SFSU's largest-ever graduating class in
history to use imagination to work
together to cure ills of the world
Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller receives honorary degree to standing ovation
SAN FRANCISCO, May 25, 2002 -- U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who as minority whip is the highest-ranking woman in Congress, today urged the largest graduating class in San Francisco State University history to use their imagination and assume leadership roles in addressing worldwide problems.
"We need your imagination to create partnerships flexible enough to accommodate differences of opinion and the willingness to work through those differences rather than to walk away," Pelosi said to the graduating class, comprised of 7,186 students, at the University's 101st Commencement. "We need a new kind of global leadership, and I say this to you because you must be part of it, a new leadership which focuses on conflict prevention and resolution and is dedicated to the pursuit of peace.
"We need a new approach which looks at problems from the perspective of each participant, imagination, and develops lasting solutions based on mutual respect and trust."
SFSU awarded diplomas to the Class of 2002 before a crowd of 22,000 at Cox Stadium on campus.
Pelosi, who received the SFSU President's Medal in 1996, also lauded SFSU President Robert A. Corrigan for his strong leadership in addressing the recent pro-Israel and pro-Palestine tensions on campus.
"Your words rang with wisdom and clarity across the country," said Pelosi, D-San Francisco. "I'm proud to join you in speaking out for San Francisco State's true values."
Corrigan also referred to the recent tensions, reminding graduates of the message that has been posted on banners across campus since shortly after Sept. 11: "Love is stronger than hate."
"The banners remind us that … we can disagree without hate, that we can argue without violence and balance passionate differences with decency and recognition of our common humanity," he said. "As you leave us today, we believe that you are ready to take personal responsibility to address the ethical and moral issues of our society, to work actively in your communities, and to help build a more just and caring world."
After the graduates entered the stadium, the color guards of the San Francisco police and fire departments presented the colors in remembrance of the tragedies of Sept. 11. Corrigan announced the names of several Sept. 11 victims with ties to the University and asked the crowd for a moment of silence.
During the ceremonies, SFSU honored "Frasier" co-creator and executive producer Peter Casey as Alumnus of the Year, San Francisco urban planner John H. Jacobs and SFSU Vice President for Business and Finance Don Scoble as President's Medal awardees, and Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller as recipient of an honorary doctor of humane letters degree from the California State University system.
Fuller, who has helped fulfilled the dream of owning a home for more than half a million people across the world, accepted his honorary degree to a standing ovation. He strongly encouraged SFSU's Class of 2002 to set aside differences and engage themselves in their communities.
"We differ philosophically and religiously and politically, but we don't have to disagree on everything, and we don't have to hate one another," Fuller said. "We ought to learn how to love and be accepting and realize that whatever a person thinks, that we all are made in God's image, we all get sleepy at night, and we all ought to have a decent place in which to sleep."
Casey, who earned a bachelor's degree in radio and television in 1975, joins an illustrious roster of SFSU alumni to be named Alumnus of the Year, including actress Annette Bening, singer Johnny Mathis, San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, and physician and astronaut Yvonne Cagle. In his speech, Casey humorously encouraged the graduates to pursue their dreams, no matter how unattainable they may seem.
"It's better to aim for the stars and miss than aim for the gutter and hit it," he said. "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."
Harriet Miller, who at age 84 is the oldest member of SFSU's graduating class, received a bachelor's degree in the psychosocial aspects of aging. She was honored onstage with her granddaughter, Rachel Kanewske, who also graduated today from SFSU, with a bachelor's degree in geography, and her grandson, Daniel Kanewske, who graduated from Humboldt State University last week. Miller received a standing ovation from the crowd.
Glendy Chan, a 22-year-old San Francisco resident honored as the top graduate of the SFSU College of Business, delivered a speech on behalf of her fellow students.
"We all know that we're more interesting and multifaceted than the stereotypes commonly held about us," said Chan, who begins an accounting job with PriceWaterhouseCoopers in July. "The power in knowing ourselves is that once we do, we can start working positively toward our goals."
Honored with SFSU's prestigious President's Medal for his long-lasting, widespread contributions to SFSU and the city of San Francisco, John H. Jacobs has been one of the most influential figures in city planning and economic development since the 1960s. Since 2001, he has served as chairman of the SFSU Foundation, a nonprofit organization that administers projects to enhance the educational mission of the University.
"I have received so much personal satisfaction in assisting this University in bettering the physical properties of its campus that this (medal) is really double the pleasure," he said.
Don Scoble, who worked his way up through many administrative positions at SFSU since 1965, did not know he would receive a President's Medal until 45 minutes before the ceremony.
"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," said Scoble, who is also an SFSU alumnus.
Legendary jazz bassist Vernon Alley, also honored with a President's Medal this year, was unable to attend the Commencement ceremony and instead received the medal at a campus reception Friday.
One of the largest campuses in the 23-campus CSU system, SFSU was founded in 1899 and today is a highly diverse, comprehensive, public, urban university.
1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132 415/338-1111