Chris Watson facilitates formal partnership between CSUSB and Lviv Polytechnic National University in Ukraine

– Courtesy of CSUSB

California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) and Lviv Polytechnic National University, Ukraine announced that the institutions are developing an agreement to establish a partnership and initiate international collaborative activities to promote joint educational, scientific, and cultural development.

This international partnership will be designed to enhance international understanding and deepen friendship between CSUSB and Lviv Polytechnic National University, starting with cooperation in the area of entrepreneurship.

Tomás D. Morales, president of CSUSB stated that, “This is tremendous news and a wonderful opportunity that will ultimately benefit students, and the faculty and staff at both of our institutions. The Memorandum of Understanding reinforces my belief that students receive an incredible  benefit from international studies. I look forward to our two institutions working together.”

Yurii Bobalo, DScTech., professor, University Leadership Rector stated that “International interaction and cooperation of the world’s universities play an important role in the world today. This allows for the integration of knowledge, opens new ways of addressing the problems that humanity is facing. The cooperation of the Lviv Polytechnic with the California State University, San Bernardino will provide an opportunity to exchange experience in the educational and scientific sphere and will open up new opportunities for the development of both universities.”

The initial areas of international cooperation include developing programs with CSUSB’s School of Entrepreneurship at the Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration and Lviv Polytechnic National University’s Tech StartUp School. The collaboration will promote joint activities and seminars for students and faculty from both universities focused on entrepreneurship, research activities, and innovation technology.

The partnership will help further enhance the CSUSB entrepreneurial program, which is recognized among the best in the globe. In recent national rankings from the Princeton Review, the entrepreneurial program was ranked in the Top 50 Graduate Entrepreneurship programs in the United States and globally.

“The agreement will help expand the global impact for both Lviv National Polytechnical University and the Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration, our School of Entrepreneurship, and the Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE),” said Tomás Gómez-Arias, Dean of the Jack H. Brown College. “We look forward to working with our fellow academics and entrepreneurs with the exchange of research, best practices, and growth programs.”

In addition, conferences, seminars and academic meetings will be held virtually until the war in Ukraine is resolved. This partnership was initiated by Ukrainian-based investor Christopher Watson’s aspiration to increase international relations between universities by enhancing the proficiency of students and academic staff and increasing the business competencies of their startups.




‘Eternal Learning’ Mural Officially Unveiled at CSUSB’s Watson College of Education

– Courtesy of CSUSB

Designed, created and installed by students, “Eternal Learning” consists of 850 square feet of ceramic tile that depicts humans at work, study and play among larger-than-life books. The project took five years to make with the help of 20 CSUSB students.

The mission of the James R. Watson and Judy Rodriguez Watson College of Education at Cal State San Bernardino could not be clearer to those passing by the ceramic tile artwork in front of the building.

Called “Eternal Learning,” the tile mural was formally unveiled during a ceremony on May 3.

Alison Ragguette, CSUSB professor of art and design, who directed the project, told the crowd that “Eternal Learning” took five years to make with the help of 20 students. She said it was first conceived by her students – now alumni – Adam Diaz and Melissa Medina.

“Their two proposals were actually merged together to create this project,” she said. “In my teaching, I always try to promote the positive impact of community artwork. It contributes to the creation of an inclusive public voice, one that can bring beauty to everyday life, resonating both personally and collectively.”

The artwork was “designed by students, made by students and for the students,” she said. “The mural is meant to inspire learning, celebrate education, achievements and continually self-reflect on our eternally learning selves.”

“The total length of 140 feet long that you will see is what I call a generational storybook,” said Judy Rodriguez Watson, as she described the images on the wall.

Watson then asked all the students and alumni who participated in the project to stand up and be recognized. The audience gave them a loud round of applause.

“You all have worked very hard for many, many years,” she said to them. “I am very, very honored to have my name associated with your names.”

Rafik Mohamed, provost and vice president for academic affairs, recognized “the generosity of CSUSB’s dedicated and longtime supporters James R. Watson and Judy Rodriguez Watson” who made the new piece of art possible.

“The artwork is a true masterpiece that captures the spirit and essence of our campus and will serve as a source of inspiration and wonder for our students, faculty, staff and visitors for generations to come,” he said.

Robert Nava, vice president for university advancement, also thanked the Watsons, with James ‘Jim’ Watson joining the event via FaceTime.

“Our appreciation – it’s hard to express it in words – all that you and Jim, the Watson family do for our university, for our college, for our programs, for art,” he said. “We want you and Jim to know our thanks and how much we appreciate this partnership.”

Rueyling Chuang, dean of the College of Arts and Letters, and Chinaka DomNwachukwu, dean of the College of Education, thanked everyone involved and acknowledged their invaluable partnership.

“For the past five years, even during the pandemic, they worked together to put this wonderful project together,” Chuang said. “This project is great example of how we integrate and how we collaborate in between departments.”

DomNwachukwu echoed Chuang.

“This project highlights the power of partnership and interdisciplinary engagement,” he said. “I hope this is a continuation of ongoing partnership to distinguish our colleagues and our university as the best place to prepare educators.”

Designed, created and installed by students, “Eternal Learning” consists of 850 square feet of ceramic tile that depicts humans at work, study and play among larger-than-life books, and included scenes of learning activities such as shared reading, conducting science experiments, playing basketball, and gazing at stars. Floating between the scenes are letters of the alphabet.

On a wall opposite the main portion of the mural is a scene depicting commencement. Called the “Selfie Wall,” it is envisioned as a place where graduates and their families and friends will pose for photos on a milestone day.

In between the two scenes is the “Language Wall,” where “Eternal Learning” will be translated in 65 languages, including sign language and Braille. And while 65 languages represent many, Ragguette said it can include more translations this way: A QR code has been created and incorporated on the wall, and visitors can make their own contributions, which will be compiled on Google list.

There is also a community component of the project.

“I always do community-based work to make sure that the community is engaged. And the offshoot of this project is that we created the Kind Art Collective Journal,” Ragguette said in a previous interview. “And Judy and Jim sponsored the creation of this book that’s a bilingual book, in English and Spanish, for children. And it’s about creativity and resilience. It’s kind of like a workbook. We’re creating art kits, handing out art supplies that go inside little tote bags with the book. And we’re also circulating copies of the book to a lot of different schools and non-profits for kids.

“And we’re about to start the next iteration that will be in Ukrainian and English,” she said.

The Watsons will be taking that over to Poland, where they will meet at the Ukraine-Poland border with officials from a Ukrainian university to present the books.

“Eternal Learning” is the fifth piece sponsored by the Judy Rodriguez Public Art Project. Ragguette worked on the first four, which are columns of ceramic art located along a median on Northpark Boulevard, west of the campus’ University Parkway entrance.

“It’s been about giving students the learning opportunity, and also the work experience,” Ragguette said. “And also, the confidence to go on to pursue careers in this area. I believe that students get to really prove to their families that there are viable projects out there, and that they can have a life as an artist.”

That ceramic was the chosen medium also plays into the concept of “Eternal Learning.”

“Students made it for incoming students. Then I have students who are currently in the credential program, and I asked them, ‘What does this mean for you to make something like this for your college. And they’re like, ‘Everything! And I can’t wait to come back with my kids some day and show them that I made this,’” Ragguette said.

“It will impact for generations. Ceramics, because it’s an archival material, is such a powerful medium for public art because of its longevity and its resilience – and relatability,” she said. “I think a lot of people have a relationship to the material, and have a sense of it. But to think decades into the future – these artists can come back and bring their children – it’s always going to be there and there will always be a connection. That connection is very vital. It doesn’t really fade because the material is so resilient.”

Involved with Ragguette, Diaz and Medina in the creation and installation of “Eternal Learning” were Judy Rodriguez Watson Public Art fellows Yvette Arguilles, Stacey Carrasco, Richard Concheri, Joanne Cuevas, Anna Delgado, Matt Dickerson, Frankie Gutierrez, John Harman, Sarah Hayashi, Keliegh McMullen, Luisa Notarangelo, Rosemary Rivas, Andrea Simpson, Holland Snipes, Evelyn Trinidad, Jocelyn Williams and Mayra Zambrano.

Assisting the artists in translating “Eternal Learning” for the “Learning Wall” were Teodora Bozhilova, Stacey Carrasco, Rueyling Chuang, Gerald Clarke, Juan Delgado, Chinaka DomNwachukwu, Dany Doueiri, Mika Efros, Riki Hayashi, Raymond Huaute, Bomi Hwang, Monika E. Justin, Ranjrani Kalra, Robert J. Levi, Thinh Li, Vai Matautia, Josephine Mendoza, Enrique Murillo Jr., Chris Naticchia, Sastry Pantula, Pinthusorn Pattayakorn, Patricia Preciado, Siska Purnawan, Golge Seferoglu, Pashaura Singh, Gulden Taner, George Antony Thomas, T ita’e Utuon and Kerstin Voigt.



CSUSB College formally named the James R. Watson and Judy Rodriguez Watson College of Education

– Courtesy of CSUSB

The renaming of the college is in honor of the contributions of James and Judy Watson, longtime supporters of CSUSB, and their transformative gift of $8.4 million to support student scholarships and programs, the work of the Watson & Associates Literacy Center and a Dean’s Endowment Fund

On the day the university expressed its gratitude for the generosity and support of James R. Watson and Judy Rodriguez Watson, it was James Watson who repeatedly said how grateful he and his wife were to be part of the Cal State San Bernardino community.

The university formally unveiled the renamed College of Education as the James R. Watson and Judy Rodriguez Watson College of Education on Nov. 1, in recognition of the longtime support of the Watsons and their transformative gift of $8.4 million to the college.

During the ceremony in the college’s atrium packed with university faculty, staff, administrators, local elected officials, friends and family, James Watson said, “We have enjoyed our experience here for over 20 years.

“We have been blessed more than the university has been blessed by what we have been able to provide financially and in our involvement,” he said. “It’s truly been a wonderful experience for Judy and I. We understand the value of education, and the vital role Cal State San Bernardino has in the Inland Empire in providing an affordable and world-class education.”

In naming the college after the Watsons, it becomes the second named college at CSUSB. The College of Business was renamed in 2016 to the Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration to honor businessman and philanthropist Jack H. Brown.

CSUSB President Tomás D. Morales said the education college is just the fourth in the California State University named for a person, and Judy Rodriguez Watson said it was the first in the entire CSU to bear the name of a Hispanic person, which brought a standing ovation.

“Jim and Judy are no strangers to philanthropy,” Morales said. “They constantly give their time and their resources to better their communities. And their continuous support of Cal State San Bernardino has been nothing short of extraordinary.”

The Watson’s gift will support student scholarships and establish a new Center for STEM Education. The STEM Center will be the hub for outreach to K-12 students in the region and will include a Model STEM Exploratorium and a teacher residency program, Morales said. The gift will also support Project Impact, a new program in the college to recruit and prepare teachers to serve underrepresented students in public schools.

Funds will also be used to enhance the Watson & Associates Literacy Center’s efforts in the Inland Empire. The center assists students in K-12 improve their reading, listening and writing skills, and is housed in the college.

And, Morales said, it will establish the Dean’s Endowment Fund to support special projects by faculty and staff. “This Dean’s Endowed Fund is the first for our campus,” he said.

“This fall marked the public launch of Cal State San Bernardino’s $200 million, Our Defining Moment: the Campaign for CSUSB,” Morales said. “And Jim and Judy’s generous donation has made outsized impact in our progress to reaching this goal.”

Since 2003, the Watsons have been contributors to and advocates for CSUSB, in particular for the College of Education and its literacy center. Their leadership and fundraising skills sparked CSUSB to ask them to serve as co-chairs of the College of Education’s capital campaign. The Watsons enabled CSUSB to enhance the then new education building and its programs, as the campaign raised more than $3 million. The Watsons also contributed the lead gift to the campaign. In recognition, the building’s student services center was named for them.

James “Jim” Watson worked as a real estate appraiser before launching his own company in 1972. As president and chief executive officer of J.R. Watson & Associates, a private commercial real estate firm based in Seal Beach, he has developed shopping centers, residential and master-planned mixed-use projects. Jim is a former chair of the board of the CSUSB Philanthropic Foundation (2012-2013), where he has also been a member of the executive committee and board of directors. Cal State San Bernardino awarded him an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 2010.

Judy Rodriguez Watson, who serves as senior vice president alongside Jim at J.R. Watson & Associates Development Corporation, is an ardent supporter of education and the arts. Judy was born and raised in Los Angeles, but her connection to Latino culture was nurtured early in her childhood. Her father, who was born in Veracruz, Mexico, would take her mother, three sisters and her on a two-week visit each summer to cities in Mexico. Passionate about education, in 2011, Judy served as honorary chair for the Latino Education and Advocacy Days (LEAD) summit at CSUSB and was affectionately termed, “La Madrina de Honor,” or honorary godmother. She was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 2015.

The Watsons are also dynamic proponents of public art in San Bernardino and have been instrumental in partnering with the city to display CSUSB student art citywide. They have provided funding to the university’s Coyote Conservatory, a performance arts outreach project led by CSUSB’s theatre arts department.