Established in 1993, the President’s Medal of Distinction is the highest non-degree award presented by Fresno State. It is given to citizens of the region, state or nation whose contributions in the area of professional achievements or public service are of national or international significance.
A national leader in environmental issues and climate change, Pavley had a long career in education before holding elected office. She currently represents the 27th District, which includes parts of Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
Pavley earned her teaching credential at Fresno State after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in social science in 1970. She taught middle school in Southern California for 28 years before becoming the first mayor of Agoura Hills in 1982 and serving four terms on the city council.
In 2000, Pavley was elected to the California State Assembly, where she served three terms. Pavley was elected to the California State Senate in 2008, and now serves as the chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee.
Legislation she authored became a model for national vehicle emissions standards and greenhouse gas pollution. In 2010, President Barack Obama implemented national clean car standards known as “Pavley Law.”
After receiving the Medal of Distinction from Castro, Pavley addressed the Senate, saying, “Go ’Dogs!” She went on to share that her passion for water and air quality issues was sparked during her time Fresno State.
Pavley is now pursuing legislation to reduce climate pollution and improve the recruitment of new teachers.
Past recipients of the President’s Medal of Distinction include Ray Steele Jr. (2015), Justice Armando Rodriguez (2015), Justice Marvin Baxter (2014), John “Phil” Larsen (2014), Jim Nielsen (2012), Richard D. Hovannisian (2012), Satoshi “Fibber” Hirayama (2009), Ulises Ruiz Ortiz (2006), His Holiness Karekin II (2005), Robert E. Coyle (2003), M. Victoria Kazan (1998), Kenneth L. Maddy (1998), Meline Kalfayan (1998), Joe Williams (1994) and George Kauffman (1994).