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The 2019 honorary degree recipients are: Christoper Sickels, Ellen Ochoa, Father Joe Carroll and Sally Roush. The 2019 honorary degree recipients are: Christoper Sickels, Ellen Ochoa, Father Joe Carroll and Sally Roush.

SDSU to Award Four Honorary Degrees

Including this year's awards, SDSU has conferred a total of 51 honorary degrees since 1963.
By Coleen L. Geraghty

San Diego State University will award a record four honorary degrees this year, recognizing individuals who have served the university, the San Diego community and the nation.

During Commencement 2019 ceremonies in May, honorary degrees will be awarded to SDSU President Emeritus Sally Roush; Father Joe Carroll, an advocate for San Diego’s underserved communities; and Christopher (Kit) Sickels (‘60), a key leader of The Campaign for SDSU.

SDSU President Adela de la Torre will present a fourth honorary degree to Ellen Ochoa (‘80) in October when the retired astronaut will visit campus as a speaker in the 2019 President’s Lecture Series.

Since President John F. Kennedy became the first to receive an honorary doctoral degree from SDSU in 1963, the university has awarded 46 more to community leaders and philanthropists, distinguished alumni, national legislators and international dignitaries. This year’s awards will bring the total to 51.

About the 2019 Awardees

For 37 years, Father Joe Carroll has served as de facto representative of a constituency that wields no political power—the poor and homeless men, women and children of San Diego. As president and CEO of St. Vincent de Paul Society, renamed St. Vincent de Paul Village in 1991, “Father Joe” oversaw the opening of shelters to house and feed hundreds of thousands of people in need. He collaborated with community organizations to provide medical assistance, childcare and employment services, pioneering an innovative comprehensive approach to caring for San Diego’s homeless population.

Ellen Ochoa is an inspirational role model for young people, particularly girls and underrepresented minorities who aspire to careers in science, technology, engineering and math. The first Hispanic female astronaut, she capped a 30-year career with NASA by serving for the last five as director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Supervising a workforce of 10,000, Ochoa was the first Hispanic director of the Johnson Space Center and its second female leader. Ochoa graduated from SDSU with a degree in physics and later earned masters and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford University.

Sally Roush was the first woman to serve as chief executive for SDSU. Her distinguished career at the university includes 19 years as senior vice president of Business and Financial Affairs. In that role, she was a trusted adviser to three presidents and co-chair of the committee that guided development of the university’s strategic plan. Roush’s stature and record of accomplishment were such that five years after her retirement from SDSU, CSU Chancellor Timothy White asked her to return and lead the university during a pivotal time between the departure of one president and the appointment of his successor.

Christopher Sickels’ 75-year association with SDSU began when he entered kindergarten at the on-campus Training School for Teachers. He returned as a college student, graduated in 1960, and briefly taught elementary school before embarking on a 56-year career in real estate. As the longest serving board chair of The Campanile Foundation, SDSU’s philanthropic auxiliary, Sickels was critical to the success of The Campaign for SDSU, which raised $815 million to support and strengthen the university. He and his wife, Karen, have made significant personal gifts to fund scholarships, the library, athletics, the College of Sciences, and the President’s Leadership Fund.