Ernest E. Tschannen was born in Switzerland, immigrated to Canada in the 1950s and eventually moved to the American Midwest, working as a mechanical engineer. He then settled in Minnesota, where he purchased investment properties, a hobby that turned into a successful career. Since the mid-1980s, Mr. Tschannen has lived in the Sacramento area, participating in the region’s growing prosperity.

Having achieved great success, Mr. Tschannen, now 93 years old, developed a passion to give back to the community in which his fortunes have soared. He has spent much of the last decade giving to projects and initiatives that fit with his philanthropic priorities. His first major gift went to the University of California, Davis Eye Center after he went through a surgical procedure that helped restore his damaged vision. That significant donation was meant to support vision science and help develop cures for eye disease.

Mr. Tschannen’s association with California State University, Sacramento began with his $750,000 commitment to support construction of an event center to provide the university community with a modern recreational facility and to serve as home court to men’s and women’s intercollegiate basketball teams. As his relationship with Sacramento State grew, Mr. Tschannen saw other opportunities. In early 2018, he made the single largest contribution to the university. His $9 million gift to support the construction of the Ernest E. Tschannen Science Complex was recognition of the project’s importance and of science’s prominent place in modern education. Just as the 95,000 square-foot complex, with its observatory, planetarium and state-of-the-art facilities, is evidence of the university’s commitment to its students, Mr. Tschannen’s contributions demonstrate his belief in turning personal success into something that benefits an entire community.

In recognition of his many contributions to the community and the university, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California State University, Sacramento are proud to confer upon Ernest E. Tschannen the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.