Among those who attended the gala were Congresswoman and alumna Maxine Waters, California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León, Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo, Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar, CSU Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs Loren J. Blanchard, CSU Assistant Vice Chancellor for Advancement Services Lori A. Redfearn, East Los Angeles College President Marvin Martinez, Los Angeles Community College District Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez and alumnus, former Assemblyman and former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alatorre.
George L. Pla, a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist whose business and civic activities have helped communities across California, was honored with the 2016 Joe Shapiro Humanitarian Award.
A Cal State LA alumnus, Pla is president, CEO and founder of Cordoba Corp., a nationally recognized civil engineering, program and construction management firm specializing in transportation, education, and water and energy infrastructure. Cordoba Corp. transported the Space Shuttle Endeavour through the streets of Los Angeles in 2012 as more than a million cheering bystanders watched the historic event.
Pla was introduced by Waters, who noted that he has dedicated his life to helping others. The Joe Shapiro Humanitarian Award is presented in memory of Joe Shapiro, who taught at Cal State LA and was known for working enthusiastically to help student-athletes reach their educational and athletic goals.
“I am honored to be mentioned in the same breath as Joe Shapiro,” Pla said as he accepted the award.
The University paid tribute to President Emeritus James M. Rosser, who directed the University for 34 years until his retirement in 2013. During the gala, it was announced that the University plans to name a building in Rosser’s honor.
Rosser credited students, faculty and staff for helping make Cal State LA a great institution and accepted his recognition on their behalf. “I stand here on the shoulders of Golden Eagles and Diablos,” he said.
Los Angeles Dodgers great Steve Garvey was honored with the L.A. Sports Legend Award. Garvey, a National League MVP and 10-time All-Star, is one of the most successful Major League Baseball players of all time. Playing first base, he was part of a stellar Dodgers infield and helped lead the team to a World Series title in 1981.
“I’ve been blessed,” Garvey said, adding that “the greatest gift is to give back.”
Khallifah Rosser, a liberal arts major and one of the top hurdlers in the nation, received the Billie Jean King Scholarship. Rosser, no relation to James M. Rosser, had an extraordinary junior season on Cal State LA’s men’s track and field team. He won the NCAA Division II Championship and qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., where he narrowly missed advancing to the finals by two-hundredths of a second.
Psychology major Iris Raileanu received the Joe Shapiro Scholarship. In her junior season on the women’s tennis team, she posted one of the conference’s best singles records with a 15-5 overall mark, and picked up 12 victories in doubles. She earned Academic All-PacWest recognition for the second time and was honored with the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Scholar-Athlete Award.
“Thank you all for being here tonight, and for being part of the Cal State LA team,” Covino said. “With your support, we will continue to graduate future leaders who will transform our world.”