Alumni and friends of the University honored at Commencement

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acramento State’s Spring 2017 Commencement ceremonies featured the conferral of two honorary doctorates—awarded jointly by the California State University system and Sacramento State—to alumna Cheryl Dell ’82 and Pastor Ephraim Williams, and the presentation of the President’s Medal for Distinguished Service to alumnus Garry Maisel ’80.

Cheryl Dell

Cheryl Dell ’82 (Communication Studies)

Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters

Alumna Cheryl Dell is the former publisher and president of The Sacramento Bee, the fifth largest newspaper in California.

Her career in news spans nearly 33 years and includes positions in Texas and Washington. She returned to Sacramento to take over the flagship publication of The McClatchy Company.

Throughout her career, Dell strongly believed in volunteering and to that end, served on the board of directors for various organizations in the Sacramento region which include the Sacramento Tree Foundation, Valley Vision, Sacramento Area Commerce and Trade Organization (SACTO), The Salvation Army Advisory Board and MLK 365. Additionally, she served on the executive committee and was chairman of the board for the Inland Press Foundation, one of the oldest and largest newspaper membership organizations.

The Bee has a 160-year legacy of public service journalism and has won nearly every major journalism award under Dell’s leadership, including the Pulitzer Prize.

In 2014, Dell was named to the Sacramento Business Journal’s list of “Women Who Mean Business.” At her alma mater, she received a Distinguished Service Award in 2013.

Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters

Pastor Ephraim Williams is the most senior pastor in the Sacramento region and leads the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, one of the largest congregations in the area. Over his 45-year tenure, he has grown the church’s membership from 133 in 1971 to more than 4,000 today. He has performed more than 900 marriages, 2,200 funerals, 2,100 baptisms and 6,100 sermons.

His outreach to the community includes regular participation in the CSU’s and Sacramento State’s “Super Sunday” effort to encourage college enrollment. He also spearheads the St. Paul and Oak Park Community Outreach Program, which provides recreational, educational and family support programs.

Williams’ commitment to the region extends to his service to organizations such as the Sacramento Baptist Ministers Conference, the Sacramento Urban League, the NAACP and the Sacramento City Unified School District. He was instrumental in changing the name of Sacramento Boulevard to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

His many local, regional and national honors include the 2014 Peace Award from Sacramento State’s Center for African Peace and Conflict Resolution.

Pastor Williams Ephraim

Ephraim Williams

Garry Maisel

Garry Maisel ’80 (Business Administration)

2017 President’s Medal for Distinguished Service

Alumnus Garry Maisel is president and CEO of Western Health Advantage, an organization dedicated to healthcare access and affordability.

Maisel led the company from its startup in 1996 to its current annual revenue of more than $750 million. Under his direction, Western Health holds a regular spot on the Sacramento Business Journal’s annual list of the Top 50 Fastest-Growing Companies.

Maisel personally and professionally supports a number of organizations including service on the boards of the B Street Theater, the Health Plan Alliance, WEAVE, the California Association of Health Plans, the Mercy Foundation, the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, the American Heart Association, the Greater Sacramento Area Economic Council, and Valley Vision.

His many honors include the 2010 Sacramento Metro Chamber Businessman of the Year, the 2014 Executive Leadership Award from Community Link Capital Region, and the 2015 Humanitarian of the Year Award from UCP Sacramento.

At his alma mater, Maisel serves on the University Foundation at Sacramento State’s board of directors and co-chairs the Campaign Leadership Committee. He received the Distinguished Service Award from the Alumni Association and the University in 2013.