Walter Presents with Award-Winning Filmmaker, Moctesuma Esparza

Copy of Moctesuma Esparza flyer (1).jpg

Award-winning filmmaker, producer, entrepreneur, activist, and owner of Maya Cinemas, Moctesuma Esparza will give a talk at California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB) as part of the Walter Presents series on September 27 at 6 p.m. in the Dezember Reading Room of the Walter Stiern Library. The Walter Presents event is part of the celebration for Hispanic Heritage Month.

“We’re very pleased that Moctezuma Esparza will be Stiern Library’s guest for Hispanic Heritage Month.  His work in film and business is well known and I am certain his talk will be inspiring,” said Dean of the Walter W. Stiern Library, Curt Asher.

Students will be interested to find out more on Esparza’s path to success, his films and why the arts matter for everyone, especially those who are economically disadvantaged.

Esparza has done much for this community. He established Maya Cinemas, a chain of modern move theatre complexes with the focus on providing main stream entertainment in Latino centric underserved communities. As a filmmaker, Esparza is most-known for his production credits on “Selena,” “The Milagro Beanfield War,” “Gettysburg,” “The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez,” and HBO productions, “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” and “Walkout.”

Esparza founded the Los Angeles Academy of Arts and Enterprise Charter School, is Co-Founder of NALIP, Co-Founder and former Chair of the NAA, and is a Founding Board Member of the Sundance Insitute. He has served the City of Los Angeles as a Commissioner to the Los Angeles City Employees’ Retirement System and was also appointed by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to the planning commission of the National Museum of the American Latino. He is also a trustee of the American Film Institue. He has been nominated for an Academy Award, Golden Globe and Emmy, and has been awarded with more than 200 honors and awards including an Emmy, Clio, John F. Kennedy Journalism Award, Ohio State Award, Cine Golden Eagle and the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award for the Los Angeles Region as well as being listed as one of the most influential Latinos in the US consistently for over three decades.


Art faculty ‘Converge’ at Bakersfield Museum of Art

Jesse Sugarmann, CSUB's new associate professor of digital arts and new genres, poses with his series "Silver Anniversary" at the Bakersfield Museum of Art.
Production still, Silver Anniversary, 2011, Jesse Sugarmann
Bakersfield Museum of Art curator Vikki Cruz demonstrates an interactive sculpture by Joyce Kohl, chair of the CSUB art department.
An interactive piece by CSUB art professor Margaret Nowling at the Bakersfield Museum of Art.

If you have ever seen a piece of artwork produced by someone who attended college in Bakersfield, there’s a good chance that artist was influenced by an art professor at California State University, Bakersfield or Bakersfield College.

Now the faculty from both campuses are coming together to show their selected works in “Convergence,” an exhibit that opens at the Bakersfield Museum of Art on Thursday, Sept. 15.

One of those faculty members is Jesse Sugarmann, who is new to CSUB this year. He recently moved to Bakersfield from Eugene, Ore., where he was teaching in the digital arts and cinema studies departments at University of Oregon. As assistant professor of digital arts and new genres at CSUB, Sugarmann is bringing new technology to the art department in the form of digital video, photography, and illustration.

Last week he hung three TV screens on the wall at the Bakersfield Museum of Art to showcase his series, “Silver Anniversary.” The screens display three videos of white minivans “colliding” in various angles.

“I think of them as accidents,” Sugarmann said. “If you think about it, a car accident is a sculptural problem. A car accident is a car occupying the wrong space. So these are spatially absurd car accidents.”

Get him talking, and he’ll take the concept of his minivans even deeper. For one, he finds minivans fascinating as a symbol of the American family. He also sees the influence of the U.S. Space Shuttle on the design of the first minivan – the Ford Aerostar – right down to the white body and black nose. And (this is really deep) he will never forget one fellow artist’s description of the U.S. space program as being a quest to find God.

“So I began thinking that the minivan is a spaceship for the family unit to go out and find God,” Sugarmann said.

He says his depictions of minivans in “Silver Anniversary” are monuments to the members of the Challenger team who perished 25 years ago when the space shuttle exploded just after launch.

Other CSUB faculty and adjuncts showing a range of artwork in the “Convergence” exhibit are: Joyce Kohl, Joey Kotting, Margaret Nowling, Claire Putney, David Laughing Horse Robinson, Dan Slayton, and Sarah Vanderlip.

An opening night reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15 at the Bakersfield Museum of Art, 1930 R St. Admission is free for museum members and $10 for others. Memberships are $35 for individuals, $20 for students and seniors, and $60 for families. The exhibit runs through Nov. 20. For hours, admission, and more information, call 661-323-7219 or visit

— Jennifer Baldwin, CSUB Public Affairs Coordinator

Teachers learn how much ‘San Joaquin Valley Rocks’

Emily Salazar, right, a teacher at Frontier High School, shows a fellow teacher how to demonstrate fault lines using sand during San Joaquin Valley Rocks!, a program to help local teachers expand their geology curriculum. In the background is Martin Jimenez, a CSUB geology student who participated in SJV Rocks last summer as a BC student.
Stockdale High School science teacher Adam Herrera shows Paula Edwards, a fourth grade teacher at Endeavor Elementary School, how to describe sedimentary layers using modeling clay to mimic core samples as part of San Jaoquin Valley Rocks!

This summer, 37 Kern County elementary and high school teachers attended CSUB to learn some new lessons. They colored, played with sand and molding clay, and strung Cheerios on pipe cleaners.

No, this wasn’t day camp for adults. Rather, it was phase two of San Joaquin Valley Rocks!, a program aimed at enhancing local earth science teachers’ curriculum utilizing resources in CSUB’s geology program.

Paid for with a grant from the National Science Foundation, the program brought together selected teachers and geology students from Bakersfield College and CSUB last summer to develop hands-on lessons to take back to their classrooms. All of the lessons were based on local geological formations and phenomena. Additional partners included the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History and Kern County Museum.

During the school year, the teachers incorporated the activities into their classes and noted what worked well and what didn’t quite translate into the curriculum. Then, in June, they returned to CSUB to pool their findings and create lesson plans to share with more local teachers.

“Most of the changes were very minor,” said Staci Loewy, the CSUB geology professor who led the program. “And the cool thing is, the BC students that were working with us last summer are now students here at CSUB.”

The 16 returning teachers and students created workbooks and CDs with teaching materials and held a week-long workshop to train 37 new teachers. All of the activities are hands-on.

“Teachers say there is very little time for hands-on activities with students,” said Adam Herrera, a physics and earth science teacher at Stockdale High School.  “This gives ideas for projects they can take to class the next day.”

Herrera’s group focused on ways to teach dating and paleoclimatology via sedimentary layers and tree rings. They used differently shaded Cheerios strung on pipe cleaners to represent tree rings, and layers of molding clay with plastic beads to represent pollen found in core samples. They also learned how to layer flavored Jell-O – an experiment that required much trial and error before Herrera’s team figured out the best way to do it.

“The Jell-O molds give you the experience of collecting core samples,” he said, smiling. “Then it provides a nice, cool snack.”

One of Herrera’s “students,” Paula Edwards, said the hands-on aspect of the workshop was helpful for her as well.

“It’s fun. They’ve kept us moving. Rather than lecture to us, it’s more understandable when we can do these activities ourselves,” said the fourth grade teacher at Endeavor Elementary School.

Related post: “Playing with sand and food in the name of earth science,” July 1, 2010

– Jennifer Baldwin, CSUB Public Affairs Coordinator

Testing center could one day serve entire South Valley

From left, Bakersfield City Councilman Rudy Salas, Testing Center Director Lou Montano, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Soraya Coley, Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management Jacqueline Mimms, and President Horace Mitchell cut the ribbon at the grand opening of the CSUB Testing Center on March 29, 2011.
Enrollment Management staff enter the new Testing Center at its grand opening on March 29, 2011.
Dr. Jacqueline Mimms, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management, right, speaks with Josie Guillen, advisor for the Student Success and Retention Center, left, at the grand opening of the Testing Center on March 29, 2011.

As local dignitaries cut the ribbon for the new Testing Center at CSUB on March 29, they celebrated the grand opening of a resource that will extend beyond our campus and someday serve the entire Southern San Joaquin Valley.

The center houses 18 computer stations inside the modular building adjacent to the Campus Police Department. The building, which is also shared by CSUB‘s new Emergency Operations Center, was donated to CSUB by the military many years ago and was once home to our Nursing Simulation Lab. (The lab is now in Science I.)

Testing Center Director Lou Montano shared these benefits of the new Testing Center:

  • It will help with enrollment by providing quality testing services to potential students. We will increase our ability to provide English/math placement (EPT/ELM) exams, provide more chemistry placement tests and ACT residual exams. Students will come to CSUB to take these exams.
  • We will be able to enhance our service in proctoring exams for students taking correspondence or distance learning courses.
  • For our graduate students, we are in the process of getting the GMAT and GRE computer-based exams. Currently students have to drive two hours to Fresno for the GRE and to Santa Maria for the GMAT exam. (We currently administer the Miller Analogies Test to graduate students.)
  • It will enhance the stature and visibility of CSUB in the community.
  • It gives us the potential to work closely with corporations, hospitals, government agencies, private business and organizations needing employee testing for certification or assessment.
  • And, we now have the potential to become the largest testing site in the Southern San Joaquin Valley providing testing and assessment for high school and college students.

“We have come a long way,” Montano said. “When I started working with Testing in 2004, we were located in the Health Center. There were many times that we had to proctor exams in the locker room. Trying to reserve the conference room in the Health Center made it very difficult to schedule exams. We then moved to Modular West (next to the Children’s Center), and things got a little better. We had one room for paper-based exams and one room for computer-based exams. However, there was only one computer. Now, with our new Testing Center, we have 18 new computers!”

— Jennifer Baldwin, CSUB Public Affairs Coordinator

Geology professor co-authors study of arsenic in OHV area

Dirk Baron, CSUB professor of geology
Dirk Baron, CSUB professor of geology

A report co-authored by CSUB geology professor Dirk Baron is getting lots of press in Nevada today. This is because research he participated in shows that there are high levels of naturally occurring arsenic in the dust that gets kicked up by off-road vehicles in the Nellis Dunes area just outside of Las Vegas. Although it is unknown whether the arsenic poses a health risk to recreational users of the land, the Bureau of Land Management (which commissioned the study) is posting signs in the area letting people know about the material’s presence.

“I was approached by these folks because of the analytical capabilities in my lab,” Baron wrote in an e-mail. “I have an instrument called an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS) that can measure the concentration of most elements in a sample at very low levels. We did all the chemical analyses including those for arsenic which turned out to be elevated and cause for concern.”

According to Baron, the ICP-MS is a very sophisticated and expensive instrument worth about $250,000 and not all universities have one.

“So I often get approached for these collaborative projects,” he writes. “My instrument was funded by a grant from the US Department of Defense a number of years ago.  The same program  more recently funded the scanning electron microscope.  I now have a graduate student who is doing a more detailed chemical and microscopic study of the dust samples for her MS Geology thesis.”

Baron co-authored chapters 9 and 10 of the report:

Here is a link to the BLM’s press release about the report:

And here is a link to the Las Vegas Review-Journal article about the study’s findings:

– Jennifer Baldwin, CSUB Public Affairs Coordinator