Remarks by Dr. Timothy P. White - May 18, 2019

Remarks by Timothy P. White
Chancellor, The California State University
Commencement and Conferral of Honorary Degree
Sonoma State University
May 18, 2019

Thank you, President Sakaki…and thank you graduates, parents and loved ones, faculty, staff, and distinguished guests… I bring you heartfelt greetings and congratulations on behalf of the California State University Board of Trustees.

It’s always a great pleasure to return to Sonoma State – a place I consider to be one of America’s most beautiful campus settings. And it’s a special pleasure – and a true honor – to join you today on this celebratory occasion.

Graduates, we celebrate you today. We celebrate your intellect. Your curiosity. Your creativity. Your courage to confront and conquer any challenge – large or small – that may have stood between you and the degree you’ll be receiving shortly.

We also celebrate the remarkable Sonoma State faculty who have deepened your knowledge and equipped you with a global awareness and a passion for social responsibility… Your counselors, advisors, librarians and support staff whose expert and dedicated work fostered the environment for your success. And, of course, we celebrate your families, friends and loved ones whose support and belief in you never wavered…and never will.

Today marks a new beginning in your life…one that is rich with promise. And as you chart your life’s course from this point, I encourage you to be bold. Be adventurous. Live a life of consequence and compassion.  And when you encounter headwinds – as you inevitably will – be steadfast in your convictions. Headwinds may force you to momentarily change direction. But never allow them to alter your course.

Your many future accomplishments will undoubtedly be influenced by what you’ve learned and experienced on this spectacular campus. I hope that you’ll look back upon these experiences often and fondly, and that you will remain actively involved with this remarkable place – your alma mater.

The California State University Board of Trustees and I welcome you to the world’s largest alumni network – now 3.7 million strong and including more than 70,000 Seawolves. We are proud of your achievements and wish you every success. Again – congratulations!

In a few minutes, you will be hearing from graduate Emily Hinton, who will be delivering today’s student address. Many of you are probably aware that, in addition to her work as a student and leader here on campus, two years ago Emily was appointed by the governor of California to serve as a student trustee on the California State University Board of Trustees.

As her term comes to an end, I thank Emily for the insights and leadership she brought to the board. I want all of you to know that she represented your interests well during her term, and the CSU is a stronger institution for her service. Emily…again, thank you.

And now, I would like to invite President Sakaki and Mr. Henry Hansel to join me for conferral of the honorary doctorate.

An honorary doctorate is an extraordinarily prestigious recognition – and one that is not granted lightly. Accordingly, the selection and review process for the California State University is complex, lengthy and rigorous. 

A nominee and their qualifications are challenged and reviewed multiple times, both at the campus level and by the Chancellor’s Office.

The nomination is then further reviewed by a committee of trustees and, ultimately, by the full Board of Trustees.

The trustees’ criteria are stringent:

First, the candidate must demonstrate inspirational character, excellence and extraordinary achievement in significant areas of human endeavor that reflect the objectives and ideals of the California State University.

Second, he or she must show meritorious and outstanding service to the California State University collectively or to individual campuses, the State of California, the United States, or to humanity at large.

Third, the candidate must be one whose life, conduct and significant achievements serve as examples of the California State University’s aspirations for its diverse student body.

In short, we are extremely selective and careful to choose only the best of the best.

We honor one such individual today.

Henry Hansel was nominated for this degree by Sonoma State University in recognition of his leadership to Sonoma County and his advocacy and support for the university.

The president of the family-directed Hansel Auto Group, Henry has been a respected community leader for decades, one whose benevolence has been felt first-hand by many local groups including the Food for Thought Food Bank, the Boys and Girls Club of Marin and Southern Sonoma Counties, the Redwood Empire Food Bank, and the United Way.

He has been especially generous in his support of the Green Music Center. He has served as a member of its board of advisors since 2012. In 2016, he became board chair and has continually dedicated his time and philanthropic gifts to ensure that the music center connects meaningfully with the campus, its students and the greater community.

Following the devastating fires of 2017 that impacted so many in the Sonoma State community, Henry further demonstrated his dedication to the region by serving on the board of Rebuild North Bay … traveling to our state’s and nation’s capitals with other local leaders to advocate for the rebuilding efforts in the area.

A deserving nominee indeed. Now, to make it official…Henry?

By virtue of the authority vested in me by the Board of Trustees of the California State University, I hereby confer upon Henry Curtis Hansel, the degree of Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, with all the honors, privileges and responsibilities thereto pertaining.