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Public Affairs

Alumni Hall of Fame welcomes five inductees

June 2, 2006

Photo of the Alumni Hall of Fame inductees (from left): John Handy, Paula Le Duc, Tom Ammiano, Ronald Quidachay and David SacksA capacity crowd of SF State administrators, alumni, faculty, staff and family gathered to welcome five new members to the Alumni Hall of Fame and fete the Alumnus of the Year at a campus reception on May 26.

The new Hall of Famers, San Francisco Supervisor Tom Ammiano; jazz musician and composer John Handy; renowned caterer and community leader Paula LeDuc; Superior Court Judge Ronald Quidachay and Warner Bros. television executive David Sacks, each received cheers and extended applause as they were introduced by SF State President Robert Corrigan, Senior Vice President of Advancement Lee Blitch and professional colleagues.

In making the introductions, Corrigan suggested that the huge turnout demonstrated support for values that SF State prized including the commitment to integrity and community service that each of the inductees embodies.

During their inductions, Tom Ammiano and Paula LeDuc, who received degrees in special education in 1965 and 1973, respectively, both recognized their "wonderful teachers and fine training." Ammiano, who left teaching to become a gay rights activist and politician, was introduced by Blitch, who had worked with Ammiano on significant civic projects. He lauded Ammiano's ability to bring disparate people and entities together to make tough decisions on San Francisco's future.

Inspired by her brother who is blind, Paula LeDuc began her career as a teacher at the Living Skills Center for the Visually Impaired, an organization founded by Professor Emeritus Phil Hatlen. She went on to create a prestigious catering company. She noted that she "learned vision through blindness" and added that "visions, visionaries and the visually impaired make the work that I love." She continues to lead fundraising efforts for the Living Skills Center.

David Sacks, who received his bachelor's degree in radio, television and film in 1967, was lauded by Corrigan for supporting his alma mater through his membership in SF State's Broadcast and Electronic Communication Arts Department Alumni Advisory Council. Sacks, now vice president at Warner Bros. Television, traced his success to lessons learned from his former professors Herb Zettl, Stuart Hyde and Benjamin Draper. "I came here to get a great education and I did," he said. "I've had a wonderful journey due largely to what I learned here."

Legendary saxophonist and composer John Handy received a standing ovation from countless fans in the audience when introduced by professional musician and SF State music instructor Andrew Speight. Handy recalled club dates with John Coltrane, Miles Davis and jamming until 4 a.m. before going to 8.a.m. classes as he worked toward his 1963 bachelor's degree in music. Speight called Handy, who also taught at SF State from 1968 to 1980, a "real virtuoso on the saxophone. He's found notes on the sax that no one else has."

Though he's served on the San Francisco Superior Court since 1998 and ruled on such headline-making cases as gay marriage licenses and Barry Bonds' baseballs, Judge Ronald Quidachay spoke candidly about his outlaw days as a student activist prior to receiving his degree in urban studies in 1970. A leader in the successful campaign to add ethnic studies to the University's curriculum, Quidachay recalled being elected class president in 1969 only to have the election recalled by then SF State President Samuel I. Hayakawa.

Kenneth Fong was honored as the 2006 Alumnus of the Year. Founder of Clontech Laboratories, now chairman of Kenson Ventures, which specializes in venture financing and strategic consulting for biotech companies, he graduated in 1970 with a bachelor's degree in biology. "Coming to San Francisco State changed my life," said Fong, who came to the United States from China as a young man who dreamed of attending college. "Here is where I first encountered genetics and I got hooked." Corrigan lauded Fong as a champion of higher education as well as the biotechnology industry. Fong and his wife Pam, also an alum, created an endowed scholarship at SF State and have contributed prize money to the College of Science and Engineering's annual student showcase.

The SF State Alumni Hall of Fame recognizes alumni who have earned the respect of their peers through professional, cultural and civic achievements. Previous inductees include Rep. Bill Thomas, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee; actress Annette Bening; former UCLA football coach Bob Toledo; "Frasier" co-creator and executive producer Peter Casey; and former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. Alumni Hall of Fame plaques can be viewed on the first floor of the J. Paul Leonard Library.

-- Denize Springer
Photo: Lui Gino De Grandis


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Last modified June 6, 2006 by University Communications