The California State University and California State University, Fresno will confer honorary doctoral degrees on aerospace industry innovator Sam F. lacobellis and press freedom advocate James McClatchy during Commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 20.
Honorary doctorates — the CSU’s highest commendation — are conferred in recognition of the recipients’ achievements, visionary leadership and civic commitment.
lacobellis, who will receive the honorary Doctor of Science degree, is a widely recognized leader in the aerospace industry and pioneered the B1-B bomber. McClatchy, who will receive the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree, has devoted his life to newspapers and is highly respected for his efforts on behalf of freedom of press in all the Americas.
Fresno State President John D. Welty said the two have made an impact on Fresno and the entire Central California region. They also have partnered with Fresno State to improve its service to the San Joaquin Valley, he said.
lacobellis, a graduate of Fresno State, is the retired vice president and deputy chairman of Rockwell International Corporation and president of Rockwell’s North American Aviation Operations. At Rockwell, he became the “Father of the B-1 B” — the Air Force supersonic bomber used in Afghanistan and Iraq.
He holds patents on original concepts in engine design and turbo-molecular vacuum pumping.
lacobellis went from working on his parents’ ranch in rural Fresno County to earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1952 at Fresno State.
He completed a distinguished career with numerous honors and achievements including the 2001 Howard Hughes Memorial Award and the San Fernando Valley Engineering Council’s Engineer of the Year Award in 1976. He is a registered professional engineer in California in the field of mechanical and nuclear engineering and is a member of Sigma Tau, a national honorary engineering fraternity.
lacobellis was the 1982 recipient of the Outstanding Alumnus for the College of Engineering at Fresno State. He said then that his Fresno State experience was “excellent preparation for launching an engineering management career with a major high technology diversified corporation.” His leadership and strong commitment to higher education also led him to chair the highly successful “Decade of Excellence” campaign in the College of Engineering at Fresno State.
McClatchy was born into a California newspaper family and has been a reporter, editor and publisher most of his life. Headquartered in Sacramento, After completion of its purchase of the Knight Ridder newspaper chain, the McClatchy Company expects to operate 32 daily newspapers and 50 community publications with a combined circulation of 3.2 million, making McClatchy the second largest newspaper company in daily circulation.
Over the decades, McClatchy newspapers’ many honors have included 13 Pulitzer Prizes, five of which were gold medals for public service.
Born in Sacramento, McClatchy was reared in Fresno, and currently resides in the Sacramento area. He is a graduate of Stanford University and Columbia University School of Journalism. He is a veteran of Air Force service in the Korean War, He is a director and officer of numerous education and conservation organizations in California.
A member and past president of the Inter-American Press Association, he is a long-time defender of free speech in Latin America, and also was decorated by the French government for service to French-American relations. He was honored by Columbia University for service to inter-American causes. He organized the 1994 Hemisphere Conference on Free Speech in Mexico, which issued the Declaration of Chapultepec, signed by individuals and heads of state, setting out principles describing the role of a free press in a democracy.
McClatchy also is founder and president of the Central Valley Foundation, which supports education for the children of immigrants throughout the Valley. He has established an endowment to support the classics and bilingual education programs at Fresno State and is one of the major contributors to the Phebe Conley Memorial Endowment.
This is the 14th year honorary doctorates have been awarded by the CSU system and Fresno State. A campus committee composed of faculty and administrators considered nominees for the honor and recommended the candidates to Welty, who then made the recommendations to the CSU Board of Trustees.
Last year honorary doctorates were presented to Sister Ruth Marie Nickerson, former president and CEO of Saint Agnes Medical Center, and Richard A. Johanson, founder of Johanson Transportation Service in Fresno.
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