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Buildings to get names of 6 outstanding faculty, staff

By Dave Jones on October 27, 2006 in University

UC Davis is about to attach names to six student housing structures, honoring faculty and staff for their contributions to undergraduate education at the university.

Buildings within Marya Welch Court at the Colleges at La Rue are to be named after Richard Kepner, Judy Mack, Karl Romstad and Joe Stasulat. The Colleges at La Rue is a complex that combines housing with a Leadership Learning Community.

The other two buildings to be named are the newest structures in the Tercero residence hall complex. The buildings comprise what is known as Tercero South, and have been called simply Buildings 1 and 2 since opening last year. The honorees are Patricia Kearney and Robert Laben.

"Each of these individuals has made very special and important contributions to undergraduate education over the course of a long and distinguished career at UC Davis. It is most fitting that we recognize them in this lasting and very visible way," Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef said.

The Tercero and Colleges at La Rue naming ceremonies are scheduled to take place in November.

The university began the naming process at the Colleges at La Rue six years ago, as a way to honor people for their work in undergraduate education. The first step involved the naming of the complex's five courts, after Ruth Anderson, Robert Matthews, Harry Walker, Marya Welch and Emmy Werner.

Two years later the university started naming the buildings within the courts. Previous honorees: Jane C. Elliott, Isao Fujimoto, Lucille Hurley, Sumner Morris, Frank Ogasawara, David Risling, Eugene Davis Stevenson Sr. and John R. Whitaker. The university named the community center in honor of Merna Villarejo.


Here are brief biographies on each of the honorees, with the information compiled by the Offices of the Chancellor and Provost.


  • Patricia Kearney, joined the campus in 1972, retired as executive director of Student Housing and Financial Aid in 2002 ... She is considered primarily responsible for the Student Housing program's excellence, including a diverse and innovative residential life staff. She helped to conceptualize and arrange for financing for the expansions of the Segundo and Tercero residence and dining complexes, and construction of the Colleges at La Rue. She championed

such innovations as academic theme programs and aca-

demic advising centers within the residence halls.

  • Robert Laben, professor of animal science, 1950 until retiring in 1986; died in 2005 ... A highly regarded teacher and undergraduate adviser whose reputation lives on, especially in the animal science department, which reports that it continues to hear from alumni who speak to his positive influence. After retirement, he maintained his interest in and support for undergraduate students, and served as a member of his department's Memorial Fund Committee, which supports undergraduate student activities. The department named an undergraduate scholarship in Laben's honor.


  • Richard Kepner, professor of chemistry, 1946 until retiring in 1986; died in 2001... He was an undergraduate adviser from 1960 to 1986, including many years as a master adviser; he received a campus Distinguished Undergraduate Adviser Award in 1984-85. He continued

as a mentor for 10 years after his retirement, despite his failing health. He received the Academic Senate's Distinguished Teaching Award in 1986. Colleagues say he was happy to help students in the lab and in his office, where his warm personality and friendly smile proved inviting

for even the most timid students.

  • Judy Mack, joined the university as a counselor in 1970 and subsequently became director of the Counseling Center, retired in 2002 ... She made significant strides in adding diversity to the counseling staff so that it better reflected the composition of the student body, and she played a key role in establishing and sustaining the Multi-Cultural Immersion Program. She is credited with establishing a premier, accredited counseling intern program. She was often the "first in" to assist students and student organizations when they needed crisis counseling.
  • Karl Romstad, professor of civil and environmental engineering, 1967 until retiring in 2001 ... He received the Academic Senate's Distinguished Teaching Award and the College of Engineering Alumni Teaching Award. He organized the undergraduate chapter of Structural Engineers of California and served as adviser to this organization and American Society of Civil Engineers' under-

graduate chapter for many years. A former student said Romstad's teaching "is a relationship with students that does not coincide with the temporal intervals of the class period and office hours. For Karl, the student-teaching relationship lasts forever."

  • Joe Stasulat, joined the university in 1973 as a lecturer and director of the Bixby Work-Learn program, which later expanded into the Internship and Career Center, where he served as program manager; died in 2002 ... He was a lecturer in the departments of Land, Air and Water Resources, and Agricultural and Resource Economics, in addition to his work arranging internships for thousands of students. Colleagues recall his commitment to experience-based learning as integral to students' success, and his easy accessibility and readiness to help students and associates.

Media contact(s)

Dave Jones, Dateline, 530-752-6556,