Originally from the Bay Area, Mr. Schilling arrived in Kern County in 1973 from Venezuela where he served two years with the United States Peace Corps, after earning a bachelor’s degree in 1969 from California State University, Chico and completing coursework there for a master’s in public administration in 1971. His education and service set the foundation for how he would grow a little farmworker’s clinic, on the verge of being shut down when he took the helm, into a $100 million non-profit corporation with 500 employees who serve the poorest residents of Kern, Inyo and Fresno counties.

Clinica de los Campesinos (Farmworkers’ Clinic), as it was originally named, was founded in 1969 with federal funding to provide health care services to agricultural workers, and operated initially from a rented storefront in Weedpatch, California, just outside of Bakersfield. Mr. Schilling was hired in 1973 as the business manager of the struggling clinic. After five years as the business manager, he was appointed to the position of chief executive officer in 1978 and has held the position since that time.

Mr. Schilling’s strategic management has transformed the single storefront clinic into a premier healthcare system. Clinica Sierra Vista has grown to 29 health care centers, 6 dental clinics, and a mobile medical van that provides multi-service health care to low- and moderate-income families across more than 1,200 square miles in the Central Valley. Services include medical, dental, behavioral health, HIV/AIDS services, teen pregnancy prevention, and mammograms for agricultural workers, and healthcare for the homeless and veterans. As a measure of quality of service, the organization recently was re-accredited by the Joint Commission and awarded Primary Health Care Home certification. As a measure of its commitment to diversity, the organization’s website is available in 93 languages.

For more than a decade, Mr. Schilling has served on the Masters of Public Administration and Masters of Science in Health Care Administration Advisory Boards at California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB) and has been a guest speaker in our courses.  He has provided internships and clinical experience for students in public administration, health care management, and nursing. Clinica regularly engages the services of students in our graduate course in Program Evaluation. Hundreds of our students have been educated and mentored in other ways by Mr. Schilling and Clinica. He encourages employees at Clinica to pursue an education at CSUB and has hired our graduates on a regular basis.

In recognition of his distinguished achievements which embody the values of California State University, Bakersfield, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California State University, Bakersfield are proud to confer upon Stephen W. Schilling the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.