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Transcript of SFSU's May 25 Commencement


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First, like these students out here, you came to earn a B.A. and graduated in 1962. And your long career as an employee began three years later in 1965. You moved through many areas, achieving what for many would be a career capstone, the post of Director of Public Affairs.

But then you went on to take a master's degree in economics and to work your way through the business side of the house, becoming, in 1994, Vice President for Business and Finance, with the responsibility for funds totaling almost a half a billion dollars a year, the equivalent of a medium-sized city budget. You are the pivot point that allows our teaching and our learning enterprise to prosper.

You have been a leader on this campus and off this campus, across the state, and on a national level. You are, indeed, in the words that appear on your medal, a giant in the life of this university. And it is with great pleasure, Don Scoble, that I present you with the President's Medal from San Francisco State University.


DON SCOBLE: It was only about 45 minutes ago that I learned that I was to receive this medal. And I must confess that it's the first time in a number of years where I have blushed, as some of my colleagues noted. I have no prepared remarks. But for those of you who listened carefully to the description of President Corrigan, I sat with my wife-to-be out there, for those of you in the back row, that's where we were 40 years ago.

And I remember why we were here, which is to march up here to get our degrees. So I will say just a few words of thanks.

This University has meant a lot to me. And I want to thank all of the faculty members who helped define who I am and who I became, because it was through their nurturing and their encouragement and their mentoring that helped me build the career and the life that I built today. I hope at least that in some way this medal honors all of those faculty members who gave so much to me and who I have tried to pay back by giving as much as I can to this University that I love so much. And I hope the rest of you will, too.

Congratulations to all of you and thank you.


PRES. CORRIGAN: An economist who speaks as well as an accountant.

The academic world's highest honor is the one we are about to bestow. The honorary doctorate. Joining me for this honorary degree conferral is a member of the California State University Board of Trustees, Mr. William Hauck.


TRUSTEE HAUCK: Thank you, Bob. It's a pleasure for me to be here today. Graduates, are you happy yet?


TRUSTEE HAUCK: On behalf of the board and my fellow board members, we certainly extend our congratulations to you, as well as to your families and those who helped get you to where you are. We know that this doesn't get done on your own. It's also a pleasure for me to be here today to participate in the awarding of an honorary degree to a very remarkable man. It's now my privilege to invite to the podium an individual whose life speaks to the highest values of California State University and who won the trustees' immediate approval for conferral of an honorary doctorate, Mr. Millard Fuller.

Please, Millard, join us at the podium.


PRES. CORRIGAN: Millard Fuller, in this nation and 82 others stretching around the globe, more than half a million people go to sleep each night under their own roof, thanks to you. In the 26 years since you and your wife founded Habitat for Humanity International, --


PRES. CORRIGAN: -- you have transformed the lives of poor families by helping them to achieve that fundamental element of a solid future, home ownership.

With brilliant simplicity and passionate commitment to a life of service to others, you created a grass roots model that has enabled Habitat to take deep root in tens of thousands of communities.

Millard Fuller, from the start, yours has been an exceptional path. You began where many would be content to end, with business success that made you a millionaire before your 30th birthday. But you found this material achievement to be hollow. Compelled by strong religious faith, you interpreted the biblical injunction -- "give all to the poor and follow me" -- quite literally. You gave away a fortune and set out on a new path.

Your goal was as mighty as your determination, to eliminate poverty housing from the world.

Millard Fuller, you and Habitat are getting there, with a powerfully effective model that joins the labor of volunteers with sweat equity of the families who will eventually own a Habitat home. Your housing network is stretching across America and into some of the world's poorest nations. Habitat for Humanity has become in both senses a household name.

Millard Fuller, you challenge us to look beyond ourselves, to remember, in your words, that we belong to all of humanity. Millard Fuller, with boundless generosity of spirit, energy, and optimism, you demonstrate the power of an individual, to be sure, an exceptional individual, to make a difference. You are, indeed, a splendid exemplar to these students. And it is with the greatest admiration that we award you this degree.

So by the authority vested in me by the Board of Trustees and in the name of the California State University and San Francisco State University, I hereby confer upon you, Millard Fuller, the degree of doctor of humane letters, honoris causa, with all the rights, honors, and opportunities which it imparts.

(Standing ovation.)

MILLARD FULLER: Thank you, President Corrigan and Trustee Hauck. And thanks to all of you for that warm affirmation. I am deeply humbled and really touched by your outpouring of love and of encouragement for this work.

But I want to ask you a question. I want to ask all of you graduates and those who are here, friends, family, and platform guests, anyone who has made a contribution to Habitat for Humanity or has volunteered or who belongs to an organization that has contributed, a business, a church, or other organization -- would you just hold up your hands?

You join me in receiving this. Because Habitat for Humanity is what it is today across the United States and in 82 other countries because of people like you.

I'm honored today to receive this degree because this great University stands for service learning. This great University knows that what really makes for greatness is service. And you, graduates, can consider yourselves fortunate to have your degree from such a university.

Habitat for Humanity believes that service is what makes the world better. Habitat was born in a small Christian community in southwest Georgia. We started by building one house for one needy family. And from that humble and small beginning, it has now spread, as you have heard, to 83 countries, to about 3700 cities. We have now completed over 130,000 houses and we build another one every 26 minutes.

We believe --


MILLARD FULLER: We believe that every house we build is like a sermon of God's love. We all know, regardless of our religious traditions, that we should love one another. That is so central to true religion.

Habitat for Humanity believes that every family needs, as a minimum, a simple, decent place in which to live. And that's why we have the audacious goal of trying to end the shame and disgrace of poverty housing and homelessness.

We know from the bible that it says, "With God, all things are possible." And so we attempt what seems to be an impossible goal. But through the divine power that we are trying to plug into, we believe it can be done.

All of us today are painfully aware of the divisions that there are in the world. Habitat for Humanity promotes reconciliation. We think if you don't like somebody, you should go help build them a house. That's the way to change hatred into love and acceptance. We promote reconciliation.


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