Ralph R. Pesqueira, Jr.

Honorary Degrees

California State University Maritime Academy​

Ralph R. Pesqueira, Jr., grew up from behind the counter of his father’s restaurant business, El Indio Shops, Inc., originally founded as a tortilla factory in 1940. He took over the family operation in 1981 and today, having provided food-ready care packages to our soldiers while fighting in Vietnam and Desert Storm, El Indio is beloved around the world. Mr. Pesqueira earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing from San Diego State University (SDSU) in 1957. His connection to SDSU deepened when he was invited to serve as a founding member on SDSU’s Campanile Foundation Board of Directors, on which he served for 11 years before receiving emeritus status in 2011.

Mr. Pesqueira was appointed as a member of the California State University (CSU) Board of Trustees in 1988, and was reappointed in 1996. During his 16-year tenure, he chaired numerous committees and participated on search committees for many of the CSU’s executive positions, bringing new and innovative leadership to the CSU system. Mr. Pesqueira is a long-time supporter and champion of a high-quality education and he continues to be a strong advocate for improving mathematics and English proficiency for incoming freshmen. His passion for helping first-generation students be college-ready extended into the deliberations of the California Postsecondary Education Commission, initially as a representative of the CSU Board of Trustees in 1997, then reappointed by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2006 as a representative of the general public. His long and faithful service on the commission helped establish the Early Assessment Program, a cooperative program designed to help first-generation students and those in underserved communities to the benefit of the public schools, including the CSU system and the students it serves.

Mr. Pesqueira continued his work in the support of education through joining the California State University Foundation Board of Governors in 2005. He has served as vice chair of the board and chair of the advocacy and scholarship committees. He most recently funded a CSU Trustees Award for Outstanding Achievement, a scholarship program for students who have demonstrated financial need, modeled exemplary academic performance, community service and personal accomplishments.

In recognition of his long and distinguished career, his programmatic and philanthropic contributions to the advancement of higher education, and his tireless efforts to help first-generation students and those in underrepresented communities succeed in college, the Board of Trustees of the California State University is proud to confer upon Ralph R. Pesqueira, Jr. the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.