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Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary
to keynote SFSU's Commencement May 24;
Ben Fong-Torres Alumnus of the Year,
President's Medal to admired administrator



Ted DeAdwyler
SFSU Office of Public Affairs
(415) 338-1665

Press Release published by the Office of Public Affairs


University to award diplomas to nearly 7,400 graduates, its largest class yet

SAN FRANCISCO…May 19, 2003 - Two legends from opposite ends of the music world -- one part of the famed folk music trio Peter, Paul & Mary and the other an influential chronicler of the rock music scene -- will highlight San Francisco State University's 102nd commencement on Saturday, May 24 at 12:15 p.m. as a record number 7,378 graduates receive their diplomas.

With his guitar close at hand, 64-year-old Peter Yarrow will deliver the commencement address in words and in song before an estimated stadium crowd of 22,000 graduates, family members and friends. Yarrow also will receive an honorary degree of doctor of fine arts at the ceremony. Entrance to Cox Stadium is by ticket only. The exercises will be shown live in San Francisco on Cable Channel 27.

Writer and rock journalist Ben Fong-Torres, who earned a bachelor's of arts degree in radio-television-film from SFSU in 1966, will receive the SFSU Alumni Association's 2003 Alumnus of the Year Award.

And the University will award its President's Medal -- the highest recognition SFSU can bestow -- to Bernie Goldstein, provost, vice president for academic affairs and chief academic officer at Sonoma State University, professor emeritus of biology at SFSU and CSU faculty trustee, for his years of dedication to higher education.

Nelly Lau, a top honors student in engineering who has just earned a national science foundation graduate fellowship, will be the Commencement student speaker representing the Class of 2003.

Yarrow, whose musical career spans more than four decades and goes on tour with the trio this summer, is a longtime activist for the homeless, peace, human rights and education. He has performed at Martin Luther King Jr.'s historic March on Washington in 1963, organized peace events during the Vietnam War and established the Save One Child fund at Beth Israel Hospital's Institute of Neurology and Neurosurgery in New York. Three years ago Yarrow launched "Operation Respect: Don't Laugh at Me" -- based on a song sung by the trio -- to work with schools and youth organizations in reducing the emotional and physical cruelty some children inflict on each other through ridicule, bullying and, in extreme cases, violence. Yarrow also will receive an honorary degree from the California State University system (CSU) in recognition of his meritorious and outstanding service to humanity at large.

Peter Yarrow is a model of the values we hope to strengthen in our students," said SFSU President Robert A. Corrigan. "As exemplified by his long and varied career, he has been committed to social justice and equity. From his years of performing music of conscience with Peter, Paul & Mary to his involvement with the civil rights movement and later to the creation of Operation Respect, Peter's mission in life resonates deeply with us."

Fong-Torres has interviewed hundreds of world-famous musicians and actors for stories that have appeared in Rolling Stone and other magazines and newspapers during the past 35 years. He has also been part of Bay Area radio with his programs on KSAN and KQED as well as appearances on local television stations. Today he continues to write and emcee community events.

" It gives me and this entire University great pleasure to honor Ben Fong-Torres for his extraordinary work as a journalist, author and broadcaster," said Corrigan. "San Francisco State University was his training ground for a successful career in newspapers, radio and television. We are proud to call him one of our own and we look forward to welcoming him back to campus to present this award."

In addition to the being named SFSU's Alumnus of the Year, Fong-Torres will be one of four inductees into SFSU Alumni Hall of Fame in a ceremony on May 23. The other inductees will be artist Roy De Forest, San Francisco Poet Laureate devorah major and bebe boutique founder Manny Mashouf.

Goldstein, who retires this year, will receive the President’s Medal during the ceremonies. For the last four decades, Goldstein has held numerous positions within the university and the CSU, and is the longest-serving faculty trustee in CSU history. Goldstein, who began his career at SFSU, created the groundbreaking class in human sexuality, which today remains the cornerstone of SFSU’s highly acclaimed Human Sexuality Studies Program, of which he is co-founder. As chair of SFSU’s Academic Senate and the CSU Statewide Academic Senate, he instituted numerous changes that remain in effect today. He was twice named Outstanding Educator of America, and was named SFSU’s Alumnus of the Year in 1986.

“ Bernie has truly excelled in every aspect of faculty life -- teaching, scholarship, service, and governance,” said President Corrigan. “He exemplifies everything we look for in our colleagues and everything we would like to be ourselves. I take great pleasure in presenting Bernard Goldstein with the highest honor a CSU president can confer upon his or her own -- the President’s Medal for Service.”


Note to editors: A transcript of SFSU's Commencement will be posted online shortly after the conclusion of Commencement on May 24 at:

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Last modified April 23, 2007, by the Office of Public Affairs