CBU honors Distinguished Professor, Scholar and Employee of the Year
Riverside, Calif. (May 11, 2023) – California Baptist University honored employees on May 4 during the annual faculty and staff awards banquet.
Along with honoring longtime employees, CBU honored two outstanding faculty members and the 2023 Employee of the Year.
Brianna Zepeda, assistant director of housing maintenance and operations in Facilities and Planning Services, received the 2023 Employee of the Year award. CBU’s Executive Council selected the Employee of the Year recipient from among the staff members chosen as Employee of the Month during the academic year. Zepeda received that honor last October.
Zepeda started working for CBU as a housing maintenance manager in 2016 and in 2022 was promoted to her current role.
“Customer service is a priority for Brianna. She does what it takes to resolve issues that come up. The common goal she routinely emphasizes is making sure resident students have a positive experience here at CBU,” Brenda Flores, associate director of business administration, said in the nomination.
Zepeda said that being named Employee of the Year not only recognizes her, but it also recognizes her department and those who work with her.
“Our housing team consists of highly skilled individuals. It has been fulfilling to watch us fuse into a work family while attempting to keep the ‘feels just like home experience’ for students as the target,” Zepeda said. “There is a lot of heart that goes into their work while keeping students living areas safe and functioning at the center. I couldn’t ask for a better team.
Each year, the CBU Board of Trustees selects the Distinguished Professor and Distinguished Scholar award recipients
The Distinguished Professor award is given to a faculty member who has established an impressive record of service to CBU, and this year that was Dr. Veola Vazquez, professor of psychology and diversity coordinator for the Doctor of Psychology program.
In the nomination for Vazquez, Dr. Jacqueline Gustafson, dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, credited her superior performance in the areas of teaching, service, and scholarship.
“Dr. Vazquez is truly an exemplar of the characteristics and qualities of a Distinguished Professor and a pillar of Christlikeness, embodying the mission and values of CBU,” Gustafson said.
Vazquez said she was humbled and grateful to receive the award.
“For me, this award is a symbol of God’s grace and a reminder of the support of my community. None of my accomplishments were possible without God’s enduring grace,” Vazquez said. “This award reminds me of all that God and others have done in my life. With that in mind, I give the glory to God, and I share the honor with my students, colleagues and family.”
Dr. Robert LaChausse, professor of public health science, was named Distinguished Scholar. He was honored for his research project titled “Preventing Substance Use Addiction in Riverside County.”
For the past nine years, LaChausse has secured a Drug-Free Communities grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. He works in collaboration with the Healthy Jurupa Valley Coalition and Reach Out, a local nonprofit, to create an infrastructure that reduces youth substance use.
“Dr. LaChausse’s work has gained recognition from both state and federal policymakers, yielded several national conference presentations and been published in peer-reviewed publications,” said Dr. Ronald L. Ellis, president of CBU. “Most important, his efforts have resulted in reductions in substance use among teens and adults in Jurupa Valley.”
The honor is a recognition of his research that focuses on understanding the factors associated with and how to prevent high risk health behaviors among adolescents, LaChausse said.
“The award is an acknowledgement of the importance of research at the university, not only to support good teaching but also to find solutions to problems in our community and nation,” he said.
Additionally, that evening 153 employees received service awards this year for combined service to CBU totaling 1,730 years. That includes 56 who each marked five years of service, 42 employees who received 10-year service pins, 31 employees recognized for 15 years of service, 12 for 20 years, eight for 25 years of service, three for 30 years of service and one employee who received 35 years of service recognition.