CLA Distinguished Alumni 2003May 15, 2003
“Although my teaching is partly driven by research concerns, most of my courses are broadly conceived, examining social, cultural and political movements of people of African decent during the last five centuries,” said Robin Kelley, chair of the New York University Department of History and professor of History and Africana Studies. Considered by his peers to be one of the nation’s leading scholars of African-American history, Kelley has his interests in U.S. labor and cultural history, urban studies, and the African diaspora. Kelley’s distinguished résumé is full of awards and publications, including Yo’ Mama’s Disfunktional!: Fighting the Culture Wars in Urban America, which was selected the best book of 1998 by the Village Voice and outstanding book on human rights by the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights in the United States for 1997-98. He also appears as a television and documentary commentator and scholarly expert. A music lover, he also served as Louis Armstrong Chair at the Center for Jazz Studies at Columbia University for 2001-02 and is working on a biography of pianist and composer Theolnius Monk. His wife Diedra Harris-Kelly, earned her art degree from CSULB in 1984. “I’m constantly bragging to acquaintances and colleagues that I am a CSULB graduate. Most of my colleagues are products of Ivy League Schools and private high schools; they are often shocked when I reveal my pedigree because academia can seem like a ghetto of elites. The History Department, in particular, embraced me and encouraged my curiosity.”
Tax professionals have depended on Bob Spidell’s company, Spidell Publishing, Inc., for the most comprehensive information about California Taxation since 1975. The firm publishes newsletters and other materials, hosts tax seminars for continuing education and operates Caltax.com, considered the leading source for California tax research information. Now retired, Spidell continues to serve on the firm’s board of directors.
He and his wife, Janet, are long-time CSULB supporters. He has served on the CSULB Alumni Association Board of Directors since 1989, including two terms as president. In 1991 the Spidells established the Spidell Technology Endowment to support new learning technologies in the library. Bob and Janet were jointly awarded the President’s Outstanding Commitment to the University award in 1995, Bob was awarded the President’s Distinguished Service Award in 1997, and the Distinguished Alumnus for the College of Liberal Arts in 2003.
The couple also funded the Spidell Electronic Classroom in 2000. In 2007, the library opened and dedicated the Spidell Technology Center, the university’s largest computing facility with more than 235 computers with the latest software, and 40 additional workstations. The center enables students to conduct individual and group coursework and research.
In May, 2008, the Spidells were conferred honorary doctorate degrees by CSULB. President F. King Alexander stated the Spidells were unanimously selected by the State University Board of Trustees to be awarded Honorary Doctorates of Humane Letters … “because of your lifelong commitment to improving our great university and the educational opportunities that we provide to our students.”
A descendent of Mayflower pilgrims, Bob is a member of the Orange County Genealogical Society and the Society of Mayflower Descendants. He has taught classes on genealogical research at the Laguna Niguel Community Center and the Orange County Genealogical Society. He also operates a Web site about the history of his hometown in Andover, Maine, and is a docent at Mission San Juan Capistrano. “CSULB is the premier university in the CSU system and has an excellent academic reputation,” Bob commented, “I am proud to be a CSULB alumnus.”