Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro honored Jon Parish Peede, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, with the President’s Medal of Distinction at the 2019 convocation for the College of Arts and Humanities Friday at the Save Mart Center.

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.

Peede previously served as the publisher of the Virginia Quarterly Review at the University of Virginia and held multiple positions at the National Endowment for the Arts.

Peede spoke to the 2019 graduates of the College of Arts and Humanities, many of whom are first-generation college students, about the doors that a college education opened for his parents, who were first-generation graduates.

“I am sure that they had their educational struggles,” Peede said, “but they focused instead on the opportunities that came because of their degrees. Two generations later, my family still venerates a college education as the best way to ensure a fulfilling career — and the best way ‘to know thyself.’”

Peede is the co-editor of Inside the Church of Flannery O’Connor: Sacrament, Sacramental and the Sacred in Her Fiction (Mercer 2007) and editor of a bilingual anthology of contemporary American fiction, Lo que cuenta el vecino: cuentos contemporáneos de los Estados Unidos (UNUM: Mexico City, 2008).

Past recipients of the President’s Medal of Distinction are John E. Horstmann (2019), Fred Ruiz (2018), Fran Pavley (2016), 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).