Behind the Nameplate: McCarthy Hall Rooms Will Recognize Donors’ Generosity

The McCarthy Hall modernization project is well underway at the College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics, with second-floor renovations designed to promote a teacher-scholar model and the common pursuit of scientific knowledge and discovery.

Render of a new room in McCarthy Hall

On May 20, 2021, the college hosted a virtual hard hat tour for alumni, donors, and community members hosted by AC Martin Studio Principal Architect David Huchteman and PCL Project Manager Michael Langevin with remarks from Cal State Fullerton President Fram Virjee.

Several areas within the planned space are being named for donors who’ve made investments that support the students, faculty, and programs the second floor is being designed to engage and sustain.

Meet the Donors

Dan Black and the Black Family Trust

The Black Family Terrace, an inspiring indoor/outdoor space with plenty of fresh air, natural light, and greenery will be named in recognition of the $250,000 gift provided by longtime donor and alumnus Dan Black and the Black Family Trust.

“As I’ve said in the past, my success was because of the people around me. My education at Cal State Fullerton, and specifically my engagement with four physics professors, changed my life,” says Dan Black (BS ’67). “I hope my contributions, through naming the Black Family Terrace, can help facilitate similar educational opportunities for new generations of students. I believe the renovations currently underway at McCarthy Hall will also enhance their learning and research in a more inspiring, collaborative, and comfortable space.”

Mike Horn, Emeritus Professor of Biological Science

Horn is contributing $60,000 to support three scholarship programs. His gift will help endow two annual Rachel Carson Scholarships in Conservation Biology, established by Horn in 1990 to encourage biology majors to pursue a career in the field of conservation biology. It will also support the Violet Horn Graduate Research Fellowship in Ecology, Evolution, & Conservation Biology, established by Horn in 2015 in memory of his aunt, an award-winning K-12 teacher, devoted supporter of her family’s learning aspirations, and tireless advocate for educational opportunities in the Cherokee community. Horn’s contribution will also help fund an undergraduate student’s ongoing environmental biology project through the Southern California Ecosystems Research Program (SCERP). In recognition of his contribution, a supplemental instruction room on McCarthy Hall’s renovated second floor will be named in honor of Violet Horn.

“Many of our undergraduate and graduate students also work, and any supplemental income helps them move forward with their studies and research,” Horn says. “I think we have a responsibility to support our students, and I’ve always encouraged other faculty members and potential donors to support our great college and University that are continuously improving.”

Greg Wright (MS ’07), Senior Director of Research & Development, Edwards Lifesciences

With a long-held commitment to supporting higher education and students who are driven to learn, strengthen their communities, and contribute to the world in a positive way, Wright has donated $25,000 to support student scholarships and the college as a whole. A huddle room and study pod in McCarthy Hall will be named in his honor.

“Sometimes all it takes is an opportunity to spark an idea, and my hope is that with this donation it will happen,” Wright says. “The college fosters a culture that encourages education, science, and equality. And I was really encouraged by the commitment of the University and Dean Johnson to design a more open, state-of-the-art area where students can gather, share ideas, and collaborate. I am really impressed with the innovative pods and open space that I believe will cultivate creativity and teamwork.”

Retired Professor and Interim Provost Steve Murray

Murray will be recognized with a McCarthy Hall faculty office for a $25,000 contribution he intends to direct toward the support of students studying marine science who wish to undertake research projects or participate in work at a field station.

“We have a very good history of retired faculty supporting the college and its students due, in large part, to how much we enjoyed our professional careers and interactions with students there,” Murray says. “I hope that my small contribution will continue this pattern of support for our students and programs.”

Murray says faculty members have recognized for years that modernizing McCarthy Hall was very important for providing students with the best possible scientific instruction. He was very pleased to see the thoughtful plans the dean developed to undertake the renovation.

“The University, and the College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics in particular, represent a game-changing educational experience for many of the students we serve,” Murray says. “Contributions of any size are needed to support our students and programs.”

Retired Rear Admiral Pamela M. Schweitzer

As an undergraduate studying biological science at Cal State Fullerton, Schweitzer lived at home, where her family always had friends over, creating constant distractions. It was impossible to study there, so McCarthy Hall became a second home. Her appreciation for that space to study and work on group projects influenced her desire to be part of its renovation. She is giving $20,000 to the college, and a huddle room will be named in her honor.

“I also had the honor of knowing Dr. Miles McCarthy and participated in the Health Professions Committee, which started me off on my career as a pharmacist and led me to become assistant surgeon general with the U.S. Public Health Service,” Schweitzer says. “Since public health, science, and research are important to me, my gift will be coordinated through Dr. Marcelo Tolmasky to provide a scholarship to students focused on research related to public health.”

Jeffrey Knott & Diane Clemens-Knott, Professors Emeriti of Geological Sciences

The Knotts’ $20,000 gift will fund a field camp scholarship for a geological sciences major, in support of the required camp where students learn advanced geologic mapping and problem solving.

“Geologic field camp is very representative of the problems students may come up against as professionals or in graduate school. And field camp is a special time that we both remember fondly,” Jeffrey Knott says. “As we were about to leave for our UCLA field camp, our instructor, Professor Gary Ernst, told us, ‘You may not appreciate the next few weeks immediately, but in 10 years, you’ll look back on this as one of the best times of your life.’ His words were prophetic, and we are fortunate to be in the position to help that come true for others.”

“In addition to the scholarship that would benefit a particular student, we wanted the gift to impact other students as well,” Diane Clemens-Knott says. “We’ve worked in McCarthy Hall for a combined 50 years. Over that time, we’ve noticed that students in Geological Sciences made great use of what was called the geology student room in the southwest corner of the building. It was a place where students could gather and study. That student room is not part of the renovation, and while the huddle room is not exclusively for geology and earth science students, we felt that it might be worthwhile to support a space where students would congregate.”

As such, a new huddle room will be named the Clemens-Knott2 Huddle Room.

“We feel that supporting Geological Sciences students is ‘paying it forward,’” says Jeffrey Knott. “We both came away from our undergraduate days with great memories and lifelong friendships. We also remember and cherish every little bit of assistance we received during those years – no matter how small. Every little bit helps.”

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