CSUB President’s Medals awarded to community partners, philanthropists

April 11, 2008
Kathy Miller, 661/654-2456, kmiller26@csub.edu or
Michele Newel, 661/654-2720, mnewell1@csub.edu
Philanthropists Awarded Medals Photo

Audrey Cochran, continence care nurse and gerontological nursing specialist, and Warner Williams, vice president of Chevron's North America Exploration and Production Company's San Joaquin Valley strategic business unit, have been awarded the President's Medal by California State University, Bakersfield President Horace Mitchell.

The award, one of the highest honors the university bestows, was presented to Cochran and Williams at the annual President's Associates Dinner on Wednesday, April 9 at the Petroleum Club of Bakersfield.

Neither Cochran nor Williams knew they were receiving the award, but when Mitchell announced their names at dinner the audience rose in a standing ovation. Clearly surprised, both were grateful for the honor.

In his introduction of Cochran, Mitchell noted that she is the first CSUB alumna to receive the President's Medal. Cochran was the second person to earn a master's degree in nursing at CSUB in 1990. Prior to her master's degree, she earned a bachelor's of science in nursing from Stanford.

Cochran practiced nursing in Fresno before becoming a stay at home mom. She returned to nursing when her children were in high school and worked in acute care for many years. Passionate about geriatric care, Cochran frequently speaks to community groups and at national conferences. She currently runs her own nursing practice, Healthcare Planning and Education for the Elderly and their Families.

"Audrey has been a generous and thoughtful donor to CSUB for many years," Mitchell said. "She is an active member of the 60+ Club on campus and a member of the Gold Wave swimming program that supports CSUB athletics. Audrey lives the advice she gives to others – remain active and engaged."

Cochran's first major gift to the university was to endow the Cochran Continence Scholarship, an annual scholarship presented to a student who prepares the best paper on continence issues.

Additionally, Cochran established a $1 million endowment for the Robert and Edith Cochran Chair in Gerontological Nursing at CSUB, named for her late husband and mother in-law. The endowment will allow the nursing department to develop an improved gerontology curriculum. A generous investment was made from her own funds and she has inspired her family and friends to help her achieve the $1 million goal. She is over 93 percent of the way there.

Williams, the second 2008 President's Medal recipient, has been with Chevron his entire 34-year career. He started as a production engineer in 1974 and progressed through assignments, including managing responsibilities in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Amoseas Indonesia. In 1998 he was appointed general manager of the Southern Africa Strategic Business Unit Overseas Petroleum, Inc., and later led a major merger of the worldwide oil exploration and production assets of Chevron and another major oil company. Since 2003, Williams has been headquartered in Bakersfield.

"Warner is very involved in the community. He serves on the CSUB Foundation Board as well as the boards of the American Association of Blacks in Energy, Pyles Boys Club, and the Eagle Leadership Institute," Mitchell said. "He's been instrumental in forging a strong academic partnership that involves CSUB and the pre-K through 12th grade education community. He believes strongly in giving students the earliest possible start in their education."

Williams made possible two major grants from Chevron. The first was a $600,000 grant made in 2005 to CSUB, the Bakersfield City School District and Houghton Mifflin to fund pre-school literacy projects.

In 2007, Williams spearheaded a $1 million gift from Chevron to fund CSUB's mathematics and science initiative. In development for almost a full year, the gift is making possible programs to prepare students for success in math and science, and to prepare middle and high school teachers to teach math and science.

"Both Audrey and Warner have contributed greatly to our partnerships for excellence," Mitchell added. "Their generosity and passion are supporting the excellence in education that is a primary thrust of the CSUB vision."

The President's Medal has been awarded annually since 1997.