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San Francisc​o

​​​John Mathis, now in his seventh decade as a world-renowned recording artist, possesses a signature style and voice that has made him a star across generations.

Born in Gilmer, Texas, the fourth of seven children, Mr. Mathis moved to San Francisco with his family when he was a small boy. A lover of music, his father brought home a piano and encouraged him to play and perform.

As a young man and a star athlete on the track and field team at George Washington High School in San Francisco, Mr. Mathis was recognized for his musical talent, singing ability and athletic prowess. Imagining a career as an English and physical education teacher, Mr. Mathis enrolled at San Francisco State University where he set the high jump record, just shy of the Olympic world record at the time. As his music career was beginning to blossom, Mr. Mathis had to choose between trying out for the Olympic team and recording his first album with Columbia Records. He chose the latter, followed his heart, and never looked back.

Mr. Mathis is a versatile performer and recording artist who has sold well over 350 million records worldwide, peaked the Billboard Pop Chart, and had four albums on the Billboard Top Albums chart at the same time. Mr. Mathis has received numerous awards during his illustrious musical career including his own star on the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences Lifetime Achievement Award. During the span of his career, Mr. Mathis has received five Grammy nominations.

San Francisco State University honors Mr. Mathis as a member of the Gator family through the annual Johnny Mathis Invitational Track and Field event, a campus tradition since 1982. Mr. Mathis has provided much needed support to students through generous contributions to scholarship funds. A distinguished member of the San Francisco State Alumni Hall of Fame, recognized as Alumnus of the Year in 1997 and inducted into the San Francisco State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2004, San Francisco State University is proud to recognize Mr. Mathis as one of our cherished alumni.

In recognition of his outstanding career, his contribution to art and culture and his service to the university, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and San Francisco State University are proud to confer upon John Mathis the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts.