FRESNO — Praised as a visionary who “exemplifies the American ideal of a community servant,” Radio Bilingue executive director Hugo Morales of Fresno was awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters Saturday by the California State University and California State University, Fresno.
The honorary degree was conferred by CSU Trustee Joan Otomo-Corgel during Fresno State’s 88th Commencement on May 22 in the university’s Bulldog Stadium.
“A visionary with a strong sense of duty to serve others, Hugo Morales has worked relentlessly to improve the lives of farmworkers and other underserved members of our community, state, and nation,” Otomo-Corgel said.
Radio Bilingue, the national Latino public radio network Morales founded more than 20 years ago, has become a national model for the public broadcast system. The Fresno-based non-profit network owns five stations throughout California — the others are in Bakersfield, El Centro, Modesto/Stockton, and Salinas — and has about 60 satellite affiliates throughout the U.S., Mexico and Puerto Rico.
The honorary doctorate is the latest of several accolades for the Harvard-educated Fresnan who emigrated to the United States from Mexico.
On May 15, Morales was awarded the Edward R. Murrow Award, public radio’s highest honor, by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Earlier this year, the Alliance for Public Technology gave him its 1999 Susan G. Hadden Pioneer Award for ensuring equitable access to information for the Spanish-speaking population in the U. S. and Mexico.
Next, the California Chicano News Media Association will honor Morales at its 19th Annual Joel Garcia Memorial Scholarship Banquet on June 4 in Los Angeles for his ongoing effort to bring Latino stories to radio.
About 20,000 persons, including nearly 4,000 graduates comprising the Class of 1999, witnessed the doctoral hooding of Morales by Fresno State President John D. Welty and Vice President of Student Affairs Judy Sakaki, and CSU, San Marcos President Alexander Gonzalez.
Later in the day, Morales was again honored at Fresno State’s 23rd Annual Chicano/Latino Commencement Celebration before about 14,000 people. Dr. Antonio Flores, president of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (NACU), spoke at Chicano Commencement where 420 graduates and their families celebrated the occasion.
Morales has spent years and countless hours helping underserved minority communities with news and information through Radio Bilingue, which was incorporated in 1976 and began broadcasting in 1980.
A former lecturer in the then-La Raza Studies Program (now Chicano/Latin American Studies) at Fresno State, Morales has worked to foster multicultural understanding through his endeavors. He sits on dozens of local, state and national boards, travels extensively, and shuns neckties.
Colleagues, who respect his groundbreaking work in public radio and community service, call him “a visionary, a treasure, a humble and genuine man.),
In addition to the Murrow and Hadden Awards, Morales also received last year the Association of Mexican American Educators’ highest honor — The Cesar Chavez Leadership Award.
At. Fresno State’s Commencement, President Welty conferred degrees on about 3,860 bachelor’s and master’s candidates. Doctorates in educational leadership, offered jointly by Fresno State and the University of California, Davis, were conferred on five candidates.
The university also conferred an honorary doctorate on Paul O’Neill, of Pittsburgh, Penn., who is chairman of the board of Alcoa.
Secretary of State Bill Jones, a 1971 graduate and former student body president at Fresno State, was presented the 1999 Distinguished Alumnus Award. Jones became the first San Joaquin Valley resident to serve in a statewide constitutional office when he was elected secretary of state in 1994, followed by Cruz M. Bustamante of Fresno who was elected lieutenant governor last year.