​​​​L. William "Bill" Lane Jr.L. William "Bill" Lane Jr.
Former Ambasador/Philanthropist

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Throughout his distinguished career, Ambassador L. William Lane, Jr. has demonstrated exemplary public and community service. As a publisher, senior government official and member of numerous boards, he has provided outstanding leadership on behalf of the environment, the arts and education.

As co-publisher of Sunset magazine with his brother, Melvin, Mr. Lane established the publication as a leading source of environmental information. The magazine has played important roles in environmental initiatives, including dedication of the Central California Coast Biosphere Reserve, and helped bolster organizations such as the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, the California Coastal Commission, the Sierra Club, The Wilderness Society, the World Wildlife Fund/Conservation Foundation and The Nature Conservancy.

With his wife, Jean, Mr. Lane has helped bring environmentalists, government agencies and industrialists together. In 1968, he hosted a meeting of conservationists, government representatives and leaders in the timber industry, which led to the establishment of Redwood National Park. He is the recipient of the Conservation Service Award from the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, the highest departmental honor granted to a private citizen or group.

A citizen diplomat, Mr. Lane served as Ambassador to Australia and the South Pacific island nation of Nauru and as U.S. Ambassador-at-Large and Commissioner General at the world’s first international ocean exposition held in Japan. In 1993, he was recognized by the Governor General of Australia as an Honorary Officer in the Order of Australia.

Ambassador Lane was elected Portola Valley’s first mayor 40 years ago. In 2004, he was presented with a Mayoral Proclamation honoring him for his service.

He and his wife’s long history of charitable giving includes donations to Cal Poly, Stanford University and other institutions of higher education, as well as organizations dedicated to conservation and preservation efforts.

In recognition of his extraordinary leadership and service on behalf of the environment, the arts and education, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo are proud to confer upon L. William Lane, Jr. the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.