Christopher Sickels

Honorary Degrees


San Diego State University​

Christopher Sickels’ extraordinary 75-year association with San Diego State University began when he entered kindergarten at the on-campus Training School for Teachers, also known as the Lab School. He returned as a college student, graduated in 1960, and briefly taught elementary school before embarking on a 56-year career in real estate development.

His companies, partnerships and joint ventures have acquired and developed real estate assets exceeding $2 billion, and he was instrumental in the redevelopment of the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego.

In 2009, two years into San Diego State's first fundraising campaign, Mr. Sickels became board chair of The Campanile Foundation (TCF), the university’s philanthropic auxiliary. As the longest serving TCF board chair, he was critical to the success of The Campaign for San Diego State University, which raised $815 million to support students, faculty, and academic and co-curricular programming.

In addition, Mr. Sickels and his wife, Karen, have a personal portfolio of support for San Diego State exceeding $2 million that includes the library, athletics, the College of Sciences, the President’s Leadership Fund and student scholarships.

In 2017, their contributions to the beautification of San Diego State were commemorated with a concrete and bronze medallion marking Sickels Plaza at the heart of campus.

Mr. Sickels also served on the steering committee for Friends of San Diego State University, which energized more than 100,000 supporters for a November 2018 ballot measure advocating for the sale of city-owned property in Mission Valley to the university. Passage of the measure with more than 54 percent of the vote allows San Diego State to proceed with plans to build a world-class university research and innovation district, a community river park, housing and a new multi-use stadium that will serve the community for decades to come.

As Mr. Sickels noted recently, much has changed since he first stepped foot on the San Diego State campus in 1943. But what remains constant is his dedication to San Diego State as a beacon of opportunity for students seeking a quality university education.

In recognition of his commitment to San Diego State University and to the City of San Diego, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and San Diego State University are proud to confer upon Mr. Christopher Sickels the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.