SF State News {University Communications}

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News Release


SF State to hold 110th Commencement exercises on May 21

U.S. Ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich to give keynote address


SAN FRANCISCO, May 19, 2011 -- More than 20,000 people are expected at San Francisco State University's Commencement exercises on Saturday, May 21 in Cox Stadium. U.S. Ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich, leading Taiwanese educator Flora Chia-I Chang and student speaker Aleksandr Pankov will address the 8,132 graduating students and their guests.

The University will also celebrate receiving federal recognition for its commitment to community service. SF State was one of six colleges in the nation to receive the Presidential Award, as part of the 2010 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

The gates to Cox Stadium open at 10:30 a.m. on May 21. 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

Jeffrey Bleich, U.S. Ambassador to Australia, will deliver the keynote address. Bleich spent 14 years as a partner with the San Francisco-based law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP, where he was recognized as one of the nation's top lawyers. He later served as a Special Counsel to the President at the White House. As Chair of the CSU Board of Trustees from 2008-09, he became a prominent voice in state budget discussions on the importance of access to higher education for California's future. Bleich has also used his career to promote peace and human rights. An expert in international law, he assisted the Special Prosecutor for the International Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Now as Ambassador to Australia, he is working to improve peace and stability around the world.


Honorary Degrees
During the ceremony, Jeffrey Bleich and entrepreneur George M. Marcus will be awarded honorary degrees from the California State University. Bleich will receive an honorary doctor of laws; Marcus will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters.

A business leader and philanthropist, George M. 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. An immigrant and native of Greece, Marcus came to San Francisco with his family in 1945 and sought opportunity at SF State. He earned a bachelor's degree in economics in 2 ½ years and four years later started the real estate firm that would become Marcus and Millichap. Marcus served on the CSU Board of Trustees from 1981-89, is a current member of the CSU Foundation's Board of Governors and currently serves on the UC Board of Regents.

Alumna of the Year
Flora Chia-I Chang, President of Tamkang University in Taiwan, has been named the 2011 Alumna of the Year. Tamkang University (TKU) is known for a global approach to higher education that combines tradition and innovation. Since becoming president of TKU in 2004, Chang has applied her expertise in total quality management and distance learning technology to streamline university operations. In 2009, TKU was the first academic institution in the world to receive international accreditation for its comprehensive information technology data and service management. Chang has initiated academic partnerships and exchanges in 28 countries with 110 universities, including SF State. A native of Taipei City, Chang earned a master's degree in economics from SF State in 1982. Prior to becoming TKU's president, she was vice president for administrative affairs and taught banking and finance.

President's Medal
Jazz legend Jimmy Cobb will receive the President's Medal in recognition of his mentorship of students and budding jazz artists. Cobb teaches and mentors music students and emerging musicians at venues and universities across the U.S., including SF State, Stanford University and the Berklee School of Music in Boston. At SF State, Cobb worked with music faculty to develop the Generations Jazz Project, an ongoing jazz education program that focuses on intergenerational mentoring and the importance of jazz combos. He is also part of the Generations Jazz Band, an all-star ensemble of jazz veterans who serve as ambassadors for the project and as mentors to the program's musicians. The President's Medal, the highest honor bestowed by SF State President Robert A. Corrigan, acknowledges those who have made long-lasting, widespread contributions to the University and their community.

Student Commencement Speaker
This year's student speaker is Aleksandr Pankov, hood recipient for the College of Science and Engineering. After moving to the U.S. from Moldova at age 6, Aleksandr (Alex) Pankov grew up in San Francisco, attending Hebrew Academy before joining SF State in Fall 2007. Pankov credits SF State's Presidential Scholars Program as one of the reasons for his successful undergraduate career, during which he earned a degree in statistics and applied mathematics. Pankov's research interests evolved as he joined the research team of Javier Arsuaga, assistant professor of mathematics. His work with Arsuaga, which earned him recognition from the CSU system, explores how genes change due to tumors and cancer, and how these mutations might influence the outcome of potential treatments. In the fall, Pankov will begin a doctorate in bioinformatics at University of California, San Francisco.


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 205,140 graduates have contributed to the economic cultural and civic fabric of San Francisco and beyond.



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