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Transcript of SFSU's May 25 Commencement


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Nearly a quarter century later, people are still laughing, and the world is a better place for it.

Peter is a creator and executive producer of the long-running and critically acclaimed television comedy "Frasier."


DANELLE ZEAVIN: Now in its ninth season, the show has won more than a score of Emmys, among them a record five consecutive awards for outstanding comedy series.

Along with his partners, David Lee and the late David Angell, Peter has been the creative genius behind some of the smartest and cleverest writing on television. The three were writers and producers on "Cheers," certainly one of television's funniest shows ever. They also created "Wings," which enjoyed critical and ratings success during its seven-season run.

Peter Casey fell in love with the world of television production while studying broadcasting at San Francisco State in 1975.

Armed with his degree, he moved to Los Angeles, determined to make it as a television writer. He and his partner, David Lee, struggled for several years before selling their first script to the "Jeffersons." Ironically, Peter sold sandwiches on the same Paramount lot where today he has his own parking space and office.

Peter Casey has reached the top in a fiercely competitive field, and it was San Francisco State, he insists, that gave him the courage to express himself as a writer and the confidence to make his dreams come true.

Last year, we inducted Peter into the University's Alumni Hall of Fame. Today, Mr. Casey, I am delighted to join President Corrigan in recognizing you as our 2002 Alumnus of the Year.



Thank you, Danelle. President Corrigan, faculty members, distinguished guests, members of the Alumni Association, students, parents, siblings, friends, hangers-on, commencement groupies, fog-lovers, sun-worshipers, Stonestown shoppers, and most of all, graduating members of the class of 2002 -- I appear to have used up my allotted time. Thank you.


PETER CASEY: Actually, Representative Pelosi has graciously agreed to give me two minutes of her planned 75-minute speech, so I'll continue.


PETER CASEY: First of all, I would like to thank the Alumni Association for naming me Alumnus of the Year. San Francisco State has already been so good to me from my days here as a student in the broadcasting department, to my induction -- (laughs.) -- to my -- it was so much easier when it was BCA instead of BECA. I'm sorry. To my induction last year into the hall of fame, that I almost felt compelled to decline this latest offer for fear of looking greedy. Those feelings lasted about a nanosecond. I'm always proud to say I'm a graduate of this school.


PETER CASEY: A friend of mine in Los Angeles has a favorite saying. It's better to aim for the stars and miss than aim for the gutter and hit it.


PETER CASEY: Well, that's the way I felt 27 years ago as I sat out there at my commencement. I was itching to give Hollywood a shot. But I hadn't always felt so adventurous. But after my stay here at State, I was willing to entertain the idea that the impossible just might be possible. And I hope each of you feels that way today. Challenge yourselves. You just might be surprised what you're capable of. Good luck.


PRES. CORRIGAN: Frasier may love Seattle, Peter, but San Francisco loves Peter Casey. Thank you. Your wit, your imagination have enlivened many an evening for me and for millions across this nation. And this University is immensely proud to claim you as one of their own.

At commencement, we not only recognize all that you -- our graduates -- do, each year, we also try to honor outstanding individuals who we believe can serve as stirring models of higher values and achievements, those models and achievements to which we hope you can aspire. You have met one such person already, our Alumnus of the Year, Peter Casey.

It is my privilege now to present two others and to present to them the highest award that the president of a California State University campus may bestow, the President's Medal for Service. Conferred on rare occasions, the Medal recognizes an individual whose work is long?lasting and offers widespread benefits for the University and for our society at large. That definition seems custom?made for the man I am about to introduce to you, Mr. John H. Jacobs.

John Jacobs, would you please join me at the podium.

John Jacobs, to say that you are civic-minded is to sell you short. When you commit yourself to a community organization, you throw yourself into it mind, body, and soul. Your tireless efforts over the decades have helped make the San Francisco area a better place for all of us. As a deeply principled resident of this remarkable city, John Jacobs, you have dedicated a major part of your life to two leading civic organizations: The San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, helping our city to solve the myriad problems of contemporary urban life.

Your counsel, your wisdom, and your deep understanding of the community we serve as a University has been your gift to our institution. As a longstanding member of the President's Advisory Board, you have provided clear-headed counsel to two San Francisco State presidents. And I am immensely fortunate to have been one of them.

As president of the San Francisco State University Foundation Board of Directors, you have guided some of our most creative projects, helping to provide hundreds of new housing units for students, faculty, and staff.

John H. Jacobs, you embody the civic engagement we hope to foster in our students. It is with the greatest admiration that I present to you the President's Medal from San Francisco State University.


JOHN JACOBS: President Corrigan, to receive this medal is really like getting icing for a cake that has just been baked.

I have received so much personal satisfaction in assisting this University in bettering the physical properties of its campus that this is really double the pleasure.

I'd like to say a few words about your president. Keep in mind what we have accomplished in the last three or four years. We've completed, and it's now occupied, the Village in Centennial Square. That's an apartment complex for students. Some of you may be living there now. It consists of 760 beds and a student affairs complex that will assist any student in any of the problems he or she may encounter.

We've acquired -- we have purchased, actually -- 180 housing units from our neighbors, Park Merced. They will enable the University to recruit faculty where they might otherwise decline the offer when they get sticker shock from housing prices in San Francisco.

But none of this would be possible without your president. I have never seen him back away from a calculated risk nor delay a decision. And his wry sense of humor keeps us all going forward to the goals that he has established. He's fond of using his humor to remind us that the expectation of perfection in the human being is really the triumph of hope over experience. But we go forward anyway.

And, President Corrigan, thank you very much for this honor. I will cherish it for a long time.


PRES. CORRIGAN: Don W. Scoble, would you please step forward. Don Scoble, for almost four decades, you have been a vital part of this University, known and respected throughout and well beyond the campus as an individual of exceptional talent and dedication.

You have worked, Don Scoble, with seven out of the University's 12 presidents in positions of increasing responsibility, culminating in the vice presidency you now hold.

To a person, each of these seven presidents has considered you an invaluable team member. In the history of the University, Don Scoble, you appear on many pages.

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Last modified May 25, 2002, by the Office of Public Affairs