Fresno State to confer two honorary doctorates at Commencement

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  • Portrait of John C. Harris (Left) and Janis Yanehiro. (right)

Fresno State to confer two honorary doctorates at Commencement

Honorary doctorates will be awarded to businessman John C. Harris and journalist Janis “Jan” Yanehiro at Fresno State’s 108th commencement at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at the Save Mart Center.

Honorary doctoral degrees are awarded on behalf of the California State University system and Fresno State in recognition of excellence and extraordinary achievement in significant areas of human endeavor that embody the objectives and ideals of the CSU system. They recognize men and women whose lives and significant achievements should serve as examples of the California State University’s aspirations for its diverse student body.

Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro will highlight the lifetime accomplishments of Harris, the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Science degree, and Yanehiro, the recipient of an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree, during the commencement ceremony.

“John Harris’ extraordinary accomplishments in agriculture and Janis Yanehiro’s path-breaking achievements in journalism exemplify the heights of leadership and service to which our graduates have an opportunity to reach,” Castro said. “These two recipients have had a significant impact on the Central Valley, California and beyond.”

Harris, CEO of Harris Farms, comes from a family whose history in farming dates back to 1916. He is a 1965 graduate of the University of California, Davis, where he received a degree in agricultural production.

The Harris Farms Group includes Harris Ranch Inn & Restaurant, Harris Ranch Beef Company, Harris Feeding Company, Harris Farms Thoroughbred Division and Harris Fresh. Harris is widely considered to be one of the most influential farmers in the region.

With a passion for horses, Harris has raised and raced horses since his early teens. The Harris Farms Thoroughbred Division has produced several California-bred champions, including California Chrome, winner of the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.

Yanehiro, who was born and raised in Hawaii, graduated from Fresno State in 1970 with a degree in journalism. For more than 14 years, she hosted “Evening Magazine,” a pioneering nightly program on KPIX TV in San Francisco.

Yanehiro received multiple Emmys and other awards for her work and was inducted into the Academy of Television and Radio Hall of Fame in New York City. She is among the first native-born Asian American female journalists in the United States.

Yanehiro is the president of Jan Yanehiro, Inc. She is the author of three books, including, “This is Not the Life I Ordered: 50 Ways to Keep Your Head Above Water When Life Keeps Dragging You Down.”