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SFSU to graduate its largest class ever,
7,200 graduates, on Saturday, May 25




SFSU Office of Public Affairs

(415) 338-1665


NOTE: A transcript of SFSU's Commencement will be posted online shortly after the conclusion of Commencement on May 25 at:

Press Release published by the Office of Public Affairs

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi to speak; jazz artist Vernon Alley, San Franciscan John Jacobs and Hollywood writer Peter Casey to be honored at commencement

SAN FRANCISCO, May 21, 2002 --- San Francisco State University will award diplomas to its largest graduating class in history --- 7,186 students --- during commencement exercises at noon on Saturday, May 25 in Cox Stadium.

An estimated crowd of 22,000 graduates, family and friends will attend. Entrance to the stadium is by ticket only. The exercises will be shown live on SFSU's Cable 27.

U.S. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, who as minority whip is the highest-ranking woman ever in Congress, will deliver the keynote speech.

"We are honored to have Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi as our commencement speaker," said SFSU President Robert A. Corrigan. "She is a trailblazer in the world of national politics -- an inspiration to all our graduates and to women in particular. Her Congressional leadership on issues ranging from HIV/AIDS to the economy, housing, health care and education has shown that she truly remains a representative of the people."

Now serving her eighth term representing the citizens of San Francisco in California's Eighth Congressional District, Pelosi has emerged as a true leader. As minority whip, Pelosi is the second-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives behind House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt of Missouri. Fellow House Democrats elected her to the post of minority whip last October. Pelosi also serves on the Intelligence Committee, where she is the ranking Democrat.

Pelosi has played a pivotal role in forging appropriations bills for the country's domestic programs and foreign investments. She has consistently advocated increased spending for prevention and research on HIV/AIDS and breast cancer. Pelosi has made campaign finance reform as a top priority and she continues to lead efforts to help New York City in its recovery following Sept. 11.

The University will award an honorary degree doctor of humane letters to Millard Fuller, founder of Habitat for Humanity International which has brought homeownership to more than 500,000 people around the world.

In addition, the University will bestow SFSU President's Medals to legendary jazz musician Vernon Alley and to San Franciscan John H. Jacobs, one of the most influential figures in San Francisco's city planning and economic development over the last four decades.

The University also will honor broadcasting and electronic communications arts (BECA) grad Peter Casey, the Emmy Award-winning co-creator and executive producer of "Frasier," as the SFSU Alumni Association's 2002 Alumnus of the Year.

Honorary degree recipient

More than 25 years ago, honorary degree recipient Millard Fuller, 67, launched Habitat for Humanity, a volunteer organization that has since grown to 1,900 active affiliates in 83 countries, including every state in the nation. In the San Francisco Bay Area alone, Habitat for Humanity has built nearly 200 homes. The law school graduate became a millionaire after opening a mail-order business with a friend. Then in the mid-1960s, Fuller and his wife, Linda, sold their possessions, moved to Georgia and helped develop the concept of "partnership housing" - where those in need of shelter work with volunteers to build simple houses. The Fullers founded Habitat for Humanity in 1976 and within 15 years more than 10,000 homes were built. Two years later another 10,000 homes were constructed. Less than two years later another 10,000 went up. That figure now stands at more than 100,000 homes.

President's Medal awardees

President's Medal awardee John H. Jacobs led both the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research (SPUR) Association and the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce during San Francisco's emergence as a major world class city.

Jacobs, 76, also has been a member of the SFSU Foundation ---a nonprofit organization that supports the mission of the university --- since 1989 and became chairman of the foundation's board of directors in June 2001. Jacobs was executive director of SPUR from 1966 to 1981 and was instrumental in the creation of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area by gathering community, corporate and political support. Jacobs became executive director of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce in 1981, a post he held until 1988 when he became president of the chamber for a year.

The second President's Medal awardee, jazz musician Vernon Alley, has played a major role in San Francisco's jazz scene for six decades. Alley, an undergraduate music studies student in 1940, will accept the medal at a special ceremony for SFSU alumni on Friday, May 24 - the evening before commencement. Alley, an 86-year-old resident of San Francisco's Marina District, is known as the "dean of San Francisco jazz." Alley was inducted into the SFSU Alumni Hall of Fame in 1997. During his long musical career --- and he still performs several times a month -- Alley has played with such greats as Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington and Erroll Garner

Alumnus of the Year

SFSU Alumnus of the Year Peter Casey, who earned a bachelor's of arts degree in radio and television from SFSU in 1975, has become a major creative force behind some of the most successful sitcoms on network television. In 1978, he and writing partner David Lee sold a script to "The Jeffersons." The following year, they joined the show's staff as writers, and later as editors and producers. In 1985 Casey and Lee teamed up with writer/producer David Angell and became writers and producers for "Cheers." After three and a half years at "Cheers," Casey, Angell and Lee formed Grub Street Productions and created their first hit sitcom, "Wings." On Sept. 11, Casey, 51, lost his longtime friend and business partner Angell. He died aboard American Airlines flight 11, the first plane to crash into the World Trade Center.

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Last modified May 21, 2002, by the Office of Public Affairs