Honorary doctorates will be awarded to Mike McGarvin and former faculty member Ernesto Palomino at Fresno State’s 106th commencement, 9 a.m. May 20, at the Save Mart Center.

Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro will confer the honorary doctorates upon the authority of the California State University Board of Trustees in recognition of McGarvin’s service to the homeless and Palomino’s contributions to the arts.

“Mike McGarvin’s outstanding service to humanity at large, and Ernesto Palomino’s commitment to exploring the rich culture of the Valley through his arts, embody the ideals of the California State University,” Castro said. “Both serve as shining examples to our diverse student body, and speak to the human capacity to elevate others through service and artistic expression.”

McGarvin, who was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree, is the founder and fellowship director of the Poverello House in Fresno, whose mission is to serve the hungry, homeless and destitute. What started as one man distributing sandwiches in 1973, has grown to the Poverello House, which now serves three meals a day, 365 days a year, to anyone in need. The organization offers an array of services to the homeless, including free medical and dental care, showers, laundry, clothing, transportation and shelter. It also features a 28-bed residential alcohol and drug rehabilitation program, as well as a five-bed transitional home.

In 2004, Poverello House opened the Village of Hope, a temporary overnight shelter for homeless people who want an alternative to the streets. More recently, Poverello House collaborated with the City of Fresno to open a second village, called The Community of Hope. McGarvin has also participated actively in events and classes at Fresno State, speaking regularly to students about his passion and commitment to serving the poor.

Palomino, who was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree, is a distinguished artist with a focus in Fresno and the San Joaquin Valley, where he was born and raised in southwest Fresno. Palomino’s artistic talent took him to the San Francisco Art Institute in 1954, before earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Fine Arts from San Francisco State University in 1965.

He returned to Fresno to explore through his art the indigenous roots of Mexican-Americans and life in the Mexican barrio. His mural of farmworker life in Fresno’s Chinatown in the 1970s, bronze Quetzalcoatl and recent collaboration with other local artists for a Mexican mural district in Selma are a few examples of his individual artistic contributions.  

A leader in the local arts community, Palomino spent years teaching at Fresno State and mentoring other artists. He was central in the establishment a community grassroots arts movement in Fresno in the 1970s known as “La Brocha del Valle” (The Valley’s Artistic Brush), which inspired a generation of young Mexican-American artists in Fresno. He also collaborated with many Fresno institutions to enhance the arts, including Fresno Unified School District and Fresno’s Juvenile Hall.