- Kenny C. Guinn
Kenny C. Guinn
Educator/Former Nevada Governor
California State University, Fresno
Education has been the driving force behind a lifelong quest for knowledge and an overwhelming desire to serve for Fresno State alumnus Kenny C. Guinn. He has remained true to that creed his entire adult life, charting a path that has led him from the classroom to the superintendent's office to the corporate boardroom and to the governor's office.
Born in Arkansas, Mr. Guinn moved with his family to the small Central Valley community of Exeter, California, at an early age. The son of migrant farm workers, he was encouraged by his parents, teachers and coaches to get an education. He took this to heart and earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees in physical education from California State University, Fresno. He later obtained a doctorate in education from Utah State University.
After four years of teaching high school, he moved his family to Las Vegas, where he went from central office administration to Clark County School District Superintendent in five years. In 1978, Mr. Guinn became Administrative Vice President for Nevada Savings and Loan, which later became PriMerit Bank. In 1987 he was appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors. His business success continued in 1988 when Southwest Gas Corporation offered him the presidency, and in 1993 named him Chairman of the Board.
Education has provided him opportunities that he had never imagined as a young boy growing up poor, so when the University of Nevada, Las Vegas sought his help in filling the presidency for a short term, Guinn accepted the interim position. He refused the salary, except for one dollar; the rest was donated to UNLV. Mr. Guinn instituted administrative and policy changes that helped the university flourish.
He was elected Governor of Nevada in 1998. He was re-elected in 2002, capturing 68 percent of the vote, one of the widest margins of victory in a gubernatorial race in the state's history. He was voted by Time Magazine as one of the Five Best Governors in America.
In recognition of these achievements, his outstanding leadership and sincere civic commitment, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California State University, Fresno are proud to confer upon Kenny C. Guinn the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.