SF State News {University Communications}

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SF State celebrates 110th Commencement: transcript

May 23, 2011 -- Following is a transcript of San Francisco State University's 110th Commencement held on Saturday, May 21, 2011 in Cox Stadium on campus before an audience of 20,000.

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Processional and National Anthem


Now, ladies and gentlemen would you please rise for the singing of the National Anthem. The processional was performed by the San Francisco State University Brass ensemble, also providing music for today's ceremony are the Alexander String Quartet, the Andrew Speight Quartet and the Hausmann Quartet. Our soloist today for the National Anthem is Alexandra Sessler, who graduates this afternoon with a Bachelor of Music in voice performance.


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Introductions and Welcome

Thank you, Ms. Sessler, what a stirring and a great opening for our 110th Commencement celebration! Ladies and gentlemen, please be seated. Members of the San Francisco State University class of 2011 -- good afternoon! I said, good afternoon!


A warm welcome to all of our guests and to the families of our graduates! For you, as it is for them, this is a historic day! You have looked forward to this ceremony almost as eagerly as our students, and your presence this afternoon adds greatly to their pride and pleasure.

Today as we mark the completion of San Francisco State's one hundred and twelfth year, I am pleased to report that this graduating class is one of the largest and most diverse --and certainly the most accomplished class in the history of this great University.

I am also proud to announce that among the members of the class of 2011 are 85 individuals to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude -- veterans of the armed forces who chose to serve their country before pursuing their degrees.

To our veterans -- please accept our congratulations and deeply felt gratitude.

This day marks a milestone in the lives of our graduates. And while I take great pride in acknowledging it, that is not really enough. I want to leave you with a challenge: to go out and live by the values that have marked a remarkable University for over a century -- the values we hope we have been able to impart to you.

We believe it is our responsibility to educate hearts as well as minds. We are proud to be a University of activism, of personal responsibility, of concern about major issues and determination to be engaged with those issues.

Where but at San Francisco State would you find a university whose faculty has made a commitment to social justice and equity the first of its fundamental goals -- exhibiting that commitment in many ways -- hiring, for example, the most diverse faculty of any university in the United States.

Where but at SF State would you find a faculty who care so passionately about the world beyond the campus and who have constantly encouraged you, their students, to take an active role in the community.

A role, I might add, that just received remarkable national recognition.  Just last week this University, your University, was chosen to receive the Presidential Award Community Service.  We were singled out with just two other universities in the nation for our powerful response to President Obama's call for community service.

This award acknowledges your hard work, and the hard work of the faculty who have helped you to apply what you are learning to the needs of those around us -- people lacking affordable health care; former foster youth seeking guidance and education; families plagued by neighborhood violence, children who need a head start on basic educational skills, immigrants whose children -- with your help -- may one day sit where you are sitting.

Where but at San Francisco State could you be so challenged by a diversity of views yet so supported in learning how to disagree strongly -- indeed passionately -- but without hatred -- a skill the world sorely needs, and you have learned.

Where but at San Francisco State would you be asked so often to apply an ethical perspective to the subjects you have studied -- whether that subject is the enviornment, health care, the media, business management, public education -- virtually any field I could name.

I have said repeatedly that we try to make this campus a model of the kind of world in which all of us want to live.

Now that you are moving from the campus into a new stage of your lives, I ask you to hold that model in your mind, and in your heart.

Ladies and gentlemen, if you can do that, you will have more than met our expectations of you, and we will take great pride in you as you graduate from SF State.

Joining us on the platform are some special guests who will be introduced by our announcer for today’s Commencement exercises, Professor Martin Gonzalez of the Department of Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts.

Please stand as your name is called. Audience, please hold your applause until everyone has been introduced.

From the Board of Trustees of the California State University:

  • Vice Chair of The Board of Trustees Robert A. Linscheid

  • California State University Chancellor Charles B. Reed

  • Executive Vice Chancellor And Chief Financial Officer Benjamin Quillian

From the campus:

  • Shawn Whalen, chair of the Academic Senate

  • Andrew Gutierrez III, president of the Associated Students

  • Deborah Masters, librarian of the University

  • Leroy Morishita, executive vice president and chief financial officer

  • Don Scoble, chair of the board of directors, San Francisco State University Foundation, and

  • Wanda Lee, dean of Faculty Affairs and Professional Development.

Also with us on the platform are representatives of the group that is the true heart and soul of the University -- our outstanding faculty. While you have been students here, they have helped you to gain knowledge of self and of subject matter, as they have both challenged and supported you.

Principled women and men of intellectual distinction, they care deeply about you. I know that as they sit facing you, they will feel both deep pride in your achievements and a touch of sorrow as you prepare to leave us.

Please join me in a round of applause for these dedicated faculty members who have devoted their lives to teaching and learning.

To help us recollect the spirit in which we have gathered here this afternoon, I am honored to invite to the podium the Executive Director of the San Francisco Interfaith Council, Michael G. Pappas.

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Opening and Invocation

Mr. Pappas :
A sea of purple. How magnificent. President Corrigan, with all of the joy that fills this stadium, I can safely say that I offer this invocation with every assurance that we will escape the end times so that we can celebrate unimpeded the achievements of these wonderful graduates. For this, we give thanks.

Let us bow our heads in prayer.

Like a great mosaic, we gather on this day of joy, a multitude of people of a vast array of faiths and cultures, calling upon the Holy One each in our own and intimate way. Like that great mosaic, our beauty can only be recognized and appreciated when seen as a collective whole.

We pause this moment to reflect upon the sacrifices and hopes of loving parents; the gift of knowledge imparted by dedicated and devoted professors; but most importantly, to marvel at the transfiguration of those who entered these gates not so long ago as neophytes and now leave as scholars. The sacred text exclaims, "To whom much is given, much is expected." As you endow them with intellect, inspire them and enable them to utilize that great gift for the propagation of peace, social and ecological justice, tolerance and civil discourse. May their contributions as citizens be the legacy of having left this planet more enriched than they found it.

We give thanks also for those who receive honorary degrees today. May their distinguished examples of excellence be the standard of emulation.

As well, in these challenging economic times, we also ask that you whisper in the ears of those entrusted with decision-making power. Remind them that the mission of academic institutions of higher learning is to cultivate the minds of tomorrow's leaders. Give them the foresight to prioritize and clarity of mind to cast votes that will invest and encourage educational advancement rather than turn back the hands of time.

With a common and prophetic voice, it was said. Let us all say together "Amen."

Thank you, Mr. Pappas, for your inspiring words. You remind us that in our wonderful diversity, this campus community is linked by strong shared values.

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Introduction of the Student Speaker

And now, ladies and gentlemen, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Penny Saffold will now introduce the student speaker.

The hardest thing about introducing Alex Pankov is describing his achievements in terms a non-scientist can understand. Alex has accomplished things as an undergraduate that would make a doctoral researcher proud.

As part of SF State math professor Javier Arsuaga's research team, Alex used his statistical expertise to analyze genetic data from breast cancer tumor samples. In order to confirm the group's results, he taught himself two of the major computer programs used by other researchers in this field. The research was submitted for publication in a Genomics Journal, with Alex listed as a co-author.

Alex is co-author on another paper, which reports on collaboration among the SF State team and researchers at U.C. San Francisco and the Norwegian university of science and technology. And Alex is helping his faculty advisor and a UCSF team to develop software to analyze data on prostate cancer tumors. For his research accomplishments in women's health, Alex won the prestigious Howell Award from the California State University system.

Alex's background makes his accomplishments even more remarkable. He is an immigrant, a native of Moldova who came to the U.S. at the age of six. He excelled in high school and was offered admission to San Francisco State's Presidential Scholars Program. He has said that the opportunity the Presidential Scholars Program offered was the reason he chose SF State.

This fall Alex will enter the top-ranked doctoral program in bioinformatics at U.C. San Francisco.

I am delighted now to present, representing the class of 2011, Alex Pankov!


Student Speaker for the Class of 2011

Well, thank you, everyone. I'm very honored to be standing here right now. As you can probably imagine, I pondered long and hard about what to say to all of you. In the end, I realized my degree in statistics taught me nothing about what to say to you on this day. Anyway, let's give this a try.

Tolstoy once said that "pleasure lies not in discovery of truth, but in the seeking of it". At this university, it's not only the degree that we graduate with, but what we learned in our pursuit of it that leads to success. All of us have learned really well how to cram for finals, what to say to the teachers to extend deadlines. But let's get serious. Like many of you here, I originally had very little idea of what I wanted to do. However, I was able to work with professors here who are leaders in mathematical biology and in statistics, and they opened my eyes to a world or a network of fascinating research and helped me identify where my interests truly lie. At its core, San Francisco State is a university that encourages students to follow their aspirations, no matter how far-fetched, a university where it's okay to be artists, scientists or even both.

Now, I know this freedom makes parents a little nervous. But look around. We're all here in one piece today. No harm done. It's because San Francisco State inspires students to carve their own path that those paths often lead to success.

In my four years here, I have realized that San Francisco State is like the city itself, full of quirks, personalities, a strong sense of hope and community. Students here can write, produce and star in their own documentaries while their classmates discover other planets and meet ET personalities. I'm talking about extraterrestrials, not Entertainment Tonight.

At the University, I got a sense we are now able to look ahead and have some say about our future. Speaking of the future, I'm sure there will be more challenges ahead, that we won't get everything we want. And no doubt, more difficult chapters await us in life. However, I can tell you this with some certainty: we have been taught how to ask the right questions and given the tools to search for their answers. And that, I think, is the most valuable knowledge we have gained here at San Francisco State, knowing that we're capable of tackling any obstacles as we to take our steps in world. The statistician in me wishes all of you the best of luck. Let's do our University proud. Congratulations, class of 2011.

Good luck and have fun.

Thank you, Mr. Pankov, for giving voice to the hopes and aspirations of your classmates.

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Presentation of Faculty Emerita/Emeritus

And now, ladies and gentlemen, University Provost Sue Rosser will now present the emeritus faculty.

It is appropriate that at Commencement we acknowledge the contribution of those faculty who, like our graduates, are leaving the University. These individuals have served with distinction, and upon their retirement, are being granted emeritus status.

Mr. President, I am pleased to present them to you today. Will the faculty emeriti please rise as I call their names:

  • Robert C. Chope, Professor of Counseling
  • William Corbett-Jones, Professor of Music
  • Charles F. Houlberg, Professor of Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts
  • Roberto Rivera, Professor of Raza Studies
  • Lesley Zwillinger, Lecturer in Counseling


My friends and colleagues. It is with great pride and deep admiration that, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Board of Trustees, I confer upon each of you the title of Professor or Lecturer Emeritus or Emerita of San Francisco State University. May you find fulfillment in this next stage of your life -- and remember that you will always be a part of the SF State family.

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Recognition of Alumnus of the Year

The Vice President for University Advancement, Robert Nava, will now present the Alumnus of the Year.

Thank you. Hello class of 2011!

Today you reach a major milestone and begin a new relationship with San Francisco State. As proud alumni, you're joining a special group that includes more than 200,000 graduates and stretches around the world. Please remember that wherever you go, you will always be a part of this great University.

It's now my great pleasure to introduce our 2011 alumna of the year, President Flora Chia-I Chang. President Chang, please join me at the podium.

Flora Chang, you are a true 21stcentury educational leader. Both a futurist and a here-and-now realist, you have made Tamkang University -- or TKU, as it is known -- an institution that has won honors both for academic excellence and administrative efficiency; for innovative use of information technology and for campus safety.

Under your leadership, TKU has been rated "excellent" by Taiwan's Ministry Of Education. The university consistently ranks among the top 50 in asia -- and as the best private university in Taiwan.

Here at SF State, you earned the first of your three graduate degrees, a master's in economics. Further study at Stanford University led to a master's and a doctorate in education.

Now in your seventh year as TKU's president, you are ensuring that your students will graduate ready to contribute to our new global society. Multicultural awareness and communications technology are required fields of study. Tamkang's cyber campus brings the world to Taiwan, allowing your students to study online with world-renowned professors.

And you are determined to give your students the opportunity you had to live and study in another country. You have reached out to establish educational partnerships in 28 nations, with 110 universities. One of them, I am proud to say, is SF State.

President Chang, the values by which you lead are the values we seek to instill at this University. We are proud to Honor you as our 2011 Alumna of the Year.

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Response by Alumnus of the Year

President Chang

President Corrigan, distinguished guests, faculty members and parents and the graduates of year 2011, it is my great honor to be here today at the 110th commencement and named this year's Alumna of the Year. I record almost 30 years ago, I was sitting here attending the commencement to receive my master's degree in economics.

First of all, I would like to thank President Corrigan for giving me this opportunity. In over two decades of leadership, President Corrigan has served as a international role model in the hiring of diverse faculty and staff and in the implementation of policies related to social justice and civic engagement.

San Francisco State is located in one of the world's most international and culturally diverse cities. My previous learning experience at San Francisco State, as well as its global outlook and pioneering community service programs, have helped me to shape my vision regarding the true mission of higher education. Under my leadership, TKU has undertaken a number of major innovations which include campus globalization and information based in future-oriented learning place and a total quality-managed university. In 2009, TKU received the 19th National Quality Award from Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs. We hope to turn TKU into a multifunctional, international university.

In this age of discontinuity, I'm aware that new ideas and ideals are not enough. Concrete actions are what really, truly count. As an alumna of San Francisco State, I truly believe that San Francisco State and TKU should join hand-in-hand to develop cooperative programs that benefit both students and faculty at as both parties. Just like me, I hope that all of you today will leave this campus with a strong San Francisco State spirit which will inspire you as you make your contribution to the world.

Your education helps you develop the skills and passion to become a lifelong learner. It is the foundation of your life. However, it is up to you to embrace opportunities with determination and resolve. Winston Churchill said, "Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts." Remember, you are what you do, not what you think or want or dream. You are what you do.

Finally, I'm always very proud of being a San Francisco State alumna. I wish you all great success. Thank you and congratulations.

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Presentation of the President's Medal of Service on Jimmy Cobb

The President's Medal for Service is the highest award that the president of a California State University campus may bestow on his or her own authority.

It's conferred on rare occasions, the medal recognizes an individual whose work is long-lasting and widespread, and the benefits for the University and our society at large are manifest.

I can think of no more fitting a recipient than the man I am about to introduce, legendary jazz drummer Jimmy Cobb. Mr. Cobb, will you join me?

Jimmy Cobb, when a music lover seeks out any of the great jazz recordings of the last six decades, the odds are very good that you'll be a part of it.

You have won international praise for your superb drumming on more than 400 releases. You have collaborated with virtually all the jazz icons of our time – Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, "Cannonball" Adderly, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holliday, and many more. Two years ago, the National Endowment for the Arts named you a jazz master.

But, Jimmy Cobb, the renown you have achieved as a jazz drummer is only part of the reason we honor you today. As generous as you are gifted, you are carrying on one of the finest traditions of the jazz world: mentorship of new generations of musicians. Here at SF State, you have worked with music faculty to develop the Generations Jazz Project. It emphasizes intergenerational mentoring and the importance of another fine jazz tradition -- the combo.

Jimmy Cobb, you bring vigor -- and rigor -- to the lives of young musicians who share your passion for jazz. And you show them how it's done by performing in an all-star ensemble, the Generations Jazz Band.

Jimmy Cobb -- you are one of the greats, and for your joyous, generous encouragement of young artists today, it is my great pleasure and honor to award you the President's Medal for Service.


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Presentation of the President's Medal of Service on Leroy Morishita

Today, we are also presenting a President's Medal to one of our own, who is leaving us after years of distinguished service to SF State. Leroy Morishita, will you join me?

Leroy Morishita, in the realm of academic life, few have traveled your path. You joined this University as a student. You leave it as a university leader. In a few weeks, you will take the helm at California State University East Bay.

The years between have readied you for this moment. Over some three decades, you have moved from the post of counselor in the Educational Opportunity Program to that of Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, guiding the shrewd and responsible use of a budget of some $300 million.

But, Leroy Morishita, your role has been far more than fiscal. Your influence has been felt in virtually every area of university life. You have been an active and effective voice in the Academic Senate, our faculty leadership group. You have made us a national leader in "green" and environmentally responsible operation.

You have enabled us to expand our footprint, acquiring new property around the main campus that gives students access to a vibrant residential community. You are a leader among your California State University peers.

Your three degrees include a bachelor's from U.C. Berkeley, a master's from San Francisco State, and a doctorate from Harvard University.

Leroy Morishita, what no degree can confer is the gift of leadership. Those of us who know and have worked with you recognize that you have that gift.

And so it is fitting that the inscription on your medal reads: "visionary, pragmatist, leader.' Leroy Morishita, it is a joy to present to you now the President's Medal for Service.



Thank you President Corrigan. I am humbled and honored to receive this medal. It symbolizes, it really does symbolize the dream of higher education in California. A dream we are having difficulty maintaining and I urge all of you to help to continue that dream for your children, for your brothers and sisters, for your parents -- whomever -- because we need to continue this opportunity. It's the only reason I am standing in front of you today. So, I urge you to continue on. And if I've done anything here at San Francisco State that deserves this and I leave that type of legacy, it's because I wanted to leave the place a better place than when I got here. I urge you, the class of 2011, to go forth in your professions and your careers, and whatever you do, to leave that place a better place than which you started.

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Conferral of the Honorary Degree on George M. Marcus

At Commencement, we not only recognize all that you, our graduates, have achieved as students, we look ahead to what you can accomplish as educated and concerned citizens.

And so, each year, we choose this day to honor outstanding men and women who can serve as role models -- exhibiting the highest values and achievements to which you can aspire.

You have met two such individuals already. Now we will present two remarkable men on whom we have chosen to bestow the academic world's highest award -- the Honorary Doctorate.

Joining me for these honorary degree conferrals are California State University Chancellor Charles B. Reed and the Vice Chair of the California State University Board of Trustees, Bob Linscheid.


Good afternoon. On behalf of the entire Board of Trustees of the California State University which represents 23 campuses throughout California, the largest four-year institution in the country. I am pleased to be here on behalf of my board to congratulate this class of San Francisco State, the greatest class, according to President Corrigan, in the area of diversity and accomplishment. This graduating class needs no introduction from the standpoint of your accomplishment. It stands before you and we're very, very proud of that. Particularly, I'd like to congratulate Executive Vice Chancellor Quillian's son, Joshua, who is graduating with you today. We wish you much good luck, and please celebrate safely.


Would Mr. George Marcus please join us.

George Marcus, we honor you today for a life that has matched great success with equally great generosity and social concern.

In the world of business, you are known as the founder and chairman of the Marcus & Millichap Company. Spurred by your vision and leadership, it has become one of the nation's largest commercial real estate brokerage, investment and development firms, with offices in 39 states.

In the world of philanthropy, you are known as a major Bay Area donor to arts organizations, health and human services non-profits, medical research centers, Greek community organizations, and your alma mater, San Francisco State.

George Marcus, in the world of higher education leadership and governance, you are known for your engagement with both the California State University and the University of California. A member of the CSU Board of Trustees for eight years, you currently serve on the CSU Foundation's Board of Governors and on the University of California Board of Regents.

Like so many of today's graduates, you are an immigrant. A native of Greece, you came to San Francisco with your family, grew up in a working class district, and sought opportunity at San Francisco State.

And here you flourished -- earning your bachelor's degree in economics in just 2-1/2 years. Since then your path has moved swiftly upward. Yet you never forgot this University. You call SF State "a very important part of my life," and you continue to be an important part of ours.

You chaired our Modern Greek Studies Foundation; supported the Modern Greek Studies Program, Cinema Department and student scholarships, and, with your wife, Judy, helped us to establish the International Center for the Arts. Your passions are widespread -- as is your imprint on the world around you.

George Marcus, you are far more than a self-made man who has achieved great business success. In you, we see the promise of the California State University fulfilled. We are delighted to honor you today.


The California State University, on the recommendation of San Francisco State University, hereby confers on George M. Marcus, the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters with all of the rights, privileges and honors pertaining thereto. Congratulations doctor Marcus.



I know exactly how you feel. I was there not too long ago. Let me thank Bob and Charlie. And I also want to extend a thank-you to Joyce Corrigan who loves this university and helped so much in so many different ways. Chancellor Reed, leading as chancellor in very, very turbulent times, he's fighting for every one of you every day. You couldn't have a better advocate. I want to thank the Trustees for bestowing this honor upon me.

I'm delighted to celebrate all of your graduations. I know exactly where you are, and your families should be so proud of you. Congratulations to all of you and your families.

It seems like yesterday, I was in your shoes. They were, I think, almost worn out at the time. Like many of you, I am first in my family to graduate from college. I remember feeling elation as well as terror, the terror because I thought I had a job, but I wasn't sure. And I had not learned yet what was going on. I later did land that job, and I started a number of companies shortly thereafter. And the reason it is because I didn't know I couldn't. That was long before the days of venture capitalists and detailed business plans.

In many ways it's an advantage, believe it or not, to be experiencing challenging times. It strengthens you, and it forces you to focus. It's not widely known, but most bad decisions are made in good times. And bad times force you to make more concise and precise decisions.

There is one ingredient, though, which is necessary for success. It's interesting because both Confucius and Aristotle in different parts of the globe said it. They said that excellence -- excellence is what you must have. And excellence -- I quote them; oh, this is amazing that they said this -- "Excellence is a habit." It is what you repeatedly do that sets you apart. So for you to succeed in whatever endeavor you pursue, you must take that to heart and be the best you can be. The best of luck to all of you, and don't forget to give back. And go Gators, and congratulations.


Thank you, Dr. Marcus. You are an exemplar for us all.

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Conferral of the Honorary Degree on Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich

Would Ambassador Jeffrey L. Bleich please join us?

Jeffrey Bleich, when President Barack Obama asked you to serve in his new administration, our nation -- and the globe -- gained the talents of a man of exceptional achievement and high principles.

Throughout your legal and public service career, you have used the reach of your intellect and the power of your chosen profession -- the law -- to advocate for public education, human rights, and international justice.

Your strong social conscience showed itself early. After graduating with high honors from Amherst College, you spent a year working on juvenile justice issues as a Coro Foundation Fellow, then accepted a fellowship at Harvard's Kennedy School of Public Policy.

Harvard degree in hand, you came west and earned your law degree from U.C. Berkeley. Once again, you graduated with highest honors.

Exceptional success followed quickly: a clerkship for Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist and then for the special prosecutor for the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal at the Hague.

Back in California, you joined a prestigious San Francisco law firm and quickly made partner. While winning recognition as one of the nation's top lawyers and heading both the San Francisco and State Bar Associations, you worked with more than 20 non-profit Bay Area organizations. You won funding to provide legal services for the poor and to encourage children from minority groups to pursue legal careers.

But you, Jeffrey Bleich, have moved equally powerfully on a national stage. President Bill Clinton tapped you to head his White House Council on Youth Violence, and you later co-chaired the Higher Education Advisory Board for the Obama campaign. After the election, you became Special Counsel to the President.

You are a powerful advocate for public higher education, and at a time of crisis, you served both as Vice Chair and Chair of the California State University Board of Trustees.

Jeffrey Bleich, when you took the oath of office as ambassador, you spoke of helping to "build a world where nations commit to finding common ground to create the future we seek for our children."

There is no finer summation of the aims of San Francisco State University and the California State University, and we are proud to honor you today.


The California State University, on the recommendation of San Francisco State University, hereby confers on Jeffrey L. Bleich, the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters with all of the rights, privileges and honors pertaining thereto.


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Presentation of Commencement Speaker

Class of 2011, who better to speak to you today than the man we have just honored. I am delighted to present to you now, our Commencement speaker, Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich!

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Commencement Address


Thank you very much, President Corrigan. Or as we say down in Australia,G'day mate. I'm very honored to be here today with you and my colleagues on the Board of Trustees, Chancellor Charlie Reed, and Chancellor Bob Linscheid. Also, it's very cool to be on the same stage with the great Jimmy Cobb. But most of all, it's a great honor for me to join George Marcus and all of you here today as a graduate of this, the great San Francisco State University class of 2011.

You know, as a former trustee, I walked this campus many times. I've met with thousands of students, and I've attended many graduations. And I've had the great fortune to experience all of California's higher education systems as a student, as a graduate, as an alum, as a professor, as an employer, and as a trustee. I've seen it from here, from D.C., and from the other side of the world. This experience has been part of my life for over two decades. It's been more than just professional; it has been deeply personal. And so nothing satisfies me more than to be one of you today and to see all of you, all of you graduates. And nothing concerns me more than the very real chance that many other Californians will never have the same opportunity, and that's what I'd like to talk to you about today.

I came to California because of the education system. I'd grown up in Connecticut, and I attended college back east on partial scholarships and financial aid. Like a lot of you, I worked part-time during the school year and held down two, sometimes three full-time jobs during the summer. Yeah. But by the time of my first year of grad school, I'd actually maxed out all of my financial aid, and I was relying on loans that charged 14 percent interest. So going to law school had always been my dream. And being a lawyer had been my dream. But in 1986, I had almost no hope of that dream. My wife Becky and I, we simply couldn't afford the tuition to go to any law schools back east. I applied to the University of California Berkeley law school because it was the only law school in the country we could afford, only top law school. And it turned out to be the greatest education I've received. And I got it because the people of California, its leaders and its taxpayers, were willing to invest in me. So for the past 20 years since I graduated, I felt a duty to pay back the people of this state. When I had to figure out -- right -- where to build a practice or buy a home, raise my family, volunteer time and my energy, I chose California. And I joined the small California firm, Munger, Tolles & Olson, and eventually became a partner there. The firm grew. We attracted more and more good lawyers. And in fact, for the last three years, it's been ranked the number-one firm in the United States. But -- but that success is also California's success. It has meant millions of taxes paid to California; hundreds of thousands of hours of volunteer time devoted to California; houses built and investments made in California; and hundreds of talented people attracted to work in and to help California.

My story isn't unique. It's a story of California's rise from the 1960s up to the 1990s. Millions of people stayed here, and they succeeded here because of their California education. Silicon Valley, Hollywood, aerospace, energy, clean tech, the farmlands that feed most people in this nation came from that simple understanding that if you invest in people, if you make a sacrifice today for their future, your own future will be rewarded.

Now, you and I and everyone graduating here today benefited from the foresight of an earlier generation that recognized that it had a duty to pay it forward. That was the bargain that California made when it established the California Master Plan for Higher Education back in 1960. And the idea was very similar: Make California the state where every qualified and committed person can receive low-cost, high-quality education, and all of us are going to benefit. We'd attract and retain the leaders of the future, and that would make the state grow bigger and stronger. And it worked. The numbers even confirm this. The economists found that for every dollar the state invests in a CSU student, it receives $4.41 back in return.

So as someone who has lived the California dream, there's absolutely nothing more painful to me and, I hope, to all of you than to see this dream dying. This dream is being starved to death by a public that thinks that any government service, even public education, is not worth paying for and by too many political leaders who don't lead us, but instead give in to our worst,most short-sighted instincts.

These latest $500 million cuts in the CSU system, they merely reflect trends that have been hurting -- that have been hurting California public education for years. And it's not just Democrats or Republicans. Both parties have failed us. To get votes, political leaders from both parties mandated prison sentences, long prison sentences that forced us to stop building schools and to start building prisons, to pay prison guards more and to give students less. Back in the 1980s, California spent more than five times as much on higher education than it did on prisons. Today it spends more on prisons than on higher education. Let me give you an even clearer example. The first time Governor Brown was governor, there were 40,000 prisoners in California. Today there are over 40,000 prison guards in California. This has happened in just the span of one political career.

For the last two decades, we have been starving higher education. California's public universities and community colleges have half as much to spend today as they did in 1990 in real dollars. If the UC Berkeley law school tuition today was what it was in 19- -- or was back in 1986, I wouldn't have been able to go to law school. I wouldn't be a Californian. The promise of low-cost education that brought me here and so many others here and kept us here has been abandoned. Our K through 12 system has fallen from the top 30 years ago to 47th in the nation in per-pupil spending.

Yeah, boo. At every trustee meeting I attended, we saw this in human terms. We heard painful stories of faculty members who couldn't make ends meet and feed a family on their salaries. We met students who were on financial aid because they're working two jobs, taking care of a child, and barely making it with the current tuition. Today everyone in our system's making terrible sacrifices: employee furloughs; student fee increases; campus-based cuts in services and programs, and this is wrong. What's more important, it is unfair. The cost of education should be shared by all of us because the benefit of education is shared by all of us.

Now, today, living and serving in the Asia Pacific, I see this more clearly than I ever did before. America doesn't have the world's largest population or the most natural resources. We're not the only democracy or the only free market. And so why are we the wealthiest nation in the world, three times wealthier than any other nation? Our advantage in the world is that we make things that no one else in the world can make. We dream things that no one dares to dream. Our advantage has been knowledge and imagination. Our advantage has been that 28 percent of Americans have college degrees, four times the average of any other -- of the world. These are the minds that invented television; personal computers; the Internet; that put people on the moon; that created the film industry that's -- you have a film school; the Twitters that you're using right now as I'm talking; they invented carbon-free fuels and electric cars. This -- this is what we are giving up if we don't reclaim California's commitment to higher education. Today, for the first time, we trail dozens of other countries in math and science. In one generation, we've gone from first in the world to ninth in the percentage of young people with college degrees.

What made California great 50 years ago and what can keep California great is the belief it doesn't have to be like this. It's the faith we can solve any problem as long as we do two things: first, acknowledge the problem, and second, work together. Recently, that faith has been missing. In the face of a $500 million cut to this system, we have protests from current students and faculty. But where are the voices of the 2.5 million CSU graduates and the 1.5 million UC graduates who benefited their entire lives from their public education?

Californians won't acknowledge it, but we have lost the commitment to invest in one another, and that is why we have lost our way in decision after decision. We have gone from investing in the future to borrowing from it.

We can change this. Now, the President set a national goal of being first again in college graduate rates by 2020, and he's increased student aid in order to accomplish this. But he can't do this alone. The solution is simple, but it's also very hard. It's what I'm doing right now. Tell what is happening to every person who can hear it. Beat this drum until it cannot be ignored. Shame your neighbors who think the government needs to be starved and who are happy to see Sacramento paralyzed. Remind your fellow alums who have been silent that they live today in the wealthiest state in the wealthiest nation in human history not by some divine right, but because others invested in schools like San Francisco State. Raise your voice and multiply its power by enlisting other new graduates and alums and your parents and your mentors and your employers, all of those who are investing in you, all of those millions of voices, because 50 years ago, that many voices charted this state towards greatness. And that many voices can wake up this state again to rediscover its greatness. It takes nothing more than or less than to give of yourself and contribute to your alumni fund; take time to encourage and mentor students coming up through the system; give thanks and credit to your teachers. When you run into people who dismiss public education, who demand cuts for cuts' sake, I want you to give them something, too. I want you to give them hell. Because if you don't, then who will? Because if we don't, we'll be the generation that let the promise for a great California die. So I congratulate us, but I challenge you. Take this great education you have and reclaim that right for others because no matter what you have done until now and no matter what you choose to do, know that you have the ability, each and every one of you, to make education affordable to everyone and to write the next chapter in the great California story.

Thank you.

Thank you, Ambassador Bleich for words that could not be more appropriate at a celebration that embodies the value of accessible, affordable -- and excellent -- public higher education.

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President's Remarks

Listen up, class of 2011! In just a few minutes, we will arrive at the part of the program for which you all have been waiting -- the awarding of degrees!

Always remember that you are as exceptionally talented and as well-educated a group as can be found anywhere.

You are graduating into a world of extraordinary challenges; we know that you will rise to meet them!

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Conferring of Doctoral Degrees

We now begin the Conferral of Degrees. University Provost Sue Rosser and Dean of Graduate Studies Ann Hallum will present the candidates for the Doctoral Degree.

University of California San Francisco; Doctor of Philosophy in Education, Special Education emphasis, in partnership with the University of California Berkeley, and Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership, which we offer independently.



With us on the platform are students who today will earn their doctoral degree through one of these programs. Provost Rosser will present them now.

Mr. President, subject to the completion of all requirements as prescribed by the Board Of Regents Of The University Of California, the Trustees of the California State University, and the faculties of the University of California, Berkeley and San Francisco State University, Christopher Sanford is presented for receipt of the Degree Doctor of Philosophy in Education.

Upon the recommendation of the administrative and teaching faculty of San Francisco State University and of the University of California, San Francisco, and by the authority vested in me as President of the University by the State of California under the provisions of the Donahoe Higher Education Act, I confer upon you, Christopher Sanford, the degree, Doctor of Physical Therapy Science, with all the rights, honors and opportunities attached thereto.


By the joint action of the Board of Regents of The University of California and the Board of Trustees of the California State University, we are awarding the degree Doctor of Physical Therapy. We are conferring this degree with the University of California, San Francisco.

Representing all the students who this year have earned this degree is Natazha Bernie. Will Ms. Bernie please come forward for investiture of the hood.


Mr. President, subject to the completion of all requirements as prescribed by the Board of Regents of The University of California, the Trustees of the California State University, and the faculties of the University Of California, San Francisco, and San Francisco State University, Natazha Bernie is presented for receipt of the degree Doctor of Physical Therapy.

Upon the recommendation of the administrative and teaching faculty of San Francisco State University and of the University of California, San Francisco, and by the authority vested in me as President of the University by the State of California under the provisions of the Donahoe Higher Education Act, I confer upon you, Natazha Bernie, the degree, Doctor of Physical Therapy, with all the rights, honors and opportunities attached thereto.


This year we graduate the second group of students to earn the degree Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership. This is an independent degree offered by the California State University.

Representing all our 2011 Ed.D. graduates is Mr. David Wick. Will Mr. Wick please come forward for hooding by Dean Hallum.


Mr. President, subject to the completion of all requirements as prescribed by the Board of Regents of the University of California, the Trustees of the California State University, and the faculties of the University of California, San Francisco, and San Francisco State University, David Wick is presented for receipt of the degree Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership.

Upon the recommendation of the administrative and teaching faculty of San Francisco State University and by the authority vested in me as President of the University by the State of California under the provisions of the Donahoe Higher Education Act, I confer upon you, Vincent Charles Matthews, the degree, Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership, with all the rights, honors and opportunities attached thereto.


Will all the Doctor of Education graduates please be seated.


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Presentation of the Hood Recipients

It is now time to introduce the graduating students on the platform whom President Corrigan mentioned earlier -- our 2011 hood recipients.

It is an academic custom to invest those earning degrees with hoods that designate the degree bestowed. Time does not allow us to present each of the graduates here today with a hood.

Therefore the graduate program has chosen an outstanding student to represent all of those receiving their master's degree and each college of the University has chosen an outstanding student to represent those earning undergraduate degrees. These students will receive the hood on behalf of their fellow members of the class of 2011.

Would the hood recipients and the respective deans please come forward.


Audience, please hold your applause until all the hood recipients have been presented.

Representing all students receiving their master's degree today is Mr. Patrick Andrew Lapid, who is receiving a Master of Arts in Economics, specializing in Applied Labor Economics and the Economics of Defense.


One of the veterans graduating today is Patrick Lapid. After earning a teaching certificate at SF State and teaching high school math and economics, he was accepted into our master's program in economics – but then was called up from the Marine Corps Reserve for active duty in Iraq. He returned with a Certificate of Commendation for Exceptional Service. Back at SF State, Mr. Lapid has excelled. His culminating research project compared the earnings of post-9-11 veterans to those of non-veterans. This fall, he enters the Ph.D. Program in economics at the University of California, Berkeley, with a full chancellor's fellowship.

Dean of the Graduate Division, Ann Hallum, will now present the hood.


Ms. Maria Gershenovich , a Criminal Justice major, has been selected to receive the investiture in the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences..


Spurred by anti-jewish discrimination her family experienced in their native Russia, Maria Gershenovich sought to leave. Exceptional talent was the surest path. She became a ballroom dancer and at 14 left her family to join a prestigious studio in the U.S. She danced competitively, winning two national titles. Moving on to college, she took an SF State class on the American Constitution, was reminded of her family's experience, and decided to become a lawyer. She has interned with a superior court judge, a criminal defense attorney and the district attorney's office. This fall, she enters University of California, Berkeley Law School.

Joel Kassiola, Dean of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences will now confer the hood.


Representing all of today's graduates in the College of Business is Mr.Perry Arnsfield a Decision Sciences major.



Sciences -- the use of math and computer modeling to help business and government run more efficiently. As a Willie Brown Center intern, Mr. Arnsfield worked at San Francisco's Department of Public Works, where he used decision sciences to analyze the efficiency of city street sweeping routes. he plans to earn a graduate degree in Public Policy.

College of Business Dean Nancy Hayes will confer the hood.


Ms. Simone Van Der Meer, a double major in Dance and Drama, has been selected to receive the hood on behalf of all graduates in the College of Creative Arts.


A competitive gymnast since age 6, Simone Van Der Meer, excelled in her double major as a performer, choreographer, costume designer, and student leader, while finding time to teach and coach girls' gymnastics. She served as student co-director of the University Dance Theatre and, as president of the Student Dance Alliance, revitalized a flagging organization. She raised funds to host guest artists and to send members of the University Dance Theater to the 2011 American College Dance Festival. Ms. Van Der Meer plans to pursue a career in dance performance and production, as well as pilates instruction.

The Dean of the College of Creative Arts, Kurt Daw, will confer the hood.


Ms. Kimberlee Amber Mountain, a Communicative Disorders major, has been selected to receive the hood for the College of Education.


Kimberlee Mountain has found in Communicative Disorders a profession that combines her interests in language and science. Her goal is to become a speech-language pathologist. As an aide in our Speech and Language Disorders Clinic, she worked with stroke victims and patients who have had throat cancer. Recognizing her outstanding academic performance, faculty members chose her to tutor other students in anatomy and neurolinguistics. Ms. Mountain earned her degree in just three years and will enter our Master's Program in Communicative Disorders in the fall. She plans eventually to earn a doctorate and pursue a university teaching career.

The Dean of the College of Education, Jacob Perea, will confer the hood.


Mr. Kyaw Min Oo , a major in Asian American Studies, has been selected to receive the hood for the College of Ethnic Studies.

Kyaw Min Oo came to the U.S. in 1995 as a refugee from Burma. Working full-time while carrying a full-time course load, he has achieved both academic excellence and an impressive record of community service. He has volunteered in many capacities to help the Bay Area Burmese American community unite and find a public voice. To reach second generation Burmese Americans, he co-founded the Burmese Youth Association of San Francisco and currently serves on its board of directors. He has also worked with non-profits engaged with Cambodians, Mexican Americans, Southeast Asian Americans and Japanese Americans. Mr. Oo plans to pursue a graduate degree in Public Administration or Asian American Studies.

The Dean of the College of Ethnic Studies, Kenneth Monteiro, will confer the hood.


Mr.Abraham Aviles-Scott , Social Work major, has been selected to receive the investiture in the College of Health and Human Services.


The youngest child in a large family of farm workers in San Joaquin Valley, Abraham Aviles-Scott grew up helping and providing translation for newcomers to his community. In San Francisco, he volunteered for agencies dealing with HIV/AIDS, family violence and gang activity. While earning his degree he has worked full time as a bilingual case manager for a social services agency. As a member of Contra Costa County's "zero tolerance for domestic violence" committee, he monitors domestic violence and gang activity in the City of Richmond. Mr. Aviles-Scott plans to earn a master's degree in Counseling.

The Dean of the College of Health and Human Services, Don Taylor, will confer the hood.


Ms. Jessica Sederquist, a double major in Women and Gender Studies and International Relations, has been selected to receive the hood on behalf of all graduates in the College of Humanities.


Jessica Sederquist asks hard questions about social justice, women's rights and global development, drawing on her double major to address complicated issues in a range of academic, political and geographic settings. She has worked to redefine traditional development projects that have left out women's voices. She has interned and volunteered at Human Rights Watch, Peace Action West and Women's Earth Alliance. She spent her junior year studying abroad in Ghana, where she carried a full academic load while serving as chief volunteer with the non-governmental organization "Street Girls Aid." She aims to earn an advanced degree and continue her social justice efforts.

Paul Sherwin, Dean of the College of Humanities, will confer the hood.


Mr. Aleksandr Pankov, a double major in Applied Mathematics and Statistics, has been selected to receive the hood on behalf of all graduates in the College of Science and Engineering.


You have already met Mr. Pankov, but let me add that he has many interests beyond science. He has tutored De Young Museum staff in the use of statistical software and has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity.

Sheldon Axler, Dean of the College of Science and Engineering, will confer the hood.


Ms. Katreena Halili Tolentino, a Liberal Studies major, has been selected to receive the hood on behalf of all Lliberal Studies and Special Major graduates.


As a Filipina-American growing up in Daly City, Katreena Tolentino noticed that Asian American culture was largely absent from her grade school curriculum. Determined to change this for future generations, she decided to become a teacher. She enrolled in SF State's Liberal Studies Teacher Education Program, allowing her to earn a bachelor's degree and a teaching credential simultaneously. Ms. Tolentino completed her coursework in just 3-1/2 years. Since graduation she has been volunteering in California's first Hmong charter school and is writing a book of poetry for children.

Dean of Undergraduate Studies Gail Evans will now confer the hood.


We are tremendously proud of these outstanding students. Please join me in a round of applause for our 2011 hood recipients!


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Conferral of Master's Degrees

We now begin the conferral of Master's and Bachelor's degrees. University Provost Sue Rosser will present the candidates for the master's degree.

Will all the candidates for the degree Master of Arts please rise.

  • The candidates for the degree Master of Fine Arts.
  • The candidates for the degree Master of Business Administration.
  • The candidates for the degree Master of Music.
  • The candidates for the degree Master of Public Administration.
  • The candidates for the degree Master of Public Health.
  • The candidates for the degree Master of Science.
  • And the candidates for the degree Master of Social Work.

Mr. President, subject to the completion of all requirements as prescribed by the trustees of the California State University and the faculty of San Francisco State University, these candidates are presented for receipt of the appropriate master's degrees.

Upon the recommendation of the administrative and teaching faculty of San Francisco State University, and by the authority vested in me as President of the University by the State of California, I confer upon each of you who has completed the requirements, the master's degree for which you are listed in the commencement program, together with all rights, privileges and responsibilities attached thereto.

Will the master's degree recipients please be seated. In a few moments, the faculty marshals will be guiding you to the stages, row by row.

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Distribution of Diplomas to Doctoral Master's Degree Candidates

Will the deans please go to their respective stages.

Will the faculty marshals please direct the doctoral and master's degree recipients to the stages, starting from the front. We ask that graduates wait for the marshals' instructions. After leaving the stages, graduates will proceed to the rear of the stadium and will be guided out.

Coming forward to the stage on the right of the jumbo screen will be graduates from the Colleges of Ethnic Studies, Education, Health and Human Services, Science and Engineering, Humanities and Creative Arts.


And to the stage on the left of the screen, Liberal Studies/Special Major graduates and graduates from the Colleges of Business and Behavioral and Social Sciences.


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Conferring of Bachelor's Degrees

And now, the moment for which so many have been waiting!

Will the candidates for the degrees Bachelor of Arts please rise!

The candidates for the Bachelor of Music, and the candidates for the degree Bachelor of Science!

Mr. President subject to the completion of all requirements as prescribed by the trustees of the California State University and the faculty of San Francisco State University, these candidates are presented for receipt of the appropriate baccalaureate degree.

Upon the recommendation of the administrative and teaching faculty of San Francisco State University, and by the authority vested in me as President of the University by the State of California, I confer upon each of you who have completed the requirements, the baccalaureate degree for which you are listed in the commencement program, together with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities attached thereto.

It is customary that those receiving the baccalaureate degree move the tassels of their caps from the right side to the left side. I ask that you who have just received your degrees move your tassels now. You've just graduated!

Members of the audience, I present to you the class of 2011! Please join me in a round of applause for all of them. Class of 2011, as you leave us today, you take with you our affection and respect, our belief in you, and our hope that you will fulfill all of your dreams.

God bless you all!

The faculty marshals will now guide the bachelor's degree recipients to the stage, row by row, starting from the front.

Coming forward to the stage on the right of the jumbo screen will be graduates from the Colleges of Ethnic Studies, Education, Health and Human Services, Science and Engineering, Humanities and Creative Arts.

And to the stage on the left of the screen, Liberal Studies/Special Major graduates and graduates from the Colleges of Business and Behavioral and Social Sciences.

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Distribution of Diplomas to Bachelor's Degree Candidates 


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-- University Communications


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