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Lavin, Payne to Receive Honorary Doctorates

Leonard Lavin and L. Robert Payne will receive honorary degrees at SDSU's annual commencement ceremonies.

San Diego State University will award honorary doctorate degrees to two distinguished entrepreneurs, it was announced today. Leonard Lavin and L. Robert Payne will receive the awards during commencement ceremonies May 18-20 at Viejas Arena.

“We are exceedingly pleased to honor Leonard Lavin and Bob Payne,” said SDSU President Elliot Hirshman. “Their vision, work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit provide sterling examples for our students to emulate. We are grateful for their support of our students, faculty and staff and their commitment to advancing San Diego State University as a major public research university.”

Leonard Lavin

Leonard Lavin
Leonard Lavin


Leonard Lavin, founder and former CEO of the beauty supply manufacturing and marketing company Alberto Culver Company, which became an international Fortune 1,000 company, is also credited with developing television’s first 15- and 30-second commercials.

Lavin is a frequent guest lecturer at SDSU and often leads mentoring sessions with students in the College of Business Administration.  Since 2005, he has been actively involved with SDSU’s Entrepreneurial Management Center.

His gifts to support the center have established Lavin VentureStart — a business plan competition open to students from all SDSU colleges — and the Lavin Entrepreneurs — a program for upper-division students, which provides individual mentoring; site visits to emerging growth companies; and an entrepreneur speaker series among other growth experiences.

Lavin will receive his honorary degree at the College of Business commencement ceremony at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 19.

L. Robert Payne

L. Robert Payne
L. Robert Payne


L. Robert Payne is president and CEO of Multi-Ventures, Inc., a real estate investment and management company. An SDSU alumnus, Payne is an active philanthropist supporting several local organizations, including his long-time volunteer leadership at SDSU.

Payne provided seed funding to create the Hospitality and Tourism Management Program, and was one of three alumni who contributed a lead gift so support the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center. He also played key roles in the founding of the Entrepreneurial Management Center, The Campanile Foundation and the Director’s Cabinet for Athletics.

His deep involvement and support of the hospitality and tourism program led to the program being expanded and renamed the L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, the first school in SDSU history to be named after an alumnus.

Payne will receive his honorary degree at the commencement ceremony for the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts at 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 19.

About SDSU’s Honorary Degree Recipients

SDSU awarded its first honorary doctoral degree to President John F. Kennedy in 1963. Since then, it has conferred a total of 34 honorary doctorates to local, national and international figures including Israeli President Shimon Peres, former California Governor Pete Wilson and College Hall of Fame Football Coach Don Coryell. Read a complete list of SDSU's honorary degree recipients.

About SDSU Commencement

Approximately 9,700 degree candidates will participate in San Diego State commencement ceremonies May 18-20 at Viejas Arena.

Learn more about SDSU commencement

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