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News Release

Randy Hayes to be honored as SF State's 2010 Alumnus of the Year

Filmmaker and environmentalist will be recognized at May 22 Commencement exercises


SAN FRANCISCO, May 6, 2010 -- Filmmaker and environmentalist Randy Hayes (M.A. '80) has been named the 2010 Alumnus of the Year by San Francisco State University. 

Once described by the Wall Street Journal as an "environmental pitbull," Randy Hayes has dedicated his life to protecting the environment and shedding light on environmentally destructive business practices by some of the world's largest companies. SF State will honor Hayes at the University's 109th Commencement exercises held Saturday, May 22 in Cox Stadium on campus.

Hayes made a splash while earning his master's degree in environmental studies at SF State in 1980. Armed with a 16 millimeter camera, he and two other students produced the documentary "The Four Corners," which examined the social, cultural and environmental effects of energy development in the U.S. Southwest. The film's examination of strip-mining on Native American land moved viewers and won the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences award for "Best Student Documentary" in 1983.

The movie was critical of national environmental policies and drew the ire of the Reagan Administration. "I had been traveling to the southwest, living on and off with the Hopi Indians and meeting these 100-year-old inspirational characters who knew what it was like to live sustainably near the Grand Canyon," Hayes said. "For three graduate students, this became a pretty hot project."

The award and few job opportunities in environmental advocacy spurred Hayes to found the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) in 1985. Headquartered in San Francisco, RAN uses high-visibility marketing campaigns to align the policies of multinational corporations with environmental protectionism. Hayes has combined the passion of an environmentalist with the savvy of a Madison Avenue advertising executive, working to change policies at Conoco, Mitsubishi, Home Depot, CITI Group and other companies. RAN's high-profile activities and events have included large-scale boycotts of such companies as Burger King over the source of its meat supply, and funding an Ecuadorian Indigenous people's march to secure the title to 2.5 million acres of their ancestral rainforest lands.

"People are opening their eyes to the damage we've done to the planet," Hayes said. "We have to get our foot off the throat of the planet's life support systems. And that's going to have to take a major societal shift in thinking."

Since July 2008, Hayes has worked as U.S. Director of the World Future Council, a multinational group based in Germany, which seeks implementation of long-term policies to promote sustainable living and a cleaner environment.

"Randy Hayes has been a tireless champion for environmentalism, sustainability and responsible business practices throughout his career," President Robert A. Corrigan said. "His advocacy has ensured that future generations will inherit a cleaner, more just world."     

SF State's Alumnus of the Year award recognizes significant contributions in an alumnus' field of work. Previous winners include actor Jeffrey Tambor; award-winning filmmaker Arthur Dong; Kenneth Fong, chairman of Kenson Ventures LLC; Manny Mashouf, founder and chairman of bebe stores inc.; E-LOAN co-founder/CEO Chris Larsen; actress Annette Bening; former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown; and physician and NASA astronaut Yvonne Cagle.

SF State is the only master's level public university serving the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin. The university enrolls more than 30,000 students each year. With nationally acclaimed programs in a range of fields -- from creative writing, cinema and biology to history, broadcast and electronic communications arts, theatre arts and ethnic studies -- the University's more than 180,000 graduates have contributed to the economic cultural and civic fabric of San Francisco and beyond.




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