fresno State graduate with the Class of 1966.

Tickets are no longer available, said Jacquelyn K. Glasener, executive director of the Alumni Association.

Distinguished Alumnus Award: Gov. Kenny Guinn

Guinn, age 65, who was elected governor of Nevada in 1998, was chosen as the Distinguished alum because of his service to his profession and the State of Nevada, Moore said.

Before graduating from then-Fresno State College with undergraduate and graduate degrees in physical education, Guinn spent his boyhood in the small, Central Valley town of Exeter where he met his wife Dema.

After Fresno State, Guinn obtained a doctorate in education from Utah State University in Logan. He and his family moved to Las Vegas in 1964 where he went to work for the Clark County School District as a planning specialist. After five years, he was named Superintendent of Schools and held that position until 1978.

In 1978, Guinn began applying his management skills in business as administrative vice president for Nevada Savings and Loan in Las Vegas, which later became PriMerit Bank.

In 1987 he was appointed as chairman of the board of directors at PriMerit. Soon thereafter, Guinn was recruited to the energy business as the president of Southwest Gas Corporation and eventually became chairman of the board of directors in 1993.

In 1994, he was recruited by the University of Nevada Board of Regents to serve as interim president of the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. During his presidency he restored credibility to the university’s basketball program. His compensation was one dollar and he donated the remainder of his salary to UNLV’s student scholarship fund and other student activities.

Guinn has worked in his community in a variety of volunteer roles, ranging from involvement in the Boy Scouts and Pop Warner Football to the United Way of Southern Nevada and the Southern Nevada Independent Youth Association.

He and his wife Dema have two sons, Jeff and Steve and six grandchildren.

Arthur Safstrom Service Award: Freddie Jimenez

The Safstrom award honors those who have contributed extraordinary service to the university or the alumni association, Moore said.

Freddie Jimenez, a 1975 graduate from Fresno State, has spent the past 22 years of his career as a teacher and middle school administrator.

Besides being dedicated to a life-long career as an educator, Jimenez volunteers countless hours to his church, Arte Americas, San Joaquin Memorial High School and Fresno State Band Boosters.

Jimenez has been instrumental in helping develop a Parents Association at Fresno State. Traveling a distance of 45 miles from his home to campus for monthly meetings, he has spent countless hours with other parents to plan and implement a Parents program at Fresno State.

Recognizing Jimenez’s enthusiasm, the other parents unanimously elected him to become the organization’s first president.

With the goals of “Making Education a Family Experience,” and under Jimenez’s leadership, the Division of Student Affairs formally announced the establishment of the Parents Association in the fall on 1999. During its first year, the program published a newsletter for parents, sponsored its first “Family Weekend,” and raised over $5,000 for a fund to help students who suffer losses due to catastrophic events. (

With Jimenez volunteering his time to lead parent sessions during new student orientation, the Parents Association attracted more than 300 families. It has continued to grow throughout this year, and under Jimenez’s leadership, it will soon launch a fundraising campaign to assist a wide variety of services within the Division of Student Affairs.

“Freddie Jimenez is a dedicated educator, proud alumnus, and an involved parent,” said Welty. “He has unselfishly given his time and talent to lead the effort of establishing the Fresno State Parents Association.”

2001 Outstanding Alumni Awards

Alumni Association • California State University, Fresno

Named as 2001 Outstanding Alumni from the university’s eight academic schools and colleges, as well as the Division of Student Affairs and the Athletics Department are:

Mark Astone, chief executive officer – Panagraph, Inc. of Fresno (Division of Student Affairs – 1988)

Larry Clemmensen, president – The Capital Group Companies, Inc. of Los Angeles (Craig School of Business – 1969)

Kenny Guinn, Governor – State of Nevada (College of Health and Human Services – 1959 and 1965; (Also the recipient of the 2001 Distinguished Alumnus Award).

Hon. Annette La Rue, judge, retired – Fresno Co. Municipal Court (College of Social Sciences – 1946)

R. Michael Patton, president – Patton Air Conditioning of Fresno (College of Engineering and Computer Science – 1962)

Pat V. Ricchiuti, owner/general manager – P-R Farms, Inc. and Palomate Packing Company, Inc. of Clovis (College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology – 1970)

Jim Vidak, superintendent – Tulare County Schools (Kremen School of Education and Human Development – 1974)

James D. Williams, secondary coach – Fresno State Bulldogs football (Athletics)

Dr. Shek Nam Danny Wong – vice president (academic), Open University in Hong Kong (College of Science and Mathematics – 1972)

Jan Yanehiro, anchor/host -Home and Garden TV, KCSM TV in San Francisco (College of Arts and Humanities – 1970)

2001 Distinguished Alumnus Award: Gov. Kenny Guinn, State of Nevada

2001 Arthur Safstrom Service Award: Freddie Jimenez, educator and president of the Fresno State Parents Association