Jeffrey Bleich, George M. Marcus to be awarded honorary degrees
Ambassador to Australia, businessman to be honored during May 21 Commencement ceremony
SAN FRANCISCO, March 21, 2011 -- Two individuals who have contributed greatly to San Francisco State University and higher education in California will receive honorary degrees at SF State's 110th Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 21. George M. Marcus, entrepreneur, philanthropist and SF State alum, will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters from the California State University. Jeffrey Bleich, U.S. Ambassador to Australia and former CSU Trustee, will receive an honorary doctorate of laws.
A vocal advocate for public education and human rights, Bleich was confirmed as the U.S. Ambassador to Australia on November 10, 2009. Prior to becoming Ambassador, Bleich served as a Special Counsel to the President at the White House. From 1995 to 2009 he served as a litigation partner in the San Francisco office of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, where he was recognized as one of the nation's top lawyers. An expert in international law, Bleich assisted the Special Prosecutor for the International Tribunal for the former-Yugoslavia and has taught, lectured and written extensively on the International Criminal Court.
Bleich has also been an outspoken advocate of public higher education in California. He served as Chair of the California State University Board of Trustees from 2008-09, vice chair from 2006-08 and began his tenure on the board of trustees in 2004 before leaving for Washington D.C.
Bleich was a founding member and co-chair of President Barack Obama's national finance committee during the 2008 presidential campaign and also served as co-chair of Obama's higher education advisory board. He received a B.A. from Amherst College, a Master's in Public Policy from Harvard University and a law degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.
"Jeffrey Bleich has been a long-standing advocate for human rights and social justice," President Robert A. Corrigan said. "This commitment to others, and belief that all deserve equal opportunities in this life, was a guiding principle during his remarkable leadership of the CSU Board of Trustees. Today's students -- and those of tomorrow -- owe a debt of gratitude to Bleich's leadership."
George M. Marcus
An entrepreneur, business leader and philanthropist, Marcus has been a long-time supporter of the arts and higher education in California and at SF State. Marcus is the founder and chairman of Marcus and Millichap, a national commercial real estate brokerage, investment and development company with offices in 39 states; as chairman of Essex Property Trust, a New York Stock Exchange REIT; and founder of Greater Bay Bancorp, which was bought in 2007 by Wells Fargo.
Marcus has distinguished himself in philanthropy, donating generously to organizations in the Bay Area -- among them, the de Young Museum, health and human services non-profits, medical research centers, Greek community organizations and San Francisco State. Marcus has long been a supporter of California higher education, serving on the CSU Board of Trustees from 1981-89, and is a current member of the CSU Foundation's Board of Governors. He was appointed to the UC Board of Regents in 2000 and is serving a term that concludes in 2012.
An immigrant and native of Greece, Marcus came to San Francisco with his family in 1945 and sought opportunity at San Francisco State. A motivated and outstanding student, he earned his bachelor's degree in economics in 2 ½ years and four years later started the housing development, investment and brokerage firm that would become Marcus and Millichap.
Marcus has stayed involved with SF State throughout his life. He has served as a member and chair of the Modern Greek Studies Foundation, and supported the Center for Modern Greek Studies, the Cinema department, and student scholarship funds. Five years ago, he and his wife Judy, made a $3 million gift to establish the International Center for the Arts at SF State. Marcus was named SF State's Alumnus of the Year in 1989 and at SF State's Centennial Celebration in 1999, was honored as an "Alumnus of the Millennium."
"George Marcus has melded corporate excellence with a strong sense of public service, and in many ways this SF State alumnus embodies the fundamental promise of the California State University system," President Corrigan said. "Both his professional career and generous philanthropy serve as a testament to the opportunities offered through public higher education."
CSU honorary degrees recognize individuals with meritorious and outstanding service to the 23-campus system, the campuses, the state of California, the United States or humanity at large. The recipients are also individuals whose lives and achievements should serve as examples for CSU's student body. The CSU and each campus bestow the degrees during commencement ceremonies.
This year's honorees join a distinguished list of SF State honorary degree recipients that includes activist Marian Wright Edelman, musician Yehudi Menuhin, Delancey Street co-founder Mimi Silbert, baseball hall-of-famer Willie Mays, actor Danny Glover, artist and teacher Ruth Asawa, Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and the late Bay Area philanthropist Richard N. Goldman.
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 and graduates about 7,000 annually. With nationally acclaimed programs in a range of fields -- from creative writing, cinema and biology to history, broadcast and electronic communication 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. For more information about SF State's 2011 Commencement, visit: www.sfsu.edu/commencement/
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