Skip to main content
You are here

More Colleges at LaRue buildings named

By Amy Agronis on June 14, 2002 in University

Six former UC Davis faculty and staff members will be honored during a second round of building namings at the student residential complex The Colleges at LaRue.

Buildings and courts in the complex are being named for faculty and staff members who have contributed in outstanding ways to the undergraduate experiences of UC Davis students.

In this second round of namings, five former campus employees - Isao Fujimoto, Lucille Hurley, Sumner Morris, Frank Ogasawara and David Risling - will have buildings within a residential court named after them, and the complex's community center will be named for Merna Villarejo.

A ceremony officially honoring the six latest honorees will take place in the fall, said Bob Franks, interim vice chancellor for student affairs.

"This naming is a small way of extending our thanks to these individuals for all that they have meant to so many students over the years," said Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef. "UC Davis will be forever in their debt, and we would like our gratitude to be known in tangible, long-term fashion."

Isao Fujimoto helped found the Asian American Studies program at UC Davis and was twice a finalist for the campus's Distinguished Teaching Award. The former senior lecturer in Asian American Studies retired in 1994 and was known for firing the imaginations of students, encouraging them to apply what they learn - regardless of their majors - to improving the quality of life in their communities.

Fujimoto has received the Excellence in Instruction award from the Rural Sociology Society and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences' Outstanding Faculty Advisor award. He continues to teach community development courses in his retirement, including UC Davis courses taught in San Francisco and Japan.

Lucille Hurley, a professor of nutrition and internal medicine who died in 1988, was a founding member of the nutrition department in the 1950s. A former chair of the home economics department and acting chair of the nutrition department, Hurley was known for her ability to instill in students a love of nutrition and nutrition research.

She was known especially as a role model for women, showing students they could achieve their highest goals and not sacrifice family. A world authority on linkages between dietary deficiencies in expectant mothers and birth defects, Hurley received the Academic Senate's Faculty Research Lecturer award in 1987. Many students who studied under her are now leaders in the field of nutrition, including Carl Keen, the current chair of the department.

Sumner Morris joined UC Davis in 1958 as the first full-time director of the campus counseling center. He also was a lecturer in applied behavioral sciences on campus. Morris retired in 1988 and died in 1994. On his retirement, he received a Lifetime Service award from the Mental Health Association of Yolo County.

Morris also was a founding member of Davis' Human Relations Commission, formed in 1983 in the wake of the stabbing death of Vietnamese student Thong Hy Huynh to foster mutual respect and tolerance among people. Active on campus, he made numerous presentations in residence halls and was an advocate for ways the campus could assist students' personal growth and learning.

Frank Ogasawara was for decades known to avian sciences students as the flag bearer for their major. The former professor died Saturday. He specialized in poultry and avian reproductive physiology courses and was a noted worldwide authority in turkey production. He also helped found the campus's raptor center for the treatment and study of injured birds of prey. He was an adviser to the Avian Sciences Club, and the major adviser.

Ogasawara was known for not only guiding students' academic paths, but also making sure that they had money to pay their rent, a place to spend holiday meals and jobs upon graduation. He retired in 1983 after 24 years of service to the campus.

David Risling was the founder of Native American Studies at UC Davis and the founder of DQ University. The senior lecturer, who retired in 1991, was a recipient of the Academic Senate's Distinguished Public Service Award. He was a founding member of several major Native American organizations, including the National Indian Education Association, the California Indian Legal Services and the California Indian Education Association.

In addition, Risling has been a key player in legislation on behalf of Indian people. On the state level, he pushed for the Native American Heritage Commission. At the national level, he pushed for the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act. He was also an original adviser to the Ford Foundation for setting up a fellowship program for minorities.

Merna Villarejo joined the UC Davis faculty in 1975 and served as associate dean for undergraduate studies in the Division of Biological Sciences from 1988-1993. An emeritus professor of microbiology, she retired in 1999.

Her contributions have included: leading a biological sciences effort to revamp the undergraduate curriculum; creating a nationally recognized Biology Undergraduate Scholars Program; creating a model program of collaboration with community college biology faculty and a model transfer-student program for students in the biological sciences; and serving as a local principal investigator and statewide director of the California Subject Matter Project. She was the first recipient of the Undergraduate Mentorship award from the Vice Provost's Office.


In December 2000, five other faculty and staff members were recognized with namings during a ceremony marking the completion of The Colleges at LaRue. At that time, the five courts of the complex were named.

Several more buildings remain to be named, and at least three more rounds of building-namings are planned, Franks said.

Past honorees were: Ruth Anderson, who helped found the original Women's Center on campus in 1968; Robert Matthews, who helped establish an environmental geology program within the Department of Geology; Harry Walker, who headed the exploratory program in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences to assist students with career decisions; Marya Welch, who played a key role on campus in establishing intramural and extramural sports programs for women; and Emmy Werner, a developmental psychologist who has served as a role model to generations of students through her research and her teaching.