»2012 Commencement Speakers

Each of Chapman’s schools and colleges held its own ceremony with a program unique to itself. Below are biographies of keynote speakers as they appeared in the Commencement bulletin.

+-Argyros School of Business and Economics - Friday, May 18 - Dr. Donald R. Booth

Donald R. BoothDr. Donald R. Booth

Dr. Don Booth, Larry Parlett Professor of Economics is the senior member of the university faculty. Professor Booth is celebrating his 53rd anniversary at Chapman University.

Born in Minnesota, Dr. Booth was stationed in southern California while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. He earned ha B.A. in economics from Whittier College in 1955, an M.A. from Claremont Graduate School in 1956 and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1970.

Dr. Booth began teaching at Chapman College in 1959 and has since held a variety of positions, including Dean of Graduate Studies (1973-1977), Academic Vice President (1977-1978), Dean of the School of Business (1980-1982), Vice President of Finance (1989-1990), and Director of the Executive Master of Business Administration Program (1995-1998). Currently, he is acting as coordinator of the Department of Economics in the George L. Argyros School of Business and Economics. He has received awards from the National Science Foundation, Danforth Foundation, Charles Koch Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. He was awarded the Eliot Jones Award by the Western Economic Association for his research on U.S. investment in Latin America. In addition, his work hs been published in journals in both Russia and China.

Dr. Booth is well-loved by several generations of students as a committed teacher and a sympathetic and attentive advisor. Asked about Dr. Booth's contribution to the Chapman community, President Doti replied, "If someone were to ask me what it is that makes Chapman special, I would respond by saying, 'Take a look at Professor Don Booth.' That would explain it all."

+-College of Performing Arts - Saturday, May 19 - Mr. Larry Billman

Larry BillmanMr. Larry Billman

Larry Billman began his professional career at the age of 18 in his hometown of Hollywood. After 15 years of film, television, stage and nightclub performances, he made the transition to writer/director and began a 37-year career with Disney live entertainment, creating hundreds of shows for theme parks, resorts and cruise lines.

He wrote and staged 6 editions of Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus and co-directed 4 editions of Disney on Ice. He was vice president of Creative Show Development for Walt Disney Attractions and was creative director for the concept and design phase of Tokyo DisneySea. He is the recipient of an annual special award from ASCAP as a creator of The Hoop Dee Doo Musical Review, a dinner theatre show which is performed nightly at Walt Disney World since 1974 and at Tokyo Disneyland from 1981-1993. He retired from the Walt Disney Company in 2007.

Mr. Billman wrote Film Choreographers and Dance Directors (1997), the first encyclopedic listing of artists who made the movies “move.” He founded The Academy of Dance on Film (DOF) which gathered print and visual material on the history of movement makers in film, television and music videos. When DOF dissolved in 2010, he donated much of the collection to the Leatherby Libraries at Chapman University and has lectured at University of California, Irvine, the University of Southern California, and other institutions.

In 2009 - 2010, he was Director of Culture and Entertainment for the USA Pavilion at Shanghai World Expo and continues as a consultant, lecturer and moderator for Fox and Warner Bros., the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival, Jacob’s Pillow and various educational, film history, and theme park projects.

+-Wilkinson College of Humanities and Social Sciences- Saturday, May 19 - Mr. Ocean Robbins

Ocean RobbinsMr. Ocean Robbins

Ocean Robbins began his career as a change agent at an early age by organizing a peace rally in his elementary school when he was seven. At 10, he was the baker, salesperson and accountant for "Ocean's Natural Bakery." By age 14, Mr. Robbins began facilitating the environmental portions of an international youth summit in Moscow and another in Washington, D.C. He met with Mrs. Mikhail Gorbachev, numerous ambassadors and U.S. Senators to discuss environmental concerns.

At 15, Mr. Robbins was co-founder of the Creating Our Future environmental speaking tour, during which he and three others spoke to more than 30,000 students as well as 2,000 people at the United Nations. In 1990, at 16, Mr. Robbins founded YES!, a social change organization that has reached more than 620,000 people with over 1,200 school assembly and conference presentations.

Mr. Robbins is co-author of Choices for Our Future: A Generation Rising for Life on Earth (1994), and speaks widely to companies, organizations and at conferences. In 1997, he participated in the international conference, Peacemaking: The Power of Nonviolence, with H.H. the Dalai Lama and other Nobel Laureates. He has worked with many different social change organizations and has founded several. Mr. Robbins has received honors from many organizations including the Giraffe Project, the National Alliance for Animals, E: The Environmental Magazine, EarthSave, Utne Reader, Audubon and Time magazines. He received both the Freedom’s Flame Award and the Jefferson Award for Public Service in 2008.

Mr. Robbins lives in Santa Cruz, California, with his wife Michele and their twin boys, River and Bodhi. They live near his parents, Deo and John Robbins, author of Diet for a New America and founder of EarthSave.


+-Schmid College of Science and Technology - Saturday, May 19 - Dr. Lucile M. Jones

Lucile M. JonesDr. Lucile M. Jones

Dr. Lucy Jones has been a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and a visiting research associate at the Seismological Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology since 1983. She currently serves as the Science Advisor for Risk Reduction for the Natural Hazards Mission of the USGS, leading long-term science planning for natural hazards research. She also leads the SAFRR Project (Science Application for Risk Reduction) to apply USGS science to reduce risk in communities across the nation.

In 2006, Dr. Jones created and led the Multi Hazards Demonstration Project (MHDP) in southern California to increase resilience to natural disasters in urban areas. Major products of the MHDP included the ShakeOut Earthquake Scenario that led to creation of the Great California ShakeOut, an emergency preparedness event involving over 7 million people.

Dr. Jones has authored over 90 papers on seismology with an emphasis in earthquakes, foreshocks and earthquake hazard assessment. She serves on the California Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Council and was a commissioner of the California Seismic Safety Commission from 2002 to 2009. She has received numerous awards, including the Alquist Award from the California Earthquake Safety Foundation and the Shoemaker Award for Lifetime Achievements in Science Communication from the USGS.

Dr. Jones received a Bachelor of Arts in Chinese Language and Literature, magna cum laude, from Brown University in 1976 and a Ph.D. in geophysics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1981. Dr. Jones, a fourth-generation resident of southern California, currently lives in Pasadena with her husband, Dr. Egill Hauksson, also a seismologist.

+-College of Educational Studies - Saturday, May 19 - Dr. Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana

Thelma Meléndez de Santa AnaDr. Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana

Thelma Meléndez de Santa Ana, Ph.D., is the superintendent for the Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD), the largest in Orange County with 56,000 students at 61 school sites. The K-12 school district is the second largest employer in Santa Ana with approximately 4,500 educators and staff members. SAUSD boasts 28 California Distinguished Schools, five National Blue Ribbon Schools, and two 2011 National Blue Ribbon nominees.

Dr. Meléndez previously held the position of Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education at the United States Department of Education (USDOE). During her tenure as Assistant Secretary, Dr. Meléndez served as the principal advisor for Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education. While at the USDOE, she played a critical role in the development of the Blueprint for Reform, the USDOE’s proposal to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act; she also successfully led the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education as it administered billions of dollars in grant funding.

Prior to arriving at the USDOE, Dr. Meléndez served as superintendent for the Pomona Unified School District in Pomona, California. In 2009, she was voted California Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators. An English learner herself, Dr. Meléndez has been instrumental in the national conversation on supporting English language learners.

Dr. Meléndez earned her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California in language, literacy and learning. She earned a bachelor’s degree cum laude in sociology from the University of California at Los Angeles. She is married to Otto Santa Ana, a professor in the Department of Chicano Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

+-Dodge College of Film and Media Arts - Saturday, May 19 - Mr. Jon Landau

Jon LandauMr. Jon Landau

Academy Award and two-time Golden Globe winning producer Jon Landau has repeatedly demonstrated an ability to oversee and deliver major motion pictures. He currently holds the distinction of having produced the two highest grossing movies of all-time, Avatar (2009) and Titanic (1997). The combination of Mr. Landau's thorough understanding of the most complex state-of-the-art visual effects technologies, his ability to work hand-in-hand with the highest caliber of creative talent, and his motivational ability with people has enabled him to play a significant role in numerous major motion pictures.

In addition to Avatar and Titanic, Mr. Landau has also produced such films as Steven Soderbergh's Solaris (2002).  Also under his and James Cameron's "Lightstorm Entertainment" banner, he co-produced Warren Beatty's Dick Tracy (1990) and the family comedy hit Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989). Throughout the early 1990s, Mr. Landau was Executive Vice President of Feature Film Production at Twentieth Century Fox where he supervised production on all major motion pictures including Die Hard 2, Mrs. Doubtfire, True Lies, Power Rangers, Aliens 3, Last of the Mohicans, and more.

Mr. Landau is the 2010 recipient of University of Southern California’s Mary Pickford Award recognizing alumni contributions to the cinematic arts. He joins a list of distinguished USC alumni including Robert Zemeckis, Ray Harryhausen and Brian Grazer.

Mr. Landau is pro-actively working with companies and individuals throughout the entertainment industry to push technologies to new levels that will allow new stories to be told and presented in more engaging and immersive ways.

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