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Honorary degrees, President’s medals recognize community members whose contributions span the globe

President Robert S. Nelsen, second from left, stands next to honorary degree recipients Mathilde Mukantabana, left, and Liz Igra, center, and President's Medal winners Xico Gonzalez, second from right, and Mary Tarango, at a reception April 14 honoring the four individuals. (Sacramento State/Andrea Price)

During its May Commencement ceremonies, Sacramento State will honor four individuals for their exceptional contributions to the University, the community, and beyond.

President Robert S. Nelsen awards the President’s Medal for Distinguished Service to community members who provide outstanding service to Sacramento State, higher education, the public, or the common good. This year’s recipients are:

  • Francisco “Xico” Gonzalez, a Sac State alum and former faculty member who uses his art to campaign for social justice.
  • Mary Tarango, who led a 22-year effort to restore federal recognition of the Wilton Rancheria tribe.

The California State University awards honorary degrees to individuals who have demonstrated excellence in areas that benefit humanity, CSU campuses, the state, the nation, and/or the world. This year’s recipients from Sac State are:

  • Elizabeth “Liz” Igra, a Holocaust survivor who has dedicated her life to ensuring that people remember and not repeat the atrocities of World War II.
  • Mathilde Mukantabana, a Sac State alum and the Rwandan ambassador to the United States, who has devoted her life to fighting genocide and helping its victims.

All four honorees were recognized with a reception April 14 at the historic Julia Morgan House.

For more information about Sac State’s Commencement ceremonies, visit

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About Jonathan Morales

Jonathan Morales joined the Sac State communications team in 2017 as a writer and editor. He previously worked at San Francisco State University and as a newspaper reporter and editor. He enjoys local beer, Bay Area sports teams, and spending time outdoors with his family and dog.

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