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Three Win Public Service Awards

By Andy Fell on May 6, 2002 in University News

A tireless campaigner on employment and immigration issues, an eminent jurist and civil rights leader, and an expert in response to natural disasters and terrorism who worked at the World Trade Center site are the winners of this year's Distinguished Public Service Awards at the University of California, Davis.

They are Norman Matloff, professor of computer science; Cruz Reynoso, professor of law, and Dr. R. Steven Tharatt, professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine. They will receive their awards at a ceremony on May 6.

The UC Davis Academic Senate, representing all tenured faculty at the university, makes the awards annually to recognize significant contributions to the world, nation, state and community through distinguished public service.

Matloff has written extensively about immigration and employment issues, affirmative action and age discrimination. He has been a vocal critic of the use of young, skilled foreign workers on short-term visas to fill jobs in the computer industry, arguing that these jobs could be done by older American programmers and that the foreign-born workers are vulnerable to exploitation.

Matloff has testified before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on immigration issues and has served as an expert witness in age-discrimination lawsuits. He has advised federal and state agencies, including the U.S. departments of Commerce and State and the White House, on employment issues. He has served on a number of panels and committees on computer-industry hiring practices sponsored by industry, academia, government and public interest groups.

He is a member of the steering committee of the Wen Ho Lee Defense Fund, which is now working towards a presidential pardon of the former Los Alamos scientist. Matloff also has written and campaigned on other cases of alleged racial discrimination against Asian Americans.

Matloff gained his Ph.D. in mathematics from UCLA in 1975 and joined the UC Davis faculty the same year. He is a former member of both the UC Davis and the University of California's affirmative action committees and has been active in minority outreach programs.

Reynoso holds the Boochever and Bird Chair for the Study and Teaching of Freedom and Equality at the UC Davis School of Law. In the words of his nominator, his career is "a testament to his deep and enduring commitment to public service."

One of the leading Chicano civil rights advocates of his generation, he first gained national recognition fighting for the rights of the rural poor with California Rural Legal Assistance. After serving as a jurist with the 3rd District Court of Appeal for California, Reynoso rose to become the first Hispanic on the California Supreme Court, serving from 1982 to 1987.

Since 1994, Reynoso has been vice chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He has also served on numerous other federal, state and professional boards and commissions concerned with civil rights, immigration and refugee policy, government reform, the administration of justice, legal services for the indigent and education.

In 2000, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country's highest civilian honor, in recognition of his lifelong devotion to public service and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation's Hispanic Heritage Award in Education.

Since coming to UC Davis from UCLA last year, Reynoso has been a frequent participant in campus and community events concerned with civil rights and the Chicano/Latino community.

Tharratt serves as the medical director for Sacramento County's Office of Emergency Medical Services; medical adviser to the state Emergency Services Authority and Office of Emergency Services; and medical adviser for the Sacramento city and county fire departments. He also is a member of the state's standing Commission on Terrorism and the FBI's Northern California Task Force. In those roles, he is responsible for assessing the threat of terrorist acts and recommending the appropriate medical response.

Tharatt is medical manager for Sacramento's Urban Search and Rescue Team Task Force 7, one of 28 specialized heavy-rescue teams in the country. On September 11, 2001, he was part of the team that responded to the World Trade Center attack and spent 11 days searching for victims in the collapsed buildings.

Tharratt was among 17 physicians and researchers who served on a committee of the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council that assessed the nation's ability to respond to biological and chemical terrorist attacks. In 2000 he participated in a two-week field exercise in Kharkov, Ukraine, organized by the Ukrainian government and the U.S. departments of defense and state. In 1997, he toured Indonesia with a United Nations team evaluating poison control, environmental assessment and food safety programs.

Note: Photographs of awardees are available. Contact Andy Fell for details.

Media contact(s)

Andy Fell, Research news (emphasis: biological and physical sciences, and engineering), 530-752-4533, ahfell@ucdavis.edu

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