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Honorary Degrees

The submission period for 2023-24 Honorary Doctorate nominations has ended.

About Honorary Degrees

The California State University awards honorary degrees to individuals who have demonstrated excellence in areas that benefit humanity, CSU campuses, the state, nation and/or world. Recipients are recognized and honored for their exemplary contributions. The degrees are given by the CSU Board of Trustees in the name of the California State University and in the name of the campus. The CSU awarded its first honorary degree to then-President John F. Kennedy in June 1963 at San Diego State University.

For more information, view the California State University Board of Trustees policy for awarding honorary degrees.


Things to consider before submitting a nomination:

The submission form must be submitted completely. Partially complete submissions will not be accepted.

Questions that will be asked when submitting a nomination (* means required)

  • Nominator contact information (*name, *email, *phone, *address)
  • Nominee contact information (*name, *organization, *affiliation to Sac State, email, address, phone)
  • Additional information about nominee

Letters of recommendation/support/endorsement will not be accepted beginning this year.

Supporting documentation (such as pictures, articles, etc...) are highly suggested and can be uploaded as part of the nomination form.
Nominations without any additional supporting documentation are often not sufficient enough for the Selection Committee to evaluate compared to complete submissions.

2023 Recipients

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Liz Igra

President, Central Valley Holocaust Educators’ Network
2023 Recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters (L.H.D.)

Liz Igra was born in 1935 in Krakow, Poland. During World War II, she walked with her mother from Poland to Czechoslovakia and then to Hungary, where they went into hiding until the war ended. Many members of her family were killed during the Holocaust.

After the war, Liz eventually resettled in the United States. In 1977, she earned a bachelor’s degree in education with honors from Sacramento State, and in 1987 she earned a master’s of science in educational administration. She dedicated her career to education, teaching in the Elk Grove Unified School District for decades, and sharing her expertise in the education of future teachers.

Liz works tirelessly to teach others about the causes of genocide and the fragility of democracy and to fighting antisemitism. In 2009, she founded the Central Valley Holocaust Educators’ Network (CVHEN), whose mission is to support teachers “in effectively implementing a Holocaust curriculum that meets California Social Studies and Language Arts Standards” ( CVHEN serves the Sacramento Region by connecting Holocaust experts to area schools and community organizations to speak about their experiences...

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Mathilde Mukantabana

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda
2023 Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

Professor Mathilde Mukantabana serves as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Rwanda to the United States of America, and non-resident Ambassador to Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina.

Ambassador Mukantabana has dedicated her life educating students and communities about the scourge of genocide while promoting peace, restorative justice, and collective healing. After being forced from her home in Rwanda as a teenager, Mathilde lived as a refugee in Barundi to escape the then-Hutu controlled government of Rwanda. Fluent in multiple languages, she did not speak English when she immigrated to Sacramento in 1980 at the age of 22. In 1986 she earned a master’s degree in History with an emphasis in African History from Sacramento State. She returned to Sac State in 1990 to study social work with the goal of better understanding how she could help Rwanda during its reconstruction. She earned her second master’s degree, this time in Social Work, from Sacramento State in 1990 while raising three children...

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Mary A. Daniels-Tarango

Miwok Tribal Elder, Emeritus Tribal Chairwoman, Wilton Rancheria
2023 President’s Medal for Distinguished Service

Mary A. Daniels-Tarango was the driving force behind the historic federal restoration of the Wilton Rancheria in 2009. For over two decades she led the fight to secure federal recognition for her fellow Miwok tribal members.

The journey to restore federal recognition to the Wilton Rancheria began in the early 1990s when Mary was selected by members of her tribal community to be the face and spokesperson of the Tribe. For the next 22 years, she dedicated herself to overturning Wilton’s tribal termination by securing funding, finding legal assistance and support, and remaining constantly engaged with the tribal community, all while raising her family. In 2009, their status as a recognized Tribe became a reality. Subsequently, Mary was elected as the first Chairperson of the Wilton Rancheria of Miwok Indians.

After graduating from high school, Mary received a college scholarship and attended Delta College before transferring to Sacramento State. She was just shy of completing her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice when she left school to begin work in civil service. Mary had a long career with the State of California as a civil rights and equal opportunity investigator...

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Francisco Javier “Xico” González

The Met Sacramento High School
2023 President’s Medal for Distinguished Service

Francisco Javier “Xico” González is an award-winning educator, curator, interdisciplinary artist, poet, and a political and cultural activista/organizer. He teaches Spanish and Art Studio at the Met Sacramento High School, where he promotes social justice, cultural awareness, and community engagement in and out of the classroom. He has also taught at UC Davis and Sacramento State.

Xico is a transformational and exceptional educator with an unwavering commitment to student success. He has taught, inspired, and mentored countless students, working to build confidence, skills, and passion so that students are able to go on to higher education and become leaders who advocate for a more just world. He bridges the gap between the university and the community by providing service-learning opportunities for his students. In his work with the Barrio Art Program, he worked with students and local K-12 schools to organize community art days and paint murals on school campuses.

Xico works closely with community organizations such as Sol Collective, Academia del Barrio, NorCal Resist, Wellspring Women’s Center, Knights Landing Family Resource Center, and Yolo Family Resource Center...

Previous Recipients

Esteban Villa
Emeritus Professor of Art, Sacramento State and Founding Member, Royal Chicano Air Force (RCAF)
Doctor of Fine Arts 2022

May O. Lee
Founding Director, Asian Resources, Inc.
Doctor of Humane Letters 2022

Lee Ritchey
Founder and President, Speeding Edge
Doctor of Science 2021

Kevin Michael Nagle
Chairman & CEO, Sac Soccer & Entertainment Holdings
Doctor of Humane Letters 2020

Lorenda T. Sanchez
Executive Director, California Indian Manpower Consortium, Inc.
Doctor of Humane Letters 2020

Marlene Marie von Friederichs-Fitzwater
Emeritus Faculty and Founder of the Health Communication Research Institute Inc.
Doctor of Humane Letters 2019

Hazel Witten Mahone
Emeritus Faculty, Author, and Advocate
Doctor of Humane Letters 2019

Alice A. Huffman
Political Activist
Doctor of Humane Letters 2018

Ruth M. Rippon
Distinguished Artist
Doctor of Fine Arts 2018

Ernest E. Tschannen
Doctor of Humane Letters 2018

Cheryl Dell '82 (Communication Studies)
Former newspaper executive
Doctor of Humane Letters 2017

Ephraim Williams
Doctor of Humane Letters 2017

Gregory Kondos '51, MA '57 (Art)
Doctor of Fine Arts 2016

David Lucchetti '67 (Physical Education), Credential '68
Business Leader
Doctor of Humane Letters 2016

Lester Holt
News anchor, NBC Nightly News and Dateline NBC
Doctor of Humane Letters 2015

Joyce Raley Teel
Doctor of Humane Letters 2015

Dale Carlsen '84 (Business Administration)
Doctor of Humane Letters 2013

Hugo Noe Morales Rosas
Doctor of Fine Arts 2011

Cruz Reynoso
Doctor of Laws 2012

Marcy Friedman
Doctor of Fine Arts 2010

Mario G. Obledo
Doctor of Laws 2010

Frederick Teichert '95 MBA
Doctor of Humane Letters 2009

Winnie Leung, MS '97 (Accountancy)
Doctor of Humane Letters 2007

Roger Valine '73 (Sociology)
Doctor of Humane Letters 2007

Robert T. Matsui
Doctor of Laws 2006

Hans J.A. Van Ginkel
Doctor of Letters 2003

Ingrid Moses
Doctor of Letters 2003

Phillip L. Isenberg '61 (Social Science)
Doctor of Letters 2002

Richard W. Riley
Doctor of Humane Letters 2001

Grantland Johnson '74 (Government)
Doctor of Humane Letters 2001

Dorothy Stevens Enomoto
Doctor of Humane Letters 2001

Steven Lee Yamshon '77 (Envrionmental Resources)
Doctor of Humane Letters 1999

Angelo K. Tsakopoulos '60 (History)
Doctor of Humane Letters 1998

Wayne Thiebaud '51, MA '53 (Art)
Doctor of Fine Arts 1998

Heitor Gurgulino de Souza
Doctor of Laws 1996

Sisbusiso M.E. Bengu
Doctor of Laws 1996

Federico Mayor
Doctor of Laws 1996

Anna Deavere Smith
Doctor of Fine Arts 1996

George Perle
Doctor of Fine Arts 1996

Lou Harrison
Doctor of Fine Arts 1993

Nathaniel S. Colley, Sr.
Doctor of Laws 1988

Albert S. Rodda
Doctor of Laws 1987