SF State News {University Communications}

Image: Photos of SF State students and scenes from around campus

News Release


SF State’s 108th Commencement this weekend

Morris Dees, Willie Mays and Jeffrey Tambor will be honored, give speeches


SAN FRANCISCO, May 20, 2009 -- More than 20,000 people are expected to gather to celebrate the largest graduating class in San Francisco State University's history at this year's Commencement exercises on Saturday, May 23. Civil rights lawyer Morris Dees, baseball legend Willie Mays and actor Jeffrey Tambor will address the 8,515 graduating students and their guests.


The gates to Cox Stadium open at 10:30 a.m. on May 23. Graduates will line up by noon in the stadium for the processional at 12:15 p.m. The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. and end at 3:30 p.m.


Media wishing to attend should register in advance by contacting University Communications at (415) 338-1665.


Keynote address
Civil rights champion Morris Dees will deliver the keynote address. Dees co-founded the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights law firm internationally known for its legal victories against hate groups. As the Center's chief trial counsel, Dees has won landmark cases such as a $7 million verdict against the United Klans of America in 1987, which held Klansmen accountable for the lynching of an African-American man and financially crippled America's largest Ku Klux Klan organization. Dees was born and raised in Alabama and is a graduate of the University of Alabama and the University of Alabama Law School.


Honorary Degrees
During the ceremony, Morris Dees and Willie Mays will be awarded honorary degrees from the California State University. Dees will receive a Doctor of Laws; Mays will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters.

Willie Mays came to San Francisco when the Giants moved from New York in 1958. Since then, the "Say Hey Kid" has become synonymous with San Francisco and opened the door to higher education for countless underprivileged youth in the Bay Area. Regarded by many as the best all-around player in baseball history, Mays won two Most Valuable Player awards and finished his career with 660 home runs to rank fourth on the all-time career home run list. The Willie Mays Say Hey Foundation was founded in 1972 to support the education and enrichment of underprivileged youth. The foundation donated $12,000 to the Guardian Scholars program at SF State.


Alumnus of the Year
San Francisco native and popular actor Jeffrey Tambor, (B.A. '65) has been named 2009 Alumnus of the Year. A six-time Emmy nominee, Tambor's four-decade acting career includes starring roles in the television hits "Arrested Development" and "The Larry Sanders Show," and appearances on other legendary sitcoms including "M*A*S*H," and "Taxi." Tambor made his Broadway debut in 1975 opposite George C. Scott in "Sly Fox" and most recently returned to Broadway in David Mamet's Pulitzer Prize-winning play "Glengarry Glen Ross."


Student Commencement Speaker
This year's student speaker is Jessica Aguilar, hood recipient for the College of Ethnic Studies. Aguilar, a Presidential Scholar, carried a double major in Raza studies and sociology, while devoting much of her time to her community. For the past four years Aguilar volunteered as many as 40 hours per week for Clínica Martín Baro, a free clinic in the Mission. She has accepted a position at the Urban Promise Academy in East Oakland where she has tutored Spanish-speaking students during the past year. The daughter of emigrants from El Salvador, Aguilar also plans to pursue advanced degrees in teaching and a career serving new immigrants and disenfranchised communities.




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